Last year it was Dennis Orcollo coming out on top. This year it's Davao's finest shooter who cops one of Pool's richest titles.
Lee Vann Corteza has won the lucrative China Open 9 Ball and the hefty purse that comes with it after vanquishing Chinese Taipei veteran Fu Che Wei 11-6 in the final in Shanghai.
The 34-year old has cemented his place as one of the best players in the world not to win a WPA World Title. This triumph is one of over dozen tournament wins for Corteza from around the world.
“This means a lot for me to win this tournament” said Corteza. It's been three years since I won a big tournament. This is a big win for my career.”
Corteza obviously does not consider his 2011 win in the San Miguel Oktoberfest tournament as big, even though he defeated Orcollo in the final of that event. Orcollo was the defending champ this week because last year he overpowered another Taiwanese, Lu Hui Chuan in the final to win the title.
Corteza pounced on some Fu errors to take a 4-1 lead in the alternate-break format.
The large pockets made for easy breaking as the players traded break-and-run-outs.
Down 7-5 Fu had a great chance to narrow the gap when Corteza scratched, but he missed the eight ball and the Filipino ran out for 8-5.
From there Corteza exploited more mistakes from Fu and cruised to victory.
Through an interpreter Fu Che Wei admitted that he recently changed the tip of his cue and that he was still in the process of adjusting to it.
The tournament began with 64 players and had an initial double-elimination group stage before the event shifted to single-elimination for the last 32. Some of the best shooters in the world, like two-time world champ Darren Appleton of England and countrymen Karl Boyes and Chris Melling, as well as Ralf Souquet and Niels Feijen, comprised a very tough field.
Several Filipinos played in the China Open, such as Orcollo, Alex Pagulayan, Carlo Biado, Jeffrey De Luna, and Johann Chua.
De Luna and Chua won pre-tournament qualifiers to bust into the main draw. Chua led Orcollo 10-8 in the last 32 before dropping the next three racks to lose 11-10 in heartbreaking fashion.
Corteza dumped Albin Ouschan, the brother of Jasmin, 11-8 in the round of 32 before disposing of Ko Pin Yi of Chinese Taipei 11-6 in the next round.
The Pinoy then took out Zheng Yu Xuan 11-7 in the quarters to set up a semifinal clash with the surprise of the tournament, Omar Al-Shaheen of Kuwait.
Meanwhile Fu, a wily campaigner familiar to the Pool cognoscenti, was steadily powering his way through the field, eliminating Orcollo 11-8 in the last 16 and dumping countryman Chen Tsung Hua in the quarterfinals in a hill-hill thriller.
Biado also reached the quarters but lost to Wu Jia Qing 11-8. In the previous knockout rounds he had taken out Ryu Seung Woo of Korea and the very tough Chang Jung Lin of Chinese Taipei.
In the semis Corteza outclassed Al-Shaheen 11-3 while Fu bettered China's Wu 11-8.
Wu, formerly known as Wu Chia Ching, is the Taiwanese-born 2004 world 9 Ball champ who has changed his allegiance to the People's Republic of China.
In the Women's division Liu Sha Sha of China defeated her countrywoman Chen Si Ming 9-8 in the final. The Philippines' Rubilen Amit reached the quarters but was mauled 9-2 by Chen.
Amit reached the last eight by beating highly-regarded Yu Ram Cha 9-8 in the round of 16.
Defending champ Kelly Fisher of England fell to Chen in the semis by the same score.
The China Open 9 Ball is a World Pool-Billiard Association ranking event. Recently the Pool world was rocked by the cancellation of the World 9 Ball in Oslo, Norway.
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Yahoo Sports thanks WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner for his help. Follow Ted @poolwpa.