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Buckster's 2007 WPC Group Predictions
 Posted on Friday, November 02 2007 @ 19:39:42 UTCby Buckster_uk
World Pool Championships 2007 The World Pool Championship
Araneta Coliseum
Quezon City
Metro Manila

3 - 11 November 2007

It's that time of year again!

In this article I give the lowdown on the runners and riders for this year's WPC.

With the best players in the World competing in Asia from Saturday onwards until the Final on the 11th November, who will prevail?

Just looking through the Groups for this year's WPC, suffice to say that this is one tough tournament to win!

With the introduction of a new double elimination format in the group stages, it should eliminate possible shock results as the races have now been stretched to a race to 9.

We should be seeing the strongest players advancing through the group stages, or will we?

Now onto my predictions...

I do not anticipate the World Champion Ronnie Alcano having any problems in qualifying through his group. He has proved he is not a one hit wonder by winning the WPA World 8-Ball Championship defeating Dennis Orcollo earlier this year and then taking second place in the US Open... It has been an incredible year so far for Ronnie. Some might be surprised I have left Alex Lely out from qualifying, the reason being is his lack of action this past year. Although on his day he is one of the top Europeans, I just feel that going a whole year playing in just one Euro Tour event could mean a difficult tournament for Alex.

Mr Reliable Ralf Souquet is another player who I think should get through the group stages comfortably. Even with his disappointing 65th showing in Switzerland on the recent Euro Tour, he always brings his A game for the big tournaments. It could be a close run thing for Raj in this group, along with Mike Davis and Leonardo Andam, Ronnie Wiseman is another name who could potentially get through Group 2, but I fancy Raj to take the qualifying place.

This is one tough group, I reckon any 6 could get through here! Wu Chia Ching must surely be a favourite to get through. Vilmos Foldes recently came second behind Mark Gray in the Swiss Euro Tour, he will be in a confident mood. Although Craig has a tough group, I believe he will advance. He played some exceptional pool recently a tournament in Cambridge and with the experience from the Euro Tour, hopefully it will stand him in good stead.

Jonni's chances to qualify are fairly good, with Yang the head runner in Group 4. Before the recent Swiss Open, Jonni moved up to a ranking of Number 2 on the Euro Tour, showing that he can easily mix it up with the best players. Already a Euro Tour winner, I think Jonni will make it through with Yang as numbers 1 and 2. I have picked Shawn Putnam and Joven Bustamante for the third and fourth qualifiers, but Bruno Muratore may have a real say with a very solid season on the Euro Tour this year.

Group 5 is a strong group with some top players, including former World Champion Thorsten Hohmann. Along with Thorsten, I have 3 top Asians advancing through the group. Fu Che Wei had a fantastic 2006 WPC, only losing to Ralf Souquet in the Semi Finals, he will want to replicate that form for this year's Championship. Jeff de Luna recently won the Manny Pacquiao Open through a top field, with home support, he could be a force in the tournament. Finally, I have picked a qualifier to advance through the groups, but big things are thought of him. Ko Pin Yi, who won the third qualifier this week, is only 18 but is highly regarded and it should be interesting to see how he gets on.

Group 6 includes the tournament favourite, Efren Reyes. He seems to just get better as he gets older! I would be very shocked if he didn't get through the group, but not because of the standard of his opponents as there are some top names gunning for him. Tony Drago is now a fully fledged pool player, and is in the tournament on merit. The backend of his Euro Tour season has been good, with two 17th places and a second place in Austria. Along with Efren and Tony, I have picked former Mosconi Cup team member Tony Robles and Liu Chun Chuan... I have to come clean, I do not know Liu, and am taking a bit of a punt with this pick!

The sole European in Group 7 should advance comfortably. Along with Nick van den Berg, you cannot rule out Ramil Gallego who will have home fans to push him along. Chang Jung Ling has experience of qualifying through the WPC groups so I have picked him as a qualifier, along with Gold medalist at the 05 SEA Games, Chan Keng Kwang.

I think Scotland's Stephen Capaldi will have a tough time in getting out of Group 8. I fancy Alex Pagulayan to top the Group with David Alcaide a close second, but the 3rd and 4th spots will be a tight affair between American Robb Saez and two Europeans namely Martin Kempter and Philipp Stojanovic. If Euro Tour rankings were anything to go by, Martin (19th) should prove to be too strong for Philipp (55th) but this is the WPC and anything can happen.

I am really looking forward to this group with 5 incredibly strong players in my opinion competing for the spots. This is a group which all the Filipinos will be concentrating on as it has two of their heroes competing, Francisco Bustamante and Antonio Lining. Oliver Ortmann has been on form as of late and he will be a strong contender, the other player I fancy in qualifying is Corey Deuel who is due a good WPC. Like Stephen, I think John Wims will be fighting an uphill battle here.

Imran should feel at home in this predominantly European group. He has had an exceptional year and winning his second Euro Tour title recently will put him in line for a real shot at the title. Two other strong Europeans, Thomas Engert and Roman Hybler I fancy will get through, plus 2005 WPC finalist Kuo Po Cheng.

Kevin should fancy his chances in this group, but it will be by no means easy. He has the current European Number 1 Konstantin Stepanov to contend with plus former US Open Champion Rodney Morris as his main threats. European ranked 14 Marco Tschudi will be battling it out for the 3 and 4 positions with Kevin, plus Korean National Champion in 2006 Rye Seung Woo will pose a big challenge.

The Group of Death!
Boy this is a tough group, Karl is going to have to play some top pool to advance here, but I think he will do it. Mika Immonen is always solid in World Championships so I see him qualifying, along with home favourite Lee van Corteza. 2004 WPC Runner Up Chang Pei Wei needs to be regarded as a name to get through, but hot on these players' heels will be Canadian Tyler Edey, 2003 US Open Champion Jeremy Jones (you see how hard this group is? I have left a former US Open Champion out of the qualifiers!) and King of One Ball :) Goran Mladenovic. Good luck Karl.

The best player in the World sits in Group 13. Shane van Boening was pretty much an unknown last year until this May when he came Runner Up in the prestigious BCA Open being defeated by Dennis Orcollo. From there, he captured the World 10-Ball Championship beating Cliff Joyner in Florida; captured another Runner Up place in the World Summit of Pool against Alex Pagulayan in Las Vegas and only a couple of weeks ago winning the 2007 US Open Championship. Watch out for him. Shane's fellow Finalist in the BCA Open, Dennis Orcollo is also in this group which he should qualify through comfortably, along with Swede Marcus Chamat. Pat could face a tough time qualifying as not only does he have to contend with Shane, Dennis and Marcus, he has Wojciech Trajdos, a Euro Tour winner this year, to get through.

The unpredictable, unique, unbelievably temperamental Earl Strickland plays in this group. Apart from top European Fabio Petroni and the World Class Filipino Marlon Manalo, Earl should qualify through this group. Fabio has had a very good 2007, maintaining a solid Euro Ranking throughout the season. Marlon has had a fairly quiet year after his fantastic showing on the IPT in 2005/6 which took his tournament winnings to over $300,000. Even without any major titles this year, he is going to be a favourite for the Title. Li He Wen is the final player that I think will get a qualifying spot.

Johnny Archer has a nice group here which should be very comfortable for a player of his calibre. The UPA Tour Champion for 2007, Archer never seems to take his complete game to WPCs, he will want to change that this coming week. Former World Champion Chao Fong Pang and Japanese Number 1 in 2006 Naoyuki Oi should also qualify, along with promising up and comer Wu Yu Lin.

Daryl has quite a tricky group to get through. Niels Feijen who won the 9-Ball Division at the 2007 Derby City Classic will be a strong favourite to qualify, and I can see a positive showing from the two Filipinos Rodolfo Luat and qualifier Roberto Gomez. Charles Bryant and Matjaz Erculj may also provide some testing matches but I see Daryl qualifying.

Well, those are the groups, here are my picks in the 2007 WPC:-

Buckster's Top 3 Main Contenders for 2007

Efren Reyes
Shane van Boening
Alex Pagulayan

Buckster's Top 3 Dark Horses for 2007

Jeff de Luna
Ko Pin Yi
Imran Majid

I find it hard to look past an Asian victory. The American challenge in the past few years since the Championship has moved to Asia has been notably absent, but the Europeans could be due a World Champion this year.

Well, it is almost here, I hope you all enjoy the tournament!


  World Pool Championships 2007


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