Who Will Rule Pool?

The World Pool Masters are underway at the Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, with 16 male players vying for wold dominance in straight-knockout, single-elimination 9-ball.

Of the 16 players, nine are Europeans: Nick van den Berg, Alex Lely and Neils Feijen of Holland, Thomas Engert and Ralf Souquet of Germany, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis, Imran Majid and Raj Hundal of England. The remainder of the field was filled out by Wu Chia-ching of the Chinese Taipei, Hiroshi Takenaka of Japan, Efren Reyes and Alex Pagulayan of the Philippines and Rodney Morris as the lone American.

The first-round began today (June 16) and so far, defending champion Hundal eliminated Hiroshi Takenaka, 8-5, while Feijen sent Morris packing, 8-3. Feijin’s win will put him in the quarterfinal with Hundal on Saturday evening.

Morris, who reached the final of last year’s event, said: “I felt good but with the alternate-break format I couldn’t come back when I went down a couple of games.”

Meanwhile, Foldes nabbed a nail-biter match against van den Berg, 7-8. The back-and-forth match was at hill-hill when Foldes broke and ran out for the win, much to the dismay of the Dutch crowd.

“I’m delighted to have won. It was a very tough game and either of us could have won it but in the end I kept it together to clear that last rack for victory,” Foldes said afterwards.

Hohmann Advances to Challenge Final

2003 World Champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany steamrolled Finland’s Mika Immonen in straight sets, 5-3, 5-1, Thursday afternoon in the first semifinal at the 14th International Challenge of Champions at The Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Uncasville, Conn. With the win, Hohmann advances to the finale in the $50,000 winner-takes-all event.

Hohmann never trailed in either set. In the opening set, Hohmann capitalized on an Immonen scratch and ran out on his first two breaks in the alternating break format match to forge a 3-1 lead. Immonen fought back to tie the score at 3-3, but an unfortunate break on a safety attempt when the 2 ball caught the side pocket tip and caromed into the open allowed Hohmann to regain the lead. Hohmann then ran out from the break to seal the first set.

The second set was all Hohmann, as the former world champ used machine-like precision to forge a 4-0 lead. Immonen scratched on one break, and came up empty on another to give Hohmann ample opportunities at the table.

The second semi will feature European 9-ball champion Thomas Engert of Germany against Japanese champion Hiroshi Takenaka.

All German Challenge Final

Thomas Engert will meet countryman Thorsten Hohmann in a $50,000 winner-takes-all shootout in the finale of the 2004 International Challenge of Champions at the Mohegan Sun Hotel in Uncasville, Conn. Engert dispatched luckless Hiroshi Takenaka in straight sets, 5-2, 5-3, to reach the title match in the international eight-player event.

Struggling to make balls on the break, Takenaka repeatedly turned over open tables to Engert in their semifinal tilt The 32-year-old, ranked No. 1 in Japan, did manage to hold a 3-2 lead in the second set, but Engert responded with two flawless run-outs to regain command of the match.

Engert, 38, and Hohmann, 25, have met numerous times in Europe in the past two years, with the pair splitting title-match battles at the 2004 European Championships. Hohmann emerged victorious over Engert in the Euro 8-ball final, while Engert prevailed in the 14.1 title match.

Japan Cup Day 1 complete

Shuji Nagata

Shuji Nagata

Day one of the 6th Japan Cup is complete with most of the top seeds from the field of 83 players advancing to day two untouched.

After the first day of play, Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Ralf Souquet, Thorsten Hohmann and Mika Immonen are joined by Antonio Lining, Ramil Gallego, Young Hwa Jeong, Charlie Williams, Hiroshi Takenaka, Shintaro Sugaya, Terukazu Mukai, Go Takami and Syuji Nagata on the winners side.

Warren Kiamco and Dennis Orcullo did take early trips to the one loss side, but are still playing. Mike Massey has been eliminated.

Japanese players are performing well on their home turf. Go Takami upset Warren Kiamco 9-6 and Shuji Nagata beat Antonio Gabica 9-1 on day one.

The tournament runs until June 13th with a wheelchair event beginning Thursday and a Women’s division beginning June 12th.

Further information from the event is available on the official website at http://www.ibcjapancup.com/