Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Morra Dominate During Falcon Tour Grand Final

Photo Courtesy of Guy Simard of Billard Quebec

By: Markus Noé

Last weekend April 2-3 Dooly's St-Hyacinthe hosted the Grand Final for the inaugural Falcon Cue's Quebec Pro Tour.  The main organizers Danny Hewitt and Alain Parent had a very successful first season as they held ten regular season tournaments. Nine of these were played throughout Québec and one was played in New Brunswick.

There was a lot anticipation for this event as most of the top players from the East Coast (Eastern Canada) and Quebec had expressed interest in playing. Also John Morra currently ranked 5th in the world after a top 16 finish at the recent World Chinese 8 Ball Championship committed to play, which caused a nice stir. The other benefit for the Grand Final was that Dooly's St-Hyacinthe is located only 30 minutes east of Montreal were many of the top players in the province live.

Photo from Dooly's St. Hyacinthe Facebook Page. 
In total 59 players came to participate making the total prize pool near $9,000 and breaking the attendance record. An interesting part to these tournaments is that it is a blind draw, meaning there could be some big matches early. There we no real upsets to report in the first round, Martin Daigle did end up losing his first match. However this was against Harold Rousseau a former Canadian 8 Ball Champion, who has not been on scene to much as of late.  Other tournament favourites who did not have a bye such as Danny Hewitt and Francis Crevier won their matches with ease.

Morra had a bye in the first round and waited for the winner between local Pro Ghislain Champagne and Marco Caron. Ghislain came away with a big win in this match beating Caron a very capable local semi-pro 9-0. He was hopeful that this momentum would carrying on into the next match however Morra was a different story beating him 9-3.

Next up for Morra was Andy Aupin a truly great player out of Sudbury, who outside of Ontario is kind of a secret. Knowing this I was happy to get him for $50 in the Calcutta. However as was the case for everyone in this event they were in tough with Morra who is playing at a very high level at the moment even for his standards. Aupin held his own but in the end lost 9-5.

With only 20 established professionals in the tournament there was a chance for anyone to have a "soft" draw. This was not the case for Morra as he had to play Sylvain Grenier in his next match who is the 4th ranked player in Québec . Morra continued his high level break and won this match with ease 9-2. The break should be mentioned because the tour rules states that you need to break from the "box", meaning no cut breaks of the side rails which is the ideal break for 9 ball. At the top level though it makes the rack to easy to pot a ball off the break. As I was observing the other top pros in the field such as Alain Martel, Hewitt, Grenier, Crevier no one was hitting the break as pure as Morra. The result being that he was the only one consistently potting a ball with an opening shot, the ultimate edge at the highest level.

Francis Crevier also did not benefit from a soft draw. His first match was against Danny Normandin who only a few years ago finished 3rd at the Turning Stone Classic. Crevier won this match 9-4 then faced Richer Francoeur a top semipro. He won this match 9-3 then beat well known and liked Québec Pro Jeff blais 9-4 and followed this up against the newly crowned Pro from Valleyfied Québec Eric Claude 9-7. Waiting for him in the next match was Morra. Crevier proved to big his biggest test in this event as he was the only one to push him to the brink losing 9-8.

Next up for Morra was Alain "The Dancing Bear" Martel a true legend  and in my opinion the most accomplished player ever out of Québec. Martel was fresh off wins over two of the "young guns" in the field. He defeated Denys Zbikowski 9-3 first then Joey Cicero 9-6 next who just beat Hewitt 9-8. Cicero had his coming out party earlier this year at Turning Stone when he finished in the top 8 beating Ko Ping Chung along the way, indicating Martel was in form. Morra once again was breaking and controlling the table too much for him as he won 9-2 earning a place in the final.

Martel then waited for the winner of Hewitt/Grenier in the 4th place match. This was perhaps the most exciting match of the tournament as two of the top players in the provinces battled to 8-8 with Grenier edging out Hewitt who has dominated this tour this season 9-8. Grenier kept his top form in the losers side final once again going 8-8 but an error in the final rack cost him the set 9-8.

Morra vs Martel 
In the final it was more domination by Morra as he quickly mounted a 5-0 lead. In the end his break and run out power was too much to over come as he went on to win 11-2. This was a fantastic weekend not only for the Falcon Tour but for pool in general. Now that Professional pool is getting the attention it deserves again in Canada there is a real buzz among the scene. Just because there was a tournament like this, I was able to see some talent from across the country that I have not seen before. The biggest standout to me this weekend for players I was unfamiliar with was Chris Dempsey from Moncton New Brunswick who is a very solid player. There are talks for more tours such as this potentially spawning across the country and we have the World 8 Ball Championship coming up in August. Overall there are a lot of positives things going on in Canada at the moment.

I would like to thank Alain Parent and Danny Hewitt for their access this weekend giving me everything I needed to cover the event. Also Elvis Joubert one of the owners of this pool hall for providing a great venue. The tour starts up again in September and promises to be an even bigger success. Look forward to seeing you all next season!

Top 3 Payouts:

John Morra $2355

Alain Martel $1600 

Sylvain Grenier $1100

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