Korea Conquers World Team
Naju, Korea – Jeung Heung Resort hosted the 1st Annual Korea vs World Team challenge where the best Korean pocket billiards players would face against an assortment of international players. Dragon Promotions created this new billiard event and format which included The World Team consisting of former World Champion Captain Mika Immonen FIN, World Junior 10-Ball Champ Hayato Hijikata JPN, WPBA Top 16 Miyuki Sakai JPN, German 8-Ball 9-Ball Champ Isabelle Krafczyk, and Women’s Ultimate Trickshot Runner-Up Shanelle Loraine of Guam. They would face strong Korea with Captain Won Seok Kim, #3 Ranked Won Sik Ham, and arguably the best 3 woman team a country could ever assemble in Ga Young Kim, Jeanette Lee, and Yu Ram Cha. The matches would all air live on MBC ESPN 4 hours each day.
Day 1 started with Korea striking first blood with Ham Kim taking apart Immonen Krafczyk 3-0. The Koreans then moved on 2-0 with a 3-2 win with Lee W. Kim over Sakai Hijikata. Underdogs Loraine Immonen won a dramatic victory 3-2 over Cha Ham to put the World Team on the board 2-1. The World Team had a chance to tie the matches in the 5-on-5 alternate shot match but lost 3-2 for the Koreans to stay ahead 3-1.
Next in the womens 3-on-3 , World Team made a tremendous out the first game with Loraine making a key length of the table draw shot, but the Korean women were just too good together and led 2-1. A key moment had Sakai puzzled over a shot and Immonen called Captains timeout and advised a nice safety which Sakai hit perfectly. Then G.Kim came with a beautiful jump shot setting up a run out for the Koreans to win 3-1 and take the team score to 4-1. Immonen re-groped his team and stopped the momentum in the men’s doubles and with Hijikata’s fine play defeated the Korean men 3-1. Next Hijikata came with another fine match to defeat Cha in the singles match 3-1 and ended the day on a better note for the World Team with Koreans leading by 2 matches at 5-3.
We are all struggling, but Hijikata is by far playing the best of everyone said Sakai of the young 18 year old phenom from Japan.
The team is making alot of unforced errors, we could have one a couple more matches. But Shanelle has stepped up a notch and so has Hijikata. Tomorrow’s a new day. said Immonen of his team’s performance.
The players were all treated by the resort to use all its facilities including a huge water park with amazing slides. Immonen, Hijikata, and Jeanette Lee could be seen going up and down and all around the swift rides. The players ended the day with a relaxing Korean style sauna and natural hot springs bath.
After a day of fun and relaxation, Day 2 started with a 5-on-5 match up and the Koreans were too in sync again and won 3-0. Next Immonen and Hijikata again made a perfect pairing and defeated G.Kim,Lee,and Cha in the 2-on-3 men vs womens match. Score stood at Korea 6 and World Team 4. Next the World Team relied again on its anchor Immonen in the singles as he defeated Ga Young Kim 3-1 to put the World Team within one match at 6-5. But Korea came back with a 3-0 drubbing of Lee against Loraine (in a re-match of 9-ball in April when Loraine defeated Lee) . Then Korea got to the hill in the womens triples match where Lee, Kim, and Cha thrashed the international women 3-0.
Korea 8 matches to 5 and the World Team was on its last leg in the 5-on-5 again. Korea Team won the first game, and though the World Team took the second game, Korea’s momentum and strength was too strong as they conquered World Team 3-1 and final match score of 9-5.
What can we say, we knew the Korea Team was going to be really tough. I’m proud of my team though, we were close at one point and it could have went the other way. We’ll do better next time said Immonen in a gracious live TV speech for MBC.
This is the second Team event in a row where Team Korea has won. Their last victims was a thrilling 9-8 match against the USA. Next the Korean women will face off against international womens team in a 3-cushion showdown .
Korea vs World Team Challenge was sponsored by Jeung Heung Resort and the city of Naju. Also Ra Beauty Core, MBC ESPN, Brunswick Billiards, and Predator Cues.
Dragon Promotions will host the 3rd Annual KPT Korea Championships Nov 13-17, 2007