The location was Bradford, the venue the Bradford Hotel, for the second intriguing stop on the 2017 IPA Tour and up for grabs were three titles – the Open, The Professional and the Amateur events, all in association with long term sponsors JLEC.
200 plus of the best pool players descended on West Yorkshire all eager not only for the titles, but to also sample the great atmosphere and camaraderie that engulfs each IPA event. As well as the usual suspects – with Professional Number One Marc Farnsworth leading the way, we also welcomed top snooker Professional Mark Allen, who had come to see what all the fuss was about.
We started off on Friday with the Open event, which was paused around 8pm for the Annual IPA Awards, which celebrate the fantastic achievements of these highly skilled blackball players we are all so lucky to have with us on the number one tour.
It was back to “work” on Saturday morning and it wasn’t long before the mouth-watering matchup between pool and snooker, Farnsworth v Allen, hit our live stream, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. A superb match ended in victory for Farnsworth with Allen left to rue a few chances that got away on a steep learning curve, but we suspect we will see him and some of his fellow snooker players again soon when commitments allow (interview here http://ipapool.com/2017/05/16/mark-allen-interview/).
On we went and the semi final line up was soon upon us (and ahead of schedule) which illustrates the speed at which matches are finished these days, such is the increase in standards. Farnsworth’s run came to an end in a thriller against IPA newcomer Jordan Church, and Tour 1 Winner Mark Boyle continued his excellent run of form with victory over Lee Wray, who was playing some of the best pool of his career.
For Church it was a step too far and a final to forget, though he will have learned form the experience and no doubt be back for more. For Boyle it was the biggest stage in pool to showcase his clinical talents, reeling off clearance after clearance with surgical precision. He raced into a 6-0 lead and despite a late flurry from Church to avoid the dreaded white wash, Boyle wrapped up a 7-2 victory to the applause of the huge crowd and the even bigger live stream audience. It was a truly sublime performance and one of the best we have witnessed, and only underlines what a force Boyle is in the game right now.
On to the final day and we had the JLEC Amateur and Professional trophies up for grabs. Despite a few scares, particularly against top Pro Neil Raybone, Farnsworth took his place in the final, but who would he be playing? IPA Most Improved player Andy Blurton was in his first IPA Pro semi final, but was up against IPA legend Ronan McCarthy but In a gripping final frame decider it was Blurton who calmly took out the finish and would move on to the final.
Farnsworth took the opportunity to remind us exactly why he is the Number 1 and ran out a convincing 8-3 winner to secure back to back titles in the Professional events – reinforcing his standings at the top of the pile and setting the bar at a high level for others to aim at.
The Amateur events as always are keenly contested, and the level of play on show was incredible. It looked like we were on for a repeat of the Wales Amateur event between Boyle and Clark, but Clark succumbed to rising star Phil Parkin. His opponent would be Boyle, who was looking to complete the double he narrowly failed to do in Wales. It was nip and tuck and Parkin had his chances, but he couldn’t repeat his semi-final form and Boyle yet again ran out a worthy winner, to complete a historic double.
In another IPA first, the live stream was broadcast into China and they were duly treated to some high quality blackball pool courtesy of the stars of the IPA, which will surely have whetted their appetites for more, and we look forward to continuing to broadcast to them at all our future events.
So everything was duly packed up and (sadly) put away until the next event when the IPA roadshow moves on to what will be the biggest event in its history at the home of Newcastle United Football Club – St James Park, from the 23-25th June. Don’t miss it, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or via www.ipapool.com to keep up to date with all the details.