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Vietnam holds all major titles after thriller in Viersen


Published by frits bakker

© Ton Smilde
Vietnamese world champion shows his huge joy after he scored the winning point in Viersen

VIERSEN - The Vietnamese's coup in billiards' most popular discipline is complete now. The Asian billiards country, which has quickly risen to the top of the world in three-cushion, now holds the two major titles. The Vietnamese team with Quyet Chien Tran (40) and Phuong Vinh Bao (28) grabbed the world team title in a blood-curdling final against Spain in Viersen this Sunday afternoon. The tension rose to a climax when Vietnam won the play-offs 15-14. For Vietnam, that was a second major title in less than one year. At the last World three cushion championship individual in Ankara last year, Bao became world champion in a final against his compatriot Tran. The new stronghold of Vietnamese billiard players has conquered the world of three-cushion at lightning speed. The most salient detail on this day of the final: never before in the long history Vietnam has been on the podium of this World championship for nation teams.

The Spaniards with Ruben Legazpi and Sergei Jimenez held on to the title race in Viersen until the end after Vietnam won against USA in the Scotch double in the semi-finals and Spain also against Japan in the play-offs. By far the most exciting match was the battle for the gold medal in the Festhalle in Viersen. Phuong Vinh Bao won his match against Sergei Jimenez 40-22 in 18, while Ruben Legazpi drew the match for Spain against Quyet Chien Tran: 40-38 in 27.

The Scotch Double for the title, to 15 caroms with no equalizer, turned into a rarely seen thriller. The Spaniards took a 4-0 lead, Vietnam fought back and passed the Spaniards 9-4 and 11-8. The closing innings chased nerves through the arena and the stands, when Vietnam and Spain in turn seemed to win the championship. The match points were flying around for the spectators and finally, after some five mysterious misses, Phuong Vinh Bao could score the winning point over five rails. That led to a wave of joy among the championship winners.

The World Nations Team Championship, held from 1981 and for the 33rd time at De Festhalle in Viersen, featured 16 countries. In the preliminary rounds, Germany and the Netherlands, two of the title contenders were eliminated. Record holder Sweden then fell in the knockouts against Japan and South Korea squandered their chances against Spain. The Belgians lost to eventual champion Vietnam in the Scotch Double.

Two players remained unbeaten individually. Jung Han Heo won his four matches for South Korea, but did not have the teammate in Myung Woo Cho who could lead Korea to the title. With the leading player Eddy Merckx, the Belgians had the unbeaten frontrunner with 7 match points out of 4 (draw against Blomdahl). The Belgian team, that won four consecutive titles with Merckx and Caudron in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, could not approach those successes in the line-up with Merckx and Philipoom.

The final podium in Viersen with Vietnam, Spain, USA and Japan

The Vietnamese winners Quyet Chien Tran and Phuong Vinh Bao

The two winners from Vietnam

Spanish silver couple Sergei Jimenez and Ruben Legazpi




As many times in the first phase of the knockouts, the semi-finals also turned into two matches decided by Scotch double. The Vietnamese, who unexpectedly struggled, could just pass USA 15-13, the Spanish duo had a wider margin against Japan: 15-5.


The winners in the regular matches were Ryuuji Umeda for Japan, Sergei Jimenez for Spain and in the other match Quyet Chien Tran for Vietnam and Hugo Patiño for USA. The outcome of those semi-finals was that the winner of this World championship will take gold at the national championship for the first time in the long history.

The Vietnamese team, headed by last World Cup winner Quyet Chien Tran, had a tough mission to hold off USA. Quyet Chien Tran was far too strong for Raymon Groot (40-19 in 22), but never-give-up Hugo Patiño evened the score against world champion Bao. The American, former Pan American champion (2016) Patiño won after a final sprint with four and saw the Vietnamese counter-scored six more times at 40-30: 40-36 in 28.

So it came to a Scotch double, in which the USA team first led 6-3, took another lead within sight of the finish at 13-12, but was countered by the two Vietnamese after a miss by Patiño.


The World championship in which 55-year-old Ryyuji Umeda, the 2007 world champion in Ecuador, made a spectacular come-back, could have had an even better ending for Japan. But the Spaniards made an end to the illusion. Ryuuji Umeda, who had also already beaten Torbjörn Blomdahl and Jean Paul de Bruijn, also played a stunning match against Ruben Legazpi, which the Japanese won 40-30 in 34. At the other billiard, however, the other Japanese player, Takao Miyashita, had already been beaten by Sergei Jimenez (40-36), who again had an important part in the success, as he did against Bao earlier in the tournament.


The Scotch double rolled to the Spaniards' side, the Japanese had been honorably defeated. The country that won four times in its first six World championships for country teams, including with Nobuaki Kobayashi and Junichi Komori (1981, 1985 and 1992) happily returned to the world top once again.

Japanese Ryuuji Umeda, back in business

Hugo Patiño showing high class for USA


World championship final standings:

1 Vietnam

2 Spain

3 Japan and USA

5-8 South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, France.