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Stroke of Genius

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Video provided by Accu-Stats Video Productions

2021 World Cup of Pool

Player: Denis Grabe
Event: 2021 World Cup of Pool
Location: Milton Keynes, U.K.
Date: May 12, 2021

The World Cup of Pool has produced its share of Cinderella stories in Matchroom Multisport's 15-year run of hosting the two-player, scotch doubles team event that — surprise, surprise — resembles soccer's World Cup. Thailand shot its way to the final in 2011 and Poland accomplished the same feat the next year.

In this year's event, a pair of Eastern European duos fulfilled the underdog role in the single-elimination bracket of 32 teams. The 32nd ranked Slovakians topped reigning champs Austria in the opening round on its way to a semifinal berth, where their story ended against Great Britain's C team of Karl Boyes and Darren Appleton.

On the opposite side of the bracket, Estonia outlasted Britain's A team and the Philippines to earn its spot in the semis.

In the quarterfinal against world-beaters Jeffrey de Luna and Roberto Gomez, Denis Grabe and Mark Magi ran out to a 7-4 lead in the race-to-9. But in the 12th rack, Grabe was in a difficult spot, as can be seen in the diagram to the right. The cue ball was tucked in the top left corner, with the 1 a table's length away near the 9 ball.

Rather than poke and pray on a difficult shot on the 1 in the bottom left, the 31-year-old rising star played an intricate safety. He clipped the left side of the 1, sending it down table, while softly sending the cue ball off two rails and within a half inch of the 4 ball. With the 1 ending up near the side, the Filipinos had no shot at a jump and no direct path at a feasible kick.

The Estonians went on to recapture control of the table and collected the final two racks for an impressive 9-4 victory en route to a third-place finish.

(Video clip provided by Accu-Stats Video Productions.)

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