2018 JOY WORLD CHINESE 8 BALL MASTERS - THE UK QUALIFIERS
Two of the UK's most in-form cuestars have won qualification for the prestigious and lucrative JOY World Chinese 8 Ball Masters next month.
England's Shaun Storry and Wales' Ben Davies will line-up in the 64 player main draw in China after coming through the two UK qualifiers in recent weeks.
Storry emerged from the Court Club Qualifying competition in Peterborough, which initially featured a Double Elimination format.
On route he went undefeated, getting the better of Tamas Vagvolgyi (10-4), Clint I'Anson (11-6) and then Ben Lewis (11-5) and Elliot Sanderson (11-6) in the Semis and Final respectively.
Amazingly, this was just the second time Shaun had played in a competitive Chinese 8 Ball environment. His previous outing was at the same venue when he lost in the final of another qualifying event.
Storry originally comes from a very proficient American Pool background, however lately he has turned his attentions more to English Pool. The move to the small table has already been successful. In 2017 he has claimed the Bulldog Security Challenge - part of the attractive Players Pool Series, and also reached the final of the EPA National Amateur Singles.
Despite his clear cuesport pedigree, Storry is remaining relaxed ahead of his debut in the Far East -
"My expectations are to practice as much as I can and enjoy the experience. At the end of each match I will shake my opponent's hand and wish them well either way. I don't set any further expectations as they are out of my control!
It really is a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to getting out there for the first time".
A few weeks later at the Allstars Club in Bristol, former EUKPF World Champion Davies secured his Asian return after advancing through another tough gauntlet of contenders.
Davies - currently a professional on the IPA Pool circuit, eliminated Bash Maqsood (7-5), Daniel Bishop (7-4) and Andy Esgrove (7-3) before seeing off Scottish World Cup of Pool star Pat Holtz in the final.
After a small hiatus from his desired discipline, the familiar Welshman is back playing English Pool full-time; it has proven to be the right decision. He is reaping the rewards this year with highlight victories at the IPA UK Professional Championship and more recently the inaugural STRN Open.
Davies explained how he overcame feeling ill and equipment issues at the event, plus his ambition for China -
"I went there with no expectations if I'm honest. I was feeling a bit under the weather but didn't want to miss out on a chance to play in the Grand Final.
I hadn't played the game since I went to China 2 years ago. I didn't have a cue so I borrowed one (Simon Ward's - fellow IPA Professional), although he said to me the tip was knackered and you can't get any action on the cue ball with it. He wasn't wrong as I stunned my way around the table all day! In a strange way it kept me focused and grounded that I couldn't play daft shots and had to be aware at all times.
The last time I went to China I had only just started back playing so my game wasn't in great shape. The last 2 years I've been playing English 8 Ball solid week in, week out, and my game is a lot more solid these days.
I know a deep run in the Grand Final will be a monumental task, but I feel so good about my game at the moment that anything could happen. I'm going with an open mind and no expectations - what will be, will be. It's not my game of choice but I enjoy the challenge and I am looking forward to flying out there on January 3rd".
The 2018 JOY World Chinese 8 Ball Masters boasts a seriously impressive top prize of $150,000. The tournament in Qinhuangdao is set to feature a number of famous cuesports names from across the world.
It will be the sixth annual edition of the Championship; the history books have solely been dominated by two men so far.
England's Gareth Potts made it an incredible hat-trick of victories last time out - returning back to the winner's step following his successes in 2013 and 2014.
Big rival Yang Fan is the only other name on the roll of honour. The Chinaman also registered back-to-back glories in 2015 and 2016.
A big thanks to both Shaun and Ben for taking time out to talk to us here at The Cue View. We wish you all the best in the China!
The images above are courtesy of John Roe and the IPA.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 8th December 2017