Masters Down to Last 32

Rodney Morris

THE FIELD of the 2010 World Pool Masters has halved after two days of play as 32 have left the competition and the remaining 32 reconvene at midday Friday to scrap it out as the event moves to single elimination.

Described by witnesses as arguably the strongest 64 player line-up assembled in recent times, the Masters has proved a brutal school with world-class match-ups coming thick and fast. The opening round saw 64 players divided into eight groups of eight players playing in double elimination.

All matches in the Masters in the opening round were race to nine, winner breaks, with the action taking at the Convention Centre at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

The ‘two and through' players in Group 6 were defending champion Darren Appleton who beat the Asian pair of Yu Ram Cha and then Ricky Yang to progress, and then Marcus Chamat. The diminutive Swede beat qualifier Manny Chau and then claimed a superb 9-8 win over Dennis Orcollo, which included a miscue on the final 8 which left a severely testing 9 ball.

Both Orcollo and Yang also made the last 32 via the one loss side

In Group 6, two American players went through via the winners' side as US Open champions John Schmidt and Rodney Morris put on excellent displays. ‘Mr 400' beat Belgian qualifier Noel Bruynooghe and survived a hill-hill thriller against Lee Van Corteza of the Philippines.

Morris beat Scottish youngster Jayson Shaw and then beat compatriot Johnny Archer to seal his own fete but both Shaw and Archer went through on the one-loss side, with the Scot recording a particularly impressive win to knock out Corteza.

A focused Stevie Moore was the first player to make progress in Group 7 as he beat the UK based pair of Imran Majid and then Tony Drago. Moore was joined by Thomas Engert who got the better of Charlie Williams in another hill-hill match.

Williams though stepped up a gear in the final match on the one loss side as he put Majid out of the competition, 9-3. Joining him will be stylish Japanese qualifier Toru Kuribayashi who put paid to former Masters champ Tony Drago's Vegas dream.

Finally in a strong Group 8, recently crowned World 8 Ball king Karl Boyes beat Ernesto Dominguez and Ralf Souquet to advance and was joined by unknown Taiwanese Lo Li-wen who beat Mika Immonen and then Karen Corr.

Souquet made up for his defeat to Boyes by recording only the second 9-0 of the competition as he ran six racks on tough Brunswick equipment to put Mika Immonen out of the competition. Veteran Ernesto Dominguez made up for family disappointment yesterday as he beat Karen Corr 9-3 to take the final spot.

The last 32 matches are single elimination race to 9 and matches start at 12 noon tomorrow.

After 17 years as a 16-player invitational competition, the Masters, one of the longest established tournaments in pool, is now a 64 player event and takes place over five days instead of three.

Working in conjunction with Cuesports International, the Masters takes place during the annual BCA National 8-Ball Championships, which sees thousands of players and fans flock to the Riviera for a lengthy festival of pool.

Television is produced by Matchroom Sport and will be seen as 15 x one hour programmes in 14 countries around the world with more to be added to the list.

The prize fund is set at a guaranteed $100,000 with $20,000 going to the eventual champion.