A Worlds Gone Mad!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 15, 2003, 9:34 PM EST
The Philippines is loaded, Japan remains perfect, Chinese Taipei is lethal and the United States is wobbly. Thatís the overview of the final 64 at the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales, as Judgement Day saw hopes dashed, spirits lifted and the 128-man field halved.
For the second consecutive year, former world champion Fong-Pang Chao of Chinese Taipei failed to advance past the group stage. Meanwhile, virtual unknown Marlon Manalo of the Philippines posted a perfect 7-0 record in his eight-player group to grab one of the top four seeds for the single-elimination portion of the $300,000 Matchroom Sport-produced tournament. Fellow Filipino-turned-Canadian citizen Alex Pagulayan also posted a perfect record and, by virtue of allowing his opponents the fewest rack wins, earned the top seed. Germanyís Ralf Souquet and Philippine legend Efren Reyes were the other players with flawless marks through the group stage.
Conversely, American hopefuls Johnny Archer and defending champion Earl Strickland limped into the final 64 with 4-3 records. Archerís subpar group performance earned him a date with Reyes in the round of 64.
The Philippine contingent put eight of its nine entrants into the final 64, with 2002 runnerup Francisco Bustamante, Antonio Lining, Dennis Orcollo, Ramil Gallego, Warren Kiamco and Lee Vann Corteza joining Reyes and Manalo in the race for the $65,000 top prize. Only young hotshot Ronnie Alcano failed to advance.
The American contingent, however, fared poorly. In fact, the 14-player American squad was whittled down to a dozen before the event even started. Both Jeremy Jones and Shannon Daulton failed to show up in Cardiff and were replaced at the 11th hour by a pair of qualification tournament runnersup. Charlie Williams, Jimmy Wetch, Bill Ferguson, Shawn Putnam, Nick Varner and Art Wiggins all failed in their efforts to advance from the group stage. Archer and Strickland will be joined by Danny Harriman, Rodney Morris, Teddy Garrahan and Max Eberle, as the U.S. tries to earn back-to-back world crowns.
All six Japanese entrants reached the final 64, as did snooker stars Mark Williams, Steve Davis and Tony Drago, and English billiards ace Roxton Chapman, who earned his spot into the event after Jonesí failure to show.
The rounds of 64 and 32, which begin Wednesday afternoon at the Cardiff International Arena, will be winner-breaks, race-to-nine format.
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
by Gary Baker
* WHAT a difference a day makes to Puerto Rico's Alan Rolon.
He was also a victim of the lost luggage fiasco which struck fellow countryman Jason Cruz last weekend but, eventually, his cues, along with Cruz's arrived at Cardiff International Arena on Tuesday.
And Rolon, who had not won a game after borrowing sticks from other people for his games, promptly got into action.
He had not won a match all through the tournament and lost his first match of Tuesday 5-2 against Belgium's Pascal Budo.
Then, with nothing to lose, he found himself on the television table - and promptly thumped local Cardiff favorite Rob McKenna, 5-1.
That defeat dumped McKenna out of the tournament and allowed Budo to qualify instead.
The British player said: "If he had had his cues all weekend, I'm sure he would have qualified. He just didn't miss a thing against me."
* JOHNNY Archer was in a far better mood on Tuesday than he had been all weekend after qualifying by the skin of his teeth to the knockout stages.
The 34-year-old from Georgia lost his first three matches of the tournament and only managed to secure four racks in that time.
However, when danger called he responded with a vengence, winning four successive matches. It allowed Archer, one of the big pre-tournament favorites to land the title, to just avoid getting an early flight home.
He is now 8-1 to win the championship, and a lot of money is being placed on him to become the second successive American to do it.
And how did he celebrate his victory? Well, on his way out of the arena, a couple of technicians from Sky TV were having a kick-about with a soccer ball in the car park - and Archer joined in for a few minutes and showed quite a decent touch as well!
* ENGLISHMAN Roxton Chapman has produced one of the most incredible stories of the 2003 world championship so far.
Chapman, from the town of Peterborough, went into the qualifying tournament at the Cardiff International Arena but lost out at the last stages.
However, he was given a 'Lucky Loser' entry which means that, if anyone dropped out, then he would be allowed into the main tournament.
So, when Shannon Daulton and Jeremy Jones failed to turn up for personal reasons, the 30-year-old, who is an English Billiards player and only took up 9-ball 18 months ago, was allowed into the tournament.
And he adapted tremedously, winning his first five matches to get through Judgement Day with something to spare.
His favorite player as well is Efren Reyes who, ironically, played Chapman in the last of his group matches on Tuesday night.
* MATCHROOM Sport president Barry Hearn and six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis enjoy their pool and golf, but there is also something else that they are very much into at the moment.
The pair were stuck on the Internet on Tuesday evening playing Poker on the Pokermillion.com website.
Davis has already competed in a television poker competition along with snooker player Jimmy White and did reasonably well despite admitting: "I don't know the rules!"