TWO FORMER CHAMPIONS THROUGH AT BETVICTOR WORLD CUP OF POOL

Austria 7–3 Croatia
Finland 7–5 Singapore
Poland 7-5 Italy

Former champions Austria and Finland are both through to the second round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool after wins over Croatia and Singapore respectively, while Poland have also advanced to the last 16 after surviving a scare against Italy at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, England.

The day’s opening fixture pitted Austria, winners in 2017 and runners up last year, against Croatia, whose pairing of Philipp Stojanovic and Roberto Bartol had won the European Qualifier to earn their spot at the event.

Austria were again represented by Albin Ouschan and Mario He, but it was the unseeded team who drew first blood after Ouschan missed a long 2. The first six racks were split before Austria moved into a 4-3 lead with the help of a fluked snooker and when Bartol missed the 5 in the next rack, last year’s silver medallists were able to take advantage to earn a two-rack lead.

From there, Austria’s momentum built; they reached the hill at 6-3 and the match was won one rack later after Croatia conceded ball in hand.

“It was a tough match, very close, and I wasn’t feeling great,” admitted He. “I missed an easy 7 ball and I hooked my partner on an easy position, but Albin played really well and he gave me the confidence to come back into the match.”

“Everybody who is in the last 16 can win this tournament; there is no really big favourite. We saw in the first round that in a race to seven anything is possible,” added Ouschan.

Another pair of former champions, Finland, were up next against Singapore. Petri Makkonen and Mika Immonen had lifted the World Cup trophy in 2012 but faced a tricky opener against Aloysuis Yapp and Sharik Aslam Sayed.

The Finnish pair built a 4-2 lead but a missed combo by Makkonen helped Singapore turn things around for a 5-4 advantage. The 2012 champions arrested their slide and took the next two racks to move to the hill at 6-5 ahead.

Immonen had the break and made the 6 but the 1 was hidden behind the 7. Makkonen picked up his jump cue and sunk the object ball before Immonen followed his partner’s attacking lead in banking the 2 to open up the frame for his team.

They kept control of the table for the rest of the rack to run out for victory and will meet either Spain or Australia in the second round.

“We got away with a little scare when they were 5-4 ahead but we closed it out in good fashion,” said Immonen. “I missed a combo to go 5-3 ahead and after that the match turned, but we got away with it.

“At the end I broke well but Petri was hidden from the 1 so I said go to for the jump and see what happens. He made a good shot and then I made the bank so we both made some good shots in the last rack to win it. The first match can always be a bit jittery as you try to get the feel of the table and how the balls are running. It’s always nice to get the first win.”

In the final match of the afternoon, Poland (Konrad Juszczyszyn and Mateusz Sniegocki) raced to a 4-0 lead over Italy. At that stage a brilliant shot from Fabio Petroni propelled him and Danielle Corrieri back into it. The former Mosconi Cup star had to jump the 7 to reach the 6, which he then banked up table. Cueing was difficult, so he had to use to bridges in order to make the shot which set Italy on their way to four consecutive racks.

With the match level, Poland responded and then immediately reached the hill. Italy pulled another back to make it 6-5, at which point Corrieri produced an excelled jump shot to make the 2 but, as the match looked set the hill-hill, the younger of the Italian due went in-off while potting the 7, giving Poland ball in hand and the match.

The first round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool concludes on Thursday evening with Spain taking on Australia before the last 16 commences with China vs. Chile and Netherlands vs. USA. The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is broadcast live in over 100 countries around the world, including on Sky Sports and DAZN.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.

GREAT BRITAIN THROUGH AS CANADA AND GREECE ADVANCE

Canada 7-2 France
Greece 7–3 New Zealand
Great Britain A 7-5 Malta

Hosts Great Britain A progressed safely into the second round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool after seeing off Malta at the Morningside Arena, Leicester on Wednesday evening, when there were also wins for Canada and Greece.

Jayson Shaw and Chris Melling were flying the flag for the host nation and were up against Malta – Clayton Castaldi and billiards legend Tony Drago – and avoided the potential banana skin and a Maltese fightback as they moved into round two with a 7-5 win. Earlier in the evening Canada had beaten France 7-2, while Greece were 7-3 victors over New Zealand.

The hosts were well supported but it was Malta who took the first rack, before Great Britain levelled. Malta had a chance to go 2-1 ahead but Drago missed a tricky cut to the middle on the frame ball. Shaw had a long pot but secured the rack and instead it was Great Britain A who moved in front.

They built a 5-1 advantage before Malta were back on the board, and looked set to reach the hill at 6-2 before Melling missed an elementary 9 ball. Instead it was 5-3 and it wasn’t long until there was only one rack between the teams after Shaw failed to make a 4/9 which he’d usually expect to sink.

Great Britain had some thinking to do and in the next rack they found a way and finally got to the hill. Castaldi, though, have been breaking well all match and again gave his team a roadmap as they looked to stay in the match.

The Maltese runout piled the pressure on the hosts, who would break next knowing that if they let their opponents take the rack, it would be the visitors to break at hill-hill. But Shaw and Melling, who had looked strong early in the match, eliminated their mistakes when it mattered and booked their place in the second round.

“We played perfectly to get 5-1 up but then it was a bad 9 I missed,” said Melling. “We have played enough tournaments around the world to know that when you do make a mistake you can’t take it back, so you can’t dwell on it, you have to forget it straight away.”

Shaw added: “Every match is going to be tough, so it’s one match, one ball at a time. There is a lot of play left in this tournament and a lot of good teams.”

Earlier in the evening France were defeated by Canada, who had John Morra back in the side after missing last year’s World Cup in Shanghai, alongside Alex Pagulayan. The 30-year-old has switched style and is now playing left-handed due to back issues and looked just as good as ever as a southpaw. Canada took a quick 2-0 lead and despite being pegged back in the third, gave their French opponents Alex Montpellier and Fabio Rizzi a mountain to climb as they move to 5-1 ahead.

France got their second rack on the board to narrow the gap to 5-2, but Canada responded to reach the hill and took little extra time in securing the victory and a second-round clash with Estonia.

New Zealand took the lead in their match against the Greek team of Alexander Kazakis and Nick Malaj, Matt Edwards playing a smart plant for the 4/9 combo. His playing partner, Simon Singleton, was born in the UK and had plenty of support in attendance in Leicester. But the New Zealand followers would be disappointed, as Greece responded to going behind with five consecutive racks.

When Malaj missed the 3 with a jump shot, New Zealand cleared for their second rack. They broke dry but Kazakis scratched on the 1 and the Kiwis worked the table for their third. The comeback was short lived, however, and Greece were soon scoring again and took the next two racks for the match. They will face Chinese Taipei in round two. 

Play continues with the remaining four first-round matches and the first two second-round fixtures played across two sessions on Thursday. The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is broadcast live in over 100 countries around the world, including on Sky Sports and DAZN.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.

GERMANY AND JAPAN DUMPED OUT OF BETVICTOR WORLD CUP OF POOL

Germany 6-7 Estonia
Japan 4-7 Hong Kong, China
Chinese Taipei 7
–2 Romania

Germany and Japan were dumped out of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool on Wednesday afternoon as Estonia and Hong Kong, China upset the odds at the Morningside Arena, Leicester, live on Sky Sports, DAZN and networks worldwide.

There were no such problems for Chinese Taipei, however, as brothers Ko Pin Yi and Ko Ping Chung defeated Romania 7-2.

The first match of the day saw one of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany, take on Estonia, made up of Denis Grabe and Mark Magi. The German team comprised former World Cup winner Ralf Souquet and reigning World Champion Joshua Filler and were fancied by many to go all the way this year.

The teams exchanged the first eight racks, although at 1-1 Grabe snatched at the 9 to leave Souquet a cut which the former World Cup winner missed, giving Estonia a let off.

At 4-3 down and breaking, Magi made the tournament’s first golden break to bring the match level, and from there Estonia opened up a 4-6 lead. Germany pulled one back on their break, but at 6-5 Estonia looked to have a roadmap to the second round. However, Magi scratched to the middle pocket and the German’s took it to hill-hill.

At that stage Souquet and Filler took a toilet break, keeping Estonia in their chair to dwell on the mistake. When they returned, Souquet was breaking but they lost position on the 5 and it was Estonia who got the better of the safety, and eventually the rack, for a 7-6 win.

“We are delighted with the win,” said Grabe. “We beat one of the top seeds, Germany. We know Joshua Filler is the World Champion so it was a tough match but we played well and we are happy with the win.

“We know we are capable of playing really, really well. Last year we only lost 7-6 to the winners, China, so we know we can play against these guys.”

The second match saw a second unseeded team advance as the young duo of Lo Ho Sum and Yip Kin Ling took Hong Kong, China into the second round. They dumped Japan – Naoyuki Oi and Toru Kuribayashi – out 7-4.

The Japanese favourites stormed to a 3-0 lead but Hong Kong, China fought back to level the all-Asian affair. The 19-year-old Yip then executed a brilliant jump to bank the 3 as his side moved ahead for the first time. Japan hit back but from there it was all Hong Kong and the young pairing saw out the victory to advance to the second round.

Among the pre-tournament favourites were Chinese Taipei, and the Ko brothers Pin Yi and Ping Chung showed none of the issues suffered by some of the seeded teams as they dispatched Romania 7-2.

Having fallen behind in rack one, the Romanian duo Babken Melkonian and Ioan Ladanyi levelled after breaking in the second. Chinese Taipei, though, were on the hill before Romania could get their second rack and the comeback was over before it started, a mistake on the 8 gifting Chinese Taipei the rack, and the match.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool continues with three more first round matches, including hosts Great Britain A against Tony Drago’s Malta.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.

CHILE STUN GREAT BRITAIN B AS USA AND PHILIPPINES ADVANCE

Chile stunned Great Britain B at the BetVictor World Cup of Pool on Tuesday, dumping the hosts out of the tournament with a 7-5 first-round victory at the Morningside Arena, Leicester, live on Sky Sports and DAZN.

There were wins for Philippines and USA during the evening session, but the big story was Chile. As hosts, Great Britain have two teams in the event, and it was Enrique Rojas and Alejandro Carvajal who had the unenviable task of facing the ‘B’ team of Mark Gray and Imran Majid in front of their home crowd.

But the South American pairing rose to the occasion and matched the host nation throughout. The race-to-seven match reached 4-4 without either side opening up more than a one-frame lead. Chile moved to the hill at 6-4, and though Great Britain B pulled one back, they couldn’t force the decider as the visitors closed out the match for a memorable win and to set up a second-round encounter with defending champions China.

That came after Carlo Biado and Jeff De Luna were pushed all the way in the tournament’s first hill-hill thriller as the Philippines survived an almighty scare against the Czech Republic pairing of Roman Hybler and Michael Gavenciak.

At no point during the match did either side open up a lead of more than one rack, and it was the Czechs who reached the hill first, but their sixth dry break allowed the Philippines to run out and join them, giving a fitting conclusion to a gripping clash.

It was Biado to break in the decider, and with the 1 down the table offered an opportunity to clear. Biado, though, missed a straight 5, which came to rest back along the top rail. Hybler attempted to bank it down table but, as well as missing, he left De Luna a clear shot. This time the Philippines made no mistakes and saw out the match to set up a second-round clash with Albania. 

Earlier in the evening USA had defeated Brazil 7-2. Shane van Boening and Skyler Woodward, finalists at the World Cup in 2017 and Mosconi Cup winners last December, were not at their best but still managed a convincing win over the struggling Brazilians and will meet Holland in round two on Thursday evening.

“We didn’t really play well,” said Van Boening. “We had a problem with our luggage, Skyler’s cues didn’t show up until two hours before the match. We were running around trying to get his bag so he could play, so we didn’t get much practice before the match.”

Play continues with six more first round matches across two sessions on Wednesday, including hosts Great Britain A in action against Tony Drago’s Malta. The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is broadcast live in over 100 countries around the world, including on Sky Sports and DAZN.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.

CHINA CRUSH SWEDEN AS ALBANIA AND NETHERLANDS ADVANCE

Photo Credit JP Parmentier/Matchroom Multi Sport

BetVictor World Cup of Pool – Round One

China 7-1 Sweden
Russia 3-7 Albania
Holland 7-2 South Africa

Defending champions China are safely through to the second round of the BetVictor World Cup of Pool after a commanding performance over Sweden, in a session which also saw Albania beat Russia and Netherlands see off South Africa at the Morningside Arena, Leicester, live on Sky Sports, DAZN and networks around the world.

The opening session of the $250,000, 32-team event saw China’s Wu Jaiqing and Liu Haitao fire a warning shot to the rest of the field with a resounding 7-1 win as they look to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup title.

They were gifted the first rack when Tomas Larsson missed a simple 6 and took the subsequent three racks for a 4-0 lead. Sweden, whose team also included European Mosconi Cup captain Marcus Chamat, got one on the board after Wu failed to cut a 4 up table but lost position on the 7 in the following rack. After a brief safety battle, US Open finalist Wu was left an open shot and China completed the set for a 5-1 advantage.

In winning the World Cup last summer, it was Wu who led the attack for China, with Liu perhaps not at his best. It was noticeable in this match that Liu was already performing better than he had 12 months ago, an ominous sign for the 31 teams hoping to rip the title from China’s grasp.

The final two racks required for victory came without Sweden returning to the table, and the reigning champions progressed through to round two with a 7-1 victory.

The second match saw some of Europe’s best young pool talents take to the table. For Albania Eklent Kaci was joined by Besar Spahiu, while Russia featured the fearsome pairing of Fedor Gorst and Ruslan Chinakhov.

The first six racks were shared but from 3-3 Albania opened up a two-rack advantage. They were then given ball in hand when Chinakhov missed the 5 ball, which was sat invitingly in the jaws of the corner pocket. Kaci was struggling with his cueing and couldn’t take immediate advantage, however on their next visit Albania did clear the table to move to the hill before securing their progression to round two with a 7-3 victory.

“We are very happy to progress to round two,” said Spahiu, who works as a full-time police officer. “We enjoyed the match, but we will hope to play better in the next round. The police force is good to me – if we keep winning they will let me take more time off, so let’s hope we keep winning.”

The session’s final match saw Netherlands up against South African twins Vincent and Richard Halliday. The Dutch pair of Niels Feijen and Marc Bijsterbosch raced to a 3-0 lead but the latter scratched with just three balls remaining, allowing their opponents to clear.

The Dutch moved 6-1 ahead before South Africa got another rack on the board, but it took just one more rack for the Netherlands to complete the victory and join China and Albania in round two. All three will find out their next opponents during this evening’s session, which begins at 7pm local time.

The BetVictor World Cup of Pool is sponsored by Rasson Billiards, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator are the Official Cue of the event and Kamui the Official Chalk and Tip.

GURNEY EXCITED FOR DARTS’ MORNINGSIDE ARENA DEBUT

DARTS star Daryl Gurney is eager to return to the Morningside Arena for October’s Paddy Power Champions League of Darts after visiting the Leicester venue on Friday.

World number five Gurney is expected to be amongst eight top stars competing in the BBC-televised Champions League on October 19-20, with the event moving to Leicester in 2019.

The Northern Irish ace, nicknamed “Superchin”, made a guest appearance at the Morningside Arena when he took to the court at the sell-out Leicester Riders clash with Newcastle Eagles.

“I think it’s brilliant – a great venue,” said Gurney. “It was the first time I’ve ever watched the basketball and it’s end-to-end stuff, very entertaining. Our darts is always fast but these boys are ultra-fit.”

Gurney previously competed in the 2018 Champions League, and his victory in November’s Players Championship Finals cemented his position in the world’s top eight.

He sits fifth on the PDC Order of Merit at present, with the top eight players following July’s World Matchplay qualifying to compete in the Champions League.

“Hopefully I’ll be back here,” he added. “I’ve got to pick up my form a bit – you never know what the other players are going to do – but fingers crossed I get to play in this wonderful arena.”

Five fans won a pair of tickets to the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts at Friday’s event, with two on-court appearances from Gurney preceded by a special darts challenge for the venue’s hospitality guests, where Steve Nash managed to beat the three-dart score set by the PDC star.

Tickets for the Paddy Power Champions League of Darts go on general sale on Thursday March 21 (10am). For information, visit pdc.tv/tickets.

Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Line-up for King Power Quad Nations Announced

Following the huge success of the inaugural King Power Quad Nations tournament in 2018, which saw over 5000 supporters watch Paralympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medallist teams from around the globe compete in Leicester, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby have announced their players for the 2019 tournament in a line up which includes athletes who have previously represented their country in the Paralympic Games.

Described by spectators and sports commentators as brutal, the supercharged tournament will be held at Leicester’s Morningside Arena between Friday 1st March and Sunday 3rd March 2019, bringing together three incredible days of the world’s best ‘Murderball’ teams for this intense, elite-standard competition.  Competing, Great Britain will be up against Japan, who won the Gold medal at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships held in Sydney this summer; Canada who is currently ranked 4th in the world and France ranked 7th.

Representing Great Britain will be three Leicester Tigers players; Gavin Walker, Jamie Stead and Leicester University student, Nick Cummins along with a surprise selection: Kylie Grimes. Kylie last played international wheelchair rugby in 2012 and returns to the game following a three-year spell with British Athletics. As an experienced low point player Kylie provides the coach with more opportunities to use high pointers Aaron Phipps and Stuart Robinson.

The 2019 Great Britain King Power Quad Nations Line up is:

Kylie Grimes                                       0.5(F)

Jonathan Coggan                             0.5

Ryan Cowling                                     1.0

Nicholas Cummins                           1.5

Gavin Walker (Vice Captain)        2.0         

Chris Ryan (Captain)                       2.0

Jamie Stead                                        2.5

James Roberts                                  3.0

Aaron Phipps                                   3.5

Stuart Robinson                              3.5

The three-day tournament marks an important performance opportunity for

Great Britain ahead of the 2019 European Championships in Denmark where

Team GB will defend their title, and ahead of the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge which will be played alongside the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo in October and involve the top eight teams in the world.

Fast paced and violent, players compete in specially-designed, manual wheelchairs and must meet a minimum disability criterion, classifiable under the sport classification rules.  All competing athletes were either born with physical disabilities, or have suffered illness which has affected their mobility, or else experienced life-changing injuries through accidents, including those serving in the armed forces.

Head Coach Paul Shaw said, ‘As always it has been a difficult selection and we have had to leave out some strong and experienced athletes but it’s good to have competition for places and to be able to try some new lines. We have a really good competition programme this year which includes defending our European title in the summer, so we want to get off to a strong start’.

David Pond, Chief Executive Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby comments, “I’m really excited to be returning to Leicester for this tournament which again sees us play some of the top teams in the world, including Japan, recently crowned as World Champions. I like the selection and it’s good to see a female athlete earn a place in the squad. Kylie is proof that if you are good enough then being female is no barrier to making this team. As always I am humbled by the support we are getting from our sponsor King Power and from the many businesses and local people in the city.”

The King Power Wheelchair Rugby Quad Nations tournament will take place 1st – 3rd March 2019 at the Morningside Arena with daytime and evening sessions over three days. Family tickets and concessions for Schools and Students will also be available. For more details visit www.wrquadnations.com

Happy 3rd Birthday to US!

Leicester Arena Celebrates

Whether it is the Leicester Community Sports Arena, Leicester Arena or as we are now known Morningside Arena Leicester (many thanks to Morningside Pharmaceuticals for their continued support!), one thing is certain…we have come a long way since opening the doors on January 27t 2016!

As well as the many great events that we have seen come to the city, some of which are featured in our recent #MorningsideMemories blogs (check that out HERE!), we have also become a key part within the local community as a hub for academic, social and sporting provision.

As part of the Leicester Riders Foundation and through our partnership with Leicester College we regularly welcome people from all backgrounds and ages as part of curriculum study and the wide selection of Basketball sessions offered though the Foundation every week.

With over 75,000 people having watched the successes of our Leicester Riders team to date at home games and a further 25,000+ taking part in regular activity annually at the venue – from elite, Junior National League and development training through the Riders themselves, to local league, Leicester Cobras, Ultimate Frisbee & Volleyball among those activities being hosted here at Morningside Arena Leicester.

2019 promises to be another year of development of growth with some fantastic events lined up alongside the continued progress of Rob Paternostro’s Leicester Riders team.

The entire Arena team would like to thank those that have joined us on the journey so far including staff, sponsors, partners and visitors who have helped to put Morningside Arena on the map.

We are now off to enjoy some well-deserved birthday cake as we continue to plan the next year and beyond!

For the latest on Leicester Riders visit the official website HERE or follow them on Facebook & Twitter @Ridersbball.

For the latest Morningside Arena Leicester news check out our social media platforms and the official site HERE.

#MorningsideMemories – Arena Grapples with Global Wrestling Stars

While the Arena is now considered a great destination for ring based sports with Boxing events a staple of Arena life, it was the stars of Wrestling’s Ring of Honor promotion that were the first to build a ring on centre court and wow an audience back in November 2016.

Little did those in attendance that day know that it would fast become a ‘where were you when’ moment with many of those standing in the squared circle that day going on to become some of the biggest names in the business across the globe!

Heading the pack were Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly (NXT), Lio Rush (WWE) & Donovan Dijak (NXT) who can all now be seen across WWE programming and the groundbreaking, Matt & Nick Jackson, The Young Bucks (AEW). In addition Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay (NJPW) & Jay White (NJPW), all household names in their own right, winning numerous titles around the world and all widely considered among the very best on the planet.

The card was made up with many more globetrotting, title winning stars – Alex Shelly, Chris Sabin, Christoper Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Dalton Castle and the Briscoes making up a memorable night of high flying, hard hitting action.

#MorningsideMemories – Asian Music Superstars Take the Arena Stage

As recently as last week the Arena announced it’s very first SOLD OUT music show, the Winner of Indian Idol 2018 Salman Ali headlining alongside Neelanjana Ray & Nitin Kumar on February 22, 2019 in front of 3,000 fans.

This is the latest event that will welcome stars of the Asian music scene with the likes of Shaan, Guru Randhawa, Sonu Nigam & Babbu Maan among those to have wowed audiences as they transformed the Arena with spectacular shows paving the way for the February 2019 Indian Idol show.

Guests have travelled from right across the country to see their favourite acts perform and these nights have provided another great example of how flexible a venue Morningside Arena has become, hosting a diverse range of events, shows and activities.

Hosting up to 3,000 people, Morningside Arena is emerging as a go to venue for acts with the potential to host more fans than any other venue in the county.

For the latest news on forthcoming events keep an eye on our various platforms, simply search ‘Morningside Arena’ on Facebook & Twitter or check out this very website.