There are some storylines that are too good to resist. The idea of a Justin Slater and Ray Beierling final at the Ontario Singles Championship in St. Jacobs on Saturday is a goldmine for all of the elements that make up a great match and a great rivalry. If they were to meet head-to-head in the final, it would be for both the Ontario provincial title, and the NCA Tour Championship.
The Ontario Singles Crokinole Championship will be contested at the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church this Saturday, May 6th. The tournament is the most historic event on the National Crokinole Association Tour, dating back to 1980, and includes such prestigious champions as Roy Roth, Leo Gaessler and Joe Fulop. But the stakes of the event have been raised since the inception of the NCA Tour in 2009, as the tournament has always served as the final stop with players jockeying for their NCA ranking.
The Battle for 1st
In October, it looked like this season may be the most boring of all NCA Tours as Justin and Fred Slater won the Ontario Doubles title. For Justin Slater, it was already his 4th victory of the Tour, which earned him the maximum possible point total of 200, with 7 months to go before the Tour Finale.
At the time, Ray Beierling was the only other player with a tournament victory that season, but after losing to Jon Conrad in the Owen Sound final, his chances to chase down Slater narrowed. But Ray Beierling's back-to-back victories over Justin Slater in the finals of the Hamilton and London tournaments have made the slim possibility become nearly reality. Ray Beierling can also reach 200 points with a victory in St. Jacobs, and since the NCA tie-breaker falls to the higher finish in the Tour Finale, it would be enough for the NCA Tour title.
Last year Justin Slater made history by winning his 5th consecutive Ontario Singles title, surpassing the all-time consecutive streak records of Ray Kappes and Joe Fulop, at 4 each. Slater has been dominant at this event, and there's only one more record to break: all-time Ontario Singles tournament victories. Joe Fulop still holds the record with 7 titles, and Justin Slater sits at 6 with a chance to level the score in 2017.
Plain and simple: for Ray Beierling to win the NCA Title he must win the St. Jacobs tournament. Justin Slater wins the NCA title with any result other than a Ray Beierling victory.
|Rank||Name||Points||4th Score||Max Score||Max Rank|
"4th Score" indicates the lowest tournament point total included in a player's score. This number helps calculate the "Max Score" a player would have if they win the final tournament.
The Top 3
Beierling and Slater are guaranteed to finish first and second, so only one stop remains to fill out the podium. Nathan Walsh currently occupies that slot with 186 points, but has to fight off challenges from 4 different players. A tournament victory from any of Fred Slater, Jon Conrad, Jason Beierling or Tom Johnston would vault them passed Walsh for 3rd.
For Slater, Conrad and Beierling there are also possibilities that a 2nd place finish in St. Jacobs could be enough to finish 3rd on the NCA Tour, but that finish would obviously have to be combined with Walsh and the other 2 not being the victor of the tournament.
The Top 5
It is highly likely that Walsh will join Justin Slater and Ray Beierling in the top 5 of the final standings,* so that leaves only 2 spots.
Andrew Hutchinson is the long shot to move from 8th into the top 5, which he can do only with a tournament victory, and ensuring at least two of Jason Beierling, Jon Conrad or Fred Slater finish outside the top 3.
Tom Johnston has better odds to finish in the top 5, thanks to his 1st and 2nd place finishes at the BC Provincial tournament. Even a 4th place finish in St. Jacobs could move Johnston into the NCA's top 5, so long the players ahead of him don't improve their rankings too much.
The same can be said for Jason Beierling, who currently occupies the 6th spot and trails Fred Slater and Jon Conrad by only 2 points.
- Nathan Walsh falls out of the top 5 NCA rankings in only these very specific outcomes:
- Tom Johnston wins the tournament, Jason Beierling OR Jon Conrad finish 2nd, and Fred Slater finishes 3rd.
- Jason Beierling wins the tournament, Jon Conrad finishes 2nd, Fred Slater finishes 3rd.
- Jon Conrad wins the tournament, Jason Beierling finishes 2nd, Fred Slater finishes 3rd.
So were are only one day away from the final crokinole event before the World Championships, and once again the NCA Tour is up for grabs. It promises to be an exciting day in St. Jacobs.