A 3-Cushion Star Is Born: Phuong Vinh Bao
A star is born: Phuong Vinh Bao.
Never before had a World Championship final been contested between two Vietnamese players, and never before had a debutant won the world title. It happened against all odds in Ankara, Turkey today. Phuong Vinh Bao, a 28-year-old economy graduate defeated his countryman Quyet Chien Tran in a convincing manner: 50 – 34 in 33.
The experienced Tran, two World Cups to his name, was obviously the favorite. But Bao played with flair and focus, hardly missing anything that was makeable. Tran’s signature position play never really came to fruition, and well before Bao’s last point he looked like a man who knew it wasn’t his day.
The billiard world didn’t know Bao all that well before this week, but he has won many fans in a short time. His pleasant attitude and ready smile have quickly won him a following.
Reigning world champion Tayfun Tasdemir put up a brave fight against Tran but the early lead the Vietnamese had built up proved to be too much: 50-47 in 32.
Crowd favorite Myung Woo Cho had bad moments (three miscues) and good ones (a brilliant run of ten and a few shots that will be replayed for years to come). Bao was simply the more consistent player in that match: 50-48 in 29.
On the world ranking, the reign of Dick Jaspers ended today. He had held the #1 position since 2018, but is now 4th. Marco Zanetti, for the first time in his long career, is the world number one. Myung Woo Cho is second, Torbjörn Blomdahl third.
UMB president Farouk Barki announced that the prize money for the world championship will be doubled: 40.000 Euro to the winner. The 2024 World Championship will be played in Vietnam, so Bao can defend his title on his home turf.
BY BERT VAN MANEN