‘Little Genius’ Comes Up Big in World Pool Championship Final

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, July 11 – From boy to man, in five racks.

Trailing 16-12 in the all-Taiwanese final of the World Pool Championship, and with his opponent breaking for the title, 16-year-old Chia-Ching Wu took a breath and told himself to hang on.

“Getting to the world championship final is such an honor, I was not going to give up that honor,” Wu said.

After 27-year-opponent Po-Cheng Kuo missed a tricky 2 ball, Wu reached the opportunity for honor and ended up seizing glory. Finally getting in rhythm and taking advantage of his monster break, Wu ran out five consecutive racks to win the world 9-ball championship, 17-16.

Nicknamed “Little Genius,” Wu became the youngest male world 9-ball champion ever, but his even temper under pressure was amazing for a player of any age. After breaking at 16-16 and seeing a clear path to victory, Wu took the time to wipe down his cue and hands several times, and at one point even smiled, sat down and took a long swig from his water bottle, bringing laughter and applause from the crowd. Only after he had a chance to hug his grandmother during the trophy presentation did Wu start bawling like a baby.

“I proved to myself and to my grandmother that I could do it,” Wu said.

Wu’s 63-year-old grandmother, Chu-Chi Lin, encouraged Wu from the beginning of his interest in pool at age 6. And when he couldn’t stop crying at the presentation ceremony, she jumped out of the crowd to wipe his brow several times, arrange his collar and straighten the ribbon of his gold medal.

With his $75,000 grand prize, Wu planned on buying a new home for himself and his family. Kuo pocketed $35,000 for second place.

Wu didn’t seem to think that the win would make much difference in his future, beyond having to behave himself better now that the public’s eye will be one him. In fact, he will receive invitations to several major international pool events over the next year, including the World Pool Masters and the World Pool League event, both promoted by WPC producer Matchroom Sport.

‘Little Genius’ vs. ‘Little Monster’ in all-Taiwan final

Taiwan's Chia-Ching Wu

Taiwan’s Chia-Ching Wu

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, July 9 – The host country of the World Pool Championship has put two of its own players in the final Sunday.

Taiwan’s Po-Cheng Kuo and Chia-Ching Wu will lag for the $75,000 grand prize at 8 p.m. (8 a.m. EST) at the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Centre.

Kuo, nicknamed “The Little Monster” for his baby-faced features, trailed American Rodney Morris in the semifinal, 7-5, and then won five straight games to hit the hill. Morris fought back to 10-8, but missed a long cut shot that handed victory to 27-year-old Kuo.

Wu, who at 16 is the youngest finalist in WPC history, steamrolled heavy favorite Marlon Manalo in their semifinal match, 11-5. Nicknamed “Little Genius,” Wu took full advantage of his powerhouse break and several fortunate rolls to keep Manalo in his seat for much of the match.

“I’m very surprised I made it this far,” said the beefy Wu, who looks like the quintessential school bully, about to steal the reedy Kuo’s lunch money. “I was just in the bathroom, and I said to myself, ‘Is this really happening? Is this true'”

“[To win Sunday] I just have to treat it like a normal match. I just have to keep calm and keep myself together.”

Both players have strong breaks, excellent cue ball control and implacable demeanor. The older Kuo, who is undefeated in both the round-robin and single-elimination stages, would seem to have the advantage of experience, but Manalo was thought to be superior to Wu for the same reason.

No matter the outcome, this Sunday?s final will mark the first time a Taiwanese player has won the world championship in his own country. Taiwan’s Fong-Pang Chao won the title in 2000 in Cardiff, Wales.

The winner will take home $75,000, and the runner-up will pocket $35,000.

Sweet 16 WPC Update

The round-of-16 is in progress at the World Pool Championships in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Billiards Digest is continuing our daily Web updates on our “Tournament Coverage” page.

Foldes Upsets Pagulayan at WPC

20-year-old Vilmos Foldes, the Hungarian European No.8, has caused another big upset at the 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championship as he knocked out defending champion Alex Pagulayan in a 10 – 8 dog fight.

WPC Knows No Favorites as Big Names Fall

As round-robin play at the World Pool Championship draws to a close, some big names are arranging for flights out of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Top performers like Mosconi Cup veterans Ralf Souquet (Germany) and Charlie Williams (USA) are packing their bags, and Steve Davis (England) and Filipino legend Efren Reyes are hanging on by a mathematical thread.

The ranks of the undefeated include Johnny Archer (USA), the Philippines’ Marlon Manalo, Taiwanese hopes Po-cheng Kuo and Che-wei Fu, Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata and Scottish challenger Michael Valentine.

There’s one more day to go in the round-robin stage, which pares the 128-man field to 64 players, who then will brave the single-elimination stage.

World Pool Championships Underway

483aThe round-robin stages of the 2005 World Pool Championship are under way in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and a few big names in the 128-player field are already in danger of missing the cut. Ralf Souquet, Steve Davis and Efren Reyes have already lost three times each, and will need sparkling records from now on to proceed into the knockout stage, featuring the top half of the field.

WPC Ups Prize Fund for 2004

The World Pool Championships have announced the prize breakdowns for this year’s event, to be held July 10-18 in Taipei, Taiwan. They have added $50,000 this year’s prize purse, bringing to total purse to $350,000 and pushing last year’s $65,000 first-place prize up to $75,000. Last year’s runner-up got $30,000; this year’s will take home $35,000. See the full payouts below, with indications of the changes made from last year’s amounts.

2004 World Pool Championship Prize Fund:

Winner: $75,000 (was $65K last year)

Runner-Up: $35,000 (was 30)

Semi-Finalists: $20,000 (was 17.5)

Qtr Finalists: $10,000 (was 8.5)

Last 16: $5,000 (was 4)

Last 32: $2,500 (was 2)

Last 64: $1,750 (was 1.5)

5th Place in Group: $1,000 (same)

6th Place in Group: $500 (same)