|Paul Potier, Allison Fisher, Jeanette Lee|
January 21-February 2, 2015
There were 3 venues used for meetings, practice and matches for stage 1. The 2 hotels that all the players were staying at and a school auditorium. All stage 2 matches were played in the auditorium and Table #1 was the TV table but there were 3 tables that were being streamed. The matches played on Table #1 were filmed during all stages of the tournament. A players lounge, media room, interview room, and practice room were all provided at the auditorium for the entire tournament. The player’s lounge was spacious with comfortable seating and provided a large screen tv to watch the live matches on table #1. It was also constantly stocked with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks for the players. The International players stayed at The Yutai International Hotel and the Chinese players stayed at the other hotel. The Hotels provided 3 complimentary meals/day in a banquet style and at least 2 1/2hours was offered for each meal time.
There were dozens of volunteers working to assist the players with anything they needed at all of the venues at any time of day. Most of these volunteers spoke English and Chinese and did a good job as translators. They were all very friendly and helpful. The service from the actual employees was also wonderful and quick.
Once we arrived at our airport we were met by volunteers to help us get to our hotel. However many of us arrived too late to take the last bullet train to Yushan City so they bused us to the train station and put us up at the hotel there. In the morning the tournament organizer and the volunteers met with us and helped us get on the bullet train. It was a 2 ½ hour ride at approx. 300 km/hr. When we arrived at the train station in Yushan we were met by many volunteers who organized us into 2 chartered buses. There were many Billiard fans at the station to welcome us and witness our arrival. It seemed that the whole city, no the whole country, knew that we were coming.
Star Billiard Company was a major sponsor and provided all of the Billiard equipment for the event. The tables were 4 ½’ x 9’ Chinese 8 Ball tables. They were designed to be a very good test of excellent play. The pockets were rounded similar to Snooker tables but made large enough to accept a 2 ¼” pool ball from any angle. However, if the object ball touched the rail even slightly before the pocket it would not go in. The rails were also Snooker rails but designed to sit high enough to allow a 2 ¼” pool ball to rebound correctly. They covered these tables with #10, double shaved, one directional nap, Snooker cloth. I have never played on better cloth in my life. You could literally soft roll a ball the length of the table and trust that it would go straight. All the players I spoke with seemed equally impressed. To add to the quality of these tables the slate beds were constantly heated with an electric heater. The tables were cleaned and ironed after each session. The balls were the Cyclop balls. They played fine but the colors were different than some of us were used to.
The tournament was played in 2 stages, Stage 1 was the qualifying stage, and Stage 2 was the championship Stage where everyone was already in the money. Stage 1 was divided by approx. 120 Chinese men players competing for 16 spots and approx. 80 International men players competing for 16 spots. The women had fewer players in Stage 1 but the format was the same. However the Chinese women competed for 8 spots and the International women players competed for 8 spots. There were 3 days of qualifiers in Stage 1 and every player who didn’t qualify on day 1 got a chance to try again on Day 2 and Day 3. Stage 2 for men consisted of 64 players; 16 Chinese players who were invited straight into Stage 2, 16 Chinese men who qualified from Stage 1. Also 16 International men who were invited and 16 International men who qualified from Stage 1. The women only had 32 players in Stage 2 but the player breakdown was the same as the men.
In stage 1 we played winner break and no call shot except on the 8 Ball. We could break from anywhere behind the baulk line but 4 balls needed to hit the rail in order for it to be a legal break. A scratch on the break gave the incoming player ball in hand from behind the baulk line. Other than that it was basically the same rules as BCA. In Stage 2 they played call shot for every shot and alternate break.
All players competing in Stage 1 received approx. $500 towards their flight to China. There was a $100 entry fee charged at the time of check in to the host hotel. If you made it to Stage 2 you had to pay an additional $300 entry fee but you were then guaranteed $800 for making it to the last 64. Once you arrived in China they covered your food, hotel, and travel. They even paid for the day hiking excursion. We were told that the area in and around where we were hiking was where the movie Avatar was filmed. However I am not sure how to substantiate that claim.
The Men’s event had a total prize fund of approx. $500,000 with the Champion getting a whopping $100,000US. The Women’s event had a total prize fund of approx. $300,000 with the Champion getting approx. $60,000. The Men’s event paid out 64 spots while the women’s event paid out 32 spots. Over and above the prize fund it appears that the total cost of this event was in the millions.
The Men’s event saw Darren Appleton and Mark Selby, both from England, compete in the finals, with Darren winning by a score of 21-19 to claim the title of 2015 Chinese 8 Ball World Champion. The women’s event Champion was Bai Ge from China. Other noteable finishes were Neil Robertson from England finishing in 3rd place and Allison Fisher finishing in 4th place. Stan Tourangeau from Canada was the only player from our little group that made it to Stage 2.
I was told that the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) and Star Billiard Tables have committed to a minimum 5 year plan to promote this game in China and Internationally.
Traffic in China
From a foreigners perspective it appears that there are no rules or very few rules to driving in China. Every day and all day long we witnessed cars, buses, taxis, rickshaws, mini trucks, mopeds, etc. moving in all directions on the roads and streets. They were also almost constantly on their horns, warning others of their approach. I never saw an accident but I did notice that the vehicles never moved at a very fast pace. They got where they were going slow but sure. Good peripheral vision is a must there.
The elevators were much the same as in North America. However every time I reached the floor I wanted to get out on I had a difficult time getting out of the elevator because the people waiting to get on the elevator quickly entered it without letting passenger get off first. It was quite frustrating as this happened every time.
The food at the hotel was always buffet style and was ok, but unfortunately it was pretty much the same food every day. Breakfast was exactly the same every day. Lunch was the same with an occasional change and dinner was also the same with an occasional change. However the special dinners, like on opening day, were always fabulous. They never seemed to stop bringing more dishes and many choices as well. A feast in every sense of the word. I never saw so many bottles of water in my life. They were always supplying us with bottles water, at the venue, in the practice room, by our match table, in the players room, in the hotel room, everywhere. Cases and cases of water every day. It seemed that there were volunteers that were there just to supply us with bottled water.