Albin Ouschan 4-5 Naoyuki Oi
Roberto Gomez 5-4 Billy Thorpe
Naoyuki Oi took advantage of a missed 9-ball by Roberto Gomez in the Group 5 final to land his place in Winners’ Group of Predator Championship League Pool.
The Filipino went 4-2 up in the race-to-5 final, but Oi levelled when Gomez missed a match-ball 9 at 4-3 up. A golden break had given Oi the perfect start but from 2-2 Gomez pulled ahead to reach the hill two racks ahead. The Japanese world No. 24 wasn’t finished yet though, and halved the deficit to trail 4-3.
The Filipino had the break in rack eight, and though Oi came to the table and had a golden chance, Gomez was left with three balls for victory. However, he had to play the 9 along the rail and couldn’t send it to the top corner pocket. Oi levelled down table, and the final was tied on the hill.
Oi had the break in the decider and the layout presented him a roadmap to Winners’ Group, which was navigated without any problem for the charismatic 39-year-old, who will join Chris Melling, Eklent Kaci, David Alcaide and Niels Feijen in Monday’s showpiece tournament conclusion.
“Today I had five hill-hill matches, four wins and one I lost,” said Oi. “In the group game with Gomez it was hill-hill and I lost. In the final, hill-hill when Gomez missed the 9-ball and I won.
“Now I had two days to rest before the Winners’ Group, so I am very happy. It will be a very strong player but my concentration is good and I will play to win and become the champion.”
In the semi-finals, Oi had condemned Albin Ouschan to another play-off defeat. The Austrian has played in every group so far and has now reached two finals and two semi-finals. He’ll return in Group 6 for another chance to qualify.
Also returning will be Billy Thorpe, who came strong in the second half of the day to finish third in the league standings. The American Mosconi Cup star lost a hill-hill thriller to Gomez in the semi-finals. Mieszko Fortunski and Marc Bijsterbosch finished fifth and sixth respectively and will now enter Group 6, where Alexander Kazakis and Casper Matikainen will enter the tournament.
Kristina Tkach struggled in what was her second group, and has been eliminated after she finished bottom of the standings.
Predator Championship League Pool has a prize fund of $85,950. Every day features a seven-player group, with each player facing every other player once in a race-to-5. At the end of the group the top four advance to the play-offs, playing a semi-final and then final, also played as race-to-5. Play-off champions will advance to the big-money Winners’ Group on March 29, which will provide the showpiece conclusion of Predator Championship League Pool.
Players who finished bottom of each group are eliminated from the event, while the remaining five players in each group will continue to the next day’s play, where two new players enter the tournament.
Action from Table 1 of Predator Championship League Pool can be seen live on FreeSports (UK & Ireland), DAZN and Zhibo.tv (China). Viewers elsewhere in the world can tune in at Matchroom.Live, which also carries global coverage of Table 2.