Winners Crowned on GB9 Ball Tour
GB9 Northern Masters / Manchester, UK
Imran Majid‘s incredible winning streak of 29 consecutive matches, including 4 tournament championship victories, has come to an end in Manchester at the hands of Darren Appleton , former English 8-ball pool champion, in the semifinal stage of the main event.
Appleton then defeated reigning World Pool Champion Daryl Peach in the final and appeared particularly determined throughout the tournament, taking extra time at the start of every rack, planning the route of every run-out.
This was the first event that the GB9 have implemented the higher rack position—placing the 9 ball on the foot spot—forcing many players to adopt a more powerful break and putting a stop to the virtually guaranteed “wing-ball-on-the-break” that came with the old “tapped” rack position.
Of the finals against Peach, Appleton said, “It’s been a long day and we didn’t really focus as good as we can do, but I probably played a little bit better than him, on the day, and that was the difference I think in the end.
“It’s a frustrating game sometimes—you can play very well and lose, and you can play average and win.”
Appleton paid tribute to semifinalist Imran Majid, saying, “To beat Imran in the semis was a massive win. I felt a lot of pressure to beat him because obviously he hasn’t lost this year, so that was a massive thing.”
Unlike the rest of Europe, which takes a summer break from pool (even some of the warehouses and manufacturers take a six-week break from production), the British pool season is a relentless twelve-month affair, possibly due to the unpredictable nature of the weather.
The GB9 Ball Tour forges ahead with its fifth event, the Northern Masters at Manchester, hosted by Rileys American Pool and Snooker Clubs, Europe’s largest operator of pool, snooker, and poker clubs.
Each event consists of three individual tournaments, the 96-player “Challenge Cup”—the division for players attempting to gain promotion—the 32-player “Pro Cup” for the elite top 32 national ranked players, and the 128-player “Main Event,” featuring the full field of 128 players from both divisions.
All matches are single elimination, race-to-nine, except the finals which are race-to-eleven. Matches start late on Friday afternoon and on Sunday evening the Main Event final is over by 9.30pm.
It’s a Shaw Thing!
Proud Scotsman Jayson Shaw has managed to win the GB9 Manchester Pro Cup at only his second attempt. On his route to the finals he bested former Pro Cup champion and current number-two-ranked European player Imran Majid in the first round of the UK’s elite player event.
In the final, the youngster from Glasgow toppled the Euro Tour number-one-ranked player, Mark Gray, with an 11-8 score.
Shaw actually missed the start of the tour and has managed to get a reserve spot filling the vacancy because of Tony Drago attending the 2008 World Snooker Shanghai Masters Qualifying, and Shaw certainly made the most of the opportunity. He has now joined the GB 9 Ball Tour permanently, so the extremely tough pro division has just become even tougher.
In an interview after the finals Shaw was asked if there was anyone on the tour that he feared. He replied, “When I’m playing I don’t really fear anybody, but to be honest with you, there could be easier draws—I’d rather play someone instead of Imran, who has won the last four events.” He also admitted to practicing five hours every day, thanks to his sponsors, The New Archway snooker club in Glasgow.
No Surprise as Robson Wins Second Consecutive Challenge Cup
Chris Robson was regarded as the underdog in the final at the last event, but he proved himself to be a bit of a giant-killer with his win over Scott Higgins, and once again he has shown that he’s made of stern stuff with a thrilling 11-10 win over London’s David Walsh.
In fact, Walsh was the only player to take Robson to the hill at this event, and Walsh and Robson now sit side-by-side on the Challenge Cup rankings at third and fourth, respectively, both in with a fair chance of topping the end-of-season rankings.
All will depend on the final event of the season, the GB9 British Grand Prix to be held at Rileys American Pool and Snooker Club, in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire on 19 September 2008.