The World Crokinole Championship (WCC) Committee works throughout most of the year to plan the day's events of the largest crokinole tournament on the globe. The Committee's planning is so extensive that registration has already opened for the 2015 edition on June 6th (details can be found at worldcrokinole.com).
There was some additional excitement with registration opening this year, as a new tournament schedule was also released. The two key highlights are additional games added for the doubles portion (going from 6 to 8 games in the preliminary round) and an earlier finish to the day.
The changes seem to be a no-brainer, but for many years they were made impossible due to a lack boards and tables being able to accommodate everyone playing singles at the same time. However, with more and more top quality boards being available every year, and a trend that's seen the tournament attendance drop in the last few years, the move to play all singles events simultaneously becomes practical.
If you ask around, almost every player has a suggestion for a tweak or complete overhaul of the WCC tournament structure. And while those suggestions vary greatly, a common theme has always been to extend the doubles preliminary round beyond 6 games. While the doubles games are longer than singles, the 6 games always felt like such a short window to determine the top competitors for the playoff portion.
Many years ago the structure made it nearly impossible to qualify for the playoffs without being flawless. If you consider that the competitive doubles category could have had anywhere between 80 and 120 teams, the short 6 game preliminary round meant not only did one have to hope to not face another top team, one also had to be perfect in all 6 games. In some years the 6th place qualifying score was 40 out of a possible 48 points (an average of more than 6 points a game).
When the Recreational Doubles category was added in 2009, it almost split the field in half, making the task of advancing to the playoffs still difficult, but now manageable. However, you would still see the odd top quality team missing out on the playoffs due to one bad game, or an unlucky draw of opponents.
Now with a preliminary round of 8 games, not only do you get more bang for your buck, but teams can afford to have a poor game, shake out the nerves and find their best shots without the pressure that one bad game, or one bad shot could ruin everything.
Overall, the addition of two games is very positive both for the competitive and casual player. While there are still changes I'd like to see (such as a championship match for the doubles title rather than ending at the conclusion of a round robin), this modification is enough to keep me satisfied.
Shifting the focus to the afternoon portion of the day, the singles play is scheduled to conclude a full hour earlier as the preliminary singles round will be followed by the playoff rounds without any large gaps for breaks. While the earlier finish will be appreciated by long distance travellers, it will also be much easier on the tournament volunteers who can often be there 2-3 hours after the last match has been completed.
The only potential drawback is those players (in recreational, competitive and cues divisions) who go the distance and play in the playoffs for both doubles and singles action. As the schedule doesn't offer a large break, it could be a very long day of crokinole for some individuals. This, however, should not be considered as too much of a concern. The competitors who find themselves in this position are often the ‘hardcore crokaholics' who would still probably enjoy playing even after 13 consecutive hours. On a side note, this change will make it impossible to drive to Waterloo to write an exam in between doubles and singles action.
The main point is that these schedule changes are very beneficial for the average tournament attendee, which should help grow, or at the very least maintain, the size of the tournament. In the mean time, these changes make the event more enjoyable for casual players, competitive players, and volunteers, which ultimately makes this a fantastic move by the WCC Committee in advance of the 2015 World Crokinole Championships in Tavistock, Ontario.
If you are looking to get started on your tournament preparations for the World Championships, the first move should be registering for the 2015 Golden Horseshoe Crokinole Tournament in Hamilton on January 31st. It promises to be another great stop on the 2014-2015 NCA Tour with a lot of strong players in attendance. More tournament details can be found here.