GERMANY SET TO DEFEND AS ACTION SET TO KICK OFF FOR 2012 WORLD CUP OF POOL
Tue, 04 Sep 2012
DESPITE CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES, DEFENDING CHAMPS GERMANY SAY THEY STILL HAVE IT TO WIN ANOTHER WORLD CUP OF POOL, WHICH KICKS OFF TODAY IN MANILA
By Ted Lerner
(Manila, Philippines)--Defending PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool champions Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann of Team Germany know they have the right stuff to become the first team to win back to back titles in pool’s premiere scotch doubles event. But as the 32, two-man teams representing 31 nations gear up for what promises to be 6 days of epic showdowns beginning Tuesday in Manila, the German duo finds themselves in a completely different circumstance from last year.
Coming into the 2011 World Cup of Pool in Manila, both players were riding a wave of confidence brought on by individual success. Souquet had come off a massive win in the World Pool Masters only the week prior, his first ever victory in Manila after dozens of tries. Hohmann had just won a big Straight pool event in the United States. And the pair was ravenous for doubles gold.
“It was a tournament we really wanted to win,” Souquet said during a press conference Monday in Manila at the Robinson’s Place Mall, the site of the 2012 World Cup of Pool. “Two years prior to that we felt we should have won against Efren (Reyes) and Django(Bustamante). We kind of felt that that tournament in 2009 was kind of stolen from us. We really wanted to win this event and we were hungry.”
After battling back against Korea in the semi-finals, the Germans crushed the upstart Thais in the finals and waltzed to their first World Cup of Pool title.
This year, however, neither player has to yet to enter the winners circle in any event. Still, Souquet and Hohmann aren’t letting that worry them. They are so comfortable playing as team that they are still brimming with confidence.
“I’m feeling great,” Souquet said. “I haven’t won a tournament this year yet so it’s about time I won one.”
“I feel the same,” Hohmann said. “I can’t see any other pairing playing that well together like we did last year. People told us that we played the best doubles ever played in the history of the World Cup of Pool. We are friends on and off the table. Our styles of play are similar. And I’d say we’re more relaxed this year. We already won this thing.”
“We’re still hungry,” Souquet said. “We want to defend our title. Last year we were hungry in a different way. Now we’re the ones being hunted. We’re really looking forward to it.”
“Hunted” would seem the appropriate word as the field for this year’s World Cup is chock full of pool’s best talent all craving for the opportunity to wrap their arms around the large silver cup and to fill their pockets with the $60,000 first place prize. Teams to take note of include England featuring Chris Melling and World number 1 and World 9-ball Champion Darren Appleton; Nick van den Berg and Huidji See of Holland; Liu Haitao and Li He-wen of China; Team USA featuring the 2008 winning pair of Shane Van Boening and Rodney Morris; Naoyuki Oi and Satoshi Kawabata of Japan; Team Philippines A with Dennis Orcollo and Lee Van Corteza; and of course the two-time World Cup of Pool champions and legends Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante representing Philippines B.
As could be expected from two pool legends, the presence of Reyes and Bustamante at Monday’s press conference drew hordes of fans trying to get a glimpse or a photo of the local heroes.
With a combined age of 106 years, the two Hall of Famers can cut an awe inspiring and intimidating presence for any opponent. But playing and winning in front of their rabid hometown fans is hardly easy as expectations of Filipino pool fans are always win or else.
“We always got lots of pressure here in the Philippines,” Reyes said with his trademark toothless smile. “Before when we are younger we can handle the pressure, but now it’s difficult to handle the pressure. The hands are no good anymore.”
Reyes, however, understands there’s another side to that pressure and it’s something their opponents can quickly feel too.
“If we can start to play good and our fans support us, then it’s going to be good. We enjoy doubles.”
“Me and Efren we always respect each other,” Bustamante said. “It’s a lot of fun to play with him.”
As for the inevitable pressure, Bustamante knows too that it cuts both ways.
“Our countrymen always want us to win. Especially Efren. If we lose everyone gets upset. If we win, you’ll see how happy they are. He’s 58 and I’m 48. We are the oldest team in this tournament. We’re going to make a big party if we win.”
No matter who is left holding the silver cup on Sunday, pool fans are guaranteed a bus load of drama, upsets and dramatic twists and turns. Scotch Doubles tends to take even the best players out of their comfort zones. And the format is brutal; Single elimination, winner breaks with races to 8 in the first few rounds, then 9 in the quarters and semis, and race to 10 in the finals.
The 2012 PARTYPOKER.NET World Cup of Pool begins Tuesday, September 4 and runs through Sunday, September 9 and will be held at Robinson’s Place Manila. Once again the total prize fund is US$250,000 with $60,000 going to the eventual champions. Tickets for the extravaganza will be available at the venue on the day of play but with plentiful balconies offering superb views of the playing arena, organisers are anticipating crowds in the thousands rather than hundreds.
The 2012 PARTYPOKER.NET World Cup of Pool is sponsored by PartyPoker.net, the world's leading online poker school. Cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis, Super Aramith balls by Saluc, tables by Diamond Billiards and the Official Cue is Predator.