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Manila Madness: World Pool Championship Preview
Oct 16, 2006, 10:11 AM

The 2006 World Pool Championship is going to see a crowd like it never has before, Nov. 4-12, at the Philippine International Convention Center.

"It's like bringing the sport back to where it all began," said Barry Hearn, chairman of Matchroom Sport, which is producing the event.

Although pool wasn't invented in the Philippines, the nation has certainly raised the bar in the game by producing the world's top talent. The World Championship coming to Manila, Philippines, in a sense, is like the Olympics going back to Athens, Greece.

The field boasts 128 of the finest pool players from around the world, competing for a record prize fund of $400,000 on 60-plus hours of live TV over the nine days of the event.

Promoter Matchroom Sport has announced the 32 four-man groups that will compete in the opening stages of the competition. Each group is headed by one of 32 seeded players, with defending champion Wu Chia-ching taking the top spot of No.1 seed.

The second player in each group comes from a second group of 32 seeded players although these players were not placed in any order of merit and were drawn randomly. The final two players were drawn randomly from geographical-based draw bags.

One particularly interesting group is headed by hometown hero, Francisco Bustamante. He is joined by Prince Muhtahdee Billah of Brunei. The 32-year old Crown Prince is the first-born son and heir to the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. He's known to reign over the green felt as well, having made it to the semifinals of the 8-ball doubles competition in the Southeast Asian Games in Manila last December.

The other members of Group 10 are not royalty, but many an opponent has bowed down to both Charlie Bryant of the U.S., and Darren Appleton of England, who will round out the tough group.

In group 17, the temperamental Earl Strickland will have to face fierce French competitor, Vincent Facquet, as well as Chen Ying-chieh of Tapei, and Manan Chandra of Indonesia.

You can check out the rest of the 30 groups at www.worldpoolchampionship.com.

Matchroom Sport has also announced a format change for this year's event: ALL rounds will be played as alternate- break instead of winner-breaks. In previous years of the event, only the preliminary group stage was played with an alternate-break format.

Be sure to stay tuned to HeadString for updates on all the Manila Madness!