Polish Power and Fisher Back to Defend Crowns at Alfa Opens and World 10-Ball
For the past five years or so, competitors from Poland had been going deep in large professional pocket billiards tournaments and challenging the world’s best.
Polish competitors like Mieszko Fortunski, Wiktor Zielinski and Konrad Juszczyszyn would routinely reach the final 16 or quarterfinals of a major tournament or world championship – like in 2021, when eight Poles qualified for the 64-player, single-elimination phase of a world championship.
“Everyone is chasing after each other here and working on their game and it makes it very difficult for anyone to stand out,” said Wojciech Szewczyk. “We have a lot of passion for the game and we take it very seriously.”
Despite this passion, no one from the European nation had managed to earn a major victory –until last year, when Zielinski took home first place at Predator’s Pro Billiard Series Alfa Las Vegas Open and Szewczyk came from behind to win the Predator World 10-Ball Championship six days later. Both players along with women’s Alfa Las Vegas Open champion Kelly Fisher will be back to defend their titles beginning this week, with the Cue Sports International Expo kicking off this week. The 11-day event, which also includes the 3-Cushion World Cup, will begin Wednesday with the men’s Alfa Las Vegas Open and the women’s Open starting on Friday.
As Predator and CSI work to produce the toughest and fairest tests in professional pool, this year’s Pro Billiard Series events will see a format change. The single-elimination final stage of the Open tournaments will expand to three sets of a race-to-four from the two sets that it was previously. If the third set finishes in a 3-3 tie, a sudden-death shootout will occur. Competition in the double-elimination opening stage will remain a two-set race-to-four with ties decided by a shootout.
The format for the 128-player World 10-Ball Championship will remain unchanged, with players competing in race-to-eight double-elimination during the first half of the event before expanding to a race-to-10 during the single-elimination portion of the competition.
Zielinski survived a rollercoaster of a final day in last year’s Alfa Open, defeating Dimitri Jungo and Mika Immonen in shootouts to reach the finals where he took down Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp in straight sets. Six days later, Szewczyk trailed Edgie Geronimo 9-6 in the quarterfinals of the World 10-Ball Championships before taking advantage of a pair of open opportunities to come from behind and defeat his opponent. He then took down Albania’s Eklent Kaci and Christopher Tevez of Peru to earn Poland’s first world title. The weekend concluded with Fisher continuing a hot streak that would result in her earning a gold medal at the World Games later that summer and Player of the Year honors with Billiards Digest as AZBilliards, as the Hall of Famer posted an undefeated record and defeated Canada’s Britany Bryant in the finals of the women’s Alfa Las Vegas Open.
Professional events will be played on 18 nine-foot Predator Apex tables while over 6,000 competitors from the CSI Leagues will be competing on 276 of the seven-foot Apex table.
The prize fund for this year’s World 10-Ball Championship is also expanding to a total of $250,000 – up from $225,000 the previous year – with the winner’s share remaining $60,000. The two-week-long event kicks off third year of the Pro Billiard Series, which will include 21 total events this year that will pay out over $2 million in prize money.
Matches can be watched on Billiard.TV and on World Billiard TV, the official YouTube channel of CueSports International. A schedule of televised matches will be posted daily on the Pro Billiard Series and CSI Facebook and Instagram pages.
The Predator Pro Billiard Series is a series of open, professional events held around the world to provide more opportunities for professional and aspiring pool players to compete in high-quality events, earn more income, sharpen their skills, and earn their way into the Predator World 10-Ball Championship held in Las Vegas each year as part of the CueSports International Expo.
The Predator U.S. Pro Billiard Series by CSI feature six open professional events during the calendar year. Created by league operator CueSports International together with the Predator Group, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the following year Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held during the annual CueSports International Expo in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
These events are played on Predator Apex Pro tables covered with Predator Arcadia Performance Cloth, with Predator Arcos II balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI Leagues, CSI Events and CSI Media. CSI Leagues manages the BCA Pool League and USA Pool League, CSI Events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI Media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com.
Predator’s mission is to inspire billiard fans by providing innovative experiences and products that deliver high-performance, with unsurpassed class and style. Predator, Poison and Uni-Loc are Predator Group brands that focus on performance pool tables, cues, billiard accessories, and precision components. For more information regarding Predator Group’s products, visit www.predatorcues.com, www.poisoncues.com and www.uni-loc.com.
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