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Two Americans, Two Filipinos, a German and a Finn Walk Into a Semifinal...
by Mason King Sep 9, 2006, 11:01 AM EST

"I hated you for an hour, now I'll love you forever," yelled Cory Deuel as he pawed through the crowd to reach Karl Boyes whose win in the final match of round five put Deuel into the final six. A win over Fransisco Bustamante, no less, knocking the Filipino with the fearsome break out of the running.

Boyes had beaten Deuel, 8-5, in an earlier match, but that was the 23-year-old Brit's only win going into the final match, and statistically he could not advance. The fates of two other players were in his hands, however, as Bustamante, Deuel and David Alcaide each had two wins apiece and only one would join Rodney Morris, who was undefeated and guaranteed advancement going into the final match. Deuel ruined Morris' perfect record for the day, as he played "a perfect match," winning 8-1. Meanwhile, Boyes came back from 3-0 and beat Bustamante, 8-4.

"I think you owe him a drink, don't you?" asked Allison Fisher to Deuel in a post-match interview.

The second group was less dramatic, as Reyes and Ortmann each led the group with three wins and their games-won percentage far surpassed that of the two players with two wins.

The final group was another three-way tie for the two spots: Ralf Souquet, Mika Immonen and Dennis Orcollo each had three wins. In dramatic do-or-die fashion, Immonen and Souquet faced off in the final match, while Orcollo faced Niels Feijan.

The Souquet/Immonen match was an emotional rollercoaster. They traded rack for rack until Souquet was called for a shirt-sleeve foul at 5-6, and Immonen got on the hill. He had no luck sinking a ball on the break, however, and Souquet came up with a big runout to make it 6-7. Then it was Souquet's turn to strain to hear the balls rumbling through the table on the break, to no avail. Immonen had a chance to run out once and for all, but he missed the second to last ball. "I tried to kill the cue ball, but it didnít work, so he had what he had. He made my ball with his own ball and put me behind two other balls," he said.

With another chance at the table, Immonen shifted gears from dejected to focused, but faced a difficult kick shot on the 8. Without a moment's hesitation, he nailed it, followed by a tension-releasing roar. "To make it in the side is like one out of ten," he said. "I was explodingóat first I was like, I made it, then the realization that, thatís it, thatís the match. Itís beautiful. Thatís what champions are made ofóthat kind of stuff.Ē

The loss eliminated Souquet, as Orcollo advanced with four wins after beating Feijan, 8-5.

A total of $938,000 will be divvied up between the surviving six, who will play one final round-robin round on Saturday, to narrow down the field to the two finalists. On Sunday, one man will walk away with $500,000.



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