Ahmedabad (Gujarat): The curtain goes up on the inaugural edition of the Indian Cue Masters League here in Ahmedabad on Saturday, with top players from India and international stars squaring up against each other in a battle for honour, glory and a handsome prize purse of Rs 50 lakh.
The opening tie of the Cue Slam on Saturday promises to light up the league as Indian billiards and snooker’s poster boy Pankaj Advani leads Chennai Strikers’ charge against Welsh Wizard Andrew Pagett’s Gujarat Kings. Delhi Dons take on Bengaluru Buddies in the day’s other encounter.
The two mega stars of the sport shot launched their broadsides at the pre-tournament press conference here at the Crowne Plaza in Ahmedabad, vowing to out dazzle the other.
“We have a great team and are confident of going all the way,” Pagett declared, pointing towards the Indian stalwarts in his corner: former Asian snooker champion Alok Kumar, Brijesh Damani and Sourav Kothari. The presence of three-time European Ladies Team champion Daria Sirotina from Russia makes it a truly formidable combination.
“We have experience and youth on our side. We will take some beating,” Advani, a 16-time world champion, proclaimed. “The skill of veteran Dharminder Lilly and Faisal Khan and the energy of Vidya Pillai and Pandu Rangaiah makes it a perfect mix,” he added.
The seven-day league will see five teams — Delhi Dons, Bengaluru Buddies and Hyderabad Hustlers being the other three — fight it out in an enthralling round robin cum knockout format. Each tie will have three 6-Red snooker and two 9-Ball pool matches. Each team boasts of five players (1 icon player, 1 female player and 3 men players, with the stipulation that at least three of them are Indians).
“Cue Slam is a great step forward,” Pagett, who endeared himself to the country’s snooker fans by winning the Indian Open in 2015, added. “It will take the sport to the masses and I am glad to be a part of the home team,” he added.
“India has been waiting for a League like this. I am happy to see that it is taking off, that too with so many top players in fray,” Pankaj complemented.
The opening day’s second tie between Bengaluru and Delhi is expected to be equally fascinating. Bengaluru Buddies have roped in one of the biggest names in the sport, Darren Morgan. The Welshman is the team’s icon player and will be joined by Anastasia Nechaeva from Russia and the Indian trio of Laxman Rawat, Varun Madan and Sandeep Gulati.
Delhi Dons, on the other hand, will be captained by six-time World Snooker and seven-time European Champion Kelly Fisher. The British player has Wales’ Laura Evans and India’s Malkeet Singh, Manan Chandra and Pushpender Singh to muster up a fight for her team..
The Hyderabad Hustlers will enter the fray last, and will have the advantage of not only sizing up the opposition but also to understand the format. They launch their campaign against the Gujarat Lions on Sunday.
Sportzlive, the force and brains behind Cue Slam, believe that the League will catapult cue sports into the consciousness of sports fans in the country. The matches will be telecast live on Sony ESPN from 6.00 PM to 8.30 PM and is expected to catch the fancy of cue enthusiasts.