The success of Justin Slater on the crokinole board during the 2010s led to him amassing a record number of WCC and NCA victories, but between the final tournament played pre-covid and the first few events of 2023, Slater was in his longest ever singles tournament drought. He ended that streak in a comfortable fashion by winning the 2023 Forest City Flickers Crokinole Tournament in London.
69 players entered into the London tournament, the largest attendance in the 12 year history of the event. The tournament was hosted at the London Bridge Centre which received rave reviews from some players for it’s substantial space and quality tables and chairs. There were 39 players entered into the recreational division, and another 30 in the competitive.
The Recreational action has been heating up with an intense battle on the NCA Tour. Vuth Vann and Voeun Vann have been near the top following strong performances in Elmira and at the Ontario Doubles, and were sitting 1st and 2nd on the Tour coming into London. Michigan contenders, Grant Flick and Jacob Warren, both finished in the top 4 in Chatham as their first entry on the 2022-2023 Tour and were set to make a late charge for the Recreational title if they could manage another good performance in London.
Both Flick and Warren made the final 4, advancing as the top seeds, and were joined by Joe Richards and Ron Reesor of the host Forest City Flickers crokinole club, with Robin Baillie, David Skipper and Vuth Vann just on the outside of the playoff cutoff in 5th, 6th and 7th. In the semifinals, both Flick and Warren defeated their London-based opponents, before Warren won the final 10-4 over Flick.
The results from London ensures that all 4 of Vuth Vann, Voeun Vann, Grant Flick and Jacob Warren have a chance to win the NCA Tour’s Recreational division at the NCA Tour Finale.
The 30 players in the competitive division were split into 3 pools in the morning. Although a few players advanced comfortably into the afternoon A group, there was a rather incredibly tight race for the cutoff. 43 points and 86 20s, scored by Jason Beierling in 9 games, were what was ultimately needed to advance, and 8 players were within 2 points of that score.
In the afternoon A group the tight race for the cutoff continued. Connor Reinman set a new tournament-20s—record with 124 in 9 games, which averages to 137.8 over 10 games and is 15 20s better than Ray Beierling’s previous record. Reinman also had the high points score with 43, which Ray Beierling also scored for the 2nd seed. Justin Slater scored 40 points for 3rd, and Jason Beierling got the final spot with 39, just ahead of Roy Campbell at 38, Andrew Hutchinson at 37 and Ron Langill at 37.
In the semifinals, the lower seeds came away as winners with Jason Beierling defeating Reinman 10-2, and Justin Slater reversing the result of his last two matches against Ray Beierling (losses in Wilmot and Elmira) by winning 10-4. The finals was a confident showing from Slater who never looked to be in much trouble, as he won the tournament with a 9-1 win over Jason Beierling.
In Pool B, Josh Carrafiello was the class of the field. He missed the A group cutoff by one point, but dominated the B pool round robin with 51 points in 9 games. It was Rex Johnston however who would win the group, defeating Carrafiello 10-6 in the final, after scoring 43 points for the 2nd seed, ahead of Clare Kuepfer with 39 points and Gerald Kuepfer and Jeff McKeen with 38.
Lastly in the C Pool, Tyson Kuepfer and Mike Beaton advanced to the finals with 52 and 47 points, ahead of Gloria Walsh and Matthew Knapp at 46 and 45 points respectively. Kuepfer would claim the C title in a narrow 10-8 win over Beaton in the finals.