Solihull 9 Ball’s first ever series reached its conclusion last Saturday, 29th June 2019, as 16 top cueists were invited to host room, Rileys Sports Bar Solihull, to compete for the accolade of becoming our inaugural series champion. The tournament would see the premier of our live stream as well as up to the minute live scoring thanks to the introduction of tablets at each of the eight match tables.
In the week prior to the event, qualifiers Darren Saxby and Chris Patient were forced to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances. Their places were offered to the 17th and 18th placed players, Mark Eardley and Elvis Mladinescu respectively. Unfortunately Mark was unable to attend but 19th placed Julian Roper accepted our invitation to complete the line up.
The day’s format would see the sixteen man field reduced to 8 during the double-elimination phase, while the straight knockout phase would see the quarter-finals randomly drawn. With previous results or seedings disregarded this format promised to provide quality match-ups at every stage. All matches were a race to 9, played off scratch with alternate breaks.
The first game on the streamed table saw a masterclass from Elliott Sanderson as he dominated Ryan O’Neill. Ryan avoided the dreaded whitewash by winning the 9th rack but Elliott closed out the match with one of the shots of the day, a deliberate one rail kick at a 2/6 combo with the six ball bumping into the nine ball, which was hovering within a diamond of the corner pocket. Last minute stand-in Julian Roper bested Craig Hirst (9-4) but Elvis Mladinescu, himself a late addition to the line up, was beaten by Jan Ibrahim (9-3). Benji Buckley, Luke Hart, Stewart Colclough and Dave Evans all progressed to the last eight without tasting defeat. O’Neill was eliminated by Roy Kimberley in a dramatic hill-hill decider while Elvis Mladinescu also needed all 17 racks to get by Kris Kovacs. Craig Hirst resigned Daryl Garland to tournament directing duties, inflicting a 9-7 victory in a scrappy encounter. Apostolic Harmas put a heavy defeat to Al Coton behind him as he beat Mark Stephenson and Julian Roper to reach the quarter finals. Locals Al Coton and Jan Ibrahim qualified for the money stages in contrasting fashion. Coton breezed by Craig Hirst, conceding just 3 racks, while Ibrahim needed a last rack decider to oust Roy Kimberley. Elliott Sanderson came from behind to eliminate Elvis Mladinescu to make up the final eight.
From this point on it was single elimination. Buckley versus Sanderson could easily be a GB9 final but the random quarter final draw pitted two of the event favourites together in a huge clash. Elliott went up 4-3, Benji replied with three racks on the bounce to go 6-4 ahead and the two then shared the next four racks to make it 8-6 to Benji. Elliott pulled within one and when Benji snookered himself, during rack 16, Elliott pounced and made no mistake in running the remaining balls to draw level. Elliott Sanderson took the final rack to eliminate Benji Buckley 9-8. The three remaining quarter finals were not as close. Coventry 8 ball convert Luke Hart looked back to his best following a recent injury, which had temporarily hampered his game. Luke eased by Jan Ibrahim 9-3 while Al Coton defeated Dave Evans by the same scoreline. Dave has been brilliant during the series and can be proud of his level of performance throughout the four tournaments he has attended. Stewart Colclough clinched the last semi-final berth with a comfortable 9-4 win over Astopolis Harmas.
Another big match followed on the streamed table as Stewart Colclough looked to dispose of Elliott Sanderson in the first of our semi-finals. Colclough’s run eventually brought to an end by Sanderson who took this one 9-6.
On table 22 it was Solihull’s Al Coton versus Coventry’s Luke Hart in the A45 derby. Unfortunately for Luke his fantastic run reached a brutal conclusion, Coton running out a 9-3 winner.
The final saw Elliott Sanderson and Al Coton looking to become the inaugural Solihull 9 Ball Series Champion. Given Al’s great form throughout the day he will have been disappointed to only chalk up two racks as his younger adversary hit a gear when it mattered. Elliott pulled away to clinch the crown, and the winner’s prize of £500, by a 9-2 margin.
Well done Elliott Sanderson for his second event win during our series, and commiserations to Al Coton, beaten in his second final. However, when he looks back over his campaign he can take great confidence in his performances this year, and hopefully his great form continues in to the GB9 UK Open, taking place in a few short weeks time.
So the 2019 Series is in the books. We have come a long way since our first event back in January and we know there is still plenty of room to improve and evolve. If you did attempt to watch our live stream then we can only apologise for a handful of blips we encountered throughout the day. This is all part of the learning process for us and we strive to deliver a more consistent stream next time. The cuescore tablet system worked well and is here to stay.
Thanks yet again to our sponsors for their contributions to our season: Supreme Shark Rack, Rileys Sports Bar, GO Customs, Taom Billiards and www.pro9.uk. While Solihull 9 Ball’s success is certainly down to the efforts of all three of us I’d personally like to thank Daryl Garland and Andy Carter for their hard work and sacrifices behind the scenes. They have been organising tournaments at Rileys since late 2017 and both must be commended for their commitment to excellence. Finally, thanks to you, the players, for supporting our events along the way.
We are having a month off but will be back on 10th August for our Team Championships. Be sure to check our website, Facebook and Instagram pages for information about upcoming tournaments and new sponsors.
Solihull 9 Ball