We are now in the run up to the 2005 Interleague Championship
event and all the teams are getting ready to do battle once more, as
always, the cream of England’s pool players will be in attendance
at Vauxhall Holiday Park, the theatre of dreams, for just about every
pool player who wants to play at the highest level.
This weekend is not just about the Interleague though; there are two
other major events that are played out over the Interleague weekend
to make the weekend a bumper event for a number of players for a number
of reasons .
To get the weekend’s events get underway, and ironically enough
it starts on the Thursday afternoon owing to the number of entrants,
with the English Qualifiers for the World Eight ball Pool Federation
World Championship. This is the event where all the countries cue
fight it out
for the four available spots for non England Squad members in the singles
event at the World Championships in Blackpool during May.
The success of the event has been phenomenal in terms of the numbers
wishing to enter the event and in the quality of the players competing
in it. For the lucky four it’s the chance to play in the World
Championships. But in order to do that the four who do make it through
will leave trail of devastation in their wake. For the 400 or so disappointed
players there will be in their ranks some top notch professionals,
a number of Ex Internationals countless County players as well as Interleague
players and a sprinkling of league players who think they have what
Whilst it’s good that everyone has a chance to qualify history
proves that only the very best actually make it. It’s hard to
explain it but its similar to a giant version of the Champions league
where the standard of play is so high in the first place that 60-70
per cent could qualify but as the rounds go on the “weaker” ones
get weeded out until eventually you are left with the cream of the
crop from that years entrants. The skill level needed to progress just
gets higher and higher as the rounds progress by the time you get to
the last few players trying to qualify the slightest touch of luck
can catapult you into the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Championships.
And quite often does but all the work to get that rub of the green
was done in the previous rounds. Another thing to remember is that
for that bit of luck one player gets there is another player who will
forever more cite that bit of luck as the reason they did not make
it. Such is the overall standard of pool these days that if you miss
just one opportunity to qualify you could well end up waiting a long
time for another one to come your way.
You always here players moaning about how unlucky they were in going
out of an event, as far as the World Eight ball Pool Federation World
Qualifiers is concerned you can say that if a players gets to the latter
stages then in nine cases out of ten players are usually telling the
truth when it comes to being on the wrong end of lady luck’s
mood swings. It’s the little bit of fortune that one top class
player gets that usually makes the difference.
What tends to get overlooked by the players is that they too, during
any match, had similar bits of luck, but for whatever reason failed
to make their opponent pay. It’s the accumulation of these missed
chances that kill the player not the one bit of luck the winning player
gets in the final frame of a match. That explanation however, will
not hold much sway with most pool players who will only focus in on
that one bit of luck that sent them crashing out of the event.
Luck of course will never help an average player to beat a top player
no Matter how much of it they get, baring of course, enough “in
off the blacks” to lose every match of a set. To date I have
not seen any player being blessed with this much luck in one match.
When all is said and done only four players will go on to compete in
the World Eight ball Pool Federation World Championships after some
400 players will have tried and failed. For them there is another chance
next year for the lucky four it will be a dream come true
The dream came true for last years qualifiers Darren Hope (Peterborough),
Phil Milam (Crewe), Matt Goodale (Spalding) and Rob Chilton (Dudley)
and this year there will be another four players getting the opportunity
to play for real in the World Eight Ball Pool Federation World Championships.
After the action of the World Championships which continue to run during
the day on Friday right up till around 7:00pm, it’s time
for the Men’s England trials qualifiers to do battle in the
England internal team trials to see who will be part of the England
World Championship squad and thereby iliminate the need to qualify
through the above mentioned Qualifiers. This event is for the players
who have qualified via the England team trials in March to be part
of the 15 man England squad for 2005/06 this includes some players
who are members of the current England squad but who have been sent
for re-trial because they had not been retained in England’s
squad. Pool is one of the few sports that continue with the belief
that it’s every player’s right to represent their country
if they are good enough to be able to beat those that
are already there.
There are also the players who are new to the England Squad this year
having just qualified via the trials in March it’s the chance
to claim a spot in the world championship team and join the 5 retained
players. Due to the numbers allowed in each national team by the World
Eight ball Pool Federation There are only three spots available but
eight England team members after one of those spots. Clearly, three
into eight does not go so the non-retained and New England players
have what we call an “internal team trial” to see which
three get the spots up for grabs. For the other five it’s one
of the biggest disappoints in Pool not to be able to play for your
country in the World Championships
The way it’s whittled down to the three is about as fair as
it can be given the spaces available. All eight players have to play
each other and at the end of that there will be three players who have
won most matches and will go to the World Championships as a member
of the England Squad. Whilst this may sound easy, just beat enough
of the other players and you are there. True, but when you see who
the players involved are you should be able to see how hard the task
of qualifying will be, players like Keith Brewer (Dorset), Bayden Jackson
(Notts), Dean Wisher (London), Neil Davey (Notts), Steve Mullan (Warks),
Jez Graham (Cornwall), Neil Toms (Herts) & Darren Suchley (London)
All the players will be in action from 7pm on the Friday where they
hope to get through four matches and then play the final three on Saturday
after the Interleague finishes for the day.
You can see that winning one match will be hard enough with the calibre
of player involved. As a guide the qualifying players have had to come
up with around 5-6 from their seven matches to get in. Each match is
played over the best of nine frames per match. Think about that, you
are playing the best of the best and you still probably have to win
5/6 of your 7 matches or you are more than likely on your way home.
I doubt that any player involved in the internal trials would be confident
enough to say they will get through. Obviously the likes of Keith Brewer
and Bayden Jackson will stand out as likely qualifiers but even they
know it’s far from easy to beat 5 or 6 other England players
back to back. However three players will do that and go on to represent
their country in the World Eight Ball Pool Federation World Championships
On Saturday morning at 9am prompt sees the start of the main event
of the weekend the National Interleague Championships. For the vast
majority of the assembled players this is the reason they are here.
much you can write about this event it has grown over the years from
an event where it easy to get in, even at the last minute, even Interleague?
Teams from other nations have been invited to bolster the teams involved.
That now is a thing of the past and the event can command a full to
capacity turn out each year. When the invites go out to the county
secretaries in early January for them to request how many spaces their
county would like there are usually 150-160 teams prepared to go if
they are invited. That means there are not enough spaces to go round.
The way the spots are distributed is that each EPA County registered
with the national secretary as playing Interleague within their county
are allocated two spots. In reality though each county typically, will
get three places if they asked for them and what ever is left after
that is allocated randomly amongst The Counties that asked for more
than three spaces.
Some of the bigger Interleague playing counties such as Kent asks
for a whopping 12-13 places. Their argument is that because they have
put the effort in and got so many Interleague teams playing within
the county that they should get more spaces, I think that they have
some justification when you consider that some counties only have six
teams playing Interleague getting the same allocation as Kent. That
said if, for example Kent get 12 spots then four counties loose their
automatic spots. So when push comes to shove it’s probably better
that we do it they way we do for the greater good of pool. I know some
people will think the opposite argument is better for the greater good
of pool. If that is the case then your county can always put a motion
forward at the next EPA AGM and see what the majority think.
The net effect of all this is that there are 96 happy teams from all
over the country and 60 odd disappointed ones hoping that they might
get a spot as a reserve team but that doesn’t happen too often
these days. Teams that get a spot understand that if they do not adhere
to the ongoing qualification deadlines the chances are that they will
be replaced swiftly.