Finland Billiards Team Utilize Soft Break for Win
The Finnish billiard team produced an emphatic display of tactical excellence as they crushed Canada 9-0 in the opening semi-final. The Finnish side recorded a dry break off the first rack but then slightly changed the positioning of the cue ball as they found an effective, if uninspiring, formula which they successfully repeated again and again.
With each soft break they were left with a shot on every time and they were rarely in trouble, although they deserve full credit for displaying some of the best teamwork seen in the competition this week.
Finland had been in good form to reach the semi-finals with fine victories against Qatar, England and Switzerland, while Canada has been less impressive with a large slice of luck in their wins over India, Korea and Belgium.
The Finnish pairing of Mika Immonen and Markus Juva were at the table first after winning the lag but Immonen recorded a rare dry break, only the 11th in the whole tournament so far.
Canada’s Edwin Montal produced a number of mistakes and looked extremely nervous in their triumph over Belgium and he again made a twitchy start as he let Finland back to the action. That enabled Juva to down the final 9-ball as the Europeans made it 1-0.
Immonen got lucky in the second as he missed a pot at the 1-ball but it ended up behind the orange 5, although half of the 1-ball was still visible. However, Montal failed to connect with the same ball and, with ball-in-hand, Finland quickly moved 2-0 ahead.
Finland ran out from the break in the third and at 3-0 were looking good value for their lead. Canada finally got another opportunity but did not take advantage as a rash shot from Alain Martel left the red 3 tight on the left side rail and Juva produced a stunning effort to put his team back in control for 4-0.
The Europeans were opting for soft breaks from the same spot in every rack but it was proving effective as they kept having shots on the 1-ball. It was a similar story in the fifth as they once again ran out a rack and at 5-0 the semi-final was proving to be much more one-sided than had been expected.
It was not the most exciting pool and some fans prefer the balls being smashed open from the break but there was no denying that it was working for Finland. Once again, in a near copy of the previous rack, Finland produced a soft-break, had a shot on and ran out for 6-0.
The seventh did not go all of Finland’s way as Martel had a shot but he failed to make it safe and the Europeans, who were working well as a team, did not make another mistake in the rack and the scoreboard showed 7-0 with Finland two away from the final.
Once again, Finland got the speed of the break perfect and again had a shot on the 1-ball. Canada would need Finland to make an error or be the end of only the second whitewash of the competition after Philippines defeated Croatia 8-0 in the Last 16.
It became 8-0 and with a shot on the 1, the Finnish pair were within touching distance of the final. Mika Immonen sealed the 9-0 win as Canada, who had only had nine shots in the whole match, were on their way home.