Saturday, 26 February 2011

Maflin and Kachaiwong looking to shine

Norway's Kurt Maflin and Thailand's Issara Kachaiwong may be two of the sport's lower ranked tour players, but they've not gone unnoticed so far at this week's China Open qualifiers.

They've both been in impressive form to win three matches, and are now both just one step away from an unlikely trip to the main venue.

I say unlikely, not because they don't have the talent to beat players among the top 64 rankings, but because life on the qualifying scene is just so brutal. The demand to roll up and win four straight matches all against others good players, is no easy feat.

Although this week they've produced some of their best play as professionals, we've seen both these boys can play a bit before now.

Maflin famously knocked in the first maximum break of this season's new PTC series. At the PTC1 last summer, he scored a 147, building on his reputation as an able break-builder.
In his good run this week, he's shown the kind of form that established him a a promising juniors, knocking in breaks at will to move past Simon Bedford, Jack Lisowski and Dave Harold.

Tomorrow he takes on Mark King, who has got used to life away from the qualifiers for quite a while now. He'll be hoping his experience in the cubicles can count, to book a tie with Ding Junhui at the main event.

Kachaiwong is certainly no mug either. Back in 2006, he made it through to the venue for the Grand Prix. That great run saw him win four out of five matches in Aberdeen in the group stages, and he only just missed out on progression to the knockout phase because of frame difference against John Higgins and Alan McManus.

One of a few Thai players on the circuit this season, Kachaiwong has always been a confidence player, and he seems to have found a spring in his step again. This week he's beaten Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon, Andy Hicks and Tony Drago. Just Ken Doherty now stands between him and a tie with 2006 world champion Graeme Dott in China.

It's always refreshing to see new faces competing at the latter end of the qualifiers, so I'll be cheering them on when they break off tomorrow.

Good luck lads!

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