Kiwi's Shine at World Championship
Matt Edwards

New Zealand pool players are proud to have had two representatives at the 2012 World Nine-Ball Championships who performed with distinction.

Both Ceri Worts and Matthew Edwards made the trip to Doha, Qatar, for the event during the last week of June 2012. Ceri travelled as NZ’s defending Nine-Ball champion since 2009. Matthew was selected as the number two player in Oceania.

In all, 128 players from all corners of the globe competed in the second, main stage of the event. Split into 16 sections of eight players, each player needed to win two matches from a maximum of three attempts to qualify for the final 64 knockout phase. The odds were against both of our representatives, as never before had a Kiwi managed to qualify for post-section knockout.

All of Ceri’s and Matthew’s matches were followed intently by a small legion of Kiwi fans via any website involved, including Facebook, Twitter, and the host country’s own cuesports website, Ceri competed valiantly in the event, losing his first match before winning his second (itself no mean feat in the history of Kiwi performances abroad).

He unfortunately came up against seasoned campaigner Marlon Caneda at the final qualification hurdle, losing 3-9. Matthew Edwards, in his first world event, put in a phenomenal effort. Matthew instantly created a stir amongst the world pool community by winning his first match, defeating no less than the U.S.A.’s top-ranked player, Shane Van Boening. A world quarter-finalist here last year, Shane would have been under no illusion of the quality of any of the players at this year’s event, but even he could not have been expecting to be outplayed by an unknown from the depths of the South Pacific. Fans following closely knew that this win immediately gave Matthew two further chances to qualify, and he didn’t disappoint, also winning his second match a day later to book his place in the last 64.

Two wins from two matches, no second chances needed, and Matthew had already booked his place in New Zealand pool history as the first Kiwi to ever qualify at the World Championships. Back home, excitement continued to grow as all following sat and waited to learn who Matthew’s next opponent would be. As it turned out, his opponent would be one of the players that contributed to Ceri’s demise, Tohru Kuribayashi.
Matthew made no mistake, dispatching Tohru and booking a place in the last 32 against a player fancied by many to take the title this year, Darren Appleton. Ranked number three in the world, Darren entered the match against Matthew as a heavy favourite, but few would have expected what would eventuate. The two players went tit for tat in their race to 10 frames, and it was only a miraculous pot by Darren from the narrowest opportunities that created the opportunity for him to take the match 10-9.

Matthew had beaten the world’s best American player, and then taken one of the best in the world to a deciding frame in the last 32 of the World Championship.
For him, there was the thought of what might have been. For Darren, he would go on to win the event, adding to his World 10-Ball Championship win in 2008, and reinforcing the merit in Matthew’s close loss. For New Zealand, there was a new hero to salute as proof stood in front of us that, for a nation that has a tendency to punch above its weight, NZ pool was ready for the spotlight it deserves.

Below is an extract by World Pool Association correspondent Ted Learner at the world nine ball.

Ted Lerner:

“ Also during the first session another upset caused waves around the arena, this one coming from Down Under. 24 year old Matthew Edwards from New Zealand knew his odds against American great Shane Van Boening were long. And at 5-1 down in the race to 9, alternate break match things were looking bleak indeed for the young Kiwi. But a massive fight back coupled with plenty of heart brought Edwards back into the match. He ended beating Van Boening 9-7 for the biggest win of his career.” Afterward, as many of the players do, Edwards went straight to his Facebook page to tell the world about his accomplishment. His comments are printed as is because, well, they speak volumes about how fascinating the sport of 9-ball at the professional level can be.

Edwards wrote:

“I came into the match feeling very excited and a little out of depth... After our 5min warm up I was shocked to find out how tight the pockets were and how different the cushions reacted!!! What a confidence blower the warm up was :( ! It was clear that Shane was more than comfortable on the American made Diamond pool table! Shane jumped out to a 5-1 lead without me doing too much wrong... I then kept telling myself I would stick to my initial game plan and never give up , try my best and fight to the end! At 5-1 I remember only seeing the ball in front of me and focusing on the sinking the ball! As weird as it sounds I was so nervous I was afraid to miss which drove me to focus harder and harder... I knew I didn't know the cushions well enough so I would play basic position even if it meant playing a longer tougher pot on relying on my potting skills! I ended up winning 9-7!! I was very happy to beat such a great player and happy with myself that I didn't give up and fought right to the finish line !!! I was playing on all heart despite the odds! I kept the belief in myself no matter what!!” Folks, if you can’t get excited about the excitement of Matthew Edwards then it’s time to turn to following competitive hot dog eating to get your thrills.

Matthew Edwards continued his fine run in this year’s tournament, advancing to the knockout stage with an impressive 9-5 win over Malaj Nikolaos of Albania. Edwards, who’s playing in his first world championship, first took down the USA’s Shane Van Boening. He now becomes the first ever Kiwi to make it this far in a world championship.

Press release by : Jon Grimley ( New Zealand Pool Association )

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