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03/13/17 12:09

First ever world team title for Korea

Viersen - Out of all the strong Korean players, Sung Won Choi and Jae Guen Kim were selected to represent their country at the world championship for national teams. They will be welcomed as heroes in Seoul, the gold medal around their necks.

In a thrilling final, Korea managed to beat the favorite Belgians 40-34 in 24 innings. The match was in balance for a long time, at one point the score was 25-25. Runs of 6 and 4 gave the Koreans the edge, and producing 8 points in the equalizer proved to be too much for Caudron and Forthomme. Choi had looked the steadier of the two players, but it was an excellent shot by Kim that enabled the run of 6, taking them from 32 to 38. Kim also confidently made the 40th point, but they only celebrated after Forthomme's miss, from a very difficult position. 

Choi: "We stayed cool until the end, in spite of the pressure."

Kim: "We were on a mission to win this title for our country."

Caudron: "We failed to cash in on a few small chances, and the Koreans are strong enough to punish that."

Forthomme: "I was never really at ease in this match. I often presented Fred with difficult positions, which made it hard for us to create a high run."

Roland knew the importance of high runs when he said that. In a wonderful quarterfinal against Germany A, possibly the best match of the tournament, he and Frédéric ran 20 points, the highest run in a team event on record. Belgium beat Horn / Lindemann 40-34 in 17.

Netherlands A beat Netherlands B, also in the quarters. Jaspers and van Erp had to make up from 23-6, and they did it by making 34 points in 8 innings, leaving Burgman and van Beers behind. 

Korea meanwhile, had surprisingly little resistance from the Turks (Tayfun Tasdemir and Can Capak), who were beaten 40-24 in 27 innings. 

Another upset took place in the fourth quarterfinal, where Sweden (Blomdahl / Nilsson) were eliminated by a French team without Jeremy Bury. Young Cedric Melnytschenko and the more experienced Jerome Barbeillon played an outstanding tournament and got past the Swedes 40-35 in 25.

In the first semifinal, Belgium convincingly beat the title holders, Netherlands A: 40-30 in 20. Netherlands had the better start, but after the break it was all Belgium. Consecutive runs of 5,7,6 and 3 decide matters in the "derby of the Low Countries".

Korea created the same margin between themselves and France (40-30), but needing 27 innings to do it. 

UMB president Farouk Barki announced a new format for Viersen 2018. The number of participating countries will be reduced from 24 to 16, and they will play in four groups of four, the best two from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.

This tournament was the first to be played in the "Scotch Double" system, from start to finish. Reactions were mixed at first, but it seemed that audience and players alike warmed up to it during the week. The team spirit proved to be a genuine factor, as well as the mutual advice during play.  

No podium finish, but honorable mentions go to the teams of Colombia (10th place) and the Czech Republic (11th place), who produced impressive averages.

 The final ranking of "Viersen 2017":

1 South Korea 1.515-9

2 Belgium 1.701-20

3 Netherlands A 1.923-10

3 France 1.269-14

5 Germany A 1.628-13

6 Sweden 1.575-9

7 Turkey 1.424-9

8 Netherlands B 1.267-6

9 Egypt 1.311-6

10 Colombia 1.604-7

11 Czech Republic 1.604-7

12 Greece 1.296-9.