Kaci, Wu, Makkonen, and Orcollo make up stellar semi-finals at the Predator Grand Finale of the World Pool Series in New York.
18 year old Albanian Klenti Kaci
By Ted Lerner
Photos By JP Parmentier
(New York City)– The fourth leg of the World Pool Series, the Predator Grand Finale, has come down to the final four, and it’ll be two Europeans and two Asians contesting what has quickly become one of professional pool’s sternest tests.
In the first semi-final, which will break off at 12noon EST(-4 GMT), 18year old Albanian sensation Klenti Kaci will lock horns with Taiwanese sharpshooter Wu Ku Lin. In the second semi-final which begins at 3 pm, Finland’s Petri Makkonen will do battle with Filipino veteran and former World 8-ball champion, Dennis Orcollo.
All eyes seem to be squarely upon the tall and good looking Kaci, as his game and temperament seem impervious to any outside pressure and distractions. Since he shocked the pool world by winning the second leg of the World Pool Series, the Aramith Masters, back in April, the high school student has been riding a wave of confidence and hasn’t stopped playing in various spots around the world. Last week in Virginia, he proved once and for all that he was no flash in the pan by making it all the way to the finals of the prestigious US Open, where he lost to Scotland’s Jayson Shaw.
On Thursday at Steinway Billiards in Queens, Kaci first squared off with Taiwanese superstar Ko Pin Yi in the round of 16. Kaci, playing methodically and with his trademark dead-eyed position and cueing, got out to an early lead and never looked back, winning the match, 11-6.
In the quarterfinals, the Albanian came up against relatively unknown Greek player Damianos Gaillourakis. Gaillourakis continued his impressive run in the round of 16 with an 11-9 win over American Shaun Wilkie. Against Kaci, the Greek youngster seemed to hold on to the magic early and held a slim 7 -4 and 8-6. But from there Kaci bore down and seemed to wear out Gaillourakis. The Albanian won 11-8.
Kaci’s match against Wu promises to produce some marvelous pool. In the round of 16, Wu disposed of fellow Taiwanese Chang Yu Leung, 11-6. Then in the quarters, he faced off with another compatriot in Chang Jung Lin, who had earlier taken down American Frankie Hernandez.
Chang had put in several outstanding performances this week at Steinway which led many to favor him to go all the way. Both Wu and Chang didn’t disappoint, with each putting on an 8-ball clinic on the wildly difficult TV table with its 4 inch pockets. The Taiwanese pair stayed close throughout and Wu held his nerve at the end to tie the match at 10-10 to send the contest to a deciding shootout. There Wu held his nerve and pocketed three spot shots to Chang’s two, to advance to the semi-finals.
Makkonen has long been known to pool fans as the partner of Mika Immonen in the World Cup of Pool, but this week in New York, the burly Finn has stepped up to claim the spotlight for himself. In the round of 16, Makkonen absolutely crushed England’s Chris Melling, 11-2. Then he headed for the TV table where he squared off with red-hot Jayson Shaw. Shaw has earlier laid down his own marker with an 11-2 drubbing of Russia’s Ruslan Chinakov.
Finland’s Petri Makkonen
Shaw got out to a slim early lead, but Makkonen hung tight and took his first lead at 4-3, and never looked back. Shaw stayed close and even moved to within 10-9, but the Scotsman couldn’t cash his chips, and Makkonen held his nerve on the final run for an impressive win.
Makkonen will now have to match wits with an 8-ball master in Orcollo. The Filipino endured a 4-hour slog of a match in the round of 16 against Alex Pagulayan, in which both players basically did little more than play safe for the most of the afternoon. In the quarters, Orcollo met up with Greece’s Alex Kazakis, who had earlier defeated the Philippines Jeffrey De Luna. The Filipino proved just too crafty and won the match 11-8.
Both semi-finals will be a race to 11, winner breaks. The final, which will take place at 7:30 pm, will be a race to 13, winner breaks.
The champion will receive $14,000. The total prize fund is $65,000.
*The fourth event of the World Pool Series, The Predator Grand Finale, is being held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, Queens, New York City from October 31-Nov. 3, 2017. The World Pool Series is sponsored by Predator, UNILAD, Rasson, RYO Rack, Aramith, Molinari, Cheqio, Iwan Simonis, Kamui, Billiards Digest, Cuescore, Ultimate Team Gear, Tiger, and High Rock Productions.
The World Pool Series is available on Facebook.
Tickets are now available for the third leg of the World Pool Series, The RYO Rack Classic, which takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2017 at Steinway Billiards, Astoria, Queens, New York City.
Tickets can also be purchased online through Ticketspice here:
Predator Grand Finale Ticket Prices
Day 1 Pass: October 31, 2017 $15
Day 2 Pass: November 1, 2017 $15
Day 3 Pass: November 2, 2017 $20
Day 4 Pass: November 3, 2017 $20
General Seating Full Event (4 days) $50 (28% Savings)
VIP Preferred Seating Full Event (4 days) $85 (22% Savings)
The action begins at 10 am daily and runs throughout the day.
Address: 3525 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11101, USA
Phone: +1 718-472-2124