Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng saw his crowd-pleasing run at the World Snooker Championship brought to an abrupt end on Friday, with a 13-3 second-round defeat against Welsh qualifier Michael White.
Poomjaeng had captivated fans at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre with his entertaining antics during a shock first-round win over world No. 5 Stephen Maguire.
The 34-year-old ignored snooker’s usually hushed and reverential atmosphere during his 10-9 win against Maguire as he played the clown on his debut at the sport’s most hallowed venue.
After twice going to the wrong seat in the arena before the match, he waved his arms frantically in a bid to coax the ball into the pocket after several shots, on one occasion knocking over a bottle of water in the process.
The world No. 70 was at it again against White, entering the arena with both arms raised in triumph, jumping from the second step on to the stage floor and punching the air as though he had won the world title.
Spotting Thailand’s national flag in the second row, he also held out his arms in adoration and hugged master of ceremonies Rob Walker.
However, whereas Maguire seemed distracted by Poomjaeng’s bizarre behavior, White was able to block out the fuss as the 21-year-old became the first player to secure a quarter-final berth in this year’s tournament.
Poomjaeng was totally outclassed and fell 7-1 behind after the first session on Thursday.
When play resumed on Friday, White refused to give him a chance to get back into the match as breaks of 71, 83, 73 and a closing 102 set up a last-eight clash with Ricky Walden or Robert Milkins.
Poomjaeng was not scarred by his defeat, saying: “I’m okay because it’s the first time for me at the Crucible.”
“Michael White played well and I started badly. That’s why I lost too easily. I loved the crowd’s reaction to me. I’m so proud that everyone likes me,” he said.
Poomjaeng had won only ￡4,000 (US$6,195) since joining the professional tour last year, so his ￡16,000 check for reaching the second round was a major windfall.
However, even so he was still slightly disappointed as he was hoping to earn a bigger sum to help move out of the Sheffield house he shares with four fellow Thai players.
“I’ll buy my family presents. I’m looking for a new house for me, but this isn’t enough money,” he said. “If I got to the final that would have been okay, but now I can’t do it.”
Poomjaeng relished his rare moment in the spotlight over the last week and he is determined to qualify for the tournament again next year.
For now he plans to head home to Thailand to see his family.
“I’ll come back next year. Now I’m going back to Thailand because I miss my family and I miss my daughter a lot,” he said.
White, bidding to become the first debutant in the semi-finals since Andy Hicks in 1995, was delighted with the way he kept his cool while Poomjaeng was going through his madcap routine.
“I’m thrilled. The way I’ve played in both my matches has been pleasing for me,” he said.
“I had to keep in the zone and keep concentration and I felt I did that well all the way through. Last night he was joking around a lot, but I held it together pretty well,” White said.