YUKIO AKAGARIYAMA WINS THE 2011 WORLD 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A BRILLIANT 13-11 WIN OVER RONNIE ALCANO

Story and Photo by Ted Lerner

(Doha, Qatar)—With a super cool demeanor and a red hot stroke, Yukio Akagariyama of Japan won the 2011 World 9-ball Championship, defeating the Philippines Ronnie Alcano in a tense and scintillating finals match on Friday night, 13-11.

Akagariyama won the title with a brilliant display of pressure packed 9-ball before a cheering partisan crowd of close to 1500 people, most of them Filipinos, at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha, Qatar.

The victory capped what has been a tremendous recent surge for the 36 year old. Back in May Akagariyama made it to the semi-finals of the World 10-ball Championship in Manila. Then in early June, he placed 5th at the China Open in Shanghai.

yukio 9 ball Akagariyama Claims World 9 Ball Title

With a super cool demeanor and a red hot stroke, Yukio Akagariyama of Japan won the 2011 World 9-ball Championship, defeating the Philippines Ronnie Alcano in a tense and scintillating finals match on Friday night, 13-11.

In Doha Akagariyama played solid and steady all week. But he also had moments when mistakes crept into his game, especially late in matches during the knockout stages, when the pressure became too much to bear. But always the 36 year old from Nagano quietly sucked it up, and got right back down to business and made it across the finish line. It’s exactly what happened on Friday night.

The match had just about everything fans of championship 9-ball could ask for. The lead and the momentum swung both ways on several occasions, and the outcome was in doubt right up until the last ball dropped; both players made jaw dropping shots and strung racks together while showing absolute mastery of the table. Each player committed a handful of errors too, but under the weight of the moment this was to be expected, and in fact made the match an even more nerve jangling affair.

Alcano, who had just come off a definitive semi-finals win over compatriot Dennis Orcullo earlier, won the lag and immediately broke and ran for the first point of the match. Akagariyama, who advanced by beating England’s Mark Gray 11-10 in a thrilling semi final, tied it in the next rack after Alcano bobbled the 5-ball in the corner pocket.

In rack 3 Alcano fouled leaving Akagariyama a tempting 1-9 combination that rattled in the jaws of the pocket. With the 9 still sitting in the corner, Alcano sent the crowd into fits when he caromed off the one ball, and sent the cue down table, back up off of two rails and into the 9 which fell in for the win.

From there the pair stepped their games up a gear, as Akagariyama broke and ran, and then Alcano fired back with one of his own to go up 3-2. They split the next two racks with each converting one clutch pot after the next. At 4-4 the match was already shaping up to be a high quality battle of attrition.

Akagariyama grabbed his first lead in rack 9, and stamped his class on the match. Alcano left the 2 ball in the jaws, and the Japanese continued with his concise and steady shooting to move up by 1. In the next rack Alcano tried to jump but left the 2 ball open. Again, Akagariyama coolly picked off the balls and now led 6-4.

Alcano got one back in the subsequent frame with a break and run. But Akagariyama countered yet again with one of his own to move up 7-5. The 36 year old from Nagano was clearly focused like a laser, while potting balls with deadly accuracy and a fine rhythm. He was going to be very tough to beat on this night.

It was more of the same for Akagariyama in the next rack as Alcano missed a makeable two ball and the Japanese methodically began to pick off the colors for what seemed like a sure 3 rack lead. But just as he was about to put a stranglehold on the momentum and the match, Akagariyam left himself poor position on the 9 ball and the cue ball scratched after the winning ball fell.

With the crowd cheering wildly, the scratch seemed to have the makings of a pivotal turning point but Akagariyama was obviously in the zone this night, and broke and ran the next frame with some sensational shooting. In the next rack he continued his measured assault, winning a safety battle then running the table after banking in the 1 ball to go up 9-6.

Alcano knew it was now or never and cleared off an errant safety to get one back. Alcano then executed a marvelous full table jump on the 1 with position of the 2, a shot that had the crowd going wild. With the run out he was now down by 1, 9-8 and the crowd started sensing the momentum swinging back to their boy. When Akagariyama missed a makeable 6 ball in the next rack, Alcano convi Read more ...