Bengaluru: The stage is set and Bengaluru’s Golden Boy is fully geared to give his 100 per cent as he guns for his 16th world crown. Pankaj Advani heads into the IBSF World Billiards Championship which will kick off at the Karnataka State Billiards Association from Monday, as the hot favourite. With the championship set for its third stint at the KSBA, Advani will look to capitalise on the home advantage.
With the tournament boasting a strong field with the likes of Peter Gilchrist, Robert Hall, Ben Judge amongst several others, the eight-day event is set to serve up some nerve-wracking matches. While top players of the world will be seen in action, the Indian challenge will be a strong one with Sourav Kothari (winner of the National Billiards Championship 2016), Dhruv Sitwala, Devendra Joshi, Brijesh Damani, in the fray for the title.Speaking ahead of the event, home boy Advani said, “The field is quite a strong one. Last year I played the final against Peter Gilchrist in the final and he is here as well. We have played some thrilling matches previously, so am looking forward to it. “Robert Hall is also going to be a tough contender. Moreover, the Indian field is quite strong as well, so the tournament will be quite challenging.”
Back to favourite format
After pocketing a bronze at the IBSF World Snooker Championship in Doha a few days ago, the 31-year-old is glad to switch back to his favourite format. “I have played very few billiard tournaments this year, so it is really refreshing to get back to it. Now switching from one to the other has become comparatively easy and I’m really looking forward to getting back to the 3-ball game with several more billiards tournaments to follow after this. The last time I won this title at home was in 2008 and it has been quite a long wait. So I will give my best and then hope for the best.”
Playing at home always has its perks, and as Advani has always stated, KSBA has been his second home. With the crowd backing him, and his well-wishers in the stand, the Bengaluru cueist is ready to shoulder the burden of expectations. “The more you achieve the expectations keep increasing. The pressure of playing in front of the home crowd is high, but then again this is my second home and I have grown up playing here.
With all eyes on him, the 15-time world champion heads into the tournament looking for another title, yet keeping a rein on his hopes at the same time. “I feel confident heading into the tournament but anything can happen. Nobody is invincible. All I can do is try and work hard towards achieving my goals. Since I am playing at home I will try and play my natural game and give my best,” signed off the defending champion. The eight day championship that includes the Long Up format and the Points format offers a prize purse of $20,000.