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!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Slater Wins 7th Ontario Crokinole Title, 3rd NCA Tour

After Justin Slater's defeat to Ray Beierling in the London final, it looked like Slater's certain 2016-2017 NCA Tour victory was actually in doubt. But on Saturday, Slater showed that there's no doubt that the Ontario Championship is his tournament, as he won the event for the 7th time and clinched the NCA Tour crown.

Amelia Hartmann - St. Jacobs Pool D Champion
There was a record attendance of 44 players at the St. Jacobs crokinole tournament, featuring players from the age of 7, to players within their 70s. Nathan Walsh had the high points and 20s scores through the morning play with 71 points and 87 20s through 10 games. He was followed by Robert Bonnett, who scored 64 points, and then by Justin Slater and Ray Kappes at 59 points each. There were a few players who missed qualifying for the A group by a narrow margin, but the toughest of luck went to Jeremy Tracey. Stuck in a tough pool with only the top 3 finishers advancing to Group A, Andrew Hutchinson scored 57 points for first, Jon Conrad earned second (56 pts), and Rex Johnston finished third (55 pts), leaving Tracey's 54 points on the outside looking in.

Players were reseeded for the afternoon with the prize money on the line. In Pool D, Janet Diebel made a strong push for the finals but ultimately finished third, as Allen Pengelly and Amelia Hartmann finished in the top spots. In the final, Hartmann won a tough first game and went on to win the match 6-4, 6-2 for the D Pool title.

Cathy Kuepfer - St. Jacobs Pool C Champion
In Pool C, Dale Henry showed no rust from his British Columbia voyage one week earlier, and made a run for the finals, but had to settle for fourth place. Howard Martin also challenged, but missed the second place spot to Cathy Kuepfer by 2 points. In the finals, Kuepfer overcame the top seeded Reuben Jongsma to win Pool C 6-2, 6-2.

Jeremy Tracey looked strong through the afternoon in Pool B, finishing with 56 points for the top spot, and was joined in the final by Roger Vaillancourt. Vaillancourt's score of 55 points was enough to beat out his Penetanguishene compatriot of Brian Simpson, who scored 51 points for third. In a great final, Vaillancourt came through 6-4, 6-2 to earn the Pool B title.

The Pool A action was spectacular and fierce as the Ontario title, and NCA Tour Rankings were on the line. While the group featured world champions and tournament mainstays, the most interesting competitor was NCA rookie, Connor Reinman, who showed off his University of Michigan colours and made a statement in finishing 9th in the tournament. An impressive debut that leaves one to wonder what could be in store in the very near future.

The hope for a dream final of Ray Beierling vs Justin Slater with the NCA title in the balance ended in the round robin phase as Ray Beierling's 44 points were only enough for 6th place (despite a tournament-high 125 20s in 11 games), missing the semifinals. Andrew Hutchinson just fell short of backing up his top 4 finish in London, as he earned 48 points for 5th place. Jon Conrad showed absolutely no rust from missing the last couple crokinole tournaments, as his 54 points had him finish at the top of the table. Fred Slater scored 53 points for second, while Nathan Walsh and Justin Slater finished with identical scores of 50 points and 111 20s (Walsh earning the edge through head-to-head tiebreaker).

Justin Slater - 2017 Ontario Singles Crokinole Champ
2016-2017 National Crokinole Association Tour Champ
So that left the semifinals of Jon Conrad vs Justin Slater, and Fred Slater vs Nathan Walsh. While Justin Slater had already clinched the NCA Tour title, the opportunity was still there for both Jon Conrad and Fred Slater to pass Walsh for 3rd place, and the final spot on the NCA podium. In the semifinals, Slater and Conrad played a high scoring match that included a perfect round for Justin Slater on his way to a 6-2, 6-2 win. The Fred Slater/Nathan Walsh match featured a lot of tactics and was especially tight in game one, before Walsh won the match 6-4, 6-0.

That setup a final of Justin Slater vs Nathan Walsh, and another instalment of what has been a one-way rivalry in tournament finals, with Slater earning the victory in each Championship encounter (St. Jacobs 2014, Belleville 2014, World Championships 2016 and Belleville 2016). An early mistake where Walsh scored a 20 for Slater allowed him to jump out to a 4-0 lead, but it was cut to 4-2 when Slater returned the favour in the third round. Slater then stole the final 2 points of the game to win the first of the best of three 6-2. Slater was once again ahead 4-2 in the second game and needed only a point for the title. Walsh had the opportunity to leave 2 discs in the 5 on his own side of the board, but had to press to the win in the round. When a ricochet attempt fell short of the 20 hole, Slater made the takeout and secured the Ontario Singles Crokinole Championship.

So Justin Slater has now won 7 Ontario Singles titles, equaling Joe Fulop for the most all-time. As mentioned, the victory also earned him the first place finish on the 2016-2017 NCA Tour. He began the season with double victories at the World Championships, and also won the Belleville and Ontario Doubles titles before finishing second in Hamilton and London. This is Slater's third NCA title to go along with 2014-2015 and the co-championship with Ray Beierling in 2009-2010.

Ray Beierling - 2016-2017 NCA Tour 2nd Place
Ray Beierling earned the second place spot on the NCA Tour after racking up wins in New York, Hamilton and London, as well as three second place finishes. Through 9 events this season, Beierling only missed the Top 3 once (with the 6th place finish in St. Jacobs). This season marks the 6th time Ray Beierling has finished in the top 2 on the Tour, and he has been in the Top 5 in all 9 seasons.

The third place spot went to Nathan Walsh, which equaled his best ever Tour finish from 2014-2015, and is an improvement from the 8th place finish in last year's Tour. Walsh began and ended the Tour with a myriad of runner-up results as he finished second in the World Championships, New York, Belleville and St. Jacobs. This is Walsh's 4th Top 5 Tour finish as he's finished 4th on two separate occasions.

So the 2016-2017 National Crokinole Association Tour has completed, and players only have a month to make their final tune-ups for the Tavistock tournament. That tournament will mark a major milestone for the NCA Tour as it begins its 10th season. But for now, the focus shifts away from the NCA and on to the most important crokinole tournament of the year as June 3rd is the date for the 2017 World Crokinole Championships.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Slater and Beierling to Duel for Crokinole Tour

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
1 Justin Slater 200 50 200 1
2 Ray Beierling 197 47 200 1
3 Nathan Walsh 186 45 191 3
4 Fred Slater 181 40 191 3
4 Jon Conrad 181 41 190 3
6 Jason Beierling 179 40 189 3
6 Tom Johnston 179 41 188 3
8 Andrew Hutchinson 174 41 183 4
9 Roy Campbell 165 39 176 8
10 Dwayne Campbell 163 37 176 8
11 Clare Kuepfer 158 37 171 9
12 Roger Vaillancourt 156 38 168 9
"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: 
1. Tom Johnston wins the tournament, Jason Beierling OR Jon Conrad finish 2nd, and Fred Slater finishes 3rd.
2. Jason Beierling wins the tournament, Jon Conrad finishes 2nd, Fred Slater finishes 3rd.
3. 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.

2016 Ontario Singles Championship - Justin Slater vs Roy Campbell

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Erzinger Wins BC Crown over Ontario's Johnston

The Carter's from Ontario
Photo from: Crokinole Players of BC
Many competitors travelled to Oliver, British Columbia from areas all over the province, and from pockets of New York and Ontario. All came looking for a piece of glory, but it was Quin Erzinger, representing the local contingent, that fought off challengers from near and far to win his 3rd British Columbia Crokinole Championship.

Thomas (left) and Pinel (right).
Photo from: Vancouver Crokinole Club
There were a lot of familiar faces in the morning doubles play, and it was the team of Adrian Conradi and Craig Engleson, partnering for the first time since a 7th place finish in 2013, who earned the 4th place spot. The 2015 champs, and the 2016 runners-up of Quin Erzinger and Linda Irvine grabbed 3rd place.

But the familiar faces stopped there and made way for the top 2 spots, which belonged to tournament newcomers. In 2nd place was Wade Thomas and Greg Pinel of the newly formed Vancouver Crokinole & Boules Club. That is Greg Pinel, formerly from Brooklyn, who popularized the game there and is now working to do the same in Vancouver.

2017 BC Doubles Champions
MJ Andreola (middle) and Tom Johnston (right)
Photo from: Oliver Daily News
Spectacularly, the 2017 BC Doubles Crokinole title went to the newly formed team of MJ Andreola and Tom Johnston, both making their first appearance at the event. The Johnston brothers of Tom and Rex, from Ontario's Huron County, are well known for their doubles prowess. While Andreola proved the long distance from Fernie, BC (nearly directly South of Calgary), would be a successful one, as the partnership took the top prize on the day.

In the Singles event, Michael Hughes earned a 4th place finish for the second straight year, while Greg Pinel equaled his Doubles result with a 3rd place finish. That left a Championship final between Ontario's Tom Johnston, and BC's Quin Erzinger. It was far from the first time that a BC player has had the pressure of trying to keep the BC title within the province boundaries. In fact it has happened 3 times since the inaugural year of 2009:
2017 BC Singles Champion - Quin Erzinger (right)
Photo from: Oliver Daily News
  • 2009 - Karl Sundbo (Alberta) def. Kristopher Hargrave (BC)
  • 2010 - Ray Beierling (Ontario) def. Michael Hughes (BC)
  • 2011 - Quin Erzinger (BC) def. Fred Slater (BC)
However, pressure is something Erzinger has become accustomed to in what was his 5th trip to the BC finals, and this time he made it a hat-trick, defeating Tom Johnston for his 3rd BC Singles title.
The Tuscorora Crokinole Club
Photo from: Crokinole Players of BC

Overall it was quite a successful day in the famous wine valley of British Columbia that featured local flavour, travellers from afar and some fantastic crokinole.

Crokinole Clif
For the now 9-year history of the BC Provincial Crokinole Championships, it has been impossible to talk about crokinole in British Columbia without talking about Clif Antypowich. Or, as he'll always be remembered in our crokinole circles, as Crokinole Clif
An evening of celebration following the 2010 World Crokinole
Championships, with Clif sitting in the foreground on the right.
Photo from Ray Beierling.

From thousands of kilometres away, one could see his passion for the game, and his extremely likeable personality was even more evident. As a player, he won the 2009 BC Doubles Championships. His name is synonymous with the world's most unique crokinole board, carved from a single tree stump. And as a promoter, he impressively created crokinole clubs and the marquee crokinole tournament of BC that has attracted players from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Washington, New York and New Zealand. 
His accomplishments around the game of crokinole are incredibly significant. They took time, they took dedication, and they took love. On a personal note, I am envious of his contributions to the game of crokinole, and can only imagine how much more he did for his community, his friends, and his family. There is no doubt he will be sorely missed.

On the evening following this year's BC tournament, the Oliver Daily News posted a small item stating, "Clif was there in spirit . . ."

And so that's what lives on for this great game that bridges generations, demographics, borders and languages. May Crokinole Clif rest in peace, and may his passion live through us.

Thank you Clif.