IPT World Open Preview: Talented Tots Wu and Ouschan to Debut
by Mason King Sep 1, 2006, 4:27 PM EST
The big news in the first round of the International Pool Tourís latest multi-million dollar 8-ball tournament will be the debuts of young superstars Chia-Ching Wu of Taiwan and Jasmin Ouschan of Austria, both looking for a big piece of the record-setting $3 million purse.
The eight-day 8-ball event ó with a precedent-setting $500,000 first-place prize ó kicks off Sunday, Sept. 3, at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev.
Both 17-year-old Wu and 20-year-old Ouschan earned entry into the tournament through the IPTís rugged qualifier process, and theyíre expected to go deep. The precocious Wu is the current WPA world 9-ball and 8-ball champion, and Ouschan topped the star-studded field at the EnjoyPool,com 9-Ball Championship in May.
Otherwise, it looks like smooth sailing for most of the favorites in the first round of the International Pool Tourís World 8-Ball Open Championship, as the just-released groupings reveal predominantly balanced matchups for the first two days of the event. Top-ranked players were seeded in the field.
Of course, a few players had cause for muttering under their breaths when the groups were announced early Friday. Of the best-known players, Hall-of-Famers and best buddies Ewa Laurance and Loree Jon Jones appear to have their work cut out for them. For that matter, the groupings did no favors for Ouschan, the only female player to have won a spot in an IPT field through the qualifier process.
Expect some surprises. As the players learned in the IPTís first event of the 2006 season ó the North American Open 8-Ball Championship in July ó there are dozens of unheralded 8-ball whizzes out there waiting for their big shot, and the 200-player World field features 50 qualifiers who have already proved their mettle.
Look for surprising runs from several Asian qualifiers who now have their feet in the IPTís door, including Wu from Taiwan (who was seeded 16th in the absence of Filipino Rodolfo Luat), and his countryman Hui-Kai Hsia, a two-time world juniors champion.
The first round will feature 40 groups of five players each. After round-robin play, the top three finishers in each group will proceed to the second round. Eliminated players from the first round will each receive a whopping $5,000.
The complete list of groupings is available at the IPT Web site: www.internationalpooltour.com.
Here are some of the more intriguing brackets from the first round:
Bracket 23 ó BD Bloodbath Special: Spectators looking for an exciting bracket to follow should check out this group. No superstars, just tough and hungry veterans: Ivica Putnik (Croatia), Thomas Engert (Germany), Tony Chohan (USA), Tony Drago (Malta), and Zlatko Jakulj (Croatia)
Bracket 1: German sensation Thorsten Hohmann received the top seed by virtue of his $350,000 win at the North American Open, joined here by talented American Steve Moore, Filipino toughie Warren Kiamco, and Americans Jim Raney and Loree Jon Jones. Jones, who survived the first round at the North American Open, will have to bring her ďAĒ game here.
Bracket 26: Austriaís Jasmin Ouschan must contend with Hall-of-Famer Earl Strickland, Swedish veteran Tom Storm, Aruba national champion Roland Acosta and American Pete Fusco. Ouschan regularly hones her skills against the best male players in Europe, so donít expect her to be intimidated by Strickland, or anyone else in the field, for that matter,
Bracket 18: Hall-of-Famer Ewa Laurance will have her hands full with Australiaís Quinten Hann, the snooker bad boy who finished a surprising 18th at the North American Open; snooker ace Ronnie OíSullivan from the U.K.; and Jeremy Jones (USA) and Jose Parica (Philippines), both experienced champions who met untimely exits at the North American Open. This bracket will be a dog fight.
Bracket 35: Future Hall-of-Famer Allison Fisher, who was undefeated in the first round of the North American Open, once again has a clean look at the second round. But watch out for qualifier Hui-Kai Hsia of Taiwan and surprising Frenchman Yannick Beaufils. Tough Americans Teddy Garrahan and John Ditoro round out the group, and neither will play patsy.
Bracket 10: Once again, 13-year-old Austin Murphy has a good shot at leaving the first round, this time sharing a bracket with 10th-ranked Darren Appleton (U.K.), Paul Potier (Canada), George San Souci (USA) and Ouahbi Amine (Morocco). Murphy missed the second round at the North American Open by a single rack, losing an 8-7 nailbiter to Danny Basavich. Letís go, Austin.