The first man on the ranking list was also the last man standing. When all is said and done, Caudron is simply the best, as he proved once again in the Antalya World Cup of 2018. His dominance of global 3-cushion was underlined in a week of heavy scoring: Caudron’s pace was 2.739 over 5 matches, and that was only an inning short of the world record. Europe kept the Asian challenge in check: the podium had a Belgian, a Turk, a Spaniard and a Korean. The reigning world champion and leader of the world ranking is in a class of his own at the moment, and he beat Murat Naci Coklu on Sunday to win the first World Cup of 2018.
Frédéric’s nearest rivals on the ranking (Merckx and Jaspers) were both eliminated in the first round of the Antalya World Cup, Merckx by Palazon and Jaspers by Cenet. Others quickly filled their shoes in an attempt to win the first major individual event of the season.
The strongest challenges in the Bosphorus Hotel came from Jae Ho Cho, Dani Sánchez and Murat Naci Coklu. Cho impressed with his 21 run against de Bruijn and his formidable comeback against Haeng Jik Kim. Coklu, who started off with two 40 in 17 wins over Capak and Dong Koong Kang, is growing into his role as strongest of all the Turks. Sánchez used up a few more innings than he usually does, but he can win any tournament he plays in.
Caudron meanwhile, went about his business in his familiar quick and easy fashion. Patino (12 innings), Jung Han Heo (18 innings) and Dinh Nai Ngo (18 innings) never had the shadow of a chance against the Belgian.
The final day started off with a confrontation between the 2016 and the 2017 world champion: Sánchez – Caudron. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, it was never going to be a match. Caudron was so dominant that he ended matters in the 12th inning at a 40-16 score, helped by a high run of ten.
The other semi had more unforced errors, but also a more dramatic finish. Murat Naci Coklu drew first blood with a run of 13 in the second inning (15-3), so Cho had to produce yet another one of his now famous comebacks. He did, and 24-24 became 29-29 and even 38-38. It was the Korean who then made the fatal mistake, and the Turk who ran the last two points: 40-38 in 20.
The final between Coklu and Caudron was neck and neck until 16-16, but then the Belgian accelerated with a run of 13. Murat could not recover from that blow, and Caudron added another match over 3.000 average to his resume. Final score: 40-23 in 13 innings.
With 200 points in 73 innings (2.739), Caudron was really close to the world record tournament average of 2.777, held by Sánchez. His continued nr. 1 position on the ranking is more solid than ever, and for the remainder of the season, Caudron will be the man to beat.
The final score in Antalya:
Caudron 2.739 - 13
Coklu 1.906 - 13
Jae Ho Cho 2.393 – 21
Sánchez 1.563 – 7
The new top-5 of the ranking:
J. Kim 322