World Pool Championship Qualifiers Well Underway

With the 2005 Kaohsiung World Championship qualifying event more than halfway through, there are some well-known faces as well as unknown newcomers taking their place in the main draw when battle commences this Saturday 2 July.

Taking place at the upmarket Fashion Pool Lounge, fields of up to 100 players a day have been competing for the 11 available spots. With one single elimination tournament per day, the top two players go through with high finishers gaining order of merit points to determine who takes the coveted 11th spot and any subsequent vacancies created by no-shows.

Two of the finest players in the line-up made it through on the opening day as Filipinos Warren Kiamco and Antonio Lining took the honours. Kiamco, 35, takes his place in Group 3 alongside 2003 Champion Thorsten Hohmann and the Cebu City native will certainly have ambitions of reaching the knock-out stages.

Lining himself has four World Championship appearances to his credit and has never failed to make it to the last 64, with top 16 finishes in 2001 and 2002 being his strongest years.

Day two was the time for local players to make their mark and it was Chia-hsiung Lai, who took the first spot. It will Kaohsiung-based potters second appearance in the World Championship and he has a lot to live up to - he made the semi-finals in 2001, his one and only previous appearance!

Kun-chang Huang took the other spot and he will be hoping to improve on his only other WPC outing when he made the last 32 in Cardiff in 2002. Huang lines up in Group 15 alongside seeded players Jeremy Jones and Marlon Manalo.

In the third day of qualifying, youth prevailed as firstly 20 year-old Long-lin Zhang took the honours to gain a spot in Group 13. The talk in Kaohsiung is that the confident-looking Zhang is the man to beat on the local scene.

The final spot of the third day's play went to unknown Japanese player Oi Naoyuki who battled through the bottom half of the draw. It was the 22 year-old from Tokyo's first time in international competition and he will have done well to reach the main event.

Play continues with a further five spots up for grabs over the Wednesday and Thursday 29 and 30 June.

The 2005 Kaohsiung World Pool Championship runs from 2 - 10 July and the Kaohsiung Business Exhibition Center. It features 128 players from around 42 countries going for a US$350,000 prize fund and is televised live throughout by ESPN Star Sport across Asia an Sky Sports in the UK.