There is reason to be optimistic about the future of cue sports in Gauteng North, with Sports Challenges recently getting involved with grassroots 8-ball pool promotions under the brand Play More Pool.
It started three months ago when the ideal venue was identified in Mavericks Corner in Pretoria East, with enough quality pool tables to allow for decent-sized weekly grassroots tournaments.
Through the weekly tournaments, players qualified for monthly invitational-only tournaments. These monthly events in turn served as qualification criteria for the first quarterly Legends Invitational, which took place on 31 October.
From an initial group of over 100 players, only the 12 best made it in. Only a couple of them were seasoned veterans, while most of the field consisted of inexperienced players playing at their personal highest level ever.
The event started with round robin play in the preliminary rounds, with four groups containing three players each, and the best two from each pool making it through to the quarter-final knockout stages. There were a number of upsets in the group stages, and only five of the top eight seeds made it through.
The four players who showed better form on the night and topped their respective pools went unbeaten in the quarter-finals.
In the first semi-final Riaan Lubbe and Brian Alexander faced off in a hard-fought contest which ultimately saw Alexander prevail 3-1. In the other, Ryan Abdo had the same score line against new talent Marco Booyse.
All eyes were now on the final, where the winner would not only get a bigger share of the prize pot but also the prestigious top spot on the rankings, courtesy of a massive 748 ranking points.
The final did not disappoint, with the couple matching each other to a two-all draw and forcing a final frame. But well on his way to cleaning up the table courtesy of a foul by Alexander, Abdo returned the favour to award Alexander two visits by potting one of his opponent’s balls by mistake.
Alexander then used his opportunity to pot his remaining six balls without using a second visit. It was a close call on his last ball, but he finally cleared the table for victory to become the inaugural Legends Invitational Champion.
The qualification process for the next Legends Invitational at the end of February 2019 has since started and the footprint for the weekly grassroots tournaments has enlarged, with Cue Masters Pool Club in Gezina now also hosting these events every Tuesday night.
For more information or to get involved with grassroots 8-ball pool events, please visit www.playmorepool.co.za.
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