CHIA-CHING WU OF Taiwan. To watch him play 9-Ball, you really would not be surprised to see him win the World 9-Ball Championship. He’s got good form, a straight stroke, steady rhythm, great shot-making, excellent cue ball control, smart patterns, poise, an awesome break, and a ton of confidence.
Oh yeah, and he’s sixteen years old. Sixteen years old? Are you kidding me? Actually, skilled and talented teenaged pool players are not extremely uncommon, but good enough to win the world title? And then if such a kid is good enough…to actually get out there and do it? That’s incredible! More than well done kid; you just rewrote the pool history books!
Johnny Archer was the previous youngest world champion at 21, surprise- surprise. And I was impressed to see Thorsten Hohmann win it in 2003 at 24 years of age. But 16 years old, really? You are not kidding me?
Most people are asking me if this kid really plays that good. I’d say yes. I had the thrill of watching him win the tournament in person. It is amazing enough that a 16-year-old won, but how he did it was more incredible and has undoubtedly won him countless lifetime fans.
In the race-to-17 finals, losing 16-12, he had ball in hand on the 2 ball after the 27-year-old Kuo’s untimely no-rail foul, and ran that rack to make the score 16-13. Needing to win 4 games in a row, the 16-year-old Wu proceeded to break and run precisely 4 racks of 9-ball on pool’s greatest stage, in the most urgent of all moments.
To top it off, Wu made the final, hill-hill championship winning 9-ball with a mechanical bridge! It was not an easy shot (at least for me) into a small pocket, but he just asked for the bridge, lined it up and shot it in—piece of cake. He raised both his cue and the bridge into the air, screamed with everyone else, smiled ear to ear (he could not wipe it off), and the value of his bobble-head dolls just went way up.
I was up in the press box next to fellow pro players Rico Diks and Corey Deuel during the finals. I think we were more nervous than Wu was. Corey said to me after Wu won, “That was the most amazing thing in pool I’ve ever seen.”
This tops my list too, barely edging out Earl Strickland’s brilliant 1-9 combo to run his 10th consecutive rack and $1,000,000 in the 1996 Dallas Million Dollar Challenge.
Wu plays just the kind of 9-ball that is fun to play and fun to watch. Attack, attack, attack… He goes for just about everything, and expects to make everything. After watching him for a while, you expect him to make everything, too.
Top Australian pro David Reljik was telling me, “If he has a weakness, it is his safety play, but even that’s not bad. His attack game is just incredible.” Starting out playing snooker as a kid must have helped his skill and confidence in shot-making. He plays good position, too, with a soft touch and plenty of power when he needs it.
The thing that impresses me most about Chia-Ching is his confidence. At any age, to play with his confidence is awesome. Even if Efren Reyes did what he did, people would be talking about it forever.
I hope a lot of kids see Wu’s victory here in the States. Video game sales may take a hit, with pool cue sales making a big jump. The score: Pool-1, Video Games-0. Come on kids, unplug your mind from your television set and start playing pool! Congratulations, Chia-Ching Wu! You’re the man!
Copyright 2005 Max Eberle. All rights reserved.