WTBC Gathers Biggest Assembly of Top Male Players

Darren Appleton

WITH 118 players from over 40 countries earning spots and confirming their attendance, the 2nd World Ten Ball Championship on Nov.25-30 in Manila will gather the biggest assembly of the world's top men pool players in competition.

“It's going to be the toughest tournament of the year,” said Yen Makabenta, chairman of Raya Sports, the organizer of the WTBC. “All the top players are competing, every major pool powerhouse in the world has a contingent, and all national and regional champions will be here.”

To complete the main draw of 128 players, the remaining 10 spots will be contested by over 130 players in the WTBC qualifiers that are scheduled on Nov. 19-23 at the Star Billiards Center in Quezon City.    

Unlike last year, the 2nd WTBC will be an all-male affair and will miss the likes of Jasmin Ouschan of Austria, who made waves last year by playing well against the men. Starting this year, female players now have their own world 10-ball championship.

Leading the stellar cast in the only world men's championship this year are reigning world 10-ball champion Darren Appleton of Great Britain, current world No.1 Ralf Souquet of Germany, and newly-crowned US Open  champion and leading 2009 moneywinner Mika Immonen of Finland. But they will have plenty of challengers from every point of the globe.    

Pool powerhouse countries like Great Britain, Germany, the United States, Chinese-Taipei and host Philippines are fielding the most number of players in the competition, which carries the year's biggest prize fund of $262,000.

Great Britain will strive to keep the world title with 10 players. Besides Appleton, the members of the British contingent are: 2007 world 9-ball champion Daryl Peach, Imran Majid, Scott Higgins, Craig Osborne, Karl Boyes, Jonni Fulcher, Ricardo Jones, Phil Burford and Chris Melling.

Souquet, 2008 world 8-ball champion and World Games gold medalist, leads  the nine-man German contingent. The other players are: former world champions Thorsten Hohmann and Oliver Ortmann, Thomas Engert, Marko Vogel, Christoph Reintjes, Ralf Mund, Klaus Zobrekis and Benjamin Heimmerer.       

The US contingent of nine players is bannered by former US Open and Predator 10-ball champion Shane Van Boening, former world champion Johnny Archer, Corey Deuel, Stevie Moore, Charlie Bryant, Shaun Wilkie, Charlie Williams, Shawn Putnam and Oscar Dominguez.

Chinese-Taipei, a major powerhouse in Asia, is represented by nine formidable players: former two-time world 9-Ball champion Fong Pang Chao, money-game king Ching-Shun Yang, two-time world junior champion Pin-Yi Ko, Yu-Lung Chang, Po-Cheng Kuo, Tsung-Hua Cheng, Hui-chan Lu, Che-Wei Fu, and Hung-Hsiang Wang.

Host Philippines has, at this point, 11 player entries. They are led by Jeffrey De Luna (No. 7 in the world rankings), Demosthenes  Pulpul (No. 8), former world no. 1 Dennis Orcullo, former double world champion Warren Kiamco, and noted international campaigners Lee Van Corteza and Marlon Manalo.

The other Filipino players who have earned seats are: Warren Kiamco, Antonio Gabica, Allan Cuartero, and Jerico Banares.

Five Japanese players are entered in the main draw – Hayato Hijikata, Yukio Akakariyama, Toru Kuribayashi, Naoyuki Ooi and Satoshi Kawabata.

Korea has four players in Young Hwa Jeong, Woong Dae Kim, Chul Mook Choi and Seung Woo Ryu.

China is represented by three international campaigners: Jian-Bo Fu, He-wen Li, and Hai-tao Liu.

Immonen will be joined by Markus Java in representing Finland. He is currently ranked third in the world.

Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, rated fourth in the world, will be joined by compatriots Nick Van Den Berg and Huidji See.   

The other players who have secured spots in the main draw of the WTBC are:
Louis Condo and Ben Nunan (Australia), Mario He and Martin Kempter (Austria), Serge Das (Belgium), MB Alias (Brunei), Alain Martel, Raymond Cruz, Erik Hjorleifson, Adam Smith and Tyler Edey (Canada), Li Hewen, Fu Jianbo and Liu Haitao (China), Phil Stojanovic (Croatia), Roman Hybler (Czech Republic), Kasper Kristoffersen and Bahram Lofty (Denmark), Stephan Cohen and Vincent Facquet (France), Andreas Loukiadakis (Greece), Kenny Kwok (Hong Kong), I Alwi Alwi, Widi Harsoyo and Ricky Yang (Indonesia), Farhad Shahverdi (Iran), Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore (Italy), Ibrahim Bin Amir and Lee Poh Soon (Malaysia), Ignacio Chavez (Mexico), Vegar Kristiansen (Norway), Mateusz Sniegocki, Thomasz Kaplan, Mariusz Skoneczny and Radoslaw Babica (Poland), Basher Hussain, Abdulatef Fawal and Rashid Al Mari (Qatar), Konstantin Stepanov and Ruslan Chinakhov (Russia), Sandor Tot (Serbia), Tey Choon Kiat and Toh Lian Han (Singapore), Matjaz Erculj (Slovenia), Jason Theron and Alphonse Hoge (South Africa), David Alcaide and Rafael Guzman (Spain), Marcus Chamat (Sweden), Dimitri Jungo (Switzerland), Mehmet Cankurt and Ramazan Dincer (Turkey), Frailin Guanica and Jalal Youse (Venezuela) and Nguyen Anh Tuan (Vietnam).                

Greece, Norway and Slovenia are joining the world championship for the first time.