GO CUSTOMS POOL SERIES : EVENT 1
The 2020 GO Customs Pool Series got underway on 29th February as Rileys Sports Bar played host to a record 48 players. In arguably the strongest field in Solihull 9 Ball’s short history, several players could claim to have a legitimate chance of taking the crown. None more so than Benji Buckley. Fresh from his maiden GB9 triumph just two weeks earlier, the Sheffield native certainly had form and momentum on his side. However, he also had 47 opponents looking to cause an upset at his expense.
Solihull 9 Ball welcomed newcomers such as the talented Mark Foster, Andy Yates, Spencer Oliver, Welsh pool legend Gareth Hibbert as well as the most decorated player to participate in a Solihull 9 Ball tournament in Mark Gray. Also in attendance were our three Q-School winners from January, Terry Davies, Cregg Bear and Adam Lewis. We were delighted to see Stewart Colclough and Zoltan Kojzsa all returning after lengthy absences while Raffy Gonzales was looking to go one better than his runner-up finish at the recent Cyclop Pool Series Grand Final.
The format would see the 48 players randomly drawn in a double elimination bracket. Once down to the final sixteen, the remaining players would compete in a straight knockout to determine the winner. All players who reached the single elimination phase would receive prize money for their efforts, ranging from 30 through to our first prize of 400. All matches on the day were races to seven, alternate break with all live streamed matches officiated our special guest referee, Vivian Ruscoe.
The draw took place on the preceding Wednesday, allowing play to commence at 10:45. With so much strength in depth involved there was always going to be big-name casualties in the opening rounds. What did come as a surprise was just how many of the favourites were sent to the one-loss side. Andy Worthington progressed to the single elimination rounds undefeated following wins over Carl Weaver, Kris Kovacs and Daniel Joe Baker. Alan Coton squeaked Dean Sporton (7-6) while Andy Lacey overcame Adam Lewis (7-2). On the streamed table Mark Gray whitewashed Mark Foster but Shaun Johnson needed a deciding rack as he edged out Apostolis Harmas. Benji Buckley and Zoltan Kojsza both cruised into the money with 7-1 victories over Matt Hawthorn and Daryl Garland respectively. Gabriel Vasilache and Alan Morgan also needed a thirteenth rack to reach a conclusion, Vasilache eventually coming out on top.
Along with the eight undefeated qualifiers there were still eight further spots up for grabs. Apostolis Harmas had earlier produced one of the results of the day as he sent Elliott Sanderson to the one-loss bracket. Despite a later loss to Shaun Johnson, Apostolis bounced back to progress at the expense of Luke Hart (7-6). Mark Foster proved too much for Andy Yates (7-1) while Terry Davies avoided an early trip back to the valleys as he toppled Dean Sporton (7-4). Adam Lewis shocked Kev Simpson (7-4) and Daniel Joe Baker turned a few heads as he trounced Kurt Weaver (7-0). Gareth Hibbert made light work of Alan Morgan (7-1). Spencer Oliver progressed at the expense of Matt Hawthorn (7-6) while Stewart Colclough was solid in victory over Daryl Garland (7-4).
The eight undefeated players were drawn against the eight loss-side qualifiers at random. Gareth Hibbert continued his great form with 7-3 victories over Gabriel Vasilache and Adam Lewis to reach the semi-finals, where he would meet Benji Buckley. Benji faced stiff opposition in Mark Foster and Shaun Johnson. He progressed 7-4 over Foster before clinching his semi-final spot with a deciding rack victory over Johnson. Apostolis Harmas showed just how good he can be with 7-5 wins over Andy Worthington and Andy Lacey. His semi-final opponent would be Stewart Colclough. Colclough eliminated Mark Gray in the round of sixteen (7-6) before ending Al Coton’s involvement (7-1) in the quarters.
Benji Buckley knew he was in for a tough test in the first of our semi-finals. Primarily known for his eight ball pedigree, Gareth Hibbert’s 9 Ball ability is highly respected on the GB9 Ball Tour. Unfortunately for Gareth his Solihull 9 Ball debut would end here, Buckley eventually triumphant (7-5). The second semi-final wasn’t as tight as Stewart Colclough dominated Apostolis Harmas, this one finishing 7-2, to set up a great final.
At this point it was well after 10 o’clock and, after a long day of quality 9 Ball, the pairing of Colclough and Buckley decided to an equal split the 600 prize money. With ranking points up for grabs, and the title of GO Customs Pool Series Event One Champion still to be determined, both players agreed to play a one rack decider for top honours. Colclough emerged victorious for his second Solihull 9 Ball crown.
Well done to Stewart for his victory, especially after tasting defeat in his first match of the day. It was great to see Apostolis Harmas back to his best and a pleasure to see Gareth Hibbert once again adapt to 9 Ball so effortlessly. The tournament threw up plenty of surprise results and justified our decision to revert to scratch tournaments throughout 2020.
Solihull 9 Ball would like to thank title sponsor GO Customs, ball sponsor Cyclop, template supplier Supreme Shark Rack and Rileys Sports Bar for helping to make this event the success that it was. A huge thank you also to referee Vivian Ruscoe for presiding over the streamed matches. It’s a busy few months ahead for Vivian and we wish her well for her upcoming tournaments. Finally we’d like to thank all the players who attended, because it would be impossible to hold quality events without your continued support.
Event Two takes place on Saturday 28th March. We are accepting entries on a first come first served basis so please act quickly to avoid disappointment.