And we are back with another review from the SportyStuff Champions Cup this week with plenty of talking points worthy of a mention.
Before we get down to the action, it was very pleasing to see the camera work, sound, preparation and the all-round set-up improving day after day as we continue to make small tweaks in the search for perfection, and a massive thank you to everyone who reached out on social media to tell us how much you are enjoying both the pool and the programme.
On Monday afternoon IPA pro Dan Davy had his first match in this tournament and although not at his best, his nerves possibly held out a fraction better than opponent Jay Dewar to come home with a 6-2 victory. Both players took a little time to settle with the one-table format, tv cameras and lights an unsettling experience for everyone, but both players enjoyed their five minutes of fame and will have learned plenty from the experience. After winning Dan kindly moved in to the commentary box (isn’t it great when the players add their support to an event and give insights on the next match) as Lee Clough took on Toby Bolt for a place in the daily final. Lee started as the bookmaker favourite in this match but no-one told Toby who pulled off some stunning clearances on his way to a 6-1 success with poor Lee sat in his chair for far longer than he would have liked and barely getting a look in. Sadly for Toby, he just couldn’t bring the same form in to the evening session while Dan improved considerably on his afternoon efforts to win 6-3 and take his spot in the last sixteen.
Tuesday looked interesting on paper before they even lagged for the break and so it proved with the well-travelled Ronan McCarthy taking out Richard Swaffield 6-1 with a clinical display of both potting and tactics before my highlight of the day – IPA Chairman Kevin Barton versus Del Redmond. To be fair to Kevin (do I have a choice), he has been so busy working with the IPA that I doubt he has been near a pool table let alone practiced on one but to see him commit the first time foul of the event made my day. Tipped in Pickers Picks to go through (aka the kiss of death), Kevin looked rustier than my barbecue before bowing out 6-3 but to be fair, he wasn’t disgraced, and was sporting enough to take part – albeit for just the one round. Ronan against Del became the evening final and with Ronan’s reputation Del was always going to be the outsider, and so it proved. The 7-4 scoreline possibly didn’t do justice to Del’s efforts on the table after a performance he can be very proud of, but Ronan marches on and will be a tough opponent for whoever he faces in the next round.
One day to go this week and with a former World Champion in attendance we knew we were in for some high quality pool. Our first match up saw Chris Patrick against Gareth Higgins in what looked like a fairly even contest but despite a valiant comeback attempt by Chris, it was Gareth who came through with a 6-4 scoreline. A curious mix of unforced errors and sparkling clearances kept the audience entertained before Gareth Hibbott, the 2016 World Champion, came to the table after a stint in the commentary box. In races to six, a fairly short format, and with recent table time an unknown quantity thanks to Covid, you never know how match ready the players are, but although Matt Davies put in some decent clearances to claim three frames, it was The Godfather who came through despite looking a long way short of his best, leaving us with a battle of “the Gareths” in the evening session. We all expected a tight match and we were treated to a pool spectacle with both player looking invincible once they got to the table, meaning something had to give. Despite getting to five frames in the evening race to seven, it may well have been experience that saved the day for Gareth Hibbott who got through 7-5 in one of the best matches of the tournament so far.
Next week we see three more days of top class action from Monday to Wednesday, including previous World Champions Ben Davies, Jack Whelan, Craig Marsh and Tom Cousins as well as a long list of top players – and remember 2.30pm starts on Sportystuff.tv from now on – enjoy.