Appleton Confident at World 8-Ball Championship

You Really Have to Beat Me

Story and photo by Ted Lerner

(Fujairah, UAE)–With a long day one in the books here at the 2012 World 8-ball Championship in Fujairah, UAE, certain trends are already becoming crystal clear.

The break shot is going to play a massive factor throughout the week in determining who stays and who takes a walk. With super tight pockets and responsive rails, the seven Knight Shot tables inside the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club are playing extremely difficult. Which translates to any player not playing with an extra fine touch can forget about contending for the title.

All this clearly means that only those with the most developed skills, and the deepest experiences handling extreme pressure will be standing towards the end. And this is at it should be at the World Championship of 8-ball.

One of those who looked the goods tonight was England’s Darren Appleton. Appleton, ranked number 3 in the world and the current back-to-back US Open champion, didn’t get the easiest of draws, as he came up against Hungary’s very capable Vilmos Foldes in the race to 7 alternate break match. It was Appleton’s first effort on the floor and he came into the match nursing a burgeoning head cold. Foldes meanwhile had already won a tough qualifier over the weekend and had loosened up with a narrow 7-6 win over Australia’s Stuart Lawler earlier in the day.

Foldes started out on fire, breaking and running his first three racks for a 4-2 lead. On the table and about to go to 5-2, though, Foldes made a mistake and from there the match turned in favor of Appleton. The hardcore Brit methodically took control of the match and won 7-5 booking his place in the final 64 beginning Wednesday.

Keen observers of the pro circuit, as well as punters, have to figure that Appleton is one of the top five favorites in Fujairah. Although he’s made his name in the American game in 10-ball, 9-ball and straight pool, Appleton’s pedigree comes from 8-ball. He started his cue career player English 8-ball and was number 1 in that game for 7 years in the late 1990’s and 2000’s. He has made it to the semis of the World 8-ball two years in a row, losing to eventual runner up Niels Feijen.

darren appleton 8ball Appleton Confident at World 8 Ball Championship

Appleton, ranked number 3 in the world and the current back-to-back US Open champion, didn’t get the easiest of draws, as he came up against Hungary’s very capable Vilmos Foldes in the race to 7 alternate break match. It was Appleton’s first effort on the floor and he came into the match nursing a burgeoning head cold.

Appleton knows what it takes to win in pro pool and he believes he has all the ingredients to add the World 8-ball trophy to his growing collection of titles.

“The break is massive in 8-ball,” Appleton said afterward. “I’m one of the best and most consistent breakers in this game. And with these tight pockets, you have to be accurate. You have to have perfect cue ball speed. You can’t punch the ball on these tables. And there’s no slide in the rails.” And of course Appleton is supremely confident in his ability to utilize that intangible that all great players bring to big time tournament play.

“My mental game is my main asset. You really have to beat me.”

Dennis OrculloIn all, 17 players punched their ticket through today to the final 64 knockout stage which begins on Wednesday. Defending Champion Dennis Orcullo of the Philippines had a few shaky moments on the TV table in his match vs. Kuwait’s Nasser Al Mujaibel. The match was tied at 4 and Orcullo didn’t look all too comfortable. But the Filipino star pulled it together for a 7-4 win and a spot in the final 64.

“I missed some easy shots,” Orcullo said. “The pockets are very tight and the table is new so I had to make some adjustments. I’m still focused and I’m confident I can win this thing again.”

Also making it through was the runner up in the last two World 8-ball Championships, the Netherland’s Niels Feijen who easily beat Hong Kong’s Lee Chenman, 7-3. Current World 9-ball champion Yukio Akagariyama of Japan took down Poland’s Tomasz Kaplan 7-3. England’s Chris Read more ...