Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on November 20, 2016
It wasn’t a bad week, was it? Six, seven unforgettable matches, close finishes, superb scoring and more points I intend to replay at home than I can remember (but there is always the Kozoom video archive!).
Jaspers, Blomdahl, Merckx, Caudron. Not their week, but don’t think for a moment that this marks a downturn in their careers. All four have big event wins still in them. Merckx made a strong impression in the group stage, but Jae Ho Cho was a fair winner against him. Neither Caudron nor Jaspers played like a pre-tournament favorite, and Blomdahl ran into a strong (11 inning) performance by Zanetti. All four will be back in a World Cup semifinal (or better) before it’s 2018.
Semih was finally rewarded for all the hard work he put in since his comeback. There were many disappointments along the way in the past two years , and few results. This was just what the doctor ordered: a semifinal in a major tournament, a classy win (10 innings), fortitude in a garbage match (40 innings), the “shot of the championship” and a high level of self-discipline.
Leppens was almost THE story of the tournament, with his spectacular win over Jaspers, thanks to a run of 18, and an even more dramatic draw against Bury, with seven in the equalizer. As if that was not enough, he came close to making the final when he had a 39-30 lead over Sanchez in the semi. How often will he replay the two match points in his head? The first was a reversing english shot that is desperately difficult to get out of the kiss. The second was a rather common long-long-short, not easy but very makeable, and he misjudged it by a millimeter. Don’t tell me Leppens is “not a winner”, that’s a cheap shot. He’s won plenty in Belgium, and nowhere is it harder than there.
Haeng Jik Kim, what a Sunday’s child he is. Born for success, it seems. He has all it takes: copious amounts of natural talent, the right temperament and a slice of good fortune sometimes. His game is an absolute joy to watch, his stroke is all quality and he has great instinct for “things that work”, a Blomdahlesque characteristic. What I sometimes miss with Haeng Jik, is emotion. He is TOO cool. Runs 12, sits down with a straight face. Makes a stupid mistake, sits down with a straight face. Come on HJ, you are a human being! Show us how hot that fire burns inside of you.
Daniel has fans where-ever he plays, and that is hardly surprising. Not only does he have a great game, he also has a great personality. Very aware of his own ability, but still modest and soft-spoken, he gets along well with the Asians, the South-Americans, the Europeans. And my goodness, what a stroke he has! The run of eight against Leppens in the semi will go down in history, that was monumental. It started with a rail-first, maximum reverse english shot that the average 3-cushion player will make about once every 23 years. It ended with a twice-around that was judged to perfection, stroked like a dagger into Leppens’ heart.
Bordeaux 2016 was another step in the right direction. The product we have is superb. If we keep improving the way it is televised, marketed, and rewarded, we will climb out of our connoisseur / pensioner hole, and start attracting a lot more undiscovered Haeng Jik Kim’s. And commercial interest.