The 2014-2015 National Crokinole Association Tour will conclude in St. Jacobs this Saturday, May 2nd, with the solidification of the final NCA rankings and the last look at player preparation before the 2015 World Crokinole Championship.
St. Jacobs is a town rich with history, and more importantly, crokinole history. While the location of the tournament has moved from the iconic firehall to the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, the tournament is sure to be filled with the heritage of years of crokinole played by the local club, and the revived Ontario Singles Crokinole Championship.
If you really want to get a feel for the town of St. Jacobs, try listening to Stuart MacLean of CBC's Vinyl Cafe put it into words. (You can download the show from St. Jacobs with this link, looking for the episode entitled "Stamps" - April 25, 2014)
Now crokinole doesn't make the cut into Stuart's opening dialogue, but its still worth listening to hear the ties of Darryl Sittler and Home Hardware to the town of St. Jacobs (along with the "dubious" origin of the town's name), and the local musical talent of Danny Michel.
The focus for this weekend however, remains as the important crokinole matches that are to take place this Saturday. Hanging in the balance is the NCA Tour Title, of which 3 familiar foes will battle for, and the Ontario Singles Championship, of which 2 have owned in the last 6 years.
Starting with a look at the NCA Tour Standings, what follows below is the usual chart displaying the current rankings, and the maximum possible scores and ranks that can be achieved with one event remaining (and 55 points for the 1st place finisher).
|Rank||Name||Points||4th Score||Max Pts||Max Rank|
Battle for First
As can been seen in the chart above, three players have the potential to come away with the NCA Tour title on Saturday. There's an asterisk next to Nathan Walsh's score, as a total of 204 points would only be enough to tie for first place, with the tiebreaker going to Justin Slater by way of more tournament victories.
Justin Slater holds the top spot and can seal the Tour title by finishing in the top 3. While a 4th place finish would earn 48 points, moving Slater's total to 205, a win by either Brian Cook or Ray Beierling would also push their point total to 205, as well as extend their number of tournament victories beyond Slater's current total of 2.
So the formula is simple for both Ray Beierling and Brian Cook. To win the Tour they must win in St. Jacobs, while also preventing Justin Slater from finishing in the Top 3.
Top 3 Possibilities
The battle to grab a spot of the NCA Tour podium adds some intrigue. While the aforementioned three players have a strong chance of finishing in the Top 3, if either Nathan Walsh, Fred Slater and Matt Brown cap off a strong NCA Tour with an Ontario Singles title, they could easily find themselves in the Top 3 at the end of the day.
While this tournament also runs as the Ontario Singles Championship, it is important to mention the past successes of a couple of players at this event. In the past 6 years, Brian Cook has won twice (2009, 2011), and Justin Slater has won 4 times (2010, 2012-2014). Slater's streak of three straight titles is impressive, and nearly historic. He already holds the NCA record for most wins in a single tournament, with 4. (Though it should be clarified that only 2 Brian Cook's 4 World Championship victories have come since the introduction of the NCA). Slater could also set a new NCA record of longest winning streak at an NCA event (his set of 3 victories is tied with Ray Beierling's 3 wins in London, and Brian Cook and Fred Slater's 3 wins at the Ontario Doubles tournament).
Also coming into the tournament with some strong history are Jon Conrad and Jason Beierling, who finished inside of the Top Four, 5 and 4 times respectively. It should be interesting to see what is in store for one of the most competitive crokinole events of the year. With most players looking to peak their crokinole form in the coming weeks, this could be a fantastic Saturday of crokinole.
The 7th NCA Tour has been one of the largest, both in terms of attendance and number of tournaments. Now it all comes to a close this Saturday in what is the penultimate event before the World Crokinole Championships.