20th June, Macau: Three-time Senior Masters champion, Mi Zhong Li of China and Malaysia's ex-international, Hee Kar Yen sealed pole position of the Men's and Women's Open Masters qualifying table at the 2019 Macao-China International Open.
Mi only needed two attempts to seal top spot. He first took to the lanes at the 3.00pm squad to register his first 3-game series of 710. At the following 5.30pm squad, the Chinese national almost shot the tournament's second 300 after reeling in nine consecutive strikes only to see a stuborn pin-7 standing firmly on his tenth throw.
Despite not rolling the 300, Mi ended with a whopping 782 series to take over the lead of the Men's Open overseas pool with 1492. Overnight leader and 2017 World Championships Trios gold medallist, Michael Mak of Hong Kong, slipped down to second on a 1479 effort.
His compatriot and 2018 East Asian Championships Masters gold medallist, James Lui leapfrog into third spot on a new 6-game tally of 1476 after improving his lower 3-games series with 755. Cullum Borck of Australia also improved but missed the top bracket by a single pin on a total of 1475.
There were no changes in the local pool with 2018 ABF Tour Chinese Taipei champion, Lee Tak Man leading Macau's charge with 1410. Au Hou Chon also totaled 1410 to share the lead while Lei Hok Hin joined the duo in third with 1399. Newcomer, Tsutsumi Yuki of Japan headed the mixed pool with 1443 as the cut in 15th and 16th positions was tied between team-mates, Jimmy Cheung and Tony Wong of Hong Kong on 1388. Last year's cut was much higher at 1446. With just three mores squad left for qualifying, this figure could well reach 1400.
The top 3 local seeded qualifiers, local qualifiers positioned 4 to 7, overseas qualifiers positioned 4 to 9, 16 qualifiers from the mixed poool, top 3 qualifiers from the desperado squad together with the defending champion will contest the 8-game Round 1 finals.
The top 18 with the highest pinfalls at the end of Round 1 finals will advance to Round 2 finals, joined by the 3 local and 3 overseas seeded qualifiers for another 8 games in Round 2 finals. The top 6 at the end of Round 2 finals will advance to the stepladder shootout finals.
Malaysia's ex-international, Hee Kar Yen remained unchallenged in the lead. Hee amassed 1362 for the pole position in the Women's Open Masters overseas pool. Defending champion, Misaki Mukotani moved into second spot to earn a valuable bye with 1323.
Thailand's Kantaporn Singhabubpha sneaked into third spot with 1318 while Pitchapa Reongiri missed the top bracket in fourth with 1286. Hong Kong's Joey Yip and Thailand's Yanee Saebe, who were second and third overnight, rounded out the top 5.
The top 3 local and top 3 overseas qualifiers will earn a bye and automatically advance to Round 2 finals. The top local seeded qualifier, local qualifiers positioned 4 to 6, overseas qualifiers positioned 4 to 7, 13 qualifiers from the mixed pool will contest the 8-game Round 1 finals.
Qualifying will end late tonight followed by a one-game desperado squad for the Men's Open division will be held for a final chance to qualify for their respective Masters finals. Round 1 finals will be staged on June 21 and Round 2 finals on June 22. The top 16 Asian men and top 16 Asian women will also qualify for the 2019 ABF Tour first leg, Macau on June 23.
Photos by Terence Yaw in Macau, China.