Filipino Lee Van Corteza took the first place in 2010 US Open 10-Ball Championship, but the second place was taken by a relative unknown to western pool audience, Taiwanese Lo Li-Wen. ("Lo" is his surname and "Li-Wen" the first name.) He's originally from Taiwan but now resides in Tokyo, Japan. According to the AZBilliards forum poster, he recently won the Hokkaido Open and was the runner-up in Japan Open 2009. Finding information about him on the Internet seems to be extremely difficult. There's a result page of him winning the MAG SUMINOE CUP-Kansai 9-ball Open (2010), besting among others none other than the great Ralf Souquet.
(Photo of Lo Li-Wen is courtesy and copyright of On The Break News Group. Used with permission.)
His name caused some confusion for the TAR live coverage as they weren't quite sure how exactly to spell it. "Lo Hi-Wen" seemed to be a popular misspelling of his name. Later to the final, the commentators received a short background story for the guy. He's aged a little over 30 years and has a two-year old child.
Lo's record in this year's US Open 10-Ball was impressive. He advanced in the winner's bracket winning the likes of Marc Vidal Claramunt (9-2), Tyler Edey (9-7), Oscar Dominguez (9-6), and Corey Harper (9-0) in the early rounds. With eight players left in the winner's bracket, he defeated Charlie Williams 9-7. Just recently Lo lost the first round match of the 32 player cup to Williams in the World Pool Masters 9-8.
After defeating Williams, Lo Li-Wen was to face Mika Immonen, who has been a dominating figure in major pool tournaments in recent years. Immonen won the World 10-Ball Championship and achieved an impressive back to back wins in the US Open 9-Ball Championships in 2008 and 2009. However, Immonen's track record didn't help him as Lo sent him to the loser's bracket with a decisive 9-5 win. Lo Li-Wen had faced Immonen also in the World Pool Masters recently, beating him 9-8 in the group stages.
After winning Immonen, Lo Li-Wen had a match for the hot seat, a place in the final two. The match was against Lee Van Corteza, who's also had a lot of success lately. Corteza took out Manny Chau, Mike Dechaine and others in the upper side of the winner's bracket. Lo Li-Wen took the hot seat with a comfortable 9-6 win over Corteza. Corteza eventually fought his way back from the loser's bracket and faced Lo Li-Wen in the final, a race to 13 wins.
The final involved some controversy in the early stages. The pace of the game, especially on Lo Li-Wen's part, was extremely slow. Even the TAR live stream commentators, Billy Incardona and Scott Frost were worn out by the slow speed of the play. When Corteza lead the match around 7-2, the tournament director Ken Shuman
At first, it seemed that speeding up the game made Lo Li-Wen somewhat uncomfortable, but after few nervous shots, he actually started to play better. To my account, Lo stringed around three racks of breaks and run-outs after the talk with tournament director and eventually tied the match at about 8-8. Throughout the match, Lo's break was working effectively. He broke with an open bridge, unlike most others, and with a little less speed, but managed to make balls on the break continuously and controlling the cue ball and the one ball pretty accurately.
The match proceeded evenly and eventually the players were hill-hill, 12-12. Lo Li-Wen broke and was left with a relatively tough shot on the one to the side pocket. He missed the pot and let Corteza make the one and the two only to make a poor position shot on the three. Corteza played a safe, which left a short jump-shot for Lo. Lo missed the pot and Corteza ran out to take the US Open 10-Ball Championship.
Judging from the way Lo Li-Wen played in the US Open 10-Ball, we'll surely see more from him in the future.