Four Filipino cue masters were undefeated in their respective groups to advance to the knockout stage of the prestigious 2017 WPA (World Pool-Billiard Association) World 9-Ball Championship – China Open being held at the Pudong Tangzhen Culture and Sports Center in Shanghai, China.
Doha Asian Games silver medalist Jeffrey De Luna stamped his class over Lin Dai-Li of China (9-7) and Chang Yu-long of Taiwan (9-8) to claim the top spot in Group A.
Southeast Asian Games 9-Ball doubles champion Carlo Biado overpowered Xu Xiangchong of China via a 9-2 demolition before surviving the late charge of Japanese Hayato Hajikita in his second match (9-7) in Group B.
Also advancing to the men’s main draw are Ko Pin-Yi and Ko Pin-Chung of Taiwan, Wang Can and Han Haoxiang of China, Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, and Mateusz Sniegocki of Poland.
Two-time Women’s World 10-Ball champion Rubilen Amit and 2016 Amway eSpring International Women 9-Ball Championship winner Chezka Centeno likewise scored impressive victories in the women’s class to earn their respective spot in the 16-player knockout phase.
Centeno secured an opening-game bye then clobbered Pia Plaeser of Germany by scoring a 7-2 easy win.
Also armed with a first-round bye, Amit proved too much against unheralded Kim Bogeon of South Korea in scoring a 7-5 decision in the tournament that offers a whopping $373,600 total prize fund.
Host China has six players in the main draw including former world champion Liu Sha Sha.
Joining her in the next round are Han Yu, Chen Xue, Wei Tzu-Chien, Teng Jiang and Fu Xiaofang along with veteran campaigners Kelly Fisher of Great Britain, Kim Ga Young of South Korea, Chou Chieh-Yu of Taiwan, Chichiro Kawahara of Japan and Veronika Ivanoskaya of Germany.
In the knockout stage, the men’s division will employ a race-to-11 format while the women’s side will use a race-to-9, alternate breaks.
The men’s champion will get $40,000 while the women’s winner takes home $36,000.
EMIL C. NOGUERA