American Go E-Journal

Ryan Li Sweeps Final to Win 2015 AGA Pro Victory

Friday January 9, 2015

In two dramatic cliffhangers, Ryan Li beat Eric Lui in back-to-back games Friday to sweep the AGA Pro Qualification Tournament finals, 2015.01.09_Ryan-Li-DSC_0101becoming the American Go Association’s fourth professional. Li had won their game in the round-robin section earlier in the week, so Friday’s wins gave him a 3-0 sweep of the best-of-five finals (he only dropped one game in the entire tournament, against Matthew Burrall). Click here for results and game records and check out the AGA Facebook page for photos.

“Eric was a really tough opponent,” Li told the E-Journal after the final round. “I definitely felt a lot of pressure from him and just wanted to try my hardest, do my best and see what happens. It’s still all sinking in.” Li is in his third year at the University of Toronto, where he’s studying physics. He’s also an avid soccer player. His future go plans are a bit up in the air at the moment. “I had planned to play in the World Amateur Go Championships this year but of course now I can’t do that,” he said, laughing.

2015.01.09_pro-certificate-DSC_0153“I am tremendously impressed with Ryan’s progress since last year’s pro tournament,” said AGA President Andy Okun. “His poise and seriousness all week were a real inspiration, as was his steadiness during some truly grueling games.” Okun also said that he was “pleased with the overall strength of the field; clearly we’re onto something here.”

Lui took a solid cash lead early in the morning game and hundreds of viewers on KGS thought he seemed to be in a good position after deftly surviving Li’s splitting attack. But Li kept up the pressure and as Lui went into byo-yomi, the game kept getting more and more complicated. Eventually, with the life and death of multiple groups at stake, several huge kos and even a seki, both players were battling the clock as well and in the end, Lui, behind on the board, lost on time as well.  In the other two morning games,  Jeremy Chiu’s kill of  Ben Lockhart’s large central group evened the score at 1-1 in their battle for third place in the tournament, while Matthew Burrall’s win against Daniel Gourdeau put him within one game of clinching fifth place (Gourdeau lost their match in the round-robin section earlier in the week). The afternoon game between Li and Lui was another no-holds-barred contest, closely followed by hundreds on KGS, who were also treated to a live commentary by Myungwan Kim 9P, with Andrew Jackson. The other two afternoon games were each decided by half a point, Lockhart defeating Chiu to take a 2-1 lead, and Matthew Burrall beating Gourdeau to claim fifth place. Lockhart and Chiu will continue their struggle for third place — and seed in the next pro tournament — in a game Saturday at 9:30a that will be broadcast on KGS; if a fifth game is needed it’ll be played and broadcast at 4p (EST).
- report/photos by Chris Garlock

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