The penultimate event of this season’s GB 9 Ball Tour has reached its finale, with Imran Majid, Mark Gray, Mark Lunn and Adam Stevens claiming the silverware at the Daventry Court Hotel, Northamptonshire.
‘RETURN OF THE KING’ – MAHARAJA BACK TO WINNING WAYS
The 2014 Southern Masters final was contested once again by two of Britain’s finest cueists – Phil Burford looking for his maiden Southern Masters title, and Imran Majid looking for his third.
Majid was absent from the last event back in June due to his participation in the World 9-ball Championships, so he was determined to hit the ground running at this event. His opening contest saw him face leading Spaniard Juan Carlos Exposito in a tricky encounter, but Majid saw him off 10-6 to put himself through to the winners qualification bracket. Here he was to face Gary Bullocke, but his dazzling shirts didn’t replicate into dazzling pool as the Maharaja once again secured a 10-6 victory. This put him through to a last 16 encounter with Midlands Classic champion Chris Hall. It was another 10-6 scoreline and another win to Majid, a win which saw him into a quarter final tussle with Wolverhampton’s Darryn Walker. Majid saw that the business end was approaching and turned his game up a gear, seeing off Walker 10-4 and setting up a semi final against Italy’s Bruno Muratore. Majid’s dominance continued and he saw himself through 10 racks to 5, putting him into his first final since winning the GB9 British Grand Prix all the way back in November 2012.
Burford, on a quest to make his second consecutive main event final and his fourth in five events, drew Penzance’s Robin Cripps as his first opponent. In one of the shock results of the season, Burford succumbed to an inspired Cripps 10 racks to 9, sending Burford down in the losers bracket to face a fellow north-east potter in the form of Simon Gardner. 9-5 was the score in favour of Burford here, and his next losers bracket match saw him face Neil Margossian. Both are seasoned GB9 players, but the youth of Burford took down the experience of Margossian 9-3 and saw him into a showdown with Adam Stevens for a place in the last 16. Stevens, another seasoned GB9 regular, fell to the same player by the same score – Burford won 9-3 with safe passage to the last 16. Reading’s Phil Wildman was next up for the Darlingtonian, and the return to races to 10 in the winners side wasn’t phasing Burford. A 10-4 win ensured safe passage the the quarter finals where he came up against Arfan Dad. Dad couldn’t fare much better and the Keighley potter succumbed to a 10-5 defeat at Burford’s hand. The final four draw pitted Burford against another north-east based cueist in Michael Rhodes. It was Rhodes who scored two break and runs in the game, but two racks was also the deficit as Burford won through 10 racks to 8 and book his place in the final against Majid.
With Burford looking to add to the Northern Masters title he won back in June and Majid looking for his first main event title since last year’s British Grand Prix, both players were sure to put on a high quality show. It was Majid who held true, however, and an 11-6 victory made sure that he made a winning return to the GB9 circuit. His victory will do little to dent the dominance of Phil Burford and Mark Gray this season, but it will be a welcome win for one of GB9’s most consistent and dedicated players.
ROCK HARD GRANITE SECURES PRO CUP
Our second to last Pro Cup final of the year was contested by two of GB9’s four different major winners for the season – the newly crowned Southern Masters champion Imran Majid coming up against Paul Medati Trophy winner Mark Gray.
Majid’s opening match came against Midlands Classic champion Chris Hall. Fresh from his main event victory, Majid cruised to an 11-4 win which saw him come up against Michael Rhodes in the winners qualifying side. Rhodes put up a slightly more dogged display, but it was Majid winning through 11-7 and into the quarter finals. Here he came up against Benji Buckley and was in for a titanic battle. With the scores level after 20 racks, it was Majid who held firm in the decider to take the match 11-10 and set up a semi final against Tony Drago. The Tornado was blowing more cold than hot in this semi final, and the Maharaja was dominant from the word go as he booked his place in the final with an 11-3 win.
Gray’s Pro Cup campaign began against Barnsley’s Elliott Sanderson, and Gray was taking no prisoners – a heavy 11-1 victory put him into the winners qualification side and up to face our most recent Pro Cup winner Craig Osborne. Gray this time was on the wrong end of the scoreline, as Osborne secured his place in the last 8 and consigning Gray to the losers bracket. To Gray’s good fortune, however, Dave Nelson’s unfortunate absence put Gray into the last 8 without having to pot a ball. His opponent in the quarter final was Italy’s Bruno Muratore. Much like Majid’s quarter final, the single elimination stage seemed to bring the best out in both players. In another match that went the distance, Gray held his nerve to win 11 racks to 10 and have a second shot at Craig Osborne in the semi finals.
In a closely fought final, Gray and Majid shared the opening 16 racks to make what was originally a race to 11 a race to 3. Gray had a second gear which saw him through, however, and he won the three required racks without reply. Gray saw out the match 11-8 and secured his second Pro Cup of the season.
BACK TO BACK TIER I WINS FOR LUNN
Lunn’s path to the final began in the last 32 with a contest against Tony Burton. Keen to continue his form from the previous event, Lunn took a 9-5 win to meet Chris Fraser in the last 16. The young Scot gave as good as he got, but it was Yorkshire’s Lunn who won through 9 racks to 7 and progressed to the quarter finals. Penzance’s Robin Cripps, earlier in the weekend showing his true capability, was keen to get some silverware of his own. Lunn, however, had other ideas – another well earned 9-7 win put him through to face Gary Bullocke in the final four. Bullocke’s fine run to the semi finals was to go no further and it was Lunn, with a 9-3 win, who went through to his second straight Tier I final and his third Challenge Cup final in succession.
Storry was also drawn into the last 32 stage where his first opponent was Zoltan Kojsza. It was a 9-5 victory in favour of the Essexman, the win taking him through to face Dave Evans in the last 16. In rampant style, Storry progressed with ease into the quarter finals in claiming a 9-1 win. Chris Cowie, his waiting opponent in the quarter finals, knew he had to pull all the tricks out of his hat to stop Storry in his tracks. Those trick were nowhere to be seen, and another dominant display saw Storry through 9-3 and into the semi finals to face this season’s early Challenge Cup pacesetter, Damian Massey. Even his experience wasn’t enough to stop the seemingly imperious Storry, however, as Storry reigned supreme 9 racks to 4 to face Lunn in the final.
With Storry seemingly free flowing in the run up to the final, Lunn knew he’d have his work cut out to take Storry down. He did not disappoint, however, and Lunn wrapped up a very impressive 9-4 win to elevate himself to #3 in the provisional Challenge Cup rankings.
STEVENS CLAIMS FIRST GB9 TITLE
The fourth Challenge Cup Tier II competition saw Adam Stevens and Bradley Parker reach the final showdown in their quest for promotion to Tier I.
Stevens began his quest for a maiden title with Dave Simmonds standing in his way in the last 16. A hard fought 9-7 win took him through to the quarter finals where he came up against another long time 9-ball player in Londoner Lionel Brown. Another titanic contest saw Stevens come out on top as another 9-7 win put him through to the final four. Simon Gardner was the final player standing in his way of the final showdown. It wasn’t to be for Gardner, however, as a 9-6 victory took Stevens into the final.
Parker, himself starting out in the last 16, first came up against an inspired Lynette Horsburgh. Hoping for a slightly easier route than Stevens, quite the contrary was the reality as he grinded out a superb 9-8 win to face Adam Collins in the last 8. He had to be on top of his game once again as another match went the distance. Once again, however, it was Parker out on top as he won through to the semi finals by 9 racks to 8. Aslam Abubaker, one of the finest wheelchair cueists in the country, was the last man who could stop him. It was Parker once again who took the spoils, and a 9-6 win also put him in the final.
With both players searching for their first ever piece of GB9 silverware, a tense final was sure to follow. It was a further 9-6 win for Stevens, however, which saw him become the first amateur GB9 committee member ever to win a GB9 competition of any kind.
The GB 9 Ball Tour will return for the 2014 British Grand Prix which takes place on 7-9 November at the Daventry Court Hotel, Northamptonshire. For more information on this event or to enter please see the event details page. Closing date for entries is midnight on the 4 November but hotel accommodation MUST be booked by 7 October, to be guaranteed a room.