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King’s Cup victory sweeter with captaincy for Immonen

Team West skipper Mika Immonen was delighted to have steered his team to a thrilling win over Team Asia in the inaugural King’s Cup tournament held last week. For the Finnish pool sensation, the achievement of toppling Asia’s best tasted sweeter after serving as the four-man squad’s leader.

“It feels great. To win as a captain is always something to cherish. It’s like an additional title because I did a good job as a captain,”
Immonen said. The Westerners held a two-match advantage heading into the final day, and with their Asian counterparts storming to a dramatic comeback, Immonen’s crew held the fort to take the gruelling final match with a triples win. After bagging the victory, the Team West captain spoke highly of their opponents, the mighty Chinese Taipei brother tandem of Ko Pin Yi and Ko Pin Chung and the legendary billiards duo of the Philippines in Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante. “They are phenomenal players. I wasn’t surprised [of the comeback],” he shared.

Interestingly, Immonen had thought of shying away from assuming leadership as he did not feel the most confident among the pack. “At first I wanted to say no, but then I was like, “let’s do this.’ Maybe in the previous year or two, I haven’t been playing well,” the 37-year old cue artist recalled. Nevertheless, his experience and his willingness to achieve more in his career pushed him to take the role. “I thought the spotlight was appropriate. I’m making a comeback this year. It was amazing,” he added.

Along the way, Immonen admitted that he had felt a bit of pressure. The Ice Man, as he is known, mentioned something that had helped him adjust well to the nature of the competition: the venue. The man from Finland has been one of the most frequent foreign billiards players to play in the country, and his familiarity with the Filipino crowd helped ease the tension. “I’ve done well here. I felt comfortable coming here and taking such role,” Immonen told.

Like plenty of great captains, Immonen isn’t taking all the credit. He acknowledged the importance of everyone on the team, that included U.S. number one Shane van Boening, Briton Darren Appleton and Austrian Albin Ouschan. The talented group did not rely on skill alone, but also stayed calm and collected in the run-up to their triumph. “It was pretty much a great team. We had a good time. We got along well and we stayed positive,” said Immonen.

With Dragon Promotions chief Charlie Williams revealing interest in staging the King’s Cup again next year, it remains to be seen if this year’s cast will return to the tables. Involved or not, Immonen has cemented his name in this young tournament’s books as the first captain to ever win the King’s Cup

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