TOP 25 BEST POOL PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME (Part 5) | WPA WORLD 9 BALL CHAMPIONSHIP




If you want to check out numbers 6 to 10, CLICK HERE.

With that said, here are the next five names of this list.



5 | MIKA IMMONEN | FINLAND

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1990 TO 1999

NONE

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1999 TO PRESENT

WINNER | 1
RUNNER-UP | 0
FINAL FOUR | 0
FINAL EIGHT | 2
ROUND OF 16 | 4
ROUND OF 32 | 2
ROUND OF 64 | 4

During the peak of billiards in the Philippines, there were a bunch of guys that came and went. One of these guys that we sort of adopted as our own is Mika Immonen. I have seen a couple of tourneys where he acted as a commentator and there have been instances when he became a guest on a random Pinoy sitcom. Anyway, in 2001, Immonen won the World 9-Ball Championship in what is to be a battle of Pinoy foreign favorites. The Iceman prevailed over Ralf Souquet, 17 racks to ten. Immonen would win another world title as he became the second World 10-Ball Championship when he defeated Lee Van Corteza. Immonen is tied for second alongside Dennis Orcollo and Oliver Ortmann for most knockout stages stints with 13.



4 | ALEX PAGULAYAN | CANADA

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1990 TO 1999

NONE

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1999 TO PRESENT

WINNER | 1
RUNNER-UP | 1
FINAL FOUR | 1
FINAL EIGHT | 0
ROUND OF 16 | 3
ROUND OF 32 | 1
ROUND OF 64 | 5

In 2016, the feel-good Alex Pagulayan would reach the semifinal just to fall at the hands of eventual champ Albin Ouschan. Now don’t feel sorry because The Lion is just one of a handful of OGs still succeeding in the tourney’s current setup. In 2003, Pagulayan would finish second after losing to eventual champ Thorsten Hohmann. In the following year, The Lion would claim the 9-Ball Championship at the expense of Chinese Taipei’s Chang Pei-Wei. The post-recession tournament saw a couple of DNPs and a bunch of preliminary failures as well. The only other point worth noting is how Pagulayan would ping-pong his allegiance from Canada to the Philippines because the former is a place that gave him the opportunity while the other is kind of ignoring his talents.



3 | RALF SOUQUET | GERMANY

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1990 TO 1999

WINNER | 1996 WORLD 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1999 TO PRESENT

WINNER | 0
RUNNER-UP | 2
FINAL FOUR | 1
FINAL EIGHT | 0
ROUND OF 16 | 2
ROUND OF 32 | 5
ROUND OF 64 | 6

Another foreign billiard icon loved by Filipinos, the last time Ralf won the event was in 1996 when The Kaiser battled and devastated Swede Tom Storm, eleven racks to one. In the current incarnation of the event, Souquet has yet to win a crown. In 2005, Ralf Souquet was unable to make the knockout stages. The same can be said in 2017. But here’s the thing – the reason why he’s ranked this high is that of the 18 WPA World 9-Ball Championship editions, Souquet managed to make the Round of 64 a record 16 times. Also, he almost won the title in 2001 when he faced Mika Immonen and in 2006, when he was unable to shake off the hometown momentum of Ronnie Alcano. The Kaiser did manage to get back on Alcano, this time defeating The Volcano to rule the 2008 WPA World 8-Ball Championship.



2 | THORSTEN HOHMANN | GERMANY

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1990 TO 1999

NONE

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1999 TO PRESENT

WINNER | 2
RUNNER-UP | 0
FINAL FOUR | 0
FINAL EIGHT | 1
ROUND OF 16 | 2
ROUND OF 32 | 3
ROUND OF 64 | 4

The five-time World Straight Pool champion (also the current champion as of this writing) is the only man to win the current incarnation of the WPA World 9-Ball Championship twice. Hohmann also came in a time when most of the billiard legends are in semi-retirement mode. In 2003, Hohmann defeated Django Bustamante in a nail-biter in the quarterfinals after the latter won a classic match against bosom buddy Efren Reyes. Hohmann would then defeat another legend in Earl Strickland in the semis before destroying Alex Pagulayan in the final. The frequent Philippine visitor would replicate his feat a decade later when he defeated four consecutive Filipinos en route to the 2013 WPA World 9-Ball Championship. Hohmann would end the tourney of Dennis Orcollo in the Round of 16, stop Jeff de Luna in the Round of 8, finish Carlo Biado in the Final Four, and finish Antonio “Gaga” Gabica, 13 racks to 6. This German thorn also played in a couple of Pinoy tourneys alongside fellow frequent Pinoy visitors like Mika Immonen and Ralf Souquet and win a couple of events like the 2011 Philippine Open and the 2014 Manny Pacquiao Cup.



1 | FRANCISCO BUSTAMANTE | PHILIPPINES

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1990 TO 1999

NONE

WPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP | 1999 TO PRESENT

WINNER | 1
RUNNER-UP | 1
FINAL FOUR | 1
FINAL EIGHT | 2
ROUND OF 16 | 1
ROUND OF 32 | 1
ROUND OF 64 | 5

If you’re Pinoy and straight up love the sport of pool, there are two schools of thought you’ll likely adhere. If you like the showmanship, you go with Efren “Bata” Reyes. If you like to win with a no-nonsense approach, then chances are you’re a Django Bustamante fan. Regardless, Bustie is my pick to top this list. The German-based cue legend is part of the 90s Pinoy crew led by Reyes, Amang Parica, Dodong Andam, and Boy Samson Luat in their quest to destroy the norms of world pool. He may not be known for his razzle-dazzle shots, he does his damage by striking the ball Bustamante is tied for second alongside Nick Van Der Berg for most consecutive Round of 64 appearances with twelve. Five of his twelve knockout stage finishes are within the first and eighth range. When a family tragedy struck his household in 2002, he finished second to Earl Strickland. And then after two years of no events due to the worldwide recession, Bustie outlasted Kuo Po-Cheng to finally win the WPA World 9-Ball Championship. Now I know that Hohmann had two titles but The Hitman is still young enough to top this list in the future and the same can’t be said with Bustamante. After missing the knockout stage in 2013, Bustamante has yet to appear in the event. So a Round of 32 finish in the 2019 WPA World 9-Ball Championship should catapult Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Alex Pagulayan, and even Carlo Biado on top of the list. So yeah, I’m letting Django have number one.


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