The first Saturday in June is just around the corner, which means the biggest day on the cues crokinole calendar is almost upon us. The World Crokinole Championship is the only tournament of the year that brings the world's best cues crokinole competitors together. Again, this June 7th, the most effective with "the stick" will congregate in Tavistock, coming from St. Jacobs, Kitchener, Milverton, and beyond! These "men (and ladies) with cues" will renew their longstanding rivalries in cues doubles in the morning and cues singles in the evening.
The Cues Doubles preview can be found here.
Finally, the highlight in the cues crokinole world, the cues singles division at the World Crokinole Championship: where your partner in the morning becomes a fierce competitor in the afternoon – all for the chance of taking home $300! Cues singles at the World Crokinole Championship has been growing in popularity and has become increasingly competitive over the last few years. It is difficult to pick a frontrunner, but following his first championship in 2013, Wayne Kipfer is arguably the favourite this year. Kipfer's consistent play is unparalleled in the cues crokinole world and his ability to strategize puts fear into the heart of even the best of his competitors. As unflappable under pressure as ever, Kipfer will look to add to his championship and two 2nd place finishes in cues singles.
The big question heading into this event is which Lorraine Proud will we see? Will it be the lady who won back-to-back cues singles championships in 2011 and 2012? Or will it be the one who failed to reach the round of 16 in 2013? When on her game, Proud is the toughest competitor and the best 20s shooter in the cues game. Last year's performance, however, failed to meet the high bar that Proud has set for herself – but you can be sure she will use that as motivation to climb back to the top of the cues world. A player on the ascent, Proud's doubles partner Carol Litt, will be seeking to build on her first ever top-four singles finish (3rd place) in 2013. Litt, having outdone her doubles partner for the first time in 2013, is causing everyone to wonder if we are seeing a "changing of the guard" or if last year was merely an anomaly.
Let us not forget about Wayne Schultz, the most decorated cues singles competitor in WCC history. Schultz has a record 8 top-four finishes, comprising of three championships, two 2nd place finishes, and three 3rd place finishes. However last year he failed to place in the top-four for the first time since 2005 – will he be able to get back into the money this year? Schultz, and fellow stalwart Floyd Kuepfer, are certainly two of the scrappiest players in the cues game. Even when they appear to be beat, they always seem to find a way to steal a couple of points from their competition. It is this tenacity that ensures each of them will always be a threat to make noise, or even win it all!
Another tough competitor who is always in the thick of things is Carl Litt. Just like Wayne Schultz, Carl Litt placed in the top-four every year since 2006 until being knocked out in the round of 16 last year. Rounding out the top competition in cues singles is Oscar Weber. 2013's 2nd place finisher is always a tough matchup. This year he'll be looking to add to his two championships and 5 top-four finishes.
In addition to the top-tier talent, there are a few others looking to bring home some money in the cues singles division. Will last year's fourth place finisher, Andrew Hutchinson, be able to keep up with his elders and challenge for a top-four finish again? Will Dave or Dennis Brubacher make it back into the money in singles for the first time in 4 years? Or will another from the extensive brood of Brubachers make a run into the top 4 for the first time? Will a consistent veteran, such as Raymond Schwartzentruber or Sam Wagler, place again? Will a relative newcomer, such as David King, Kelly Fischer, or Dave Martel, break through after their steady progression the last couple of years?
There are many questions heading into this tournament, but there's no question that Wayne Kipfer and Lorraine Proud are the cream of the crop. Yet they will be tested, as there are plenty of seasoned vets and newcomers alike looking for a shot to take their place in the spotlight! However things turn out, the 2014 World Crokinole Championships promises to be one of the most memorable cues events in recent history.
A full rundown of the fingers events will be provided in the coming week as the 2014 World Crokinole Championship approaches on June 7th.
Andrew Hutchinson is a competitive cues crokinole player who broke through in 2013 to finish 4th in the singles competition. He can be followed on Twitter in his preparation for the 2014 World Crokinole Tournament at @FavouriteHutch