Austria 7–3 Croatia
Finland 7–5 Singapore
Poland 7-5 Italy
Former champions Austria and Finland are both through to the second round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool after wins over Croatia and Singapore respectively, while Poland have also advanced to the last 16 after surviving a scare against Italy at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, England.
The day’s opening fixture pitted Austria, winners in 2017 and runners up last year, against Croatia, whose pairing of Philipp Stojanovic and Roberto Bartol had won the European Qualifier to earn their spot at the event.
Austria were again represented by Albin Ouschan and Mario He, but it was the unseeded team who drew first blood after Ouschan missed a long 2. The first six racks were split before Austria moved into a 4-3 lead with the help of a fluked snooker and when Bartol missed the 5 in the next rack, last year’s silver medallists were able to take advantage to earn a two-rack lead.
From there, Austria’s momentum built; they reached the hill at 6-3 and the match was won one rack later after Croatia conceded ball in hand.
“It was a tough match, very close, and I wasn’t feeling great,” admitted He. “I missed an easy 7 ball and I hooked my partner on an easy position, but Albin played really well and he gave me the confidence to come back into the match.”
“Everybody who is in the last 16 can win this tournament; there is no really big favourite. We saw in the first round that in a race to seven anything is possible,” added Ouschan.
Another pair of former champions, Finland, were up next against Singapore. Petri Makkonen and Mika Immonen had lifted the World Cup trophy in 2012 but faced a tricky opener against Aloysuis Yapp and Sharik Aslam Sayed.
The Finnish pair built a 4-2 lead but a missed combo by Makkonen helped Singapore turn things around for a 5-4 advantage. The 2012 champions arrested their slide and took the next two racks to move to the hill at 6-5 ahead.
Immonen had the break and made the 6 but the 1 was hidden behind the 7. Makkonen picked up his jump cue and sunk the object ball before Immonen followed his partner’s attacking lead in banking the 2 to open up the frame for his team.
They kept control of the table for the rest of the rack to run out for victory and will meet either Spain or Australia in the second round.
“We got away with a little scare when they were 5-4 ahead but we closed it out in good fashion,” said Immonen. “I missed a combo to go 5-3 ahead and after that the match turned, but we got away with it.
“At the end I broke well but Petri was hidden from the 1 so I said go to for the jump and see what happens. He made a good shot and then I made the bank so we both made some good shots in the last rack to win it. The first match can always be a bit jittery as you try to get the feel of the table and how the balls are running. It’s always nice to get the first win.”
In the final match of the afternoon, Poland (Konrad Juszczyszyn and Mateusz Sniegocki) raced to a 4-0 lead over Italy. At that stage a brilliant shot from Fabio Petroni propelled him and Danielle Corrieri back into it. The former Mosconi Cup star had to jump the 7 to reach the 6, which he then banked up table. Cueing was difficult, so he had to use to bridges in order to make the shot which set Italy on their way to four consecutive racks.
With the match level, Poland responded and then immediately reached the hill. Italy pulled another back to make it 6-5, at which point Corrieri produced an excelled jump shot to make the 2 but, as the match looked set the hill-hill, the younger of the Italian due went in-off while potting the 7, giving Poland ball in hand and the match.
The first round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool concludes on Thursday evening with Spain taking on Australia before the last 16 commences with China vs. Chile and Netherlands vs. USA. The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is broadcast live in over 100 countries around the world, including on Sky Sports and DAZN.
The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.