9 Ball Pool - The 2016 GB9 Ball Tour UK Open
22nd-24th July 2016 / Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, Telford , England
'I'LL COME BACK!" THE TERMINATOR STRIKES FOR THE 2016 UK OPEN TITLE
Niels Feijen became the 2016 GB9 UK Open champion after producing an amazing recovery against Francisco Sanchez Ruiz in Telford on Sunday evening. The Dutchman banks £2,500 and adds a crucial 28 points towards his Mosconi Cup European Qualification total.
This unique 3 day competition was the third event of the 2016 GB9 Ball Tour. It boasted a bumper entry of players from numerous countries across the continent. The star studded field featured famous World and International champions, as well as veterans from previous Mosconi Cups.
It was the first time that this esteemed tour had partnered with Matchroom Sport to offer ranking points in a Mosconi Cup qualifying race. There was also a guaranteed total of £13,500 up for grabs across the long weekend.
A Double Elimination system was used to whittle the field down to the Last 32 Knock-Outs. After a 9-7 success over Alan Coton, Feijen was actually pushed to the Loser's Side because of a 9-3 defeat to fellow multi-time MC player Nikos Ekonomopoulos. However, a hat-trick of 7-2 wins there secured his spot in the single elimination portion.
Interestingly, he could gain almost instant revenge on Ekonomopoulos after drawing the Greek in the Last 32 - he duly obliged, coming through 9-7.
The tough assignments kept coming, though, as Feijen's next opponent was German baize legend Ralf Souquet. After initially leading 4-2, 'The Kaiser' responded by going in front, and then on to the hill at 8-5. But the 2014 World 9 Ball Champion countered with the last four consecutive racks for a 9-8 victory.
The 39 year old then had more comfortable 11-6 wins against Englishmen Craig Osborne and Mark Gray in the Quarter and Semi-Finals respectively.
Spain's Sanchez Ruiz progressed to the final unbeaten. In qualifying, after receiving a bye he defeated Sergio Lagunas 9-2 and Karl Boyes 9-5.
In the Last 32 he dispatched Michael Beeston 9-6 to set up a clash with friend and countryman David Alcaide in the Last 16; whom he got the better of 9-8 in a decider.
Mika Immonen's bid was closed 11-7 in the Quarters, and the hope a home player in the Final was extinguished when FSR ended Scotland's Pat Holtz's re-emergence 11-6 in the Last 4.
After a quick turnaround from that result, the Spaniard seemed to continue on his adrenaline by taking a 3-0 lead during the Final's early exchanges.
Feijen got on the board, but a combination of clinical clearing and dry / illegal breaks from his rival saw Francisco move one away at 10-5.
But as they say, 'the last one is the toughest to win'.
Maybe resigned to the worst, Feijen upped his game. Helped with a couple of creeping openings from the leader, he somehow managed to force a hill-hill game with five on the spin.
With high drama and pressure now around, it looked as if all of Feijen's hard work may get unravelled after a dry break in the 21st rack. Sanchez Ruiz sunk the 1 Ball, but missed the Blue 2 when cueing slightly awkwardly off the rail.
That was the only opportunity 'The Terminator' needed, as he ran the remaining balls to explode with emotion come the drop of the 9 Ball.
Together with his comeback against Souquet in the L16, Niels was very much 'The Master of Brinkmanship' this weekend. He travels to the 25th World 9 Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar as one of the hot favourites later this week.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 24th July 2016