National Championship Series Qualifiers Get Underway
Halloween weekend ushered in the first set of qualifiers for the National Championship Series (NCS). From November through January, 8-ball qualifiers for the NCS 8-Ball National Championship are being hosted in pool rooms throughout the country from Florida to Hawaii.
The NCS was first introduced to the pool community two months ago. The series is the brainchild of Mark Griffin, who has demonstrated a commitment to the pool and billiards industry for over 40 years. As CEO of CueSports International (CSI), Griffin and his team produce the BCA National 8-Ball Championships each May at the Riviera in Las Vegas, the Jay Swanson Memorial 9-Ball Tournament, and the U.S. Bar Table Championships.
As the team’s newest endeavor, the NCS has a unique structure. It is a series of five national events, with one each in the following disciplines: 8-ball, 9-ball, 10-ball, straight pool, and one-pocket. The NCS is not a tour, as points are not associated with the NCS nor is there tracking of players’ progress throughout the series. Each national event is considered independent and players can participate in qualifiers for as many of the cue disciplines as they choose.
The NCS follows the qualifier model as it encourages higher level of participation by the players on a local and regional level, and it encourages poolroom involvement. CSI has structured the NCS financially in order to be fair and feasible to the qualifier host rooms as well as the players. Instead of paying an entry fee of $500-$600 to participate in one of the national events, players qualify by paying lower entry fees (ranging from $25-$125) at local and regional qualifiers where the top 1-2 players from each qualifier will move on to the national tournament.
In February 2009 in Las Vegas, the first of the five national events will take place—the NCS 8-Ball National Championship. The 64 players who qualify for the national event will vie for a $32,000 prize fund and a spot to represent the U.S. at the 2009 WPA Damas World 8-Ball Championships held each spring in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. The 2008 Damas World 8-Ball Championships had a $191,000 prize fund and is considered one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world.
This is the first time in pool history where a U.S player will play in a tournament to win a spot to represent the U.S at the World 8-Ball Championships. In the past all five spots for the U.S have been by invitation only.
According to Holly Ryan, the manager of the NCS, “Our goal for the NCS is to build a series of national events that works for the players, the industry and celebrates the sport’s diversity. The NCS has potential to build a solid foundation in U.S. pool.”
For a current calendar of NCS qualifiers and events please visit: www.playcsipool.com.