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The 2015 MP Cup World 10-Ball Championship - Day 4
 Posted on Tuesday, February 17 2015 @ 17:30:37 UTCby admin
10 Ball The 2015 MP Cup World 10-Ball Championship
SM Mall
General Santos City
Philippines
www.wpa-pool.com - Twitter - Facebook - Brackets - Live Video

15 - 21 February 2015


Photograph courtesy of ©D. Secuya www.philboxing.com used here with permission.

EIGHT GUNNING FOR THE BIG PRIZE

It's a wide open race for glory as the final 8 sharpshooters do battle Saturday for the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship.


After a long and tense day of duels at the highest levels of the professional game, the field at the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship in the southern Philippine city of General Santos has been whittled down to eight superb talents, all of whom have a solid shot at emerging with the title on the final day on Saturday.

It’s nearly an all Asian-field, with three Filipinos, three Taiwanese, one Chinese and a Spaniard in the mix. It’s a heady cocktail of long time veterans and some of the great young players of the day. Interestingly, not a single one of the final eight players has ever one won a world title above the junior level. That, of course, will change for one deserving player come early evening on Saturday.

Do you like your pool served up with a bit of intrigue and storyline? Well check out this lineup that lags off at 10:30am local time(GMT+). In one quarterfinal, Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi, a former two time world junior champion, and one of the world’s best young players over the last 6 years, will take on the veteran fellow Taiwanese Yang Ching Shun, who is making a comeback to the higher echelons of the sport after seven years. In another quarterfinal, the Philippines long time veteran Warren Kiamco, long a mainstay on the international scene but never a winner of the big one, will take on Ko’s teenage brother, the incredibly talented 19 year old Ko Ping Chung.

Spain’s David Alcaide, for years now one of Europe’s top players, will face one of the Philippines flashiest and strongest young talents in 22 year old Johann Chua. The final quarters match will see the Philippines Carlo Biado, a man who’s been knocking on the door of big time success for the last four years, take on another surging international player, China’s Lui Haitao.

Pool fanatics will find it almost impossible to pick a favorite among the eight, as each and every one has shown incredible skill, fortitude and the ability to close out their matches over the last four days. But if you had to pick a slight favorite, Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi might be a solid selection. Yesterday the 25 year old emerged through a veritable gauntlet after taking two straight hill-hill matches. This is the kind of hardship scenario that often leads to a championship run in pool and indeed today, Ko turned on the afterburners. He first disposed of Mexican Ruben Bautista, 11-3. Then in the round of 16, Ko put the screws to Indonesia’s talented Irsa Nasution, 11 – 5.



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Photograph courtesy of ©D. Secuya www.philboxing.com used here with permission.

Ko will surely be a favorite to beat Yang, but Yang is a sentimental favorite among long time pool fans, who remember his stellar play in the 2000’s. But while Yang was one of the greats of the last decade, he was also very much an underachiever. Known for his incredible daring in big money matches, Yang could never win the big one in tournament play. Today, though, Yang perservered nicely. He advanced out of the round of 32 with an all-time gift from the Philippines Baseth Mapandi, who fouled at 10-10 with just two balls on the table. Against Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Yang got an early lead but struggled to close out the match, winning 11- 8.

Many long time Filipino fans would like nothing more than to see veteran Kiamco take the crown on Saturday. The 44 year Filipino has been at the game for over two decades, and has been playing the best pool of his career the last few months, including winning the Derby City 9-ball championship in Louiville, Kentucky. Admittedly in fine form, Kiamco showed amazing bottle today, starting off with an 11-5 thrashing of English great Darren Appleton. Then, in the round of 16, Kiamco battled back from a 5-1 deficit to Taiwan’s Cheng Yu Hsuan, taking his first lead late in the match, and closing things out in style, 11 – 9.

“I just stayed focused and kept putting on the pressure,” a pumped up Kiamco said afterward. “I’m all the way down but I just kept coming and coming. When I tied it at 9-9, I knew the pressure was on him.” Kiamco’s best ever finish in a world championship was 32nd place. He doesn’t want to let this opportunity slip by.

“If I have a chance, I will grab the opportunity.”

His opponent Ko Ping Chung couldn’t come from more of an opposite end of the pool spectrum. The 19 year old Ko doesn’t look a day over 13 and plays just like you’d expect a young prodigy; with a total lack of fear. Today, Ko put in two terrific efforts, first taking down the Philippines Jonas Magpantay, then holding his nerve against Russia’s Ruslan Chinakov, winning at the wire, 11-10.

Should Ping Chung and his older brother Pin Yi both win their quarterfinal matches, they would play each other in the semi-finals.


Photograph courtesy of ©D. Secuya www.philboxing.com used here with permission.

Spain’s David Alcaide has been a consistent top performer in Europe for years. His reputation as a player’s player, meaning the type that thrives in difficult circumstances, is well deserved. Alcaide is the current European 10-ball champion. In 2009 he reached the semi-final of the World 10-ball championship in Manila.

Alcaide is clearly peaking at the right time, and his convincing wins today over Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin and Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski were certainly proof. The Spaniard is brimming with confidence and feels he is right where he needs to be going into Saturday’s play.

“I have confidence in myself and my game. Even when I miss I have confidence. I prefer 10-ball. I love this game, I love this tournament and I love playing in the Philippines. Everything is perfect. I like this kind of difficult tournament. It gives me good motivation, good concentration. The best players are here and I like playing the best.”

His opponent Johann Chua will provide a stern test, however. In a veritable sea of talented up and coming Filipino youngsters, Chua is perhaps in the top three. The dashing and good looking Bacolod, Philippines native has spent the last three years playing internationally. He has steadily made solid gains, reaching the quarterfinals in the 2014 World 9-ball championship and notching two third place finishes at the All Japan Championhip.

Chua is the real deal. Yesterday he took down the great Ralf Souquet. Today he manhandled China’s Wang Can, 11 -7 then came out and battled toe to toe with the Philippine superstar Lee Vann Corteza, winning a thriller, 11-10. That Chua broke and ran the last rack under immense pressure spoke volumes about this young man’s future.

“There was so much pressure in that match,” Chua said. “When I was growing up, 11 and 12 years old, Lee Vann is my idol. That was the first time I played him because we are friends and we never even play money matches. It’s my dream to play him in a world championship. It’s really amazing that I beat him.”

While Chua can perhaps afford to wait for ultimate glory, Carlo Biado feels his time is now. The 31 year old from La Union, Philippines has logged countless hours on the road the world over the last five years. He’s a terrific talent and his three wins today showed he has the stamina to go along with his superb skills. Biado first beat Greece’s Nick Ekonomopoulos,11 -7. He then hammered fellow Filipino Romeo Silvano, 11- 1. Biado then dusted Poland’s Radislaw Babica, 11 – 7. After his third tussle of the day, Biado said he felt more primed for prime time than ever.

“I have learned from all my mistakes,” he said. “I’m practicing a lot and I won’t stop until I get a world title.”

Biado will have to come back with one of his best ever performances when he faces China’ Liu. The Inner Mongolian native also logged three rock solid performances today, including a nervy 11 – 10 win over Alex Pagulayan in the round of 32. Lui has been playing his best ever pool in the last year, and could now be considered China’s top male player.

This match between Biado and Liu, like all of Saturday’s quarterfinals, promises to be a stern test of pool at the very highest levels of the sport.


::: DAY 3 :::


Photograph courtesy of ©Bob Guerrero - used here with permission.

JUST LIKE OLD TIMES

Swedish veteran Marcus Chamat dominates world number 1 Chang Yu Lung to advance to the final 32 at the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship.


From the late 1990's to the late 2000’s, the name ‘Marcus Chamat’ regularly featured on pool leader boards, especially the biggest events in the sport. The affable Swede twice reached the semi-finals of the World 9-ball Championship, and finished in the top ten six other times.

The last few years, however, saw the man known affectionately as “Napoleon” stay closer to his home of Gavle, Sweden. As a single father to a young boy and a pool club to administer, the calling of the brutally tough international pool circuit had to take a back seat.

But on Thursday night in General Santos City in the southern Philippines, the 39 year old Swede turned back the clock with one of the finest performances of his career. Matching up against world number 1 Chang Yu Lung in the single elimination round of 64 at the 2015 World 10-ball Championship, Chamat played flawlessly, running the Taiwanese great out of the SM mall with a resounding 11-5 win. The victory means Chamat will come back to play on Friday in the round of 32. And he knows as well as anyone that he has the tools to make a serious run.

“That was my best match of the tournament, one of the best matches I played in a long time,” a delighted Chamat said after leaving the table. “He’s the number 1 player in the world. Everything was laid out right. My safeties were awesome. I have to take it just one match at a time. Obviously I have the game or I wouldn’t be here. If I can come with game like that against a player like that, I can beat anyone.”

“I’m really lucky today,” Orcollo said afterwards and this time you knew he meant it. “I didn’t think I would even get back to the table. I still can’t believe I won that match.”


Photograph courtesy of ©Bob Guerrero - used here with permission.

With the slog of the group stages giving way to the money rounds, it’s that time in a big event when the streaking players will begin to reveal themselves. Often times in world championships, players who go on to win it have to suffer a major scare before they catch a gear and streak towards the winner circle.

With that intangible in mind, fans shouldn’t be surprised to see Taiwan’s Ko Pin Yi hovering close to glory after Friday’s three sessions conclude. The 25 year old had one of those epic days today that just screamed “destiny.” Ko first matched up in sensational do-or-die battle in the group stage against Hall of Famer Mika Immonen. With a free pass to the exits hanging on every ball, the stars battled toe to toe right to the bitter end. Ko held his nerve and won at the wire, 9-8.

The round of 64 began soon after and Ko got the call to go up against talented Greek, Alexander Kazakis. After the pair slugged it out for two hours, and leaving a one rack decider, Kazakis appeared headed for victory with just four balls left on the table. The Greek, however, blew position on the seven and after a miss, Ko stepped in and held his nerve yet again to claim a well-deserved spot in the final 32.

As usual Taiwan is making its mark in a world championship. In all, ten Taiwanese players made it to the round of 64, with six, including Ko’s 19 year old brother Ping Chung, already through to the round of 32. Two more Taiwan players will compete on Friday morning.

The Philippines started the tournament with a whopping 43 players out of the 128 man field so it’s not surprising that Filipinos made up the bulk of those who qualified, 27 out of 64 players, in fact. What was surprising was the early exit of two of the country’s biggest names. World number 7 Dennis Orcollo ran out of luck against Indonesia’s tough Irsa Nasution, falling 11-8. Hall of Famer Francisco Bustamante dueled with Spanish veteran David Alcaide, losing at the wire, 11-9.


Photograph courtesy of ©Bob Guerrero - used here with permission.

Much of the spotlight for the Philippines now turns to the heaps of relatively unknown young talents waiting for their turn to grab some world pool glory. Raymund Faraon, Baseth Mapandi, Jundel Mazon, Ruben Cuna, Jonas Magpantay , and Johann Chua, who defeated a stingy Ralf Souquet, all fought their way in the final 32.

One Filipino veteran local fans should keep a sharp eye out for is Warren Kiamco. Kiamco has been on the scene for over 25 years and has carved out a great reputation, especially in the United States. He recently captured the Derby City 9-ball in Louisville, Kentucky and is in excellent form in Gen San. Kiamco seems primed to finally grab the ultimate prize that has eluded him all these years. But the veteran knows he can’t get ahead of himself.

“I’m in good shape right now,” the 44 year old Kiamco said after moving into the round of 32 with a convincing win over Poland’s Karol Skowerski. “But there’s always pressure, even if you won your last tournament. The pressure is the same if you play in the Philippines or in another country. It all depends on how you feel. I definitely have a chance but I can’t think about that now. I have to take it one match at a time.”

Expect a wave of Pinoys in the round of 32 and beyond as Filipinos will feature in all ten remaining matches in the round of 64, which will be played on Friday morning.

Friday will be a very busy day at the SM Mall as the field will be reduced all the way down to the Final 4 by the conclusion of play. That means players will have to play at least three grueling race to 11 matches, with some even having to play four. That’s the kind of hard core effort that might even wear down a warrior like Manny Pacquiao.

The semi-finals and final will take place on Saturday.

The winner of the 2015 World 10-ball Championship will receive $40,000, while the runner up will receive $20,000


::: DAY 2 :::


Photograph courtesy of ©D. Secuya www.philboxing.com used here with permission.

ORCOLLO PULLS A SECOND GREAT ESCAPE

The Philippines Dennis Orcollo wins his second straight 9-8 match in as many days to advance to the knockout stage of the 2015 World 10-ball Championship in General Santos City.


Filipino pool players have a standard answer when asked by the media, “How did you play?” Even if they just played the greatest round of pool in the history of the sport, the comeback will invariably be a humble, “I’m just lucky.”

World number 7 Dennis Orcollo is definitely not being humble today as he profusely thanks the pool gods for the good fortune he’s been the beneficiary of here in General Santos City in the southern Philippines. For the second straight day Orcollo pulled a great escape from what looked like sure defeat, winning 9-8 yet again, and advancing to the single elimination round of 64 at the 2015 World 10-ball Championship.

Playing against Pampanga’s Roland Garcia, Orcollo looked to be cruising into the knockout stages with an 8-5 lead in the race to 9 alternate break match. Garcia, though, stormed back and had only five balls left on the table for the win when, inexplicably, he touched and moved the 8-ball with his hand while lining up a shot on the five ball. Orcollo leapt out of his chair, said a quick thank you to his Lord, and cleared the colors for the win.

“I’m really lucky today,” Orcollo said afterwards and this time you knew he meant it. “I didn’t think I would even get back to the table. I still can’t believe I won that match.”

31 other players are feeling as relieved as Orcollo as they also booked their spots in the final 64 which begins on Wednesday evening. For another 32 players, however, the dream of world pool glory crashed and burned as they each suffered their second defeat in as many days, which meant they were eliminated from the event.

The field for the final 64 will be filled after the first three sessions tomorrow in what promises to be a day of drama and nerves. Judgement Day in championship pool often makes otherwise reasonable men lose their minds, as the prospect of possibly being in contention for a world title suddenly dawns on them.

Many of those who have already qualified don’t seem to be in any danger of losing their cool any time soon. World number 1 Chang Yu Lung of Taiwan continued to fly under the radar today with another superb performance, beating Finland’s Petri Makkonen, 9-5, to advance. I say “under the radar” because Chang, with his stoic and emotionless demeanor, attracts little to no attention. If you watch him closely, however, he plays fearless pool and that quiet confidence will surely carry him far in this event.


Photograph courtesy of ©D. Secuya www.philboxing.com used here with permission.


With a third of the field of 128 players, the Philippines was a lock to dominate the final 64 and several notable names have looked exceptionally good so far. Jeff De Luna has given up just one rack in two matches and he could very well find himself the number one seed in the knockout rounds. Other Filipinos advancing today with fine performances were Francisco Bustamante, Alex Pagulayan, Lee Vann Corteza, Warren Kiamco, Roberto Gomez, Elmer Haya, Antonio Gabica, Raymund Faraon, and Carlo Biado.

When boxing legend and hometown boy Manny Pacquaio brought the World 10-ball to General Santos, one of his aims was to give the legions of lesser known Filipino pool players the chance to shine and this is exaclty what is taking place at the SM Mall. Several of the younger and not so well known Filipino players also advanced today and it’s clear that several will be establishing their credentials here this week. One of those looking to make a name for himself is Roland Dela Cruz, a relatively unknown Filipino who took down two-time World 9-ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann on the losers’ side. Hohmann’s early exit represented the biggest upset so far in this year’s event.

England’s Darren Appleton came up against two young Filipino players today. Appleton, the 2008 World 10-ball champion, has spent enough time this country to know that top notch pool talent is waiting every corner in every city in the Philippines. To take anyone lightly is akin to pointing a gun at your own head. After handily defeating Angelo Ariola 9-2, the Englishman found himself in a tight tussle with Ruben Cuna. Appleton had to fight to the finish to advance to the Final 64 with a well-earned 9-7 win.

Afterwards, Appleton revealed he knows not to take any of the Filipinos lightly and in fact, he employed a strategy to thwart any chance of an upset.

“He’s a good young Filipino player,” Appleton said of Cuna. “My experience got me through that one. I played two Filipinos today and my game plan was to not show any emotion, not show any weakness to them. Because obviously they are very young and they’re not used to tournament play. They are not used to playing big names so I think that helps in the end because he missed a couple of balls that he wouldn’t miss in the pool room. I wanted to make him work for it.”

Also winning their second match and advancing to the knockout round were Germany’s Ralf Souquet, Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin, Fu Che Wei and Ko Ping Chun, Canada’s Jason Klatt and John Morra, and Estonia’s Denis Grabe.

The group stages will finish up on Wednesday over the first three sessions. The round of 64 in the single elimination stage begins in two evening sessions Wednesday, and continues Thursday morning over one session.

The semi-finals and final will take place on Saturday.

The winner of the 2015 World 10-ball Championship will receive $40,000, while the runner up will receive $20,000


::: DAY 1 :::


STRIDING, AND STUMBLING, OUT OF THE GATES

Day 1 at the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship in General Santos City sees some favorites cruise while others struggle to find their form.


One thing that is a constant in any world championship in the sport of pool is good old pressure. But as the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball championship kicked off on Tuesday in the Philippines southernmost city of General Santos, it was not the usual nerve rattling pressure that makes grown men cry and brings back the fans time and again that was on display. It was, rather, that nagging pressure to get out of the gates quickly, to find that championship spark that can carry you to glory later in the week.

“There’s two kind of pressure in these events,” said an obviously relieved Karl Boyes after he took down former world 9-ball champion Ronnie Alcano of the Philippines 9-7 in their first match of the group stages. “The first pressure is trying to get through the group stages, to just get those two wins and get into the single elimination. There’s nothing worse in this game then going out in a world championship in the group stages. All of us feel that the tournament doesn’t really begin until the single elimination stage. Then, if you can then make it to the final 16, that’s when you look around and realize you’ve got a chance to win the world title.”


Indeed with 51 matches in the books after a long Day 1, nobody amongst the 128 players from nearly two dozen countries is touching the subject of winning the crown. For the next two days, it’s all about winning the required two matches, getting out of your group and securing a spot in the money rounds, the Final 64, which begins Thursday night. It’s a pressure to perform, and, especially for the top players, to not embarrass themselves.

There was a host of terrific matches inside the SM City atrium today with many contests featuring top names squaring off against each other, adding that extra element of drama and gravity to the proceedings. Plenty of matches went all the way to the wire, leaving one player greatly relieved and the other suddenly staring at elimination.

In a match featuring two up and coming quality players, Canada’s John Morra found himself down to 8-5 in a race to 9 to the Philippines Jundel Mazon. But just when Mazon thought he had the match won, he slipped and allowed the Canadian a lifeline. Morra turned the tables on the Filipino and sent him to the losers’ side of the group with a brilliant comeback.

“He made a few mistakes when he was up 8-5,” Morra said. “I just started putting pressure on him and I could see he was feeling it. I played really well at the end.”

The Philippines Dennis Orcollo is surely one of the favorites here this week, but he struggled against fellow Filipino Oliver Medenilla. Down most of the match, Orcollo discovered his groove just in time to win a squeaker, 9-8.

“I didn’t feel that good today and I didn’t break that well,” said Orcollo, the world number 7. “There’s always pressure in the first match because you don’t know the tables and how to break. But I finally figured out the break. That’s the key to winning this tournament is the break shot. If I can break good, I’ve got a chance. And I know how to deal with the pressure in the knockout stages.”


The Philippines veteran Warren Kiamco is coming off a massive victory in the US at the Derby City 9-ball and could surely find himself in the winner’s circle here this week. But young Filipino upstart Raymart Comomt proved yet again that the talent pool in the Philippines runs as deep as Sarangani Bay here in Gen San. Comomt took Kiamco to the limit before falling to his elder at the line, 9-8.

Two-time World 9-ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann has found lots of success in the Philippines but he’ll have to bear down over the next two days, as he fell in a nail biter to Indonesia’s Sharoni, 9-8. China’s talented young star Wang Can had his hands full with Philippine veteran Antonio Lining, winning a tight match, 9-8.

One player who seems to play pressure free these days is World number 1 Chang Yu Lung of Taiwan. He opened the day in a quality matchup against Spain’s David Alcaide. Smooth and steady as always, Chang cruised to a 9-6 victory and looks set to go far this week.

Perhaps the finest performance of the day was put in by the Philippines’ Antonio Gabica. The Qatar based Gabica, who two years ago took runner up in the World 9-ball Championship in Qatar, stomped on world number 11 Lui Haitao of China, 9-3.

Another Qatar player, Waleed Majid, currently ranked number 12 in the world, continued his fine tournament form as he defeated the Philippines Jordan Legaspi 9-6. Majid is the highest ever ranked player out of the Middle East and his dedication to the sport is paying big dividends.

Other notable winners today include Filipinos Francisco Bustamante, Lee Vann Corteza, Alex Pagulayan, Carlo Biado, Roberto Gomez and Raymund Faraon. Germany’s Ralf Souquet and Taiwan’s young Ko Ping Chun also notched victories.

The Netherlands big stars, including World number 2 Niels Feijen, Nick Van den Berg, and 2011 World 10-ball Champion Huidji See are not entered in this year’s event but a rising Dutch player clearly wants some of that limelight. Marco Teutscher defeated world number 8, and Mosconi Cup star Nikos Ekonomopoulos, 9-5.

Play in the group stages continues on Day 2 of the World 10-ball Championship. The field of 128 will be cut in half by late on Day 3 on Wednesday when the final 64, single elimination stage of the tournament begins. The semi-finals and final will take place on Saturday.


::: DAY 0 :::


PINOYS POISED TO MAKE MASSIVE HAUL

Filipinos make up one-third of the 128 player field as the 2015 MP Cup World 10-ball Championship gets set to kick off in General Santos City, Philippines


With the professional game all but dead in his homeland, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao started putting his ample cash into promoting pool tournaments in 2014, with the expressed aim of helping Filipino pool players get some cracks at glory, and of course, more chances to earn a living at home. In just a few months, “Pacman”, a solid pool player in his own right, has already shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in several singles and doubles events held in his home town of General Santos City in the southern Philippines.

But now, just as Pacquiao seems set to announce the biggest payday of his illustrious boxing career in a mega fight with Floyd Mayweather, he has upped the ante in pool yet again, personally bankrolling the return of the WPA World 10-ball Championship that gets underway beginning on Tuesday here in the city known as "the tuna capital of the Philippines." And while the legions of great Filipino players already held Pacquiao in the highest regard, they will surely now consider him a pool deity.


That’s because Filipinos will make up a whopping 43 players out of the 128 player field when the 2015 World 10-ball Championship kicks off at the SM City mall in General Santos. With $200,000 on the line, the odds that most of that cash stays right here in the Philippines come Saturday night are clearly very strong indeed. As the field gathered for the pre-tournament players meeting, another Filipino sporting legend seemed to speak for his fellow Pinoy players.

“I’m not surprised he’s doing this because congressman Manny Pacquiao loves playing pool,” said former World 9-ball champion and Hall of Famer Francisco “Django” Bustamante. “That’s why he puts tournaments on in his town so he can get all the players in the Philippines and from around the world here. And he’s making all the Filipino players happy and all the players appreciate what he’s doing because they can earn money and it doesn’t cost anything for us because we are already in the Philippines. For how many years pool is dead in the Philippines. It’s not like 10 years ago, every month we have a tournament. That’s why we are so happy that Manny puts on all these tournaments in Gen San.”

Among the Filipino greats expected to challenge for the crown will be Bustamante himself, along with Dennis Orcollo, Lee Van Corteza, Carlo Biado, Warren Kiamco, Antonio Gabica, Ronnie Alcao and literally a host of other strong players who have the ability to create some carnage in the field. (Legend Efren “Bata” Reyes was scheduled to play but had to suddenly drop out due to a death in his family.)

But the proud Pinoys will surely be tested every step of the way by a powerhouse field of the world’s best players from nearly two dozen countries who have come to “Gen San” looking for pool immortality. Among them is England’s Darren Appleton, who won the very first World 10-ball ever played back in 2008 in Manila. The hard core Appleton has literally been on fire over the last year and recently saw massive success, capturing the WPA Chinese World 8-ball Championship and pocketing $100,000. Appleton has a special affinity for this event and its return after a four year absence has him salivating at the prospects of a repeat.


“It’s very nice that it’s come back,” said Appleton. “Of course for me winning the first World 10-ball, it was like a dream. It sort of set my career on its path and obviously I’ve gone on to have a really good career since then. So it’s nice to come back to the Philippines to play in the World 10-ball where this event was born. To win the first one was amazing. It would be nice to win it again.”

Finland’s Mika Immonen is another former winner of this event, having won the World 10-ball championship in 2009 in Manila. The “Iceman” has enjoyed much success in the Philippines and has high expectations this week.

“I think it's awesome that it's back here in the Philippines,” Immonen said. “People are very passionate about the game here and we are fortunate that Manny "Pacman" Pacquaio is generous enough to sponsor it.

“Winning the World 10-ball in Manila 2009 is obviously one of my career highlights. I like playing here. It brings out the best in me because I know it will be a challenge. I have been working on my game and overall fitness a lot lately. The break is of course a huge factor. It doesn't matter how well you play if you aren't breaking well. So that has been the key in training. The rest is just positive attitude and stamina.”

Europe looks to be well represented with the likes Mosconi Cup team members Nick Ekonomopolous of Greece and Karl Boyes of England. Austria’s Albin Ouschan has been playing great pool over the last few months. Germany’s two time world champion Thorsten Hohmann has won several times in the Philippines, and his Hall of Fame compatriot Ralf Souquet is always dangerous.

Taiwan has sent its usual loaded contingent, led by Ko Pin Yi, his younger brother Ko Ping Chung, Chang Jung Lin, Fu Chei Wei and even well known veteran Yang Ching Shun. Expect a strong showing from China, led by Lui Haitao, Li Hei Wen and Wang Can.

The tournament begins with 3 days of group play with the 128 players divided up into 16 groups of 8, where they will play double elimination, race to 9, alternate break. The field will then be cut to 64 players who will then play single knockout, race to 11, alternate break. The semi-finals and finals will take place on Saturday, February 21.

The winner of the 2015 World 10-ball Championship will receive $40,000, while the runner up will receive $20,000.









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