The first ever final of the 3CC World Masters did not only have a Belgian winner, like the World Championship in Bolivia it had two Belgians in the final match. Eddy Merckx (above) became the first winner of this special new formatted event with a victory over Eddy Leppens. The strongest billiard nation in the world was in the spotlight in Seoul, which saw none of the home town favorites make it to the podium. Tayfun Tasdemir (Turkey) and Quyet Chien Tran (Vietnam) rounded out the top four.

The world governing body for 3-cushion billiards, the UMB and the premier 3-cushion media company, Kozoom have jointly worked a new tournament cycle for three tournaments in 2018. The events are called the the 3-Cushion Challenge World Masters. The 20 top ranked players in the world are joined by four wildcards in invitation only events. The preliminaries are played in eight groups of three with the best two from each group qualifying for the knockout main tournament with sixteen players. The format of play is unlike any other International match. A player starts an inning from a predetermined position and shoots until he misses. Then the position is setup again with the opposite colors for his opponent to perform the same challenge. The match is played to 20 innings and whoever leads after inning 20 is completed is the winner. 

This new format is only possible thanks to the Mywebsport computer system of Jimmy Riml, a 54-year-old Austrian. Mywebsport was established in 2008 as a global distance training system, which users advanced technology and a precise laser positioning system to accurately recreate positions on the table. The UMB and Kozoom are hoping that the players will be able to produce high runs and exciting matches to attract more fans to the sport by each playing from the same starting point.

The real story may be the prize money, which is one of the largest prize funds ever offered. There was a $40,000 check for Merckx, $20,000 for Leppens, and $15,000 each for Tran and Tasdemir. Marco Zanetti (Italy) won $5,000 for the highest general average (2.437), while Murat Naci Coklu (Turkey) won $5,000 for the high run (16). The prizes for professional billiard players seem to be growing in every direction. The LG U+ event started it a couple of years back. Then the UMB upped the prizes across the board for its World Cup and World Championship. Finally, the McCreary Invitational coming in August moves the game into 7-figures. Yikes that's a lot of dough!!!

In future events in the 3CC Masters series, the format may be adjusted to play sets of 5 innings instead of one long game of 20 innings. It was felt that one player jumping out to a large lead detracted from the hoped for tension of close matches. This is all an experiment right now, but one where the players are happy to participate.

Thanks to UMB and Kozoom for information and pictures.