It was a big weekend for crokinole as the two European hotbeds of crokinole clashed over the weekend in crokinole's first ever international match. Enthusiasts made their way to Essen for the 4th edition of the Belgian Crokinole Championships, but when 4 Hungarian players also decided to make the trip, a battle between Hungary and Belgium was set to take place.
If there was any thought that crokinole talent was limited to Canada, it could be easily wiped away by seeing some of the shots made in their respective national tournaments.
Crokinole Nations Cup
While some have said the re-emergence of crokinole is a back-lash to the new media of the 21st century, it should be noted that the idea for the international match came about from the Belgian Crokinole Facebook page) on the request of the Hungarian team.
With the annual tournament set for Saturday, the Friday evening before saw history take place. The visiting team from Hungary consisted of Dániel Létay, Dóra Salamon, Áron Deme, and Zsolt Rimar. As the 4-time Hungary champion, Áron Deme was certainly the marquee name. The hosts of Team Belgium assembled their own quartet of Sebastian Veraart, Dennis Vrints, Bert Costermans and Wesley Kuystermans. Dennis Vrints and Bert Costermans were the big draw for Belgium as they had already won the Belgian Crokinole Doubles title 3 years in a row.
Team Belgium took the early lead in the event, winning 3 of the 4 doubles matches, but the singles matches were a different story. Through the final 4 meetings there was one draw, followed by 3 consecutive Hungarian victories to win the first ever Nations Cup of Crokinole.
2017 Belgian Crokinole Championships
The city of Essen lays claim to being the crokinole capital of Belgium. Essen is very nearly the northern most point of Belgium and sits just below the border of the Netherlands. Not surprisingly the community of under 20,000 is comprised of mostly Dutch-speakers.
Dennis Vrints and Bert Costermans held on to their Belgian Doubles title after beating Áron Deme and Zsolt Rimar in the finals. It was the 4th title for Vrints and Costermans, also known as "Crok Monsieurs" as they remained undefeated.
Bert Costermans also held on to the title of top Belgian player as he advanced into the finals against Áron Deme. The level of play was extremely high in the finals as 2 Perfect Games were scored, and it was the Hungarian champion, Áron Deme, who took the top prize.
Truly it was a fantastic event, and one that leaves us North Americans envious of the closer geography that Europe has to offer, but also hopeful that crokinole popularity is rising across the globe.
Special thanks noordernieuws.be for their original stories, posted in Dutch, of both the Nations Cup and 4th annual Belgian Crokinole Championships.
Be sure to keep in touch with all of the news from Belgium by visiting their Facebook page.