Tuesday 28 February

The Hammer Nails Group 8 despite Williams Impressive Debut

Defending Ultimate Pool Champions League champion Stevie Dempsey continued his Monday night hot streak as he took down a group that contained 3x World Snooker Champion Mark Williams, Liam White and Cole Bedford.

One of the most eagerly anticipated groups of this year’s edition of the Ultimate Pool Champions League didn’t disappoint in front of a great crowd at the Player’s Pool and Snooker Lounge.

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Defending champion Stevie Dempsey began his 2023 campaign with a match against up-and-coming new pro Cole Bedford. It was the Irishman who ended the match the unhappier, as a costly positional error on the 8-ball allowed Bedford into the match. As the clock whittled away and the players remained locked at 2-2 to close the match out.

It was then time for Mark Williams to take to the table for the first time as an Ultimate Pool pro, as he took on Liam White. The match started nervily, with White missing an 8-ball for a reverse dish, only for Williams to miss his opportunity on the counter clearance to allow White to win the first frame. From there, the standard was magnificent, as White followed with a break clearance to go 2-0 in front, only to next come to the table 3-2 down as Williams rattled off three straight from the break. An error in the sixth frame from White let Williams back to the table and the Welsh Potting Machine dutifully finished to secure his first Ultimate Pool win.

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White would stay out there as Cole Bedford returned in match three of the evening. Described as “Shredsville” by our Ultimate Pool commentary team, this was a match both would love to scrub from their memory as quickly as possible. Uncharacteristic errors aplenty, particularly following the shortening of the shot clock, made for a nervous finish for both players. It was Dangermouse who kept his qualification hopes alive by winning the final frame to secure the draw for the second 2-2 score line of the evening.

Match four was the headline contest as Stevie Dempsey took on Mark Williams and the standard was brilliant throughout. A fine finish from Dempsey in the first frame was then followed by a Golden Break from Mark Williams much to the crowd’s delight and the Welshman’s bemusement.

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A finish from the Dempsey break followed for Williams but the Hammer rallied, taking the fourth frame before rattling off successive finishes to ice the match 4-2.

As the final round of fixtures begun, all four players could still qualify. A draw between Cole Bedford and Mark Williams and a Liam White victory over Stevie Dempsey would have ushered on the first ever 4-way six red shootout. Cole Bedford was the man to flip that particular script though, taking advantage of two missed 8-balls from Mark Williams to finish the night unbeaten and ask the question of Stevie Dempsey in the final match of the evening.

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That question was rather emphatically answered by the Hammer as he put in the performance of the night, totally shutting out Liam White who only had one shot in open play after Dempsey briefly engaged in a tactical exchange. A flawless performance from the Irishman, who told Steven Jamieson and Simon Webb afterwards:

“I’m pleased to get through, I thought I played well tonight. [Barring] One really bad mistake against Cole in my first one which left the door open, but apart from that I felt I was really solid in my other two matches. It was great to play in that sort of atmosphere, you’d love to play in front of that every week.”

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Dempsey will be next in action at the Ultimate Pool Pro Series in Blackpool in a few weeks, and as we reach the halfway point in the group stages, awaits a second stage group containing Greg Batten, Declan Brennan & Connor Jones.

Next week, the Safecracker and 4-time Ultimate Pool champion Shane Thompson enters the competition, as he takes on Dylan Leary, Jimmy Croxton and Andy Williams.

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