Wednesday, 30 May 2012

If you've been there - The World Crokinole Championships

It’s an important skill in crokinole to keep yourself calm and focus on the game at hand. But it’s hard to contain your excitement as crokinole’s biggest day of the year approaches.
As some might say, "it’s just a crokinole tournament", or as my friends might say, "it takes place in Tavistock how big can it be?" My answer: "If you’ve been there you know."
 As you walk into the arena on what is always a beautiful sunny Saturday (with the exception of 2008 when Tavistock’s streets flooded) you can hear the buzz of the arena lights, mixed with light chatter and a consistent sound of wooden discs crashing into the ditch. Like I said, if you’ve been there, you know.
And then there's that feeling when you take your first shot, usually the most nervous shot of the day. But afterwards the tension leaves your fingertips as you remind yourself, "this is crokinole, I've done this before." And whether it's your first time at the World's or your fourteenth time, you still feel that pressure of when everything comes down to that last shot of the round, knowing that those 2 points could be what separates you from "still alive" to "maybe next year".
And then there's the feeling as the playoff qualifiers are posted, and you hope that the one missed 20 that cost you a point isn't what leaves you (and maybe even your partner) outside of the playoffs.
And then there's the tension that comes when the night has widdled the field down to two, and a year's worth of work comes down to one game that separates "I was so close" from "I'm the World Champ."
Sure it's only crokinole, it's only in Tavistock, and it's only $1000, but if you've been there, you know.

World Championship Quotes
"There's a thousand dollars on the line, let's get serious."

"You can be good, you can be good and lucky, but you have to be good, lucky, and have endurance to go all the way because it's a long grind. A long grind."

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Crokinole Videos

CrokinoleCentre's main function is to record, edit and create crokinole videos on the YouTube channel "lshgmail"

Although I have footage for the PEI and St. Jacob's championship matches, they will not be posted until after the World Crokinole Championships on June 2nd in Tavistock.

The delay is obviously due to the World Championships as most of my effort will be concentrated on practicing, and creating promotional videos for the tournament.

The first video has been made and can be viewed right here. I plan on making a longer one soon.

But if you can't wait for that try watching a few that I made last year.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Slater Returns to Victory, Cook Seals Third NCA Title

In 2010 Justin Slater proved he was one of the best players in the world as he won in Hamilton, finished second in London and at the Joseph Schneider Haus, before winning in St. Jacob's to tie Ray Beierling for first on the NCA Tour. A month later he would become the youngest ever winner of the World Championships.
A year ago he returned to Ontario after being away at university, but not in the same dominant form (although his third place in St. Jacob's and top 16 finish at the World Championships was still quite impressive).
But on Saturday, May 5, Justin Slater seemed like he had returned to his dominant form as he defeated Brian Cook in the finals to claim the St. Jacob's Crokinole Tournament final, while Brian Cook won his third NCA Tour title.

The day began with a field of 25 separated into 3 pools. In an elite field all games were tight, and the point gaps were small as players were separated into three groups for the second round. Making it into Group A was Brian Cook, Justin Slater, Jason Beierling, Eric Miltenburg, Jason Carter, John Conrad, Nathan Walsh, Greg Matthison, and Rob Mader.
In an extremely tight second round, Justin Slater, Brian Cook and John Conrad secured the top three positions, while three more players tied for fourth place, and the final playoff position. It was Jason Beierling who would win the tiebreaker and hold the final playoff position.

In the playoff round robin, the scores came down to the final game with Brian Cook taking first with 15 pts, Justin Slater with 13, and Jason Beierling and John Conrad on the outside looking in with 10.

There was a lot of excitement surrounding the finals, especially as it was a repeat of the 2010 World Championship final. Game 1 of the best of 3 final was closely contested. But as Justin Slater led 4-2, a tie in the 4th round of game 1 was the turning point as Slater would go on to take the final 5-3, 6-2.
Tournament and St. Jacob's Club Organizer, Howard Martin (left), awards the Tournament's Champion, Justin Slater.

The win gave Slater his fourth NCA title, while Ray Beierling claimed the top spot in the B pool, and Nathan Jongsma won the C pool.

Meanwhile, the St. Jacob's tournament capped off the fourth season of the NCA Tour, as Brian Cook won his third Tour. Only in the 2010 season was Cook unable to win the Tour, in a year where Justin Slater and Ray Beierling shared the Tour's top ranking.
Cook's win of this season won perhaps his most comprehensive. His worst finish in any tournament was a second, which he achieved in the 2011 World Championships and at St. Jacob's. In between those two were 6 consecutive wins in Belleville, Stratford, Owen Sound, Hamilton, and the BC Doubles and Singles titles. He dominated the season so thoroughly that only one other person earned more than one NCA title this season, which was Fred Slater, who scored both wins as Cook's doubles partner in Stratford and BC.
Brian Cook (centre) accepts the NCA's top prize from NCA Executives, Eric Miltenburg (left) and Greg Matthison (right).

Behind Brian Cook was Ray Beierling, who was in the top three for most of the Tour, and once he moved into second place on the Tour, after his runner-up finish in London, he did not relinquish it. This is Beierling's second runner-up finish on the Tour, both of which were behind Brian Cook.
The 2011-2012 Tour second place finisher, Ray Beierling.

Fred Slater was able to earn several points early in the Tour, and secured a high ranking after his trip to BC, which led to a doubles victory, and a second place singles finish. His third place finish this year backs up a solid second place finish last year on the Tour.
Fred Slater, the 2011-2012 NCA Tour third place finisher.

Jason Beierling had yet another solid season, where he captured his first ever NCA title in London. The win moved him to fourth on the Tour, a position which he sealed with a fourth in St. Jacob's. This was Jason Beierling's second fourth place finish on the Tour, and in its four years he has never finished worse than sixth.

So as another NCA Tour raps up, the focus shifts to the World Championships in less than a month's time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

NCA Tour - Ranking Race

The NCA Tour was founded in large part by Greg Matthison, with significant contributions from Eric Miltenburg, Ray Beierling, Brian Cook, and Joe Fulop. It's goal has been to grow the game of crokinole through developing and creating clubs and tournaments. Thanks to the NCA Tour, the game of crokinole has become more prominent in Ontario and has helped to establish crokinole connections across Ontario, Canada and even to a few locations internationally.
Beyond that, the NCA has provided a group of tournaments to track a player's success throughout the course of a year, and rank them against others. This has been very exciting as it provides players with an extra incentive to attend and perform well in tournaments. It has been especially exciting with regard to the St. Jacob's tournament, which acts as the NCA Tour Finals.
And since everyone is gunning for a particular year-end ranking, here is an analysis on the NCA Points Race heading into the final event of the NCA 2011-2012 Tour.
The current rankings can be found on the NCA website
The Race for First
Brian Cook has went undefeated since the World Championships last year, and has won titles in Belleville, Stratford, Owen Sound, Hamilton, and both in BC. It should be no surprise that he holds the number one ranking heading into the final event with 202 points. At worst, Cook can finish 2nd overall, and only Ray Beierling and Fred Slater could pull ahead. By finishing in the top 2 in St. Jacob’s Brian Cook would either win the NCA Tour, or tie Ray Beierling, if Ray were to win in St. Jacob’s. In any other case, Fred Slater or Ray Beierling could win the Tour by winning in St. Jacob’s.

The Trophy awarded to the winner of the NCA Tour.

The Top 3
The Race for the Top 3 is quite narrow. As mentioned, Brian Cook will either finish first or second. Ray Beierling and Fred Slater are guaranteed to finish first, second, or third. However, both Jason Beierling and Paul Brubacher can sneak into the top 3 by tying Fred Slater for 195 points. For both Beierling and Brubacher, this can only be accomplished by winning in St. Jacob’s and having Slater finish no better than 5th.
The Top 5
This is where the competition really heats up, with several possibilities. Cook, Ray Beierling, and Slater have already locked up a top 5 position, so only 2 spots remain. With so many scenarios that could play out, I will try to focus on the simpler ones. Jason Beierling currently sits 4th with 185 points, and Joe Arnup sits in 5th with 180 points. Outside of those two, 11 players have the ability to earn 180 or more points after the conclusion of the St. Jacob’s tournament. Only 7 of those 11 players have the possibility of earning over 185 points, which should be the bare minimum required to make the top 5. For most of these players, winning the St. Jacob’s tournament should secure them a top 5 spot, and anything less that winning may leave them a few points shy of the top 5
The Top 10
Every player inside the top 15 has the potential to jump into the top 10 with a win in St. Jacob’s. Beyond that, there are many possibilities too extensive to cover.
Once again, the NCA Tour will come down to an exciting finish in St. Jacob’s to cap off the 2011-2012 crokinole season.
The 2012-2013 season begins at the World Championships in Tavistock in June.