The IPA are back after giving the players a well-deserved summer off, with the International Open from the Hilton Double Tree in Coventry this weekend, from Friday through to Sunday.
For those unfamiliar with the IPA, they are the only official professional body for 8-ball pool and put on numerous tournaments each year, with the 2024 World Championships in Newcastle next February the obvious highlight. Before then there are trophies, money, ranking points, and kudos up for grabs this weekend with 21 pool tables in action for the three days to allow 257 players to take their chances against the very best players in the World today. Everyone who has paid to enter will get their money’s worth with more than one tournament to compete for, with the Professional, the Open, the Amateur, and the Ladies all there for the taking – if you are good enough, of course.
With free entry for spectators and live coverage on both the IPA Youtube channel and Billiard TV via numerous options throughout the world including Samsung TV plus (US and India), YouTube TV, XUMO, LG, Sling TV, Fubo, Xiaomi, Local Now, Plex, TCL, sports.tv, The Grio, SportsTribal TV, Distro TV, Freebie TV, Rad TV, RedBox, Freecast, Stremium, Channel Box and Streamstak, Triple-B Media’s owned and operated platform, all bringing “small table” pool to bigger audiences than ever before.
Naturally this weekend will be as competitive as ever, but my job is to try to pick out a name or two that I feel can go all the way in their respective tournaments – so here we go.
I rarely if ever get this one right, but that is no great surprise to anyone. Think trying to find the winner of the Grand National, it’s that tricky, with a long and tough route taking its toll as the weekend goes on, and plenty if not all of the top players capable of beating each other – if they get the run of the balls which we all need at times. At this level you need both ability on a pool table and the mental strength to keep going when things don’t go your way, and that is the part most pub players don’t take on board – playing a race to eight against a top player when you are dry breaking then going again a couple of hours later after battling though isn’t as easy as some believe. Having said that, the top cueists have that in their locker (I run out of focus in a best of three), and you can look at the rankings to get a pretty good idea who will be there or thereabouts when the chips are down. Whoever I pick will upset the others, but the job has to be done and I am siding with “Mr Magic” Mark Boyle in an event I can see being dominated by the Scottish players. Mark is considered by many to be the top player around on recent form and if he can carry that into this event he will take all the beating (with the luck of the draw, of course), though I also have to give a shout out to Ross Fernie who I think is set to end the season with a bang, and who may be his main danger.
The pros and the amateurs get mixed up here as you can imagine, and although you will see me constantly writing about how good the amateurs are (future pros in many cases), it is a rarity for one of them to come through and lift the trophy – pros are pros for a very good reason. Marc Farnsworth is my “go to” here with his outstanding record over the years, clearly one of the best players of all time, but on this occasion (sorry Marc), I will side with World Champion Clint I’Anson. His confidence has quite rightly been boosted considerably by his 2023 success as witnessed by a winning money match last weekend, and if that hasn’t tired him out too much, he may continue his rise up the pro rankings this weekend.
It is a fact that predicting any winners is a thankless task but the amateurs regularly prove beyond me – by a country mile. If I failed to mention it earlier, the fact is that anyone can enter IPA Amateur and Open tournaments, and although I can head off to the latest rankings, who knows if a local or new player will turn up and knock out one or more of the more fancied contenders? Kian Monaghan heads the current rankings and is one for the shortlist once again here, but Nicky Griffiths is ranked at two and may be the one to be on. He is slowly coming back to his best after time away from the game, and although we can only second guess how much time any of these players have been putting in on the practice tables, if he has done his hours then he could be the one to beat.
I cannot emphasise enough just how much the Ladies game has improved over recent years with more players joining and the standards improving week on week, tournament on tournament. The influx of new talent has only served to spur on the top players over the last few years to keep getting better, with Deb Burchell rising once more like a phoenix from the ashes to take her place as the current number one. A former World Champion in her own right, she has welcomed the competition and upped her game accordingly, and if she is on form this weekend, I won’t be looking anywhere else for the likeliest winner.
For more information or to sign up for future tournaments, visit www.ipapool.com and folw us on twitter, facebook, and instagram.
IPA YouTube and other channel live times this weekend.
Friday 3pm to 10pm
Saturday 1pm to 11pm
Sunday 11am to 9pm