Masters Underway in Vegas

PLAY HAS concluded on the first day of the 2010 World Pool Masters as 16 players have made their way through to Friday's round of 32 and a further 16 have been eliminated from the completion.
Separated into eight groups of eight players competing in double elimination competition, four groups competed today and top of the seeding for the straight knock out stages of the event.
There were plenty of big name casualties who fell by the wayside on a day when the strength in depth of field shone through. Those who fell at the first hurdle included Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Shane Van Boening, Corey Deuel, Oscar Dominguez and Earl Strickland.
Straight out of the traps in Group 1 were 2005 Masters champion Raj Hundal and Mexico's Rafael Martinez, who took the final qualifying spot at Pool Sharks yesterday. The wily old campaigner took out American qualifier David Grau and Evgeni Novosad (Ukriane) to reach the money stages.
Hundal made light work of Korea's Ga Young Kim and then Jason Klatt to book his spot. The one-loss side of this group saw the young Novosad win through in what was a great day for Ukrainian pool, and the final spot went to Canadian qualifier Jason Klatt who bumped Shane Van Boening out of the competition by a 9-5 scoreline on the one-loss side.
All matches in the Masters are race to nine, winner breaks, with the action taking at the Convention Centre at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
In Group 2 it was the Philippines' powerful Roberto Gomez who beat Earl Strickland and Huijdi See to go through. Dutch qualifier See, though, redeemed the situation with a win over Allison Fisher, which together with an earlier 9-8 victory over Niels Feijen, saw him through. Feijen recovered though, as he beat Ko Pin-yi to win through to Friday.
The other winners' side victor was 2005 World Pool Championship runner-up Kuo Po-cheng who secured his spot with wins over Oscar Dominguez and countryman Ko Pin-yi
Thorsten Hohmann and Dennis Hatch were the two who went undefeated through Group 3 and they now take their place in Friday's last 32. Hohmann was in fact, the first player to make it as he posted wins over Radoslaw Babica and Efren Reyes to progress.
Hatch held wins over Norwegian qualifier Tron Engebaak and Morra to secure his spot. On the losers' side Canada's Morra won through at the expense of Radoslaw Babica, while 2007 World Champion Daryl Peach sent Efren Reyes crashing out of the competition.
Finally in Group 4, two lesser known Asian players shone through as Naoyuki Oi (Japan) and Vietnam's unknown Do Hong Quan won two from two to qualify. Quan, who won through a qualifying event in Malaysia a few weeks ago, beat Francisco Bustamante and Tyler Edey to make it probably the best day of his pool playing career.
Oi, who is one of the game's more colourful characters, took down England's Mark Gray and Oliver Ortmann of Germany to advance. The German, however, recovered to knock Bustamante out of the event to progress. Gray too regrouped as he got the better of Tyler Edey in a do-or-die encounter.
Play continues tomorrow (Thursday) with Groups 5 to 8 playing their matches. After that the Masters moves to single elimination with the round of 32 taking place on Friday 14th and then the event goes to the TV stages on Friday evening and the weekend.
After 17 years as a 16-player invitational competition, the Masters, one of the longest established tournaments in pool, will now feature 64 players and take 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.
Seven previous winners - Ralf Souquet, Daryl Peach, Francisco Bustamante, Tony Drago, Raj Hundal, Alex Pagulayan and defending champion Darren Appleton - are among the players invited.
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.