Former Champions Lead the Way at WPC

Mika Immonen

With just one day of qualifying action left to play, it is the former champions who are showing the way at the 2004 Taiwan World Pool Championship in Taipei with 100% records that have seen them into the last 64 in style.

Defending champion Thorsten Hohmann, 2001 winner Mika Immonen, '90, '91 and 2002 victor Earl Strickland, 1995 titleist Oliver Ortmann and 1993 and 2000 champion Fong Pang Chao all hold perfect six out of six records and will be high up in the seeding when the last 64 draw is made.

Joining them at the top of the heap is Taiwanese qualifier Ying-chieh Chen who has cut a swath through Group 13 with six wins.

The crowds at the World Trade Center have been good throughout with upwards of 1500 people per day coming through the door and local attention has been focused squarely on national heroes Chao, Ching-shun Yang and Hui-kai Hsia.

When not playing in the TV arena, the areas around the outside tables have been packed as these three attract the kind of following for pool players that only happens in the Far East.

Elsewhere, the Philippines' contingent of ten players is assured of a good representation in the knock-out stages with the likes of Francisco Bustamante and Efren Reyes leading the way.

In an all-Pinoy clash on the outside tables, Dennis Orcollo finally laid a ghost to rest as he beat Reyes for the first time ever to head Group 2 but the bad news is that Ramil Gallego is out of the competition after a dismal start.

Top players looking shaky include reigning US Open champion Jeremy Jones, who has it all to do in Group 16. He took a 5 – 0 hammering at the hands of Jose Parica on the TV table and needs two wins tomorrow to advance.

Ismael Paez, the 2000 runner-up is also out, having failed to make any sort of impression in Group 3 and Germany's Michael Schmidt is on less than solid ground in Group 4. Finally, another American, Max Eberle is also facing a mountain in Group 14 when play commences tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport