|Photo Courtesy of Shooters Snooker Club Facebook Page. From left to right owner Peter Chen, Winner Brittany Bryant and runner up Naomi Williams.|
By: Erik Hjorleifson
This past weekend Shooters Snooker Club in North York, Ontario held the highest paying tournament of the 2014-2015 GTA pool calendar. To my knowledge the highest paying tournament in Canada this year. The event was the brain child of shooters owner Peter Chin, entries were $150 for the first 64 paid players $175 for the next 32 players and $200 for the last 32 players with a limited field of 128.
Shooters ran qualifiers on Tuesdays and Sundays for 3 months leading up to the tournament and it was evident from the beginning that there would be interest in this first time tournament as the qualifiers averaged over 10 players each and drew as many as 20 on some occasions. Entry for the qualifiers was $25 and 1 spot was given out for every 6 players that entered, approximately 50 players qualified for the main event. This played a big role in establishing the monster field that eventually topped out at 115 players, the largest field in the last 10 years for any tournament in Toronto. The tournament was limited to 7 handicaps and under, it was a double knockout format, alternate breaks, rack your own and players raced to their handicaps ranging from 4 to 7.
The Players Auction started promptly at 11:00 am on Saturday and with only 20, nine foot tables available all the players knew they would be in for a long day of pool. Sumon Sarkar went off as the first blind bid favourite. It should be noted although that it was very tough to pick a clear winner in this event therefore many players went for a high amount. After auctioneer Greg Plester got through all the names about $7000 was collected in addition to the huge $18 000 main prize fund.
|Sumon Sakar photo courtesy of www.thepoolscene.com|
As you can guess there were so many competitive matches on Saturday it would take paragraphs to list them all. One that stood in my mind was a third round match between Brittany Bryant and Chris Lee that went right down to the wire and could have gone either way. Another multiple time Canadian Women's Champion Naomi Williams was also making her way through the draw undefeated and this would set up a final 8 winners side match up on Sunday between the two.
|Randall Truscott photo courtesy of The Pool Scene|
Randall Truscott also made his way through on the winners side after making a comeback from 5-1 down against Nick Blanchard in a 7 to 6 race. As expected tournament favourite Sumon Sarkar advanced to Sunday undefeated as well as Alan Ada and 5 handicap Brandon Griffin. Relative unknown 5 handicap Trevor A was also undefeated on the day along with Scott McDonald.
Sunday Winners side match-ups
Naomi Williams vs Brittany Bryant
Scott McDonald vs Alan Ada
Brandon Griffin vs Sumon Sarkar
Trevor A vs Randall Truscott
A total of 24 players would return on Sunday with the last matches on Saturday finishing well past midnight. I was in attendance all weekend and I must say that with these amateurs being more in their comfort zone with the lower handicaps, a lot of high level pool was being played. Stuart Mctaggart was making his way through the losers side with some impressive play and eventually ended up in 9th place, Greg Plester also played very well after losing his first round match making it all the way back to 9th place.
It was getting down to crunch time on the winners half of the bracket, Brandon Griffin had a super performance against Sumon Sarkar. Griffin broke and ran 3 of the 5 games he won on his way to victory. Brittany Bryant and Naomi Williams went toe to toe and a fluke on the 6 for Bryant was a big turning point in this match. Bryant went ahead and won 7-4, adding another page to the ongoing battle between these two great players. With the field slimming down Ian Argue bowed out with a respectable 7th pace finish and the noticeably improving Randall Truscott went down hill-hill to Sumon Sarkar in the 5th place match.
The final four was set and after both losing in the final 8 on the winners side Naomi Williams and Sumon Sarkar made it back to the fourth place match. Brittany Bryant and Alan Ada would face off in the winners side final. The match between Williams and Sarkar was played at a very high level, after being tied at 3 Sarkar made a few errors to let Williams go ahead 6-3. Sarkar managed to bring it back to hill hill where Williams was able to run out for the win.
|Britanny Bryant photo courtesy of The Pool Scene.|
The B side final match was also a barn burner with Williams winning hill-hill over Alan Ada, this would set up a rematch between the two women champions. The format was a true double elimination and Williams would have to beat Bryant twice. Bryant played great in the first set of the final going on to win the tournament in style with a 7-2 win. The composure and tenacity of these two ladies was very impressive to witness especially with the huge prize fund on offer and I feel like their experience at the international level was a big factor in their results on the weekend.
Overall it was a great weekend of pool at shooters and from all accounts their will be more events like this in the future. Pool is alive and well in Toronto and we will be looking forward to better things to come. On a personal note I would like to see an 8 player open pro tournament run at the same time as these events, hopefully this can be integrated next time around.
1st Brittany Bryant $6300 $2500
2nd Naomi Willams $3500 $1500
3rd Alan Ada $2000 $960
4th Sumon Sarkar $1200 $600
5th Randall Truscott $750 $375
7th Ian Argue $460 $225
9th Scott McDonald $290 $125
13th Sam Huang $180