First off, that has to be the best crokinole poster I've seen yet. It's almost as if Eric Miltenburg got them to pose for those positions just for the purpose of making the poster. But more importantly, the poster shows what we are all thinking: "This is the finish we want to see."
On May 11th, the crokinole community will meet in St. Jacob's for the Ontario SIngles Championship and the finale to the 2012-2013 NCA Tour. And three different men have legitimate chances of claiming the top prize as Jon Conrad sits in first with 204 points, Brian Cook in second with 200 points (with a potential score of 205), and Fred Slater sits in third with 197 points (and a potential high score of 207). Ideally, every NCA Tour would come down to a final tournament showdown where everything is on the line, but this year has probably been closest.
In the 2009 season Brian Cook entered St. Jacob's with 155 points out of a possible 160. Only Ray Beierling had a chance to catch him, needing a win and Cook not making the final just to tie for the top prize. Cook won the St. Jacob's tournament and the Tour title.
2009-2010 was a close season, but mostly due to the fact that the St. Jacob's tournament offered a substantial boost in point totals, giving 65 points to the winner, while the World Champion only received 55 points for his efforts, and any winner of a regular tournament only earned 50 points. So while the Tour came to the exciting conclusion of a tie for the top prize with 209 points for both Ray Beierling and Justin Slater, this was mainly due to the point allocation system in 2010, which was promptly scrapped the following year.
2010-2011 had the potential to come to an exciting finish, with defending World Champion Ray Beierling near the top of the leader board, while Brian Cook "cleaned up" in mid-season. However, with Ray Beierling absent for the final tournament, Brian Cook only had to withstand the challenges from Fred Slater, Jon Conrad and Eric Miltenburg who faced extremely long-odds coming into the final tournament.
And in 2011-2012, the potential for an exciting finish was quickly diminished following the first round of play. As Brian Cook led the Tour, only Ray Beierling and Fred Slater could earn the top title with a victory, and a lower the top 2 finish from Cook. However, only Cook advanced to the top group for the afternoon play, securing the overall title.
So in the 5th season of the NCA, we have our most exciting finish yet. Here's a portion of the table shown in the last blog.
|Rank||Name||Points||Low Score||Maximum Score|
In the race for first, there are a number of scenarios that could occur. Let's break these out by player to see what must occur for each to earn the 2013 NCA title.
Jon Conrad, as the the reporters say, "controls his own fate". To ensure the Tour title Conrad must:
- win in St. Jacob's or finish in 2nd
- finish 3rd while Fred Slater does not win the title
- finish 4th while Cook and Slater do not win
- finish outside the top 4, while Cook does not win and Slater does not make the finals
There are also scenarios where Conrad could share the Tour title:
- finish 3rd while Fred Slater wins
- finish 4th while Cook wins
- finish outside the top 4 while Slater finishes 2nd
Simply, Cook must win in St. Jacob's. If Conrad:
- finishes lower than 4th, Cook takes the title
- finishes 4th, the two tie for the Tour title
- finishes in the top 3, Conrad earns the NCA title
Slater's scenarios are also simple. To win the title Slater must win the St. Jacob's tournament while Conrad finishes outside the top 3. Or to tie for the NCA title, must win in St. Jacob's while Conrad finishes 3rd.
The Top 3
Only 4 players have a chance to finish in the top 3, and they are the aforementioned NCA Tour seekers, plus Ray Beierling. Conrad and Cook are both ensured a place in the top 3, while R. Beierling can grab a spot on the podium with either a win in St. Jacob's while F. Slater finishes no better than 4th, or Beierling can finish 2nd while Slater finished outside the top 6.
The Top 5
The race for the top 5 is a bit misleading. Louis Gauthier trails Jason Beierling for the 5th spot by a large 12 points, but also has a good deal of room to improve on with a score of 39 that he can remove from his total. Now Gauthier would still likely have to finish in the top 2 to steal a spot in the "Fab 5", but this is not all to unlikely for someone who finished 3rd in Hamilton after beating the current world champion in the 3rd/4th place game.
The Top 10
Although you probably won't get any certificates for just a top 10 finish, it's certainly a nice feeling to end out the NCA season knowing that you are ranked among the top 10. Here's the remainder of the list, containing all those who can earn a top 10 finish.
|Rank||Name||Points||Low Score||Maximum Score|
It's amazing to see that Justin Slater could foreseeably earn a top 10 finish even after playing in only 3 events during a year.
While there are possibilities that 6th place Louis Gauthier could fall out of the top 10, we'll ignore covering the extremely unlikely scenario in which that might happen. I may even suggest that Eric Miltenburg's 163 points will be enough to make the top 10, but seeing as how 10th place last year had 175 points, I suppose it should not be assumed to occur.
Looking at "the cut-off man" of Clare Kuepfer, sitting in 10th with 158 points and a potential score of 175, let's assume that Clare finishes in St. Jacob's exactly what his NCA ranking suggests. That is to say in 10th.
That will give him 42 NCA points, for a total of 162. That means that for most of those currently outside of the top 10, a finish somewhere within the top 7 will be required to make the NCA top 10.
And if you are not looking at this tournament for the NCA Tour race, perhaps look at it as the final tuneup for the 2013 World Crokinole Championships. Rest assured, we will begin building towards that tournament immediately after the conclusion of the 2012-2013 NCA Tour.