And so the final ball has been potted, the tables packed away and sold off ahead of brand new ones in time for the World Championships, and three more champions were crowned on the last event of the 2016 IPA pool tour which will be remembered for all the right reasons. With all the better players in attendance at the Brighton Hilton Metropole (always a popular venue with the seafront views from the restaurant), the action came thick and fast with match after match broadcast to thousands via the HD livestream that is frankly the best in the pool world, bar none. It’s been a huge huge year for the IPA with Coral seeing the potential for a sport already played by millions both in the UK and around the World and other sponsors eager to come on board, and with the 2017 season looking to be bigger better and more financially rewarding for the players with new venues and new events under discussion now really is the time to sign up if you see yourself as an 8-ball player with the Worlds open to all with entries being taken NOW at www.ipapool.com.
On to the pool itself now and the Open may have started with over 150 players but they were soon whittled down to the final four, leaving us with two classic semi-finals of Dan Davy v Andy McDonald and Gareth Hibbott v Craig Marsh, four of the top professionals on the tour and once again proving that the best really do rise to the top when the chips are down. First up we had a titanic struggle before Dan came through after a last frame decider 7-6 while Gareth had things slightly easier with a 7-3 win, and that may well have made a touch of difference when it came to Saturday night’s final. Breaking smartly from the traps the current World Champion quickly went 2-0 up and ever really looked back forging a lead of 6-1 before sharing the last two frames and adding the title of British Open Champion to a trophy cabinet that must be close to full by now with a 7-2 victory.
With value for money for the players one of the many keys to the success of the IPA tour over any of its rivals, the Professional Final comes next on our list and after knocking out Craig Marsh and Matty Smith respectively, all eyes were on what looked sure to be a classic final as Simon Ward took on rankings number one Marc Farnsworth in front of a packed house. Luckily for us it lived up to everything we ever hoped for advertising everything that is good about the blackball game with some amazing potting mixed in with tactics, skill shots, snookers, the lot – everything us normal folk wish we could do with a cue and a set of pool balls (but sadly in my case can’t). Like all of the great finals the pendulum swung one way then the other as Marc went 2-0 up and then 4-1 and 5-3 before Simon launched an unstoppable comeback levelling at 5-5 and 6-6 before winning the last two for an 8-6 victory that saw the prices make one player and then the other favourite almost frame by frame.
Last up on Sunday night we had the Amateur final (though you couldn’t tell, the standard is that high these days), when Andy Blurton was pitched up against Gavin Robinson who I believe was in his first ever IPA Final. Experience seemed to count, and despite some excellent pool from both players (they make it look so easy that we can quickly forget how tricky it is at this level), as Andy pulled away for a rarely in doubt 7-3 success moving him up the rankings ahead of next season.