The semifinal singles match from the 2019 World Crokinole Championship between Justin Slater and Roy Campbell.
The semifinal singles match from the 2019 World Crokinole Championship between Justin Slater and Roy Campbell.
As you likely know, the big crokinole domino fell earlier this week when the World Crokinole Championsip Committee announced the cancellation of the 2020 event. Most would likely look at the decision as appropriate considering the circumstances, but it can still be hard to handle.
To cope with the announcement, two crokinole players discuss:
For reference, below you can find the official statement released by the World Crokinole Championship Committee:
Since Roy Campbell first teamed up with Jeremy Tracey in 2017, it was clear that they had the makings of a championship doubles partnership. And although they often came close (including 2nd place at the 2018 World Crokinole Championship doubles, and 3 consecutive top four finishes at the Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championships), they never were able to quite get over the top. That all changed on Sunday at the 4th annual Paddyfest Crokinole Tournament, when Roy and Jeremy were both playing near flawless crokinole on their way to their first doubles championship, including a dominating 11-3 victory over Ray Beierling and Andrew Hutchinson.
The theme of the Paddyfest tournament is always a mix of casual and serious competitors, folks dressed in green in honour of the Emerald Isle, loud music, louder celebrations, and plenty of beer. And despite the smaller turnout this year, all of the above elements remained. Originally, 29 teams had signed up for the 2020 edition but due to the rapidly spreading impact of Covid-19 (more on that topic later), a number of teams chose to withdraw beforehand, leaving a field of 18. The Paddyfest organizers should always be commended for their work in organizing this festival, but especially this year. Like event organizers across the globe, they were faced with the tough decision of whether to run or cancel not just the crokinole tournament, but a slew of events that are popular with the community. In the end they decided to run the smaller events while cancelling the larger events, including the end-of-festival concert. In challenging times, the Paddyfest organizers made the best of the situation and ran a first-rate event.
The 18 teams started the day in a WCC-style rotation where half the teams rotated clockwise and the other half rotated counterclockwise for 7 total games. After the games, the results were tabulated and teams were broken into 3 groups of 6 teams each: A group, B1 and B2 groups. These three groups would play a full round robin, with the top 2 teams in A advancing to the A finals, and the B1 and B2 group winners playing off in the B finals. The preliminary round saw the 4 teams with regular NCA competitors (Ron Langill and Peter Carter, 50 pts; Thunderstruck - Ray Beierling and Andrew Hutchinson, 49pts; High and Tight - Reid and Nolan Tracey, 47pts; and Hot Shots - Roy Campbell and Jeremy Tracey, 43 pts) advancing to the A group, along with a couple of the local contingent: (Doug’s Boys, 37 pts and Phickin Pucks, 36 pts). The B1 and B2 groups would be equally divided between the remaining 12 competitors, which included some impressive preliminary scores from: Bumper Bruisers, 30 pts; Jeff and Robert, 29 pts; and Kaila and Mike Martin and the Finger Puppet Mafia, each of which ended with 25 pts.
After a quick lunch, the teams reconvened in 3 groups. At the end of the 5 game round robin, B1 saw Bumper Bruisers (29 pts) narrowly edge out the Finger Puppet Mafia (27 pts) and handily surpass Net Flicks, who were chilling in 3rd with 18pts. In B2, Jeff and Robert retained their strong form with 33 pts, easily surpassing the closest rivals Kaila and Mike Martin (27 pts) and Just for Laughs (19 pts). In the end, Jeff McKeen (who recently made his NCA debut with a strong finish at the Golden Horseshoe Crokinole Championship) and Robert Nicol (who was participating in his first tournament ever) comfortably bumped off the Bumper Bruisers to claim the B Championship.
The A group saw 2 teams jump to early leads after the first 3 of 5 games. Campbell/Tracey scored 22 out of a possible 24 points. Not to be outdone, Beierling/Hutchinson earned all possible 24 points. At this point, it was clear that the 2 spots in the finals would come down to a 2-team race, the question would be who would earn first seed. The 2 favourites faced each other in the fourth game with Campbell/Tracey earning a 5-3 victory (and avenging a 6-2 loss in the preliminary round). When the round robin was complete, Campbell and Tracey earned the first seed with 35 points, Beierling and Hutchinson had 31 points to easily secure second place. Third and Fourth place belonged to the Tracey boys with 22 points and Peter and Ron with 18 points. Rounding out the A group were Doug’s Boys with 9 points and Phickin Pucks with 5 points.
Thus, after the preliminary round and the A group round robin, two teams were left standing. Roy Campbell and Jeremy Tracey, who were in their first Paddyfest finals (they had finished 2nd in 2017 to Jon Conrad and Andrew Hutchinson, when the champion was decided by a round robin, and had missed out on the finals in 2018 and 2019). Facing the perennial partners, were the interesting pairing of Ray Beierling and Andrew Hutchinson. Ray, of course, is well known as one half of the most successful doubles team, as he has always partnered with his brother Jason for the last 20+ years. However, due to a curling tournament, Jason was not able to make it. Ray was interested in playing in his first Paddyfest tournament, so was looking for a partner for the day. Andrew Hutchinson, on the other hand, has never had a consistent doubles partner; he has mostly played with Jon Conrad (with whom he partnered to win the 2017 and 2018 editions of Paddyfest, as well as the most recent ODCC tournament) but has also played with a couple of other top players in tournaments, namely Connor Reinmann (2018 ODCC) and Jeremy Tracey (2019 US Open Doubles). So Ray and Andrew joined forces in what appeared to be a promising partnership. And they lived up to that promise until they ran into the wrecking ball that was Campbell/Tracey in the finals.
The finals was set up as a first to 11 affair, and with top seed Campbell/Tracey had earned the right to first hammer which they used to gain a 2-0 lead. Three more wins saw them jump to a quick 8-0 lead. All of these rounds followed a similar pattern: Beierling/Hutchinson struggled with their open 20s, giving Campbell/Tracey an early lead to work with, which they defended with precise defensive leaves. Beierling/Hutchinson, in turn, were forced to take chances which either set their opponents up, or when successful, their adversaries simply answered back with an open 20 which Campbell/Tracey were strong on all game. Beierling/Hutchinson were starting to enter desperation territory as they began the 5th round without the hammer, and again they were first to miss an open 20 and were forced to fight back from behind. This time, however, they were able to crawl back into the round, and put the pressure on the leaders. Yet, Campbell and Tracey continued to hit open 20s, including Tracey’s hammer shot that clinched a tied round after each team hit 9 20s. Beierling/Hutchinson were down 9-1 but had finally managed a point. However, they were not able to build on the momentum of their strong 20 shooting the previous round, quickly finding themselves behind in the next round. It looked like Campbell/Tracey were going to win the round and the championship, until Campbell scored a 20 for the opponents on his last shot to turn the round in Beierling/Hutchinson’s favour, allowing them to pull to within a score of 9-3. And while Beierling/Hutchinson were hoping that would be the break they needed to surge to an epic comeback win, it ended up to be a mere hiccup for Campbell/Tracey, who proved to be like a cat playing with a mouse for sport before going in for the kill. Campbell/Tracey didn’t allow the previous round’s error to get to them, and continued their near flawless play, winning the deciding round handily to cement the championship game by an impressive 11-3 score.
CrokinoleCentre has already had a couple posts reviewing the 2010s with the fine lens of hindsight, and this penultimate post about the previous decade will look at the best performances of the decade.
Previously the best CrokinoleCentre matches were ranked, and this post will expand from looking at solo matches to looking at a player, or team’s, total performance throughout a single tournament.
For the purposes of this post, impressive will be an all-encompassing term that could include performances that range from surprising, to dominating, to admirable. To reach for examples from the more commercially popular sports, examples that exemplify these criteria would be Tiger Woods US Open victory with an injured knee, Lewis Hamilton’s dominating win at the 2008 British Grand Prix, Michael Jordan’s flu game, and Bobby Baun’s overtime winner with a fractured ankle. Most of those sports are nowhere near as exciting as crokinole, so it tells you how incredible the performances were that the achievements remain memorable today.
Since crokinole’s greatest achievements aren’t hammered into the public eye with front-page newspapers and repetitive advertising campaigns from a multinational sportswear corporation, their respective prestige has been carried forward through the collective memories of the crokinole community. And now here they can be somewhat officially recognized.
They’ll be no ranking of these achievements, due to irrepressible subjectivity, so instead they will be listed chronologically.
In the Fall of 2010 the Beierling brothers held the first edition of a soon to be staple event on the crokinole calendar when they hosted the Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship. Brian Cook and Fred Slater partnered together for the first time, which offered the crokinole world the chance to see Cook back in doubles action (something he had not participated in for many years at the World Championships).
It was expected they would make a formidable pair being that Cook was undoubtedly near the top of the game, and Fred Slater had partnered with Justin at the 2009 Worlds to finish 3rd and prove his own doubles prowess. They earned the top seed for the playoffs with 87 points, one point ahead of the Beierlings, and a decent ways ahead of Conrad/Kiggins and Brown/Brown.
In the championship final 4 round robin, they were nearly perfect. Cook and Slater won 22 out of a possible 24 points, and ultimately won the ODCC title by 12 points ahead of Conrad/Kiggins in second, for one of the most dominating doubles playoff performances in competitive crokinole. (Just edging out the 2017 ODCC playoff performance from Connor Reinman and Nathan Walsh who scored 20 out of 22 possible points in the semifinals and finals that year.)
Throughout the decade there were a number of surprise storylines that came from unknown, or at least unheralded, players. Some of those strong performances were the first of many, while for others it would be their crowning achievement of the decade. Several come to mind, such as Eric Miltenburg’s 2011 London runner-up finish, Ray Haymes 2nd place at the 2013 World Championships, Andrew Hutchinson’s 2016 Hamilton finals appearance, Connor Reinman’s trip to the final 4 at the 2017 Worlds, and Darren Carr’s title challenge at the World Championships in 2019.
Considering performances of this ilk, the most impressive has to be that of Julian Chalmer’s 5th place finish at the 2011 World Championships. At the time there was a near-mystery surrounding a supposed group of Canadian teachers, working in China and organizing their own self-titled Chinese Crokinole Championship. According to a source (unnamed not for anonymity, but rather failing to remember), it was there that Julian Chalmers honed his skill and even won his first tournament.
Even after Chalmers finished 3rd at the 2011 BC provincial event (behind Fred Slater and Quin Erzinger) few would have expected a terrific World Championship performance. That’s in part because he was living in BC and few have travelled that distance to the WCC. Which is when the 2011 WCC’s biggest storyline became to emerge, as a fundraiser was setup and ultimately was successful in sending Chalmers to Tavistock on the first Saturday of June.
He impressed immediately by winning the Intermediate division, and was granted special exemption to participate among the adults. After making the Top 16, finishing 12th out of 81, Chalmers put together a valiant effort to score 30 points in the round robin, but miss making the final 4 by 1 point. It was Ray Beierling and Tom Johnston who finished ahead of him, but by Chalmers surpassing Nathan Walsh, Ab Leitch and Justin Slater, he certainly proved age wasn’t a factor.
Conrad’s 2018 World Championship run could have easily made this list. It wasn’t widely talked about, but days before the event Conrad was overcoming a bout of vertigo that put his participation in question. Amazingly not only did he play, he soared to finished 2nd in the preliminary round, 2nd in the Top 16, 1st in the Top 4, and then nearly came away victorious in the classic final match against Justin Slater.
It’s the 2012 performance though that stands out remarkably, as the most dominating WCC victory.
To cap it all off it was Conrad who came away victorious in a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 win over Slater to claim the 2012 WCC title in the most thoroughly dominant performance in the history of the World Championships.
The crokinole tournament that takes place at the Schneider Haus Museum (formerly known as the Joseph Schneider Haus Museum) is one-of-a-kind. Players compete as clubs, scoring points through singles matches against every member from every other team. While the team scoring is the most celebrated part of the tournament, their is a prize and prestige for finishing with the highest individual score.
However, scoring the highest individual point total is not always a fair competition. Since a player avoids playing members of their own team, it can be advantage to have a strong team so as to miss out on some some tough competition.
In 2014 the Waterloo team had a rough year and finished last in the tournament, with their individual players occupying 3 of the bottom 5 spots (including last and second last). The lone bright-spot was Nathan Walsh.
Walsh finished 1st in the event, scoring 46% of his team’s total score, beating out players like Jon Conrad, Fred Slater, Roy Campbell, Louis Gauthier, Jason Beierling and Ab Leitch, all of whom played among the top 3 teams at the event.
The 2014 win was the first of a hat-trick of victories for Walsh at the Schneider Haus, but he was given much more support from his teammates in 2015 and 2016.
Brian Cook is certainly no stranger to success, and in the entire decade one could point many impressive tournaments from the crokinole legend. For example:
For Cook there has certainly many dominant victories, but it’s the 2014 World Championship title that goes down as the most admirable. Here’s the story:
At many times over the decade Brian Cook was deemed a favourite to win every tournament he played. He was often rightfully bestowed that favourite tag, which is what makes that one event in which he was the underdog so impressive.
The Beierling Brothers won many doubles tournaments in the decade, so there was a lot to choose from, but 2014 takes the crown as their title that day never did seem in doubt.
In the 12-team preliminary round the Beierlings scored 70 points in 11 games to finish 14 points ahead of second place and easily earn the top seed for the page playoffs (the ODCC briefly used the page playoff format that’s typically only seen in curling), in addition to their tournament-high 160 20s.
In the 1-2 page playoff game the Beierlings comfortably beat Justin and Fred Slater 12-6 to advance directly to the finals. In the finals they would once again play the Slaters, but this time they came away with an even more commanding victory as they won 13-3 to cap off an incredibly strong performance.
By the Fall of 2015 Roy Campbell had already deservedly earned the credential as one of the game’s strongest competitors, but without yet having made an NCA final he wasn’t looked at as a massive threat to win individual tournaments.
In Owen Sound he started the day as expected by finishing 5th in the preliminary round to advance to the A group, but was facing tough competition against the likes of Ray Beierling, Jon Conrad, Nathan Walsh, Jason Beierling and Brian Cook. In that second round Campbell was the class of the field, scoring 39 points in 7 games for 1st place, and advancing into the final 4 by a margin of 13 points.
The impressiveness of his play only rose from there, when he scored 18 of 24 possible points in the final 4 against Brian Cook, Jason Beierling and Robert Bonnett, easily taking the top seed into the finals. And he sealed his maiden NCA title with a 12-8 victory over Jason Beierling to finally cement himself as a legitimate title contender.
Everyone knows that Ray Beierling’s home tournament is his best tournament. No one has been victorious in London on multiple occasions, with the exception of Beierling who has won 5 times. Certainly when you come to London you know Ray Beierling is going to make it a tough fight, but in 2016 there was really no point in even showing up.
In the preliminary round Beierling scored the most points (56) and 20s (78) after 9 games, then followed that up finishing 1st in Group A in the afternoon by a margin of 6 points (he’d fall just short of a Grand Slam due to Rex Johnston and Fred Slater scoring 2 more 20s).
For his 1st place seed it looked as though he would be unluckily matched up against Jon Conrad, who was looking quite strong after just winning the most recent event in Hamilton. But the response from Ray Beierling was the most dominant playoff singles performance of the decade when he scored 20 of 22 possible points to beat Jon Conrad 10-2 in the semifinal, and then beat Andrew Hutchinson 10-0 to take the London title.
Clare Kuepfer and Nathan Walsh doubles partnership formed by a simple stroke of happenstance, when the two both independently decided to attend the PEI Provincials and needed a convenient choice for a doubles partner. They had an extremely successful day, scoring 61 out of 64 possible points in the preliminaries, and then winning the finals 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 over the Island’s top team in Wilfred Smith and Lawson Lea. Conveniently they were both looking for partners for the World Championships at the time, and decided on that April day in PEI to team up.
While they would make the top 6 in the WCC Doubles competition a total 5 times in the decade, they would lament (like many other teams) that they couldn’t find their best game in the playoff round. That certainly wasn’t the case in 2017.
Kuepfer and Walsh completed the 5-game playoff round robin with 5 wins, 0 draws and 0 losses to score 30 points and win the WCC title by a margin of 10 points over Tony Snyder/Dave Meijer and Jason Beierling/Ray Beierling. The 10 point margin of victory is the largest in recorded history of the World Championship doubles event.
There were a number of performances from Justin Slater over the decade that were awe-inspiring. In 2010 he ended Cook’s 3-year run as World Champion. In 2012 he raised the level of what was thought possible with 142 20s in the WCC preliminary round. And in 2018 he pulled off several spectacular shots to stay alive and eventually claim victory in the 2018 WCC final.
However, one performance stands alone as jaw-dropping.
At the end of 2018 it was general knowledge that the World Record for most 20s scored belonged to Justin Slater, but this was debunked due to some concerted digging into old statistics that ultimately set the record straight revealing that Brian Cook still held the record. Justin Slater went on a mission to reclaim the title, and he left nothing to chance in Hamilton in 2019.
After easily making the afternoon A Pool, Slater racked up 68 points in 11 games (the 6th best points-per-game performance of any NCA Group A event in history), while simultaneously scoring 181 20s. That translated to 164.5 20s averaged over 10 games, and smashed the old world record.
Eager to complete the triumph of the day, Justin Slater then raced through the playoffs, winning 6-2, 6-4 over Reid Tracey in the semifinals, and cruising through the finals 6-2, 6-0 against Roy Campbell.
There was a time not so long ago that videos from CrokinoleCentre did not have production quality as their worst characteristic, as hard as that is to imagine.
No, starting in 2013, and only ending around 2017, CrokinoleCentre's absolute biggest problem was extreme unpunctuality.
It's laughable that if you view the upload date of most videos from 2013 to 2017, you'll see they were generally uploaded 6-18 months after they were originally played. One might wonder how any viewer could put up with such delay, although judging based on the view count of most of those 2013-2017 videos it's clear few did. It might be coincidental, but CrokinoleCentre viewership did start to rise in 2017 once the videos became a tad more prompt.
Yes in those years CrokinoleCentre videos would have appeared to have been the work of a college or university student: bereft of urgency until the procrastination had finally come to halt from the force of impending deadlines. Regrettably, all deadlines in this business (whatever this business is) are self-imposed, so for a while the only desire was to ensure the World Championship videos from a past year appeared online before the following year's event. With great relief the CrokinoleCentre channel would heap 12 videos online in a day. Hey! You like crokinole right? How about 6 hours of it!
One day I was given a helpful tip from one of the game's great players, who suggested the work be spaced out and tackled incrementally. Like all good advice this was ignored initially, but fortunately this player offered the advice a second time. Once it set in it was found to be much easier to complete, and so this eventually led to the goal of uploading one video each week.
All of this preamble is to say that most of the time the schedule is followed, and sometimes a video is even prepared a couple weeks in advance, where it usually sits unviewed as the world of crokinole fans (slightly larger in number in 2020 then they were in 2014) simply waits.
So for loyal CrokinoleCentre readers, here is presented the gift of not waiting (as a recompense for having to wait so long in previous years).
The full list of soon to be released videos will be provided here. The listing will avoid using player names so as to prevent viewers from seeing spoilers about which players advance into the playoffs or win a semifinal match. Unfortunately viewers of this website can't be entirely safe from spoilers since you may very well stumble on a blog post detailing the latest tournament results.
It cannot be promised that list will always be filled with many videos to watch, but it's considered to be the best offer that can be provided at the moment. And right now you can watch the second semifinal and final of the Hamilton tournament should you be craving some more crokinole content.
The 2019-2020 NCA Tour battle heated to the point of boiling as the Tour’s co-leaders faced off in the championship final of the Golden Horseshoe tournament. Andrew Hutchinson and Jason Beierling, sharing the top spot on the Tour with 188 points, played down to the wire in a match that required extra rounds. When the dust settled from the boisterous atmosphere that developed in the final, it was Jason Beierling who came away victorious to move into sole possession of the NCA Tour lead.
A crowd of 54 made it to the Cornerstone Reformed Church on a mild Hamilton Saturday to set a tournament attendance record. Amongst the group of NCA regulars were a number of new faces who impressed both in terms of skill and enthusiasm, and certainly brought forward hope that they would one day become a part of the regular crowd.
The field was split into 5 groups for morning action, with a narrow advancement protocol being used for those wishing to make the Group A Second Round. Only the top 2 in each group, plus the next best score, would advance so there was little time to make errors even in the early action.
Defending Hamilton champion, Justin Slater, began strongly with 56 points in 9 games amongst Pool A for the top spot in the pool. Clare Kuepfer took the other Group A spot with 45 points, just ahead of four players: Reid Tracey (44), Abijah Jong (43), Mark Gallas (42), Ron Reesor (41). There was a similar log-jam in Pool C as Roy Campbell finished first with 59 points, in 10 games, followed by Roger Vaillancourt (58), Ron Langill (57) and Ray Beierling (55).
The top three scores in the morning all came from the same Pool B with Jeremy Tracey leading the way at 68 points, Jason Beierling in second at 65, and Peter Carter picking up the “next best score” position with 64 points in 10 games.
Andrew Hutchinson topped Pool D by a solid margin with 67 points, while James Medway’s inaugural tournament resulted in a Group A qualification with 56 points in 10 games, just beating out Eric Miltenburg at 54 points. Finally, in Pool E Fred Slater finished first at 57 points, with Nathan Walsh just behind at 56 points, while Jo-Ann Carter was third in the group at 49 points.
With the second round action split amongst 5 pools there was too much action to follow all results of the event. Dave King, known primarily for prowess in the pointed wooden sticks (aka Cues) category of crokinole, took home the Group E title, while Reuben Jong won in Group D. In Group C, two NCA debutants made the finals, where Mark Malecki prevailed over Vuth Vann.
Meanwhile in Group B, Ray Beierling had a storming performance to pick up 65 points in 10 games, and was joined in the finals by Ron Langill who had 55 points. Reid Tracey, Josh Carrafiello and Andrew Korchok rounded out the top 5 at 46, 44 and 43 points respectively. Ray Beierling prevailed over Langill in the finals to earn the Group B honours.
In Group A there was a little bit of buzz about possible 20s records attempts, being that the 2019 Hamilton tournament yielded a world record from Justin Slater that still stands today. That record score (181 20s in 11 games, averaging out to 16.4 20s in each game) was flirted with for a couple of games as Slater was averaging 14.2/game after 5 games, and both Andrew Hutchinson and Nathan Walsh had scored perfect rounds (against Slater). The 20s scores would temper off, although Justin Slater still finished with the top mark at 122 20s in 10 games.
Of greater importance of course were the number of points being scored, and very early on the top group of 4 emerged as Roy Campbell, Jason Beierling, Andrew Hutchinson and Justin Slater had all scored at least 26 points after 5 games. Clare Kuepfer and Jeremy Tracey were sitting in 5th place after 5 games, but a gap was already emerging as they had 22 points, trailing a playoff spot by 4. The gap only grew further with Justin Slater finishing first at 57 points, Roy Campbell and Jason Beierling at 50, and Andrew Hutchinson at 49, as Jeremy Tracey finished on the bubble with 43 points for 5th place.
That setup semifinals between Justin Slater and Andrew Hutchinson, and Roy Campbell and Jason Beierling. Both semifinal matchups had players coming in with undefeated head-to-head records against their opponents. Campbell had previously scored two victories over Beierling (2015 Owen Sound final, 2016 St. Jacobs semifinal), while Slater had recorded three wins against Hutchinson (2018 Hamilton, 2018 Turtle Island, 2018 Belleville - all semifinal matches).
Roy Campbell had also previously defeated Jason Beierling 8-0 in the round robin preceding the semifinal matchup. However, it was Beierling who took a running start in their semifinal as he steam-rolled through game one of the best-of-3 by a score of 6-0, as Beierling won the 20-race in each round and never did relinquish the advantage.
Campbell had better success on open-20s in game two, even winning a 20 race in round one, but then struggled by giving up multiple hanger-20s in each of the first two rounds, with Beierling converting all of the them on his way to a 4-0 lead and a strong chance to win the match. Jason Beierling would earn leads in both rounds 3 and 4 of the game two, and even had a chance to win the match with a double-takeout, but Campbell valiantly fought back to draw even at 4-4. All of the sudden Jason Beierling’s near victory saw him one round away from being all-tied-up with Campbell.
In round 5 Beierling missed his opening 20 attempt, but Campbell flashed his slice-20 shot, giving Beierling another open 20 opportunity. On the second chance Beierling succeeded, and then maintained the lead in the round to close out the match 6-0, 6-4 and earn his first ever victory over Roy Campbell.
The Hutchinson/Slater semifinal was also in stark contrast to their round robin game, being that 20s flowed precipitously in their earlier matchup, but were decidedly less plentiful to begin their semifinal. Game 1 saw Hutchinson come out on the better end of the low 20 scoring affair, seemingly comfortably winning all three rounds for a 6-0 victory.
At 2-2 in the second game, Hutchinson led in the 20 count, but a couple failed takeouts gave Slater two chances for an open 20, both of which were missed. Hutchinson was still not in an advantageous position as he faced two opposing discs. He attempted a tricky double, and failed to remove either disc, but was fortunate that his shooter rolled perfectly behind cover due to a combination of the pegs and Slater’s own disc. As a result, Slater couldn’t make the takeout and Hutchinson moved one step closer to victory at 4-2.
True to form, with his back against the wall Slater mounted a comeback. From down 4-2, Slater finally got ahead in the 20 races in each of the next two rounds, propelling him to a game 2 victory. Hutchinson would again be one step from victory as he jumped out to a 4-0 lead in game 3, but again Slater responded with perfection on open 20s to cut the lead to 4-2.
In the fourth round, after both players made their first 3 open 20s, Hutchinson missed long, giving Slater an edge. But Slater missed the ensuing takeout and Hutchinson scored a takeout-20 to lead the round. Down to the final shots Slater managed to hide a disc behind a peg, and needed Hutchinson to miss the shot as Slater required to score the full 2 points for the round. Finally Hutchinson seized the victorious opportunity and made the peel he needed to win the match 5-3, 4-6, 5-3. Amazingly, this was Slater’s first head-to-head singles loss in 2.5 years as he had a perfect streak stretching back to a semifinal loss to Jon Conrad at the 2017 Turtle Island event.
And so the final featured the only two players on the NCA Tour to have already racked up two tournament victories (both earning a singles and doubles title), with sole possession of the lead on the NCA Tour available for the victor.
Jason Beierling got the better start to the match, scoring a pressure open 20 on his hammer shot of the first round to get a tie, and then later got the lead to 3-1. Hutchinson played flawlessly in the next two rounds though, and Beierling eventually relented as Hutchinson won game one 5-3.
The second game saw four straight steals against the hammer to level the score at 4-4, and thus requiring a 5th round, with Hutchinson a win away from victory. Beierling missed his opening 20, but a failed takeout from Hutchinson left the door open. Beierling nailed a ricochet 20 on his next shot and maintained the lead to take game 2 6-4.
Flipping the script on game two, the final third game began with three straight holds of hammer for a 4-2 Beierling lead. Beierling missed his opening 20 in the 4th round, but was able to apply lots of pressure by scoring a ricochet 20 on his 6th shot. Hutchinson was up to the task this time, replying with an open 20, and when Beierling missed his open 20 attempt on shot 7, Hutchinson defended well to tie the match at 4-4.
The Hamilton event uses the Wimbledon rule, where a decisive game must give each player an equal number of hammer rounds. In the first tiebreak set, Beierling got ahead 2-0 as he was the first to successfully make a takeout-20 after both players boldly flirted with the 20 hole on numerous shots. Beierling needed one point in the next round to win the tournament, and got the edge with Hutchinson being the first to miss an open 20. The advantage would become insurmountable when Hutchinson missed an attempt at both a takeout and 20, and Beierling followed up by extending his 20 advantage to win the Golden Horseshoe Tournament 3-5, 6-4, 8-4.
The victory for Jason Beierling is his 3rd NCA singles title, to go along with 6 doubles titles. He now has 197 points on the 2019-2020 NCA Tour, which is already his best ever Tour performance even as three events remain on the calendar.