Friday, 23 June 2017

Bonnett Wins 2017 World Championship

Robert Bonnett takes a shot during the final match on his
way to the 2017 World Crokinole Championship.
Photo Credit: Bill Gladding
Being opportunistic and taking advantage of small openings may have been the theme of the day on the first Saturday of June in Tavistock. So when Robert Bonnett got an early lead in the final round of the championship match, it didn't seem to matter to him that Jon Conrad mounted a serious comeback to level the match. Robert Bonnett was not be denied as he won the 2017 world championship in surprise fashion.



Doubles
The summer Saturday begin as it always does in Tavistock, a clean slate for all competitors in the hope that a big day lies ahead. For this year's new competitors (making up 31% of total tournament attendance in 2017) the excitement usually has a hampering effect that can limit performance. But quite a few first time USA participants excelled in their rookie year as Justin Martin and Jonathan Phillips finished fourth to make the doubles playoffs. The 6-time champion Beierling Brothers finished in the top spot among 42 teams, with 57 points out of a possible 64. 3-time doubles Champion Tony Snyder partnered with Cameron Heights colleague Dave Meijer (formerly of the Brooks/Meijer pairing) for the first time and finished in 2nd in the preliminary round with 56 points. Clare Kuepfer and Nathan Walsh made their fourth straight top 6 playoff appearance after earning 54 points for third place. Filling out the playoff roster was Lloyd and Steve Wiseman making their first Top 6 playoff appearance 49 points and Ray Kappes and Kevin Bechtel earning their 4th playoff appearance, also with 49 points.
Narrowly missing the Top 6 and having to settle for a B Playoff position were:
  • BC Doubles Champions, Tom Johnston and MJ Andreola (48 points)
  • Defending Ontario and World Champions, Justin and Fred Slater (47 points)
  • 2011 runners-up Dave and Matt Brown (47 points)
  • Eric Miltenburg and Dale Henry, making their first playoff appearance (47 points)
  • Jeremy Tracey and Roy Campbell, pairing for the second time after their 2nd place in the Listowel PaddyFest (46 points)
  • Matthew and Roger Vaillancourt, making the playoffs for the first time as a pairing (45 points)

Missing out on the playoffs by a few points included the PEI doubles team of Wilfred Smith and Lawson Lea, and Jon Conrad and Barry Kiggins, who both scored 41 points in the preliminary round.

In the B playoffs, Justin and Fred Slater were the class of the field, scoring the high of 32 points and 69 20s for the first spot. Dave and Matt Brown finished second with 19 points and a head-to-head tiebreaker win over Matthew and Roger Vaillancourt in third place. Also earning the tiebreaker victory for 4th place were Dale Henry and Eric Miltenburg, after being level with Roy Campbell and Jeremy Tracey at 17 points.

2017 Doubles World Crokinole Champions
Clare Kuepfer and Nathan Walsh
Photo Credit: Bill Gladding
In the A playoffs, Kuepfer/Walsh and Snyder/Meijer were into the lead early with bigs wins in their first game while Beierling/Beierling and Martin/Phillips made up ground with bounce back victories in game 2. After game 4, Kuepfer/Walsh had a 6 point lead on the second place Snyder/Meijer with only their head-to-head match to come. Beierling/Beierling and Martin/Phillips used their final game to lock in a top 4 spot with 20 and 18 points respectively. Meanwhile, Kuepfer/Walsh secured top spot with a 6-2 win for 30 points, while Snyder/Meijer also finished with 20 points.

Justin Martin and Jonathan Phillips earned the 4th spot for the best ever finger doubles finish from a USA, or non-Ontario, team (the previous best belonging to PEI’s Wilfred Smith and Lawson Lea with their 5th place finish in 2014). Ray and Jason Beierling finished 3rd for their 14th top 4 finish overall and 5th in a row. After winning the head-to-head tiebreaker, for Dave Meijer the second place was his first top 4 finish, while for Tony Snyder it was his 6th (and 3rd with a different partner). 

Lastly, for 2017 Doubles World Champions, Clare Kuepfer and Nathan Walsh, it was their first World title for either of them, after finishing 3rd in 2016, 5th in 2015, and an agonizing 2nd in 2014. Along with Team Slater and Team Beierling, they are the only teams to have made the Top 12 in each of the past 5 years, and have now finally joined these two teams in the winner’s circle.

Singles
2017 20s World Crokinole Champion - Justin Slater
The preliminary round of singles play is always interesting with qualifications for the Top 16 mixed in with the 20s title, and usually, the Karin Jeske award for Top Female. While Jon Conrad and Ray Kappes have been near the top, the 20s title has really been a 2-way battle for 10 years between Ray Beierling and Justin Slater. This year a warm day with average humidity seemed to indicate their wouldn’t be any mind blowing top scores like Slater’s 142 in 2012 or Beierling’s 131 in 2014.

This year 6 player’s scored over 70 20s, including Connor Reinman, Jeremy Tracey, Rob Mader and Nathan Walsh. Walsh ended up third in the total 20s count with 75, as there was a massive gap to the top 2 of Ray Beierling and Justin Slater. Beierling scored 97, while Slater was the only one to crack 100 as he scored 104. The 2017 20s title is Slater’s 4th, as he stops Beierling’s streak of 4-straight titles, and continues the stretch dating back to 2008 of only Justin Slater or Ray Beierling coming away with the 20s crown.

Top Female Players (left to right)
Jennifer Carstairs, Beverly Vaillancourt, Cathy Kuepfer
Photo Credit: Bill Gladding
For the women’s title, a large number of competitors added variety, but Beverly Vaillancourt ensured the results wouldn’t change, winning her 6th straight title with 46 points. Jennifer Carstairs finished just behind for 2nd with 43 points, and Cathy Kuepfer finished 3rd with 40 points. PEI’s Margaret McKinley was 4th, and just off the podium with 39 points.

As always, there was a few unfortunate souls who barely missed the Top 16 playoffs, such as Jeremy Herrmann, Jason Beierling and Lawson Lea. All scored 53 points and missed the Top 16 cutoff based on 20s as Greg Pinel earned the 16th and final spot with 53 points and 66 20s. Matt Brown and Tom Johnston also just missed, finishing 20th and 21st with 52 points each.

For those that made the cut though, the chance to win the World title was still alive as the field split into two pools.

Pool A
  • Justin Slater (preliminary round top scorer and 3-time defending World Champ)
  • Ray Beierling (2011 champ, 9 Top 4 finishes, 19th Top 16 appearance)
  • Nathan Jongsma (2nd Top 16 appearance with previous best of 5th in 2012)
  • Brian Simpson (3rd Top 16 appearance)
  • Roger Vaillancourt (4th Top 16 appearance)
  • Connor Reinman (1st WCC appearance and top USA finisher in 2017)
  • Jeremy Tracey (1st WCC appearance)
  • Dwayne Campbell (1st Top 16 appearance)

Pool B
  • Andrew Hutchinson (2nd best preliminary score, first WCC fingers appearance)
  • Jon Conrad (4 Top 4 finishes with his last in 2013 when he won his 2nd straight world title)
  • Ray Kappes (2003 World Champ and 2016 4th place finisher)
  • Rob Mader (3rd Top 16 appearance in 4 years, 3rd in 2008)
  • Nathan Walsh (3 Top 4 finishes, 7th Top 16 appearance)
  • Robert Bonnett (2015 4th place finisher, 5th Top 16 appearance)
  • Fred Slater (5th Top 16 appearance)
  • Greg Pinel (2nd Top 16 appearance and top non-Ontario Canadian finisher in 2017)
Players gather around the scorer's table,
eagerly awaiting for official scores to be posted.
Pool A play was incredibly tight, and at the end of the 7 games the top scorer of Connor Reinman had 34 points, just 6 over the .500 level of 28. In some years 34 points would not be enough to qualify, but Reinman grabbed first with the score as a log jam was left behind him. Four players sat with one point separating them for the final playoff spot. Ray Beierling lost his last game 5-3 to Justin Slater, leaving Beierling with 29 points for 5th place in the group. The win put Slater into a 3-way tie at 30 points with Dwayne Campbell and Nathan Jongsma. Jongsma had only needed one point in his final game to clinch a spot in the Top 4, but lost it 8-0 to Reinman to fall into the tiebreaker scenario. In the 3-way head-to-head, Jongsma beat Campbell 8-0 and tied Slater 4-4, while Campbell beat Slater 6-2. Jongsma, scoring 12 points in the two games grabbed the final spot in the Top 4.

In Pool B a few players quickly emerged as contenders for the Final 4. Ray Kappes stayed in the hunt for a while but ended up 4th in the Pool with 28 points. Fred Slater made a big push for the Final 4, but on this day and in this pool, 33 points was not enough to advance. Earning the coveted entry into the next round was Robert Bonnett with 36 points, and Jon Conrad with 38 points.
A view from afar of the Final Four round robin

So the Final 4 consisted of Connor Reinman of Grosse Point Farms, Michigan, Nathan Jongsma of Sudbury, Robert Bonnett of Wingham, and Jon Conrad of Poole. Reinman and Jongsma were both making their first Final Four appearance. Robert Bonnett was making his second showing in the Final Four of competitive singles after twice winning Rec singles, and for Jon Conrad, it was his 5th Top 4 finish and the first since his 2013 championship.

In Game 1, Conrad and Bonnett shot out of the gates in pure dominance. Conrad was flawless in an 8-0 victory over Jongsma, while Bonnett won 6-2 over Reinman with a perfect game. In Game 2, Jongsma and Reinman looked to get back in the hunt for the finals with a win, but played to a 4-4 tie, and Jon Conrad moved further into first place with a 5-3 win over Bonnett. In the final game, both Conrad and Bonnett would win again, solidifying the championship final. In the third place game, the deadlock between Jongsma and Reinman continued and stretched the match out into 3 games. Reinman would come away victorious as Nathan Jongsma finished 4th, and Connor Reinman finished 3rd.


Singles Final
So the finals pitted Jon Conrad, going for his 3rd world title, against Robert Bonnett, going for his first. Robert Bonnett was hot early and scored several 20s, shooting from the right-hand side, rather than the centre of the board. Just when it looked like Bonnett was cooling off, as Conrad pushed back, Bonnett surged again to earn a tie in the 3rd round for a 5-1 Game 1 victory.

This looked like trouble for Conrad, after he had won each game of the Final 4, and had won Game 1 of both his 2012 and 2013 WCC finals on his way to the championship. Bonnett continued on and was leading 4-0, only one point from the World title. And that’s when the game shifted. Finally Conrad got ahead in the 20s in the 3rd round without the hammer and used several defensive strategies to lull the play to the outside and win 2 points for the round. In the 4th round, Bonnett missed a 20 early and Conrad defended well again to level the game 4-4. But even with a 5th round upcoming, Bonnett still had the hammer advantage. Suddenly though, Conrad was unstoppable and confident in defence for another steal and a 6-4 Game 2 victory.

The Final 4 (left to right) - Jon Conrad, Robert Bonnett,
Connor Reinman, Nathan Jongsma
After going winless through 5 rounds, Conrad had reeled off three in a row with his back against the wall, and only one game remained for the World Championship.

Many would have expected Robert Bonnett to wilt, but spectacularly, he recovered and was battling again. Conrad won the first 2 points to begin Game 3. In relentless determination, Bonnett returned the favour and tied the game 2-2, and Bonnett had an early 2 20 lead in the third round. Conrad cut the deficit to one 20 on his second to last shot, and when Bonnett missed an open 20 just long, Conrad blasted a follow through 20 to tie the round and the 3rd game 3-3, as both players moved one win away from the title.

In the final round, Conrad’s opening shot went right through the house and his second shot was left short for a hangar. Bonnett converted both chances for 20s in what would be the final critical moment of a spectacular match as Robert Bonnett won the 2017 World Championship 5-1, 4-6, 5-3.

The championship match really did have it all. 20s, defensive play, a furious comeback from the brink, and a decent amount of friendly banter. It will surely go down as one of the classics. It was Jon Conrad’s first loss in a World final as his record in championship matches moves to 2-1.Meanwhile, the win is Robert Bonnett’s first win on the Competitive side of any World Championship or NCA tournament.


2017 was truly a year of firsts, with first-time winners in doubles and singles, and first time top 4 finishes from the US in doubles and singles. The increased competition and variety promises to add excitement into the mix as we enter the 2017-2018 NCA Tour on our way to the 20th edition of the World Crokinole Championship on June 2nd, 2018.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

2017 Crokinole Fantasy Pool Results

The full results are in and the numbers have been crunched to determine the winner of the 2017 Crokinole Fantasy Pool. So who saw their predictions become reality and can take the praise as Fantasy Champion?

(Posted below are the top 10 finishers, and if you would like your own score and position, please send me a message.)

Rank
Team
Pts
Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
1
Nathan Walsh
540
Ray Beierling
Raymond Kappes
Dwayne Campbell
Connor Reinman
Nathan Walsh
Robert Bonnett
Matt Brown
Jonathan Phillips
2
Robert Bonnett
520
Justin Slater
Robert Bonnett
Rob C Mader
Lloyd Wiseman
Ray Beierling
Roger Vaillancourt
Matt Brown
Connor Reinman
2
Ray Beierling
520
Ray Beierling
Jason Beierling
Dwayne Campbell
Connor Reinman
Nathan Walsh
Raymond Kappes
Matt Brown
Jeremy Tracey
4
Jon Conrad
500
Ray Beierling
Andrew Hutchinson
Dwayne Campbell
Connor Reinman
Justin Slater
Roy Campbell
Greg Pinel
Jeremy Tracey
4
Kelly Fischer
500
Justin Slater
Jason Beierling
Dwayne Campbell
Connor Reinman
Ray Beierling
Clare Kuepfer
Matt Brown
Jeremy Tracey
6
Justin Slater
490
Justin Slater
Andrew Hutchinson
Dwayne Campbell
Connor Reinman
Ray Beierling
Fred Slater
Rex Johnston
Jeremy Tracey
7
Roy Campbell
460
Justin Slater
Jason Beierling
Dwayne Campbell
Christina Campbell
Ray Beierling
Raymond Kappes
Matt Brown
Jeremy Tracey
8
Ben Rider
455
Justin Slater
Jason Beierling
Wilfred Smith
Dave Brown
Nathan Walsh
Fred Slater
Matt Brown
Nathan Jongsma
8
Josh Davis
455
Ray Beierling
Clare Kuepfer
Rueben Jong
Connor Reinman
Nathan Walsh
Roy Campbell
Rob C Mader
Nathan Jongsma
10
Clare Kuepfer
440
Justin Slater
Randy Harris
Dwayne Campbell
Gerald Kipfer
Nathan Walsh
Raymond Kappes
Lawson Lea
Connor Reinman
10
Dwayne Campbell
440
Justin Slater
Raymond Kappes
Dwayne Campbell
Christina Campbell
Ray Beierling
Roy Campbell
Rob C Mader
Jeremy Tracey
10
Jason Beierling
440
Justin Slater
Tom Johnston
Rex Johnston
Nathan Jongsma
Jon Conrad
Roy Campbell
Matt Brown
Connor Reinman

Nathan Walsh wins the title with 540 points, as Robert Bonnett and Ray Beierling round out the podium tied at 520 points. For all three of the Walsh, Bonnett and Beierling, it was their highest ever fantasy pool finish.
Further Analysis
1. Robert Bonnett was only 20 points away from winning both the World Championship and Fantasy Pool. You may think that is common as players tend to select themselves, however Nathan Walsh became the first Fantasy Pool Champion to select himself, as all three top finishers did.

2. Among the total of 24 Fantasy team entries there were a number of new and unfamiliar names, which was great to see. And even more impressive was the appearance of some of those names in Top 10, proving that one can do their research from afar and be successful.

3. Jon Conrad has been the most consistent Fantasy Pool performer over all three years. He finished 2nd in 2015, 2nd in 2016, and now 4th in 2017. He usually doesn’t select himself, and if he had this year, his score would have been boosted from 500 to 520 points, for yet another 2nd place finish.

4. Justin Slater probably takes the title of “unluckiest” as his team scored 490 points even after selecting Rex Johnston, who wasn’t in competition on the day. Selections from Pool C earned anywhere from 25 to 70 points, so an “average” choice would pushed him close to the overall title.

5. The most popular Group A selections were Justin Slater and Ray Beierling, both being picked on 18 of 24 teams. Jon Conrad surprisingly slid under the radar, being selected on only 4 teams, before finishing the highest of any Group A possibilities.

6. Selections from Group B were quite varied, but Roy Campbell and Jason Beierling were the most popular, being selected 9 and 8 times respectively. World Champion, Robert Bonnett, was only picked 5 times, and 5th place Fred Slater was only selected 3 times.

7. Group C selections were concentrated on the individuals of Matt Brown, Rob Mader and Dwayne Campbell, as each was picked between 9 and 11 times.

8. Connor Reinman led the Group D selections with 12, followed by Jeremy Tracey with 8, while 4th place finisher, Nathan Jongsma, was selected 4 times. A choice of any of those three proved to be quite wise.

9. The best possible team selection would have earned 625 points overall and included:
- Group A: Jon Conrad, (Justin Slater OR Ray Beierling)
- Group B: Robert Bonnett, Fred Slater
- Group C: Dwayne Campbell, (Greg Pinel OR Rob Mader)
- Group D: Connor Reinman, Nathan Jongsma


Thanks again to everyone who took part and contributed to making this another successful and fun "side-activity" for the World Championships. Hopefully everyone looks forward to doing it again for the 20th edition of the World Crokinole Championships in 2018!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

2017 World Crokinole Championship Fantasy Pool

It’s that time of year again to pull out your nail file for your best shooting finger, adjust your sleep schedule for an early morning, and begin hydrating for a humid (and hopefully) long day. 

But it’s also once again time to refresh your crokinole stats files and algorithms and think about who you will select for the 2017 WCC Fantasy Pool. Last year Roy Campbell edged out Jon Conrad by only 10 points for the 2016 Fantasy title, as he joined 2015 winner, Clare Kuepfer, on the distinguished list of champions.

So will a new victor emerge in 2017? You will get to play a part in deciding if that is the case.

The rules are simple (and the same as last year): 
1. Pick the best 8 player team consisting of:
    - 2 players from Group A
    - 2 players from Group B
    - 2 players from Group C
    - and 2 players from Group D.
2. The higher up your players finish, the more points your team earns.
3. Whoever has the team with the most points will win the coveted title of Crokinole Fantasy Champion, and bragging rights until their title is challenged next year.

NOTE: Fantasy Pool results are limited to the Competitive Singles category.

The separation into 4 different groups is designed to spread out the talent, so a the winning team will require a strong showing from many different players who outperform their expectations.

This year, the groups were divided based on CrokinoleCentre rankings and the 2016 WCC results. 
  • Group A - The top 4 CrokinoleCentre ranked players. 
  • Group B - All of the players who are either ranked in the top 10 by CrokinoleCentre, or who finished in the top 10 in the 2016 WCC.
  • Group C - The top 25 from CrokinoleCentre’s rankings, or anyone who finished in the top 25 in the 2016 WCC.
  • Group D - Any player not listed in Groups A, B or C. As a guide, a list of notable players have been provided.




Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
Justin Slater
Jason Beierling
Dwayne Campbell
Lloyd Wiseman
Ray Beierling
Fred Slater
Rex Johnston
Dave Brown
Nathan Walsh
Tom Johnston
Howard Martin
Robert Weeks
Jon Conrad
Andrew Hutchinson
Rueben Jong
Peter Tarle

Roy Campbell
Ezra Jantzi
Nathan Jongsma

Clare Kuepfer
Dale Henry
Alex Protas

Raymond Kappes
Bev Vaillancourt
Rueben Jong

Eric Miltenburg
Ab Leitch
Jennifer Carstairs

Robert Bonnett
Gregory Pinel
Peter Ryan

Roger Vaillancourt
Cathy Kuepfer
Dave Meijer

Randy Harris
Wayne Scott
Douglas Neill

Brian Simpson
Barry Kiggins
Peter Carter


Kevin Brooks
Jacob Westerhof


Lawson Lea
Daryl MacDonald


Rob C Mader
Christina Campbell


Matt Brown
Connor Reinman


Kevin Bechtel
Jeremy Tracey


Merv Wice



Wilfred Smith

NOTE: For Group D, you are allowed to select anyone not listed in Groups A, B or C. The players listed here are simply a small collection of notable players eligible to be selected.

Points will be awarded as follows:
1st - 100
2nd - 90
3rd - 85
4th - 80
5th-8th - 70
9th-12th - 65
13th-16th - 60
17th-20th - 50
21st-25th - 45
26th-30th - 40
31st-35th - 35
36th-40th - 30
41st-45th - 25
46th-50th - 20
51st-60th - 15
61st-70th - 10

>71st - 5

To solve the issue of not knowing who is attending the event, there will be printouts provided at the tournament to set your Fantasy team at the last minute. Entries will be accepted until 1:30pm EST on June 3rd, 2016. 

That being said, feel free to comment below on your strategy and current picks to get a discussion rolling.


Good luck and have fun!