16-year-old Kim Young-won, beats seasoned pros to win first pro runner-up title

Even Hwang Ji-won, the “Fear of the Neckglove,” is back. At 16 years old, Kim Young-won, the current PBA’s youngest player, finished as the runner-up in the Dream Tour, giving the organization the green light for promotion to the top tier.

On April 18, Shin Ki Woong and Kim Young Won faced off in the finals of the From PBA Dream Tour Game 4 for the 2023-24 season at the Kintex PBA Stadium in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. In the match, Shin defeated Kim Young-won in straight sets, 4-0 (15-12, 15-3, 15-8, 15-6).

In the first set, Shin cruised to a 15-12 victory with a high-speed seven-point run to take the second and third sets in straight sets. In the fourth set, he closed the game 15-6 in five innings with another seven points to take the title. It took him just 28 innings (2.143 average) to score 60 points.

The victory, which earned Shin $10 million in prize money and 10,000 ranking points, puts him within striking distance of a promotion to the World Tour for the 23-24 season, which is awarded to the top 15 players of the season. Shin Ki Woong was promoted once before in the 22-23 season but spent this season in the second tier due to poor results.

However, the momentum was not lost on Kim Young-won, who defeated a group of veteran adults in the Round of 256 to reach the final.

Kim made his professional billiards debut at the age of 15 in the 22-23 season. Starting with the Challenge Tour, a third-tier tour, he reached the semifinals in the third season and the quarterfinals in the fourth season, receiving a wild card to the first-tier tour and boldly entering the Welcome Savings Bank Championship and Crown Hae Taek Championship.

He stood out as an up-and-coming player by showing his mettle against the then ‘PBA Champion’ David Zapata (Blue One Resort) and Cho Jae-ho, leading the game and taking it to a tiebreaker.

He went on to defeat Lee Gil-soo and Choi Byung-sun in the Round of 256, as well as Hong Jong-myung in the Round of 64 and Yoon Young-hwan in the Round of 32. In the round of 16, he defeated Hwang Ji-won, the “Dreaded Neckglove,” with a nine-run sixth inning and a seven-run 11th inning.

Kim has reached the final four twice in his career, but this is the first time he’s made it to the finals across the First, Second, and Third Tours.

His runner-up finish puts him in fifth place (7800 points) and gives him a green light for the 1st Tour next season.

Meanwhile, a total of 150 players participated in the three-day tournament, which was held from the 16th to the 16th of this month, and the winner was determined by a round of 64 tournament.


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