by Simon Daish
Tears of Joy and Sorrow for Runner-ups
16 preliminary group stage runner-ups progressed into a knockout round, with a place in the main event up for grabs.
Korea Republic’s Kim Minho was one of those players taking part in the knockout round, and his opponent was Amin Miralmasi of Iran.
Miralmasi was the stronger of the two players at the start of the tie, taking games one and two before going on to gain a 3-1 advantage.
Kim entered the match as the higher ranked of the two (326th opposed to Miralmasi’s 511th), however, the chances of an upset looked more likely with Miralmasi in a commanding position.
Something needed to change if the Korean was to qualify, and that change arrived: all of a sudden Kim looked a different player, thundering to win three games in a row to shatter Miralmasi’s hopes of making the cut (7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-4).
Iran Still in, More Russians Also Progress
There is still a spot for one Iranian contestant, after Miad Lotfijanabadi successfully passed by Maksim Kiselev (Russia) in five ends. Kiselev took an early lead claiming the opening game comfortably but, rather astoundingly, Lotfijanabadi then hit form sealing the victory with four straight games.
Disappointment for one Russian, but four are through from the knockouts: Taras Merzlikin and Ramil Mutygullin beat Andrey Milovanov (Belarus) and Valentin Pieraert (Belgium) respectively, Andrei Baibuldin overcame Thibaut Darcis (Belgium) and Maxim Shmyrev fended off the challenge from Florian Cnudde (Belgium).
Through in Style
The group stages have seen a common trend across the opening two days in Minsk with players from Korea Republic and Russia excelling.
Korea’s Park Chan-Hyeok, An Jaehyun and Park Jeongwoo all finished top of their groups of four, joining day one’s qualifiers Cho Seungmin, Kim Minhyeok and Park Ganghyeon in the Round of 32.
Viacheslav Burov and fellow Russians Konstantin Chernov and Sadi Ismailov topped groups 8, 12 and 13 and with the four Russian knockout qualifiers also through, the main draw has begun to take shape.
Out of the 32 players left in the Men’s Singles event, ten are Koreans and nine are Russians. With almost two-thirds of the remaining draw being made up of competitors from either Korea or Russia, the chances of success for either nation are looking very strong.
Thursday 8th September: Men’s Singles – Qualification Groups
Thursday 8th September: Men’s Singles – Preliminary Knockout Round