2012′s penultimate GB 9 Ball Tour event has come to its conclusion with Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton and Mark Gray coming home with the top prizes after another stunning weekend of 9-ball pool.
APPLETON ALL WASHED UP ON SHAW
This year’s Southern Masters final was contested by two players who were far from southern – a Yorkshireman and a Scot. World Champion Darren Appleton found himself in his second final of the weekend, this time against one of the world’s hottest talents in Jayson Shaw. Exceptional credit must at this point go to Spain’s Albert Casellas. In his first ever GB9 event he was just one rack away from the quarter-finals before a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of GB9 stalwart Damian Massey. His performance is just one highlight amongst those of an increasing number of European players coming over to British shores to cut it in what many consider the toughest 9-ball pool tour in the world.
Appleton’s route to the final started in similar fashion to his Pro Cup campaign. Just as 9-2 was the result in that competition, so it was in the main event, this time against Adam Collins. The reward for his opening round victory? A showdown with none other than Daryl Peach – Britain’s 9-Ball World Champion from five years ago. It was nothing short of a showdown; a quite stunning match involving five break and runs, three for Darren and two for Daryl, went all the way to the final rack where Appleton won through 9-8 and into the last 32. Here he met the Challenge Cup runner-up Courtney Symons and, having kicked up a head of steam from his previous match, dispatched the East Anglian potter 9-4 and went on to meet another East Anglian in the shape of Thetford’s Tom Cousins. Another 9-4 result put Appleton two matches from the final and into a quarter-final against his first Pro Cup victim Chris Melling. This match was much closer than their first, but the result still went the same way. 9-7 in Appleton’s favour meant a semi-final against yet another professional in the shape of Imran Majid. Yet another breaktaking match followed with Appleton winning through 9-6, meaning Appleton had now won a staggering 11 matches in a row over the weekend – 5 of which were against cue sport professionals – and took his place in his second final of the weekend.
Shaw’s ranking as provisional British number 1 meant all eyes were on him from the word ‘go’. The Glaswegian’s opening match in the main event could hardly have come against someone further away from him in Britain. Penzance’s Robin Cripps was the first victim on Shaw’s road to the final, succumbing 9-4 to the Scot. In the last 32 he came up against Tom Staveley, but didn’t have to change gear in order to beat him. The final score this time was 9-5 to Shaw, and it was Shaw that he came up against in the next round. Yes, Jayson Shaw came up against his namesake Adam Shaw for a place in the quarter-finals of the main event. Needless to say that a Shaw that went through to the last 8 – Jayson, that is – and a destruction job saw Adam eliminated from the competition 9 racks to 1. Two hurdles remained for Shaw in order to get to his second main event final of the year, and this time it was Guapo who stood in his way. Karl Boyes just didn’t have the firepower, however, and it was Shaw who won through 9-5 once again to set up a semi-final with ex-snooker professional Michael Rhodes, himself having a quite spectacular maiden season on GB9. Here lied Shaw’s toughest test of the round – five break and runs throughout the match proves quality was in abundance. It was Shaw who limped over the line, however, taking out a thrilling 9-8 win and putting him into his first main event final since winning the 2011 British Grand Prix.
The final told a tale all of its own before a ball had been hit – the World Champion on his homecoming up against one of the fastest and brightest players in the world. It was World Champion Appleton, however, who found himself under the cosh at 10-3 down in a little under 40 minutes and just 1 rack away from defeat against a Shaw who quite amazingly missed just ONE ball in those 13 racks. Appleton had to pull out the comeback of his life to turn the match around, but at 10-7 the tension was simply palpable as people wondered whether he could pull off one of the greatest turnarounds of his career. It wasn’t to be, however, with Shaw keeping his composure to run out Appleton’s dry break in the 18th rack to win through 11-7 in an exhilarating 57 minutes – one of the quickest and most memorable finals in GB9′s five year history.