MZ generation’ challenged women’s professional billiards

“long time no see.” “Yeah, how has your sister been?”

When they see each other’s faces, they smile brightly and chat happily, no different from women their age. But when you catch the cue, the look in your eyes changes.

Ji-eun Han (22) and Ga-yeon Jang (19) ranked 1st and 2nd in domestic amateur rankings for three-cushion billiards. They are the ‘scary children’ who threw a challenge on the LPBA (girls professional billiards) stage, which starts a new season in early June. If you look down on me because I’m young, I’m mistaken. It has the potential to herald a change in perception in the female professional billiards world, represented by ‘Empress’ Kim Ga-young (40), ‘Cambodian family’ Throng Piabi (33), and Lee Mi-rae (27).

Han Ji-eun is the first in the female domestic amateur rankings and the second in the world federation rankings. She was 18 years old and in her junior year, in the 2019 competition held in New York, USA, she stunned the billiard world with her victory by beating Teresa Klompenhauer (40) of the Netherlands, the current world number one. In the 2021 Billiards World Cup, she caused a stir by driving the world’s best male player to the brink of defeat.

Zhang Ga-yeon repeated only runner-up in her domestic competitions, but broke the jinx last year with her first win by the president of the Billiards Federation. This year, it continues its upward trend by winning the National Land Administration Cup. The ranking is 2nd in Korea and 10th in the world. Since her first year of high school, she has been a celebrity among her friends through her personal YouTube (Jang Ga-yeon’s Billiards Nori) activity.

When they were both in elementary school, their father, who was a billiards fan, caught the cue by chance and fell in love with it, making three-cushion billiards their way of life. After participating in the US competition in 2017 when she was 17, Han Ji-eun quit high school and practiced billiards from morning to evening.

After finishing middle school, she went to broadcasting and communication high school to prepare time for her billiards practice.

The two are considered to be the main players who will create a new wind in the women’s billiard world, but they do not give way in the game. As for the results of confrontation during the amateur days, Han Ji-eun leads with 3 wins and 1 loss. Both of them were so fierce that they chose to face each other as the ‘match of life’.

The Asian Championship final against Ga-yeon this March. The ball hit so well that day, I hit 30 runs in 15 innings. That was the only time I played with an average of 2 (2 cushion success per inning).

” I was losing by 9 points, but I thought I would just hit my ball and not worry about it, so I caught up with 1 or 2 points and eventually won 25-24. But when I lost to Jieun unnie in the final of the Asian Championships, I felt bad. There’s nothing we can do about it because my sister hit well and lost.” (Jang Ga-yeon)

The two of them, who had been fighting fiercely before the pool table, had only exchanged formal greetings at the stadium, and had a meal together while participating in the Wonju International Competition in January this year. We became close enough to exchange our regards on the phone.

“I am usually shy, but Ga-yeon스포츠토토 approached me first. We became close while living together in a dorm for about 2 weeks. You know, good people get along quickly, right? Hoho.” (Han Ji-eun)

“I wanted to get close to her. I didn’t bring her shoes, so I borrowed her sister’s to enter the competition. Her unnie gives a lot of advice, and there are so many things to learn

from her .” When Jang Ga-yeon said, “Ji-eun has a poker face that makes her expression unreadable even in a crisis, and I am envious of her careful way of hitting even easy balls as if crossing a stone bridge,” Han Ji-eun said, “Ga-yeon is really brave and plays coolly. Even when she was playing, she was never ‘scared’.”

The professional stage is not easy. Kim Jin-ah (31), who probably reigned as the strongest in 2021, and Yong Hyun-ji (22), who jumped into the pro first as the same age as Han Ji-eun, also have no winning experience yet. Unlike Amama, the LPBA league has a lot of surprises such as set system and survival competition. There are many competitions and the schedule is tight, so strong physical strength is essential. Maybe you have to adapt to the LPBA ball, which has different characteristics from the ball you used in your days. Still, as if they had made a promise, the two of them set the goal of winning the championship within a year, and are concentrating on practicing while holding queues from morning to night.

“I have a bad shoulder right now, so I am doing both rehabilitation and strength training with Pilates. She will do her best without being nervous.” (Han Ji-eun)

“I do strength training for 30 minutes a day. In order to win, I have to hit better than my sister Ji-eun, who is a ‘mountain to overcome’.” (Jang Ga-yeon)

After the interview, let go of the cue, and the two radiated the MZ (Millennial Z) generation’s freshness again. “It was so much fun taking pictures. Now I feel like a real pro!”

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