so for many years the US has been on a downward slide in terms of pool action. with no major tournaments so speak of besides US Open (and the annual APA big bash if you count amateur action), the attention has been shifted to europe and beyond. nowadays Asia is the new hotspot if you’re looking for pool.
as a group, Asians seem to really enjoy cuesports as a competitive sport/game and a popular past time. it is treated seriously, and Asian societies have accepted cuesports as a legitimate source of entertainment, unlike the negative image it has in the US. pool, billiards, and snooker have all found enthusiastic supporters, even in the form of governments. Philippines have long embraced pool as a point of national pride. Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all have allowed pool and billiards to flourish. now China seems to be the country that’s really making a forceful push for its cuesports dominance. in recent times, we have seen a sizeable increase in the number of China’s professional women’s players. also, more professional men’s snooker players from China are now competing in European snooker circuits.
China’s latest push in pool is in the form of self-invented format known as Chinese 8-ball. i’m not super familiar with the format, but it’s basically 8-ball played on a 9-foot table with snooker cushions and snooker pockets. those rounded points on a pocket make even the simplest shots challenging; i watched orcullo missed some easy-looking shots simply because of the equipment. whatever the endgame is, China is sparing no expense at promoting Chinese 8-ball. they are organizing large events for men and women around this new format, and have lured snooker luminary stephen hendry to both play and promote the game. you can find a bunch of match videos on Chinese 8-ball; i watched several videos that featured pool champions (orcullo, appleton, pagulayan, to name a few) trying their hands at this new game. even earl dusted off his passport and played one of the tournaments in China. i’m not sure what goals China is trying to accomplish, but right now they are pouring a lot of money and effort into this project. personally, i think the game is very challenging because the equipment will punish you for every little mistake, and the pockets place a premium on accuracy and ball-pocketing ability. runouts have to be carefully planned and even more carefully executed; pool champions can easily botch a runout if they are not familiar with snooker equipment.
as for the future, who knows. if China keeps pouring money into this project, we can count on players keep showing up to play. that’s what pro players must do–they must be where the money is. my point? for those looking for pool action, go to Asia. as a pool player, you can’t find a more fertile pool ground right now.