The 7th GB9 Midlands Classic has come to its climax with Chris Hall, Craig Osborne, Damian Massey and Chris Fraser sharing the spoils at the Park Inn hotel in Telford, Shropshire.
With a new season upon us, it was time for many to sharpen their games and prepare for the seventh staging of a GB9 season. With the new two-tier Challenge Cup format and return of the Pro Cup, there was sure to be some tight and action packed pool during the weekend.
HALL BEATS THEM ALL FOR MAIDEN MAIN TITLE
The first main event final of the season saw Darlington’s Phil Burford come up against Wakefield’s Chris Hall. Both players have been stalwarts of the tour for a number of years now, and it was fitting that two such players should contest the first major showdown of the season.
Hall opened his account for the weekend in fine style, dispatching of Welshman Nathan James 9-0 in a mere 35 minutes to secure passage through to the last 32. Here he met two times defending Universities Pool Council 9-Ball champion Benji Buckley in a much closer affair. Hall came away victorious, however, with a solid 9-5 scoreline ensuring safe passage to the round of 16. His opponent, Dave Evans, suffered almost the same fate as Hall’s first opponent. 9-1 was the score in favour of Hall, taking the Yorkshireman through to a quarter final showdown with none other than Tony Drago. Smelling blood from his early exit in the World Snooker Welsh Open earlier in the week, a quarter final was the best he could manage here. An incredible match which Hall won 9-7 saw the pair share no less than SEVEN break and runs between them in a match that took just 66 minutes. Hall then had another high quality match in the semi finals, this time against Ipswich’s Craig Osborne. Another three break and runs from Hall took his tally for the competition to 15 in the space of four matches and helped him to a 9-6 victory to send him into his first main event final.
Burford’s last 64 match saw him overcome a resilient Simon Gardner, with a 9-5 win seeing him into the last 32 to face Colchester’s Shaun Storry. Three break and runs each would often be a sign of a close match, but Shaun’s three were his only rack wins as Burford won 9-3. His opponent in the last 16 was Stuart Colclough, another long time tour player. Another 9-5 victory was enough to take Burford into a quarter final match with Wolverhampton’s Darryn Walker. Walker has established himself as a feared name in British 9-ball in recent years, but this time he was no match for the defending Midlands Classic champion. Burford won through 9 racks to 4 to take him into an all north-east semi final against Michael Rhodes. It was Burford who came out on top 9 racks to 4 to take him just 11 more racks away from a successful defence of his title.
Many saw Burford as heavy favourite going into the final, but it was Hall who raced into what can only be called a shock 9-0 lead to leave Burford hanging on by his fingertips. The seemingly impossible wasn’t to follow, and Hall soon wrapped up the two racks he required to take a tremendous 11-3 victory over Burford to take his maiden main event win at a GB9 event.
SHOTGUN SHOOTS DOWN BOYES IN PRO CUP
The 2014 season’s inaugural Pro Cup was contested between Karl Boyes and Craig Osborne. The new format of winner breaks, double elimination to 8 players and race to 11 was guaranteed to bring out the highest quality pool from the highest quality players on the tour.
Boyes started off his quest for another piece of silverware with a comfortable 11-2 victory over Scotland’s Michael Valentine to put him into a winners bracket showdown against another former Mosconi Cup player in the form of Daryl Peach. The two Blackpool residents fought out a relatively one sided contest, with Boyes winning through into the quarter finals 11 racks to 4. Another Michael was waiting in the last 8, but this time it was Michael Rhodes who attempted to derail Guapo. Boyes’ relentless form continued however, with an 11-3 victory setting up a quarter final against Malta’s one and only Tony Drago. His electric style of play would often blow an opponent away, but the tables were turned here as Boyes took an incredible 11-0 whitewash with what is a tour record of SEVEN break and runs in one match against the Tornado to seal his place in the final.
Ossie got his campaign underway in a close fought match on which he found himself the wrong side of the scoreline. Daryl Peach defeated the Shotgun 11-8 to set up his ill-fated match with Boyes and put Osborne one match from defeat. he kept his hopes alive by handing Michael Valentine his second and final defeat of the competition. 11-4 was the score in favour of the Ipswich shooter, knocking Valentine out of the Pro Cup and putting Osborne into the losers qualification side to face Dave Nelson. It was to be a case of different opponent, same score – Osborne wrapping up his second straight 11-4 victory to pit him against Mark Gray in the last 8. Ossie had hit top gear now, and an 11-2 win comfortably saw him into the semi finals. Here he met Benji Buckley, playing his debut season in the Pro Cup competition, but the Derby University student couldn’t quite secure his spot in the final. Osborne grinded to an 11-6 win to meet Karl Boyes in the final.
Both players have faced each other a number of times before in their GB9 careers, so both knew to expect one almighty match in the final. The spectators were treated to some excellent pool, with Osborne earning himself the first Pro Cup of the season with an 11 racks to 9 victory over Boyes.
CLASSY MASSEY SECURES CHALLENGE TITLE
The first Tier I final in the newly formed Challenge Cup competition was also contested by two long time GB9 players in the form of Stewart Colclough and Damian Massey. With some of the UK’s top amateurs competing in this division, the competition was as hotly contested as people expected.
Colclough started his campaign against GB9 regular and World Snooker referee Martyn Royce, seeing out a comfortable 9-3 victory and leaving him to face Nottingham’s Dave Hopkin in the next round. Colclough found a ruthless streak here to dominate the match, four break and runs helping him whitewash Hopkin 9-0 and into the last 8. A terrific match against Mark Foster is what followed next, with a 9-7 win with a further three break and runs putting Colclough just nine more racks from another Challenge Cup final. Trying to stop him was 8-ball convert Neil Raybone, but his brave efforts proved futile in the end – Colclough wrapped up a 9 racks to 6 victory to put him in the final.
Massey’s opening match went the same way as Colclough’s opener against Royce, with a 9-3 victory over Michael Mcdonald seeing him through to the last 16 where he was to face Cornishman Robin Cripps. Both players brought their A games to the table, and two veterans of 9-ball in the south of England fought out a match that went all the way, with Massey edging into the quarter finals by 9 racks to 8. There he met Chris Hall, fresh from his victory in the main event, with both looking to continue their winning runs in the Challenge Cup going. Again, it was Massey who dumped the new Midlands Classic champion out of the event with a 9-8 win to set up a semi final with Shaun Storry. Once again the match went the distance and, once again, it was the Dymanic Billard sponsored Massey whose experience told and saw him through 9-8 and into the final.
Nobody would have been surprised at the final going the distance, but it took 15 racks rather than 17 to decide the outcome. Massey once again held on to take the first Tier I Challenge Cup title of the season by 9 racks to 6.
PRIDE OF SCOTLAND VICTORIOUS IN CHALLENGE TIER II
The first ever Tier II final in the Challenge Cup saw two players both relatively new to GB9, Chris Fraser and Dave Evans, do battle for the title. This tier was designed especially for players looking to develop their games whilst playing tournament standard pool, and these two players have shown their worth in taking their games to the next level.
Scotsman Fraser opened his account in the Challenge Cup with a 9-7 victory over London’s Paul Taylor, a result that saw him face Simon Gardner in the last 16. he stepped his game up a gear in dispatching of Gardner by 9 racks to 4. This put him into a quarter final match against Devon’s Jamie Graham. The two players couldn’t be much further apart in terms of residence, but the scoreline couldn’t have been much closer on the day, Fraser winning through once again by 9 racks to 7 and pitting him against Luke Rollison in the final four. It was another 9-4 scoreline that saw Fraser past the finishing post and into his first ever major final on the GB 9 Ball Tour.
Evans opened up his campaign against namesake Dave Simmonds in the first round, himself another long time servant of the tour. Evans came out on top by 9 racks to 5 to have him face Joni Holden in the round of 16. Both players served up an excellent match, but Evans came home winner 9-7 to book a place in the quarter final. Here he faced GB9 Chairperson Andy Warden, himself in his best ever finish at a GB9 event, but the Chair was dethroned in a match that Evans won by 9 racks to 6. In the semi finals he faced Aslam Abubaker, who must be given credit for becoming the first wheelchair player ever to make the semi finals in any GB9 competition. His dream run was brought to an end by Evans, however, and Evans took the match 9-5 to secure his place in what was also his maiden final.
With both players fired up for the first ever GB9 final, a close scoreline was expected. However, Fraser stepped his game up another gear to win his first title on the GB 9 Ball Tour, winning the final by 9 racks to 2.
The GB 9 Ball Tour will return for the 2014 Paul Medati Trophy which takes place on 16-18 May at the fantastic Daventry Court Hotel, Northamptonshire. This event will carry a GUARANTEED prize fund of £9,250 which will be increased with 100+ players. For more information on this event or to enter please see the event details page. Closing date for entries is 16 April (surcharge for entries after that date).