Pankaj Advani wins the World Billiards Championship for the 26th time

Pankaj Advani celebrates with the trophy after beating Sourav Kothari in the final to win the World Billiards Championships for the 26th time. Image credit: X/@Media_SAI

Doha: Indian cueist Pankaj Advani rallied to win the IBSF World Billiards Championship title in Doha on Tuesday for a staggering 26th time, beating compatriot Sourav Kothari in the final.

Trailing 26-180 in the first hour, Advani rallied to defeat 2018 world champion Kothari 1000416 in a rematch of last year’s title clash in Kuala Lumpur.

Playing back-to-back games, Kothari took the lead initially and was going strong, but failed on a few easy chances to allow Advani to recover from the deficit.

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From there, things got a bit tricky with both players trading visits with each other and some 150 breaks from Advani helped him extend the lead while Kothari couldn’t fully capitalize on the chances that he had.

Advani shot in a match-high break of 214 and looked unstoppable thereafter.

Advani maintained a healthy lead of 250 points for a good part of the match.

A 99 from Kothari brought the difference to 150.

The Bengaluru ace then shifted gears to extend the lead and reach the 1000 mark with an unfinished break of 199 to end proceedings.

Describing the feeling as “unreal”, Advani said: “I’ve won before, so I know what it feels like, but repeating that year after year is what makes all those hours of work on skills, body and mind are definitely worth it.

“For me, consistency is the mark of success and continuing to bring home world titles for the country is what motivates me the most.”

Advani will not have any rest as he will participate in the next edition of the World Billiards Championship, which is the short format, 150-up.

Kothari blamed fatigue for squandering his early lead.

“My semi-finals lasted almost five hours and I had to play the final with a little over an hour break. So I guess I was tired,” Kothari said.

“I hope to make amends in the points format now, which starts later today,” he added.

Kothari scored a close victory against Dhruv Sitwala, winning 900-756 in a grueling semi-final that lasted around five hours.

Kothari made breaks of 223 and 82, while Sitwala scored 199 and 188.

Advani, on the other hand, defeated fellow Indian Rupesh Shah 900-273 in the other semi-finals.

He saw breaks of 259 and 176 from the defending champion, while Shah managed a break of 62 only in the 900-up format.

Advani won his first world title in 2003.

The only player in the world to have won world titles in all formats of billiards and snooker maintained his superlative level of performance to keep India on top of the world in the 3-ball game.

While Advani won the ‘long format’ for the ninth time, he has triumphed in the ‘points format’ championship on eight occasions, in addition to winning the World Team Billiards Championship once.

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