We may have missed out on the sunshine at the Isle Of Man but the predicted fireworks did take place, both outside and on the pool tables.
With the top amateurs battling it out for the chance to turn professional next season and the top professionals looking for a better seeding ahead of February’s IPA World Championships, you could feel the tension in some matches, though it needs to be said that the camaraderie and respect among the players remained throughout regardless.
By Saturday lunchtime things were beginning to settle down a little and we were already playing the quarters of the amateur event, looking to get as many finals on the livestream as possible, though all eyes were unsurprisingly drawn to the professional event with £10,000 to the winner and the very best going in to battle from the off. Anyone who has read my previews in the past will know how difficult it is to pick a winner (or it might be my incompetence), but I came good this time around with thanks to Marc Farnsworth and his never say die attitude. Those who say the rankings lie were made to eat humble pie here when the finalists were ranked one and two, with Liam Dunster perhaps the pre-match favourite. All too often we quote the much-used phrase of “it’s a shame there has to be a loser” but in this case it was accurate as Marc fell over the line 8-7 after Liam uncharacteristically threw away a winning position in the final frame of the match. If you get the chance, please do watch it again on the IPA Youtube channel, it is a match that has absolutely everything, and is a true advert for the sport and the IPA.
The next day had plenty to live up to, but with three finals to get through we knew we were in for a treat and anyone tuning on for the first time would have struggled to identify either Dean Richardson or Liam Roberts as amateurs as the played out their final.
Both played incredibly well considering the lights, cameras, and arena set up that they are not used to, giving us another feast of pool before Liam came out the victor with a 7-5 scoreline and the chance to turn pro next season.
Meanwhile, the Open continued both in the background and on the streamed table but as the numbers left in dwindled, the Ladies had reached the semi-final stage. Harriet Haynes and Danielle Randle has a titanic battle before Harriet got through 6-5 while Amy Beauchamp led Rachel Tucker for large parts of her match before a stirring comeback saw Rachel go through 6-5 as well. The final was top class and a real advert for the Ladies game, but it was Harriet who came through 6-2 in the end to add another title to her collection.
With one tournament still running we continued with the ultra-competitive Open and by 8.30pm we were down to the final four of Shields, Davies, Rees, and Boyle – a way above average line-up by anybody’s standards. As Davies played Shields away from the glare of the tv table, Rees and Boyle went to war on the livestream with the Welshman coming through by seven frames to three, to meet his fellow countryman Cory who won by the same score. When it came to the final we knew we were in for some top-quality pool, even if Ben in particular makes it all look so easy sometimes, and with his break working better that Cory’s he came out victorious with another 7-3 scoreline. Magnanimous as always, Ben described Cory as the future of the game, and we are all convinced there are many more titles to be had for the pair of them as the IPA goes from strength to strength.
And so, with tidying up to go (these articles don’t write themselves you know), I will sign off for 2022 and return with my preview of the IPA World Championships in late January 2023 (feel free to enter here https://ipapool.com/product-category/2023-ipa-world-championships/).
The IPA would like to thank the people of the Isle Of Man who not only made us welcome throughout but supported the tournament in numbers, and helped with the construction and taking down of the equipment – we will be back!