Handicapping the Amway Cup

Jasmin Ouschan

The opening draw for the upcoming Amway Cup has been posted online, which leaves no time like the present to examine the various groups and pick some early favorites.

Before we get into each group, let's review the format. This event sees 48 players divided into eight groups of six players. Each group will play round robin and the top three players from each group will move into the single elimination stages. Matches are race to seven until the semi-finals and finals. Semi-finals will be race to 9 and the finals will be a race to 11.

Now on the groups...

Group A:
Yuan-chun Lin
Yukiko Oi
Julie Kelly
Joanne Ashton
Hu-Lin Li
Qualifier 8

Lin shocked the world and won this event last year with back to back wins over Allison Fisher and Ga Young Kim. Prior to that win, Lin was relatively unknown. She is the #1 seed in this event and she should have no problem advancing into the single elim stages.

Former World Champion Julie Kelly has struggled the past couple of years, with a 5th place at the 2007 WPBA Nationals as her best finish in the last two years. She could struggle in this group, but should make it into the single elim stages.

Canadian Joanne Ashton had a nice finish at the WPBA San Diego Classic, and a good performance in Taipei would do big things for her confidence.

Group B:
Chieh-Yu Chou
Monica Webb
Akira Otani
Val Finnie
Zhi-Wei Chai
Qualifier 7

Monica Webb is the hottest player on the planet at the moment and she should advance into the single elim stages pretty easily here.

Chou is the 6th ranked player on the WPA points list and should also advance with relative ease.

Otani was a runner-up in the 2007 All Japan event and she should be able to make it to the final 24.

Group C:
Allison Fisher
Rubilen Amit
Shu-Han Chang
Estelle Binjin
Janine Schwan
Qualifier 6

The Amway Cup press is referring to this group as the "Group of Death". While it is a tough group, it would best be called the "Group of Doom" as The Duchess of Doom, Allison Fisher, should have no problems here.

Schwan just turned in a runner up finish to Jasmin Ouschan at the European Chamionships, and her #5 seeding is not really fair. She should advance into the single elim stages.

Amit was thought of as the top female in the Philippines before Iris Ranola burst on the scene. Amit could make it out of this group, but Chang is probably a bigger favorite to advance.

Group D:
Xiao-Chi Lin
Kelly Fisher
Miyuki Fuke
Rena Boelman
Hilda Lucrecia Guerreo Blandon
Qualifier 5

Kelly Fisher is obviously a favorite to advance out of this group and should have no problem.

Lin earned her #1 seeding in this based on her 5th place finish last year. Considering the field, she should advance.

Fuke finished third at this year's Japan Open Championship and should be one of the three advancing from this group.

Group E:
Ga-Young Kim
Hsiang-Lin Tan
Helena Thornfeldt
Grace Nakamura
Marika Poikkijoki
Qualifier 4

Kim advancing from this group is a no-brainer.

Tan is the reigning Japan Open Champion and should have no problems here.

Thornfeldt would be a safe bet to also advance here.

Group F:
Yum-Mi Lem
Karen Corr
Pei-Chen Tsai
Sarah Rousey
Johanna Espinoza Fajardo
Qualifier 3

Lim finished 5th here last year and has won this event in the past, but seeding her above Corr seems to be a mistake.

If the injury that hampered Corr in San Diego is healed, she should be a lock to advance from this group.

Tsai was a third place finisher here last year and should advance.

Sarah Rousey is the wild card here. Her #4 seeding would indicate that she is not a favorite to advance, but she should outplay that ranking and join Corr and Tsai as players advancing from this group.

Group G:
Jasmin Ouschan
Shin-Mei Liu
Iris Ranola
Tamara Rademakers
Suet-Yee Kwan
Qualifier 2

Now this is a tough group. The top three seeds are certainly the favorites to advance.

With Ouschan just winning the 8-ball and 9-ball divisions at the European Championship, she would be a favorite to advance from any group; this one included.

Rademakers is rightfully the #4 seed, but she could surprise some people and advance past Liu or Ranola.

Group H:
Jeanette Lee
Xiao-Ting Pan
Gerda Hofstatter
Kynthia Orfandis
Camilla Khodjaeva
Qualifier 1

Another very tough group.

Lee has taken her game back to the level it was at 10 years ago, Pan should play even stronger with the home field advantage and Hofstatter just finished 3rd in San Diego.

The bottom three players are going to have to work hard to edge out any of the top three.