Former world champions Alex Pagulayan and Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante secured spots in the prestigious 2017 World Pool Masters to be held on February 17 to 19 in Gibraltar.
Pagulayan earned an automatic slot because of his No. 5 position in the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) world ranking.
The organizers also considered his title in the 2008 edition of the World Pool Masters as well as his crowns in the WPA World 9-Ball Championship in 2004 and US Open One-Pocket Championship last year.
For his part, Bustamante is a two-time World Pool Masters winner – ruling the 1998 and 2001 editions. He also pocketed the WPA World 9-Ball Championship top honors in 2010, and had a couple of titles in the World Cup of Pool (doubles tournament) with legendary cue master Efren “Bata” Reyes in 2006 and 2009.
The Filipino bets, however, will be up against the world’s best players in the two-day event, which offers a total prize fund of $80,000 with a whopping $20,000 to the champion.
American Shane Van Boening will be back to defend his crown with high hopes of completing a rare three-peat after dominating the last two editions of the tournament.
Also invited are reigning WPA World 9-Ball champion and two-time Mosconi Cup titlist Albin Ouschan of Austria, former World 8-Ball champion and world No. 2 Chang Jung Lin of Taiwan, 2005 World 9-Ball and World 8-Ball winner Wu Jiaqing of China, and Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk, who is currently ranked sixth in the European circuit and a finalist in the 2016 World Cup of Pool.
The other players seeing action are Francisco Sanchez Ruiz of Spain, Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, Mark Gray of England, David Alcaide of Spain, Jayson Shaw of Scotland, Naoyuki Oi of Japan and Ralf Souquet of Germany.
One more player from host Gibraltar will be added in the list.
The winner in the Gibraltar tournament – a qualifying round for local players – will complete the 16-player strong field.