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WPC Update: No margin for error as single-elimination play begins
by Mason King Nov 6, 2007, 2:19 PM EST

Four days in and half the field gone, the World Pool Championship enters the knockout stage. Only one 64-player bracket remains, with single-elimination play continuing through Sunday until a world champion is crowned.

Held at the prestigious Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, the Championship began on Saturday, with 16 groups of eight players in double-elimination brackets. The formula to advancing was simple: Win two before losing two.

The Filipino players, with the hometown crowd and recent history on their side, dominate the bracket with 13 names on the board. Reigning champion Ronnie Alcano, fresh off a second-place finish at the U.S. Open, advanced without incident, as did Francisco Bustamante and Marlon Manalo.

Efren Reyes, a favorite in any event he enters, stumbled in his opening match, dropping his opening-round match to Japan's Kenichi Uchigaki, 9-2. The Magician rebounded to win his next two, escaping an early exit.

The 11-player contingent from the U.S. struggled, with only four players surviving the group stage. Shane Van Boening, arguably the hottest player on the planet, leads the quartet of American hopefuls. Earl Strickland, Corey Deuel and Charlie Williams all advanced.

But for an American or European player to capture the hardware, it's clear that the path to victory will go through the Filipinos and Taiwanese players. Ten players from Taiwan remain in the field of 64, bested only by 13 from the Philippines.

Wu Chia-Ching, the 2005 champion, leads the Taiwanese, joined by Yang Ching-Shun and Chang Jung-Lin, who both dominated the Guinness 9-Ball Tour, Asia's premiere pro circuit.

Holland's Niels Feijen might be the best European hope, after an impressive 2007, though Oliver Ortman of Germany and Finland's Mika Immonen both former champions can never be overlooked.

Single-elimination play begins Wednesday and will continue through the weekend.

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