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Event Report – 2013 GB9 Festival of Pool

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PRESS RELEASE – 12 DECEMBER 2013
EVENT REPORT: 2013 GB9 FESTIVAL OF POOL

The final two professional events of the GB9 season have come to their conclusions with Phil Burford, Daryl Peach and Mick Hill taking the spoils at the inaugural GB9 Festival of Pool.
The best players both from across Great Britain and the continent came together to showcase some of the best pool talent in the world all at one gathering. With Europe claiming an emphatic victory over the USA in the recently completed Mosconi Cup, the British Grand Prix and the UK Open went hand in hand to offer competition of the highest standard to the best players Europe has to offer.

LOCOMOTIVE POWERS TO SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON

Phil Burford (GBR)

Phil Burford (GBR)

The two finalists in the British Grand Prix had both contested finals earlier in the season – Phil Burford who won the season’s opening event in thrilling fashion against Ralf Souquet, and Mark Gray who was runner up in the Northern Masters to the now two-time Mosconi Cup player Karl Boyes. Burford began his campaign against local competition; Kevin Uzzell putting up a brave fight before succumbing 9-5 to the Locomotive. This put Burford one win away from the single-elimination last 32 stage, but a resilient Ian McCormick stood in his way. Another tour battle followed, but Burford saw past the Ulsterman 9-7 to go through the winners’ side undefeated. Burford turned on the juice for his next match against Finlay Laing, whitewashing the Newmarket potter 9-0. However, Burford’s first victim, Kevin Uzzell, wasn’t done just yet. Having negotiated his way out of the one-loss side of the draw, he returned to face his nemesis once again. The only difference this time was one rack, with Burford securing his second victory over Uzzell 9-6 to set up a match with Tommy Donlon next.

Donlon had made his best run of the season to make his way into the quarter finals, but a 9-3 defeat ended his campaign and saw Burford into his second semi-final of the season. Here he faced Tony Drago, fresh off his first round defeat in the UK Championship snooker in York. Whilst faring much better on the American table, his competition was to come to an end at Phil’s hand with a 9-7 win seeing Burford through to the final showdown.

Mark Gray started in emphatic fashion in his quest for a first title of the season. His first victim was Simon Gardner who suffered a heavy 9-1 defeat at Gray’s hand. Gray then came up against the ponytailed Italian Bruno Muratore, the prize for the winner being. Place in the last 32. A closer match ensued with Gray running out the 9-5 winner. In the last 32, Gray faced young gun Sam Hirst. The student from Leeds suffered a similar fate to Gray’s first opponent, with Hirst eliminated by 9 racks to 2. This sent Gray into a last 16 match with another Yorkshireman in the form of Barnsley’s Elliott Sanderson. Sanderson’s excellent run in the competition came to an end here, as Gray progressed to the quarter finals with a 9-4 win. A fellow tour stalwart in the form of Colchester’s Shaun Storry was awaiting him in the last 8, but once again Gray came away victorious by 9 racks to 5 and in doing so reached his fourth consecutive GB9 semi-final. Standing in Gray’s way of his second final was another tour stalwart, this time around Stewart Colclough. The score line from his previous game was matched here as Gray made it into his third British Grand Prix final with another 9-5 victory, leaving him just one win away from regaining the title he won back in GB9’s inaugural season all the way back in 2008.

The final promised to be yet another classic battle with both players in their second finals of the year. It was Burford who squeaked home with an 11-9 winning score which saw him end the season as the British #3, just behind both Karl Boyes and Mark Gray who end this season with the guaranteed expenses paid berths in the European 9-Ball Championship in April 2014.

HILL WINS INAUGURAL GB9 UK OPEN

Mick Hill (GBR)

Mick Hill (GBR)

The first ever GB9 UK Open kicked off less than 24 hours after the completion of the final ranking event of the season, and many players disappointed with their finishing positions in the British Grand Prix were looking to make amends here. Many of the tour regulars, including some new faces, were eager to get going and pave their way to the final. However, it was two British faces – Mick Hill and Phil Burford – which were to compete in the final showdown of 2013. The format for this competition was slightly different to other events of the season; races to 10 on the winners side and from the last 32 onwards, races to 9 throughout the one-loss side and winner breaks in all matches. This format was sure to be a hit with the professionals, and so it appeared as the match unfolded.

Hill’s route to the final started in the most peculiar of ways: he suffered a heavy defeat. Scotland’s Michael Valentine was in inspired form, putting in four break and runs in beating Hill 10 racks to 2 and leaving him with a one-loss match against Nottingham’s Dave Hopkin. Hill found some better form here in winning 9-3 and setting up a losers qualification match against Mark Parker. A high quality and close match was to follow as Hill made three break and runs in making his way to the last 32 and winning 9-7. Things didn’t get any easier in his first two single knockout matches when he first came up against Davy Piergiovanni and then Darryn Walker. He took both men out by the same score line, with back to back 10-8 victories ensuring safe passage through to the quarter finals where he was due to meet Ben Buckley. Another gruelling counter followed as Hill defeated the Derby University student in a brilliant encounter by a score of 10-9 and set up a semi-final showdown against none other than Michael Valentine once again, his nemesis from the opening round of the tournament. The score line was completely different this time around – a close match with a different winner. A second consecutive victory on the hill saw Hill into his second final of the season with a brilliantly fought 10-9 win over the Scot.

Burford was looking to pick up where he left off in winning the British Grand Prix title just the previous say, but even his route to the final started in defeat. Italy’s Bruno Muratore saw his safe passage through to the winners’ qualification round with a gritty 10-9 win over the Locomotive. Eager to pick his form up, however, Burford ploughed his way through his two one-loss side matches by first defeating Bradley Parker 9-2 before following that up with a 9-4 win over Ian McCormick. He had to step his game up significantly to beat his next opponent – none other than fellow pro Chris Melling. Another classic tussle saw Burford come through victorious, winning 10 racks to 8 and heading into the last 16 to face GB9 debutant ZoltanKojsza. An impressive first run came to an end for Kojsza as Burford progressed through to the final 8 with a well-deserved 10-4 win. As Mark Gray had done in the British Grand Prix, Phil Burford was to deny Shaun Storry in the last 8 once again. The Essex potter just count get over the second from last hurdle at either attempt during the two tournaments and succumbed to a heavy 10-1 defeat which saw Burford through to the semi-finals. His last opposition prior to the final was that of Russia’s RuslanChinahov in a match that Burford later described on Facebook as a ‘mental game’. After taking an incredible 9-0 lead, Chinahov edged his way back into the match to come within 2 at 9-7. Burford managed to stop the rot in the 17th rack, however, winning through 10 racks to 7 to set up a final with Hill.

That left two Englishmen, with three of the season’s five ranking event titles between them, to fight it out for the first ever UK Open crown. An undoubtedly high quality match was in store, and the fans were not let down. Burford was denied back to back crowns and what would have been his third GB9 title win of the season – Mick Hill saw through 11 racks to 7 to add the UK Open to his Paul Medati Trophy title won back in April. The former English 8-ball World Champion will surely look to this as a shot of confidence ready for the start of the 2014 GB9 season which commences in February.

UNVERSITIES POOL COUNCIL NINE-BALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
To close out the first ever GB9 Festival of Pool, 100 of the very best student pool players from all over the UK descended on the Telford hotel to play the annual UPC nine-ball championships.  The UPC will be releasing their own press release giving details of all of the winners but the feedback from the players involved was fantastic as they all got to experience the professional playing conditions of a GB9 event and to play on the very best equipment.  As part of the partnership between GB9 and the UPC the winner of the singles event (Ben Buckley) also wins complimentary membership of the GB 9 Ball Tour for the 2014 season.

The tour would like to thank every individual who played their part in this year’s events and look forward to welcoming you back next season. The format for next season will be reverting to the previously used Pro and Challenge division with entry for the season costing from as little as £299. If you want to be a part of what promises to be the most competitive season in the tour’s six year history then fill in your application form now as places are sure to be snapped up fast. If you have any questions or queries, do not hesitate to contact committee@gb9balltour.com in the off season and a member of the committee will be more than happy to help you. Until then, as we bid farewell to one incredible season, we eagerly await the next.

In 2013 GB9 was proudly sponsored by Carlson Rezidor Hotels, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls, OB Cues and Kamui Tipsmaking the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.

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Issued by Andy Warden, Chairperson – Article by Martyn Royce, Press Officer

Email: andy.warden@gb9balltour.com – Tel: +44 (0)7767 660 885 – Web: www.gb9balltour.com