World Finalist Kuo Through To Vegas Pool Fest

Po Cheng Kuo

PO-CHENG KUO, who came so close to lifting the World Pool Championship in 2005, only to lose out narrowly to Chia-Ching Wu in the final, is set to make his World Pool Masters debut after winning through a tough qualifying heat at the International Pool Club in Taipei.

Kuo, who also grabbed a bronze medal at the 2006 WPC, took down countryman Jung-Lin Chang by 9-6 in the final match. The six-time ESPN Asian Tour champion, Chang, had been out of competition for almost two years due to military service and almost went all the way on his comeback.

Kuo, 32, is getting married in April of this year and said his victory is the best gift he could give his bride. “I think now is different stage in my life and I will become a husband and have a family, and I know my wife always support me,” he said.

Joining him as the third Taiwanese player in the 64 player line-up at the Riviera Hotel from 12 – 16 May, will be Li-wen Lo who won one of the two events at Hiland Billiards in Yokohama, Japan.

Lo is now based in Japan and is a double winner already this year taking down the Kansai 9-ball Open and the HoKKaido Open. He beat Tomoo Takano 10-6 to seal his spot.

There were two events in Yokohama and the second was won by Toru Kuribayashi as he beat former Masters competitor Satoshi Kawabata 10-6 for the Vegas spot. He joins Naoyuki Oi who took one of the invited spots.

Finally, at the Las Vegas Cue Club, it was popular veteran Ernesto Dominguez who was victorious and he can now look forward to playing alongside his son Oscar in the Masters 64. Dominguez is a seasoned campaigner and will be a danger to anyone he meets in the Masters.

Working with an array of respected partners around the world, the qualifying events take in France, England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Canada, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. This will give every pool player in the world the opportunity to win a trip to Las Vegas and mix it with the world's elite in the Masters.

Each qualifying event will carry an entry fee and have, in most cases a maximum field of 32 players. The winner of each event wins a trip to Vegas, to include flight and accommodation, to compete in the Masters and there are cash prizes for high finishers depending on entries.

After 17 years as a 16-player invitational competition, the Masters, one of the longest established tournaments in pool, has moved to 64 players and will run from Wednesday, May 12 to Sunday, May 16, will take place at the Riviera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.

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

The first two days of the main event in May feature double elimination play on a multi-table set-up as the field reduces from 64 down to 32.

The event then goes to single elimination and the last 16 is played out in a single table arena setting in front of the TV cameras, culminating in the final on the evening of Sunday, May 16.

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.