This past weekend The Corner Bank afforded the players of Toronto a chance to qualify for the inaugural World series of 8 ball to be held January 14-17 at Steinway billiards in New York. The series of 4 events was announced this fall and is being promoted by multiple time World Champion Darren Appleton. It is an invitational event with the top 32 on the WPA points list, 32 american players and 32 international players on the original 96 player invite the list. 32 Qualifying spots have also been made available and qualifiers have been run all over the world. The main event will carry a $20 000 first prize and a healthy payout throughout the 128 player field.
The qualifier at the Corner Bank was played in accordance with the world 8 ball series rules which are similar to WPA rules with a few changes.
#1 Players must shoot the balls they make on the break, for example if only a solid is pocketed on the break the player must continue shooting solids
#2 Players must break outside the box
#3 Three foul rule is in effect
In my opinion rules 1 and 2 are very good rules because it makes offensive play more of an accomplishment rather than a given. Breaking from outside the box makes it less likely to pocket a ball on the break and the closed break rule forces players to play more skilled run outs in some cases. This is similar to the breaking rules we saw at the U.S. open this year which made the break tougher and i think in this aspect pool is moving in the right direction.
In an effort to draw a good crowd the Corner Bank priced the entry at $30 for the qualifying event, imagine a chance to qualify for a WPA event for $30 that is only a two hour flight away. Unfortunately the turn out for this event was only 14 players, again by no fault of the Corner Bank who made the entry affordable and promoted the event to the best of their ability. This is a reflection years of handicap play in the Toronto scene and the resulting culture of players who are not able to see the bigger picture. It is a very frustrating subject for me personally but I will leave that one for another day.
The 14 players were separated into two groups of seven playing a round robin format with 3 of those 7 players advancing into a single knockout stage. The winners of each group received a bye into the semi finals and the other four would play off into those winners.
After the round robin stage 8 ball specialist Brian Belobradic won his group and top Ontario Adam Monture also won his group.
The other four players that qualified for the single knockout stage included myself, Adil Q, Alex Marsilli and Dylan from Lindsay, Ontario.
Semi Final Results:
Erik Hjorleifson 9 Brian Belobradic 4
Adam Monture 9 Alex Marsilli 5
The finals was one race to 10 with the winner receiving the qualifying spot for New York. After a couple of early errors by Monture i played strong in games 4-9 and was able to take a 7-2 lead. Monture however played excellent in the next 6 games pulling the score to 8-7. In the following game i had a dream break and ran out to get to the hill, Monture missed a very tough 8 in the next game and i was able to run out for the win.
Special Thanks to the Corner Bank for hosting the event.