Tour 5 report – Tower notches up 4th career IPA title

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Blackpool’s finest, Lee ‘the Tower’ Clough captured the final IPA Tour event of 2012 at the Hilton Gatwick in a thrilling climax against rookie finalist Ian Ali, by 8 frames to 6 – it was his second major IPA title of the year, after his televised Masters victory in March.

In a final of contrasting styles, it was the cool head of Clough that eventually overcame the ultra aggressive style of Ali in an entertaining final watched by an enthused crowd, plus the many thousandswatching via the high quality online streaming provided by Horizon tv.

Pictured: Lee Cloug

It was nip and tuck all the way with Ali generally holding the lead, but a key pivotal point in the match proved decisive. At 6 frames all, Ali had a routine clearance, only to inexplicably miss a straight forward black into the corner pocket. Clough used his many years of top-flight experience to calmly take out the clearance under immense pressure, and then proceeded to take out an equallyimpressive finish in the 14th frame for the victory. A trade mark fist pump demonstrated his relief at the win after a full day of top class 8 ball pool, and against the finest field of players to be found anywhere in the world today.

After the match, Lee commented “absolutely over the moon to have won this weekend. I came with no expectations, but have ended up taking the spoils. I started off slow in the early rounds and had some very difficult matches, but managed to find some consistency towards the latter stages. Two missed blacks, one by Ian, and one by Ben Davies in the semi final probably were the difference in the end”. On his thoughts for next season,

he added “2013 promises to be the biggest challenge yet, one that I am looking forward to immensely. It will be tough but exciting and I for one can’t wait”.

It was a fitting climax to a season that has seen no player dominate, with shocks galore along the way, which makes for excellent audience entertainment. This event was no exception with both ex World Champions Gareth Potts and Phil Harrison making early exits in the last 64, to Andy Blurton and Darren McVicar respectively, though neither player could manage to progress beyond the last 16, a testament to the strength in depth of the IPA Tour, which continues to be the toughest challenge for any 8 ball pool player.

Jez Graham found some much needed form to dump out 2011 World Champion Adam Davis in a deciding frame shootout in the last 32, before succumbing to the ever consistent Gareth Hibbott in the next round, while Wales’ Ben Davies continued his fine form of 2012 with a semi final appearance, only to lose out to the eventual winner in another final frame thriller. Other notable performances included Dave Williams reaching the quarters, beating 3 Professional players along the way, and Jordan Shepherd continued his impressive season, notching up another quarter final appearance, and adding himself to the ones to watch list for 2013!

In conclusion for 2012, it is Gareth Potts who retains his Number 1 position on the IPA Tour after all five events, so congratulations to him, but he will certainly be under pressure to keep that spot this time next year with the likes of Ben Davies and Ireland’s Ronan McCarthy hot on his heels. Clough’s victory cements his place at Number 4, with Ali moving up to 24, while there were also significant moves up the ladder from Shepherd, Craig Marsh, Clint I’Anson, Hibbott, Simon Ward and Rob Wharne.

All eyes are now focussed on 2013 and the move to Blackball rules amongst many other exciting developments for the IPA Tour where we will see if the strong Welsh contingent can continue their march up the rankings – but will it be the familiar faces taking the top prizes, will the new kids on the block come to the fore, or are there undiscovered talents out there in the world of black ball just waiting to take their chances?

Whatever the answer, it promises to be yet another enthralling season – watch it all unfold or better still, join in yourself and make sure your name is part of 8-ball history in 2013 and beyond.

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