The fifth season of GB9 competition has come to a close at this year’s British Grand Prix. Imran Majid, James Kay and Phil Burford have come away with the final prizes of the year on Britain’s official professional 9-ball pool tour as the curtain comes down on the tour’s two years at the Puma Court hotel in Daventry, Northamptonshire.
MAHARAJA REIGNS SUPREME ONCE MORE
The final of this year’s British Grand Prix was contested by two of the most decorated players in GB9 history. Imran Majid, British number 1 in 2008 and 2011, came up against Mark Gray, British number 1 in 2009 and 2010. With both players having come back from Italy in the early hours in order to participate in the main event, doubts were raised at whether both players would be able to perform to their usually immaculate standard at such short notice. The punters weren’t let down as a day of tremendous pool began.
Majid began his campaign bright and early at 9am against long time tour player Paul Williams. By his own high standards he maybe came out of the blocks a little slow, but still dispatched Williams 9-5 to set up a last 32 clash with Daz Cooper. He stepped up a couple of gears in this round, winning through 9 racks to 2 and securing him a last 16 battle with Yorkshireman Dave Nelson. Majid managed a staggering 4 break and runs in the match but Nelson wasn’t going down lightly: he managed to score 6 racks of his own, but it wasn’t enough to stop Majid winning the 9 he needed to win through to the quarter finals. His opponent here was Andy Worthington and, knowing he had to step his game up in the business end of the tournament, he pulled away swiftly to secure a 9-2 win and set up a semi final against Michael Valentine. A typically methodical match ensued here and both tried to grind out a victory. It was Majid, however, that pulled away to win 9-5 and reach the British Grand Prix final for the second year in a row.
‘Granite’ Gray was coming up against Ealing’s Lionel Brown in his last 64, also starting at 9am on the Sunday morning. He overcame the threat of the Londoner 9-2 to send him through to meet Chichester’s Luke Rollison in the last 32. Gray took his foot off the gas a little, but still managed to keep the game up enough to win through 9 racks to 5. In the last 16 he came up against all round cueman from Derby, Jack Whelan. Gray managed to go one rack better than his previous match in winning through to the quarter finals, with 9-5 enough to see him through to a quarter final up against Chris Buckmaster. The Surrey shooter was looking to go one stage further than his quarter final showing in this year’s Midlands Classic, but Gray stopped him in his tracks with a 9-4 win to set up what turned out to be a thrilling semi final against young hotshot Phil Burford. The match went the distance – all 17 racks – but a composed final rack saw Gray through to his first main event final since April 2010 with a tremendous 9-8 victory.
The final swung strongly in both directions. After a tame start from both players, Gray managed to break away into an 8-4 lead, just three racks away from victory. Majid, however, proved why he was last season’s British number 1 and why he wasn’t going to relinquish that title lightly this year. The Maharaja turned the match on its head, winning 7 of the final 9 racks to win the final main event of the season 11-9. With the victory, Imran Majid secured his title as Britain’s number 1 pool player for another 12 months, a title only ever held by Majid and his fellow finalist Mark Gray. Credit must go to Gray also in finishing as this season’s British number 2. He will look to try and dethrone Majid at the top of the rankings, along with dozens of other players from across the country looking to take their slice of glory on the world’s toughest national pool tour.
FAREWELL TO ANOTHER SEASON, AND FAREWELL TO DAVENTRY…
Just when we feel we’ve only just brought the curtain down on the previous season, the current one has ended as well. Countless thousands of racks have been contested in 2012 by players from across Great Britain alongside a growing contingent from continental Europe. Every single player has played their part on another unforgettable season on the GB 9 Ball Tour and all will be hard at work in the off-season trying to hone their game ready for the 6th season of GB9 competition starting in February 2013. Until then, the Tour would like to extend their thanks to all the players, officials and fans who make GB9 possible. An extended thanks must also go to the Puma Court Hotel in Daventry having hosted its 12th GB9 event. The hotel has been an immaculate and invaluable venue to host GB9 competitions in the last three seasons and countless memories will be taken from the venue. We wish you all the best for the new year and new season, and look forward to meeting faces both old and new in three months time in Telford.
GB9 will return in 2013: Tour Stop 1 – Telford – 22 February 2013