Did we have to travel all the way to Vietnam to find out? Whether we did, or stayed at home to watch it all on Kozoom: The Ho Chi Minh tournament once again taught us two basic truths about our sport. Here they are: Of all the 3-cushion countries in the world, Belgium is the best. And of all the Belgians, Caudron is the best.
The Ho Chi Minh tournament has only been on the calendar for five years, but it never fails to deliver high quality 3-cushion and surprising results. In this 2019 edition, four of the home players made an impression: Ngo Dinh Nai, Duc Anh Chien Nguyen, Tran Thanh Tu Nguyen and Duc Tran Minh. The Belgians did well, with their four aces Caudron, Merckx, Forthomme and Leppens all in the last 32. And Turkey had a strong showing, with Sayginer, Tasdemir, Coklu, Uymaz, Alp and Capak.
There were also favorites who lost early. World champion Jaspers was beaten by an inspired Ngo, Blomdahl did not make the last 32 (lost to Zapata) and Korean star Sung Won Choi was beaten by Ahmet Alp. Jae Ho Cho, high on the world ranking, could not progress from the group. His young countryman Myung Woo Cho, now a crowd favorite, made two runs of 17 and averaged 2.666 in that round. He was later beaten by Zanetti, in one of the best matches of the week. Dani Sánchez lost in a double shootout to Merckx.
Forthomme gave us two thrillers to watch: his 40-39 win over Sayginer and his fabulous comeback against Zanetti had everybody on the edge of their seats. The Italian, playing with medication for a hernia, could only be proud of his performance.
Caudron had started the event with an unexpected loss in the group, but once he was in gear, he was unstoppable. Twelve innings against Coklu, fourteen against Ngo, eighteen against Merckx and fifteen in the final against Forthomme. Not counting the group stage, that’s a breathtaking average of 2.711. Once the Belgian is in full flow, you think he’s never going to miss. Forthomme’s batteries were empty in the last match, he had given his all against Sayginer and Zanetti.
With a main tournament average of 1.725, the 2019 Ho Chi Minh World Cup was the fifth best ever. Haeng Jik Kim had the high run (18), and the best match was played by Caudron (40 in 12).
The top of the world ranking does not change: Jaspers stays in 1st place and he is followed by Caudron, Tran, Sayginer and Merckx. The next World Cup will be played in Blankenberge, Belgium, from 17 – 23 June.
Final ranking of Ho Chi Minh 2019:
1 Caudron 2.368 - 15
2 Forthomme 1.717 – 11
3 Zanetti 2.257 – 13
4 Merckx 1.770 – 8
5 Cho M.W. 2.443 – 17
6 Tasdemir 1.820 – 9
7 Sayginer 2.030 – 13
8 Ngo D.N. 2.072 – 9
9 Jaspers 2.181 – 11
10 Leppens 1.722 – 15
11 Sidhom 1.408 – 7
12 Sánchez 2.071 – 9
13 Coklu 1.746 – 13
14 Nguyen D.A.C. 1.674 – 9
15 Tellez 1.481 – 14
16 Uymaz 1.773 - 10