WPC – Qualifiers wrapping up

WITH THE pre-event qualifying tournament for the 2007 Philippines World Pool Championship set to wrap up today, it's fair to say that proceedings have been dominated by the players from Chinese Taipei.

Taking place at the Star Billiards Center in Grace Village, Quezon City, the qualifying event boasted a top-level field of nearly 170 players with ten separate tournaments over five days with the winner of each reaching the main event.

With eight out of the ten events already contested, the Taiwanese have bagged four spots in the main event, with a further six players falling at the final hurdle.

With 43 players entered by the Chinese Taipei Billiards Association, the Taiwanese certainly had strength in numbers, but with an 80 strong field in each of the events, qualifying was a massive achievement.

Lu Hui-chan was the first to make it through as he beat compatriot Chang Yu-lung 9-2 last Saturday. Lu was the 1998 and 1999 WPA World Junior Champion and now has a tough opening Group 4 match against hot-shot Yang Ching-shun.

The second qualifying event was won by Japan's Kenichi Uchigaki who took care of Do Huan Quan of Vietnam 9-3. Uchigaki becomes the fifth Japanese player to enter the field and he gets a dream match-up against Efren Reyes on one of the TV tables.

There was more Taiwanese joy on Sunday as Ko Pin-yi set up a first round clash against 2003 WPA World Champion Thorsten Hohmann. Ko beat another Taiwanese player, Lu Hsun-cheng 9-7 to gain his spot.

Wu Yu-lun, another former WPA Junior World Champion - in 2004 and 2005 - was the victor in Qualifier 4, beating yet another Chinese Taipei player, Chien Ching-ju 9-8. He faces former two-time WPA World Champion Johnny Archer.

Wily campaigner Alwi of Indonesia who has played in the World Pool Championship in 2001, was on top form to beat Wang Hung-hsiang. He now meets dominant Taiwanese star Chang Jung-ling in Group 7.

Another seasoned pro Leonardo Andam, was a popular winner at Star Billiards as he beat fellow Filipino Jharome Pena 9-4 in a classy display. Andam, who was a quarter-finalist at the WPC in 2001, gets to play last year's runner-up and 1996 champ Ralf Souquet in Group 2.

There was for the home fans to cheer about on Tuesday as Roberto ‘Superman' Gomez won through against experienced Taiwanese player Kun Fang-lee 9-5. Gomez, who was No.1 seed at last year's event following the first round stages, has a tough Group 16 clash against Niels Feijen (Holland) in the offing.

Finally man of the moment Shane Van Boening, the reigning US Open champion, will face unknown Taiwanese Chang Yau-mau who won the eight qualifying spot defeating Chu Hung-ming 9-6.

The 2007 Philippines World Pool Championship breaks of on Saturday 3rd November as 128 players from 46 countries vie for the $400,000 prize fund.