Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on August 20, 2023
“Poly” finally gets rid of his demons.
Such a long and successful career, such a natural talent, one of the most fun-to-watch players in the circuit. But one obvious thing was missing in the billiard life of Nikos Polychronopoulos: a big win. He was happy to grab the European title for national teams, together with Kostas Kokkoris last year. But where was that major individual title?
This UMB / Five & Six / Afreeca TV Survival tournament counts as a major. I think, deep in his heart, Nikos would have preferred a World Cup. But then, the Survival prize money is good, the field was strong and the win must have tasted like nectar.
In the final foursome, Jun Tae Kim was the player who never really got going. But have you noticed how often he is in quarters and semis, these days? He’s a real danger.
The surprise player was Vietnam’s Van Ly Dao, an amazing shotmaker with lots of table presence and guts. He ran away from the field in his semifinal, and did it again in the final. For a while, it looked like he was going to win. Then came a strong comeback from Nikos, followed by two dominant innings (10 and 6) by Tayfun. A ten and a six will really shake up this game, in Survival format.
It was suddenly a three-horse race again, and ironically Poly’s last shot was a miss on an easy position. But he had a small lead, and when Dao found the hole on a 3-rail / 4-rail SLSL shot (always look for the 4-rail, folks), the title was for Greece.
On the podium, Polychronopoulos had nice words for his wife and daughter at home. But to me, he looked like a guy who most wanted to be alone with his thoughts for a few minutes. Is the billiard world’s most extraverted player actually an introvert, once the cue is back in the bag?
One thing is certain: there will be lots of cheers for “Nick”, coming from all over world. He did all the hard work, kept up a high level for years. Today came the reward.