Date: 22-24 February 2013
Venue: Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, Telford. UK
Professional 9-ball pool will be played in Shropshire for the very first time as the historic sixth season of the GB 9 Ball Tour commences with the 2013 Midlands Classic in Telford.
Players both past and present will know that the tour is always looking forward to new ventures and exciting ways to keep the tour fresh and competitive. Much like the move to hotel venues in 2010, this season brings with it an equally vast number of changes designed to help the tour members make the most of their GB9 experience, whether they are an amateur player looking to improve their game or a professional player looking to challenge for every title going. These changes will help breathe a new lease of life into the tour as it strives to prove itself once again as the most challenging and competitive pool tour in the world.
Tour Chairperson Andy Warden is excited by what lies ahead for the tour. “2013 is going to be an exciting year for GB9. It is fantastic to see so many of the European players getting behind the tour and of course it is a great opportunity for all of the UK based players to experience playing these sorts of players without having to travel to a EuroTour event. I am look forward to seeing faces old and new at the first event in just a few weeks time”.
The first major change to the tour this season is the return to a touring format. The tour has signed a three year deal with the Carlson Rezidor hotel group, who can boast the Park Inn and Radisson Blu hotel chains amongst its portfolio, taking the tour forward up to and including the 2015 season. Three events this season, and indeed perhaps GB9′s new spiritual home, will be at the Park Inn hotel in Telford with a further tournament making place at the magnificent Radisson Blu hotel at Stansted Airport. Alongside this the tour will make a welcome return to Yorkshire having agreed a further three year deal with the Cedar Court hotel in Bradford. These stunning hotels will be taking the tour to new levels and will give the people of Great Britain the chance to witness some of the finest cuesport action imaginable.
The match structure will also undergo a radical change as the tour moves away from its signature Pro and Challenge divisions. For the first time in the tour’s history, the double elimination format will be used to decide who reigns supreme at each tournament weekend. This structure will be welcomed by both professional players who are used to this format being played in other major competitions across the world, and also by amateur players who will all be guaranteed a minimum of two competition matches per weekend. Each player is also guaranteed a third match as those who are eliminated before the last 32 stage will be entered into a redesigned Challenge tournament which, whilst carrying no crucial ranking points, gives amateur players a further chance of taking some serious cash away from their weekend.
On the subject of money, the prize structure has also taken a massive overhaul in line with the double elimination style of GB9 events going forward. With a full 160 player field the winners purse will be a staggering £3,500 with £1,500 going to the runner up. With 144 players the top prize figure proportionately goes down to £3,000 and with the minimum forecasted field of 128 players the winners cheque still amounts to £2,500 – a record for British domestic 9-ball. With money paid down all the way to the last 32, this will give players from all backgrounds the chance to take home some serious money from each tour stop. Those players who fail to make the money stages of the main event will get another bite of the cherry as they are automatically entered into the single elimination Challenge Cup event.
Another major change to the tour is the switch to open events across the year. In other words, you neither have to be a registered tour player nor be signed up to the GB9 reserves list in order to participate in a GB9 event. This will be of great assistance to those who either cannot afford the cost of a full GB9 season, find it difficult to travel long distances to events or simply want to try world class competitive 9-ball for the first time without committing themselves to a full season. There will, of course, be benefits to those who do sign up for the full tour season. These include a financial incentive, event seeding (top 32), an official UK ranking, and a £50 discount off your annual British Pool Federation membership.
The final change is one that is arguably the most exciting one of all. With the expansion of the GB 9 Ball Tour, applications have come in from players all across Europe. Combined with existing British professional players on the tour, this season boasts the most decorated player roster ever assembled at GB9 competitions. These include:
- The ENTIRE 2012 European Mosconi Cup winning team: Great Britain’s very own Darren Appleton and Chris Melling, alongside Dutch duo Nick van den Berg and Niels Feijen, and also Greek hotshot Nikos Ekonomopolous.
- 2010 World 8-Ball champion, Karl ‘Guapo’ Boyes
- 2007 World 9-Ball champion, Daryl ‘The Dazzler’ Peach
- 2006 European Mosconi Cup team members and reigning British number 1, Imran ‘The Maharaja’ Majid
- 6 x World Pool Masters winner and 6 x Mosconi Cup winner with Team Europe, Ralf ‘The Kaiser’ Souquet
- 2008 Mosconi Cup winner with Team Europe and 2010 World 9-Ball semi-finalist, Mark ‘Granite’ Gray
- Italian duo Fabio Petroni and Bruno Muratore, and
- 2010 World Blackball champion, Jayson ‘The Wizard’ Shaw