Tuesday, 25 November 2014

W.P.A Lifts Sanctions on "Womens International Pool Championships"

By: Markus Noé

Azbillards released a bombshell article last week by Jerry Forsyth siting the World Pool Associations anger with Dragon Promotions. The issue was that they were promoting the upcoming "Women's International Pool Championship" as a continuation of the former World 10 ball Championship held in the Philippines. As I received the same promotional package as everyone else I can say that W.P.A had a legitimate concern here. The result was the W.P.A stated that anyone attending this tournament will be stripped of all their ranking points and be forced to qualify for each event in 2015.

To begin it is important to outline that the W.P.A is the governing body for pool, meaning they are the only ones who can sanction a World Championship.  This sanctioning is not given out lightly and it shouldn't be because a World Championship should be held to a high standard. The main stipulation is having an adequate prize fund which Dragon Promotions was unable to obtain to gain the sanctioning. The W.P.A outlines their policy on this subject, for those interested, on their website.

For Ian Anderson President of the W.P.A, as he expressed in his American Billiard Radio Interview
it is not fair that other World Championships are held to a higher standard. For example the World Men's 9 ball this year paid out $30,000 for first place with a prize pool of over $200,000. The Women's World 9 Ball Championships has a prize fund of $150,000 with no entry fee required.

       Here is what Dragon Promotions wanted to call a World Championship:

  •  Total advertised Prize Fund of $44,000
  •  Entry fee of $540, meaning most qualifiers were only able to send 1 player
  •  $14,000 First Prize slightly less then half of other World Championships
  •  Also it was not clear whether or not it was a guaranteed prize fund or was it dependent on a full field.

To add to the frustration for Anderson is that he has been in conversations for months with Dragon Promotions. He even strongly suggested them changing their name to an American Championships of sorts. However it was made clear in the follow up interview the next day with Dragon Promotions representative Cindy Lee, they were hell bent on advertising this as a World Championship. She might have been aloof about it, but it was made crystal clear when she constantly repeated the marketing advantages of calling it a World Championship.

In all fairness the W.P.A could and should be criticized, however in this particular circumstance they are not at fault. Dragon Promotions had every opportunity to avoid the drama of last week, however they continued to snub the W.P.A. To me the real issue is obvious, Dragon Promotions does not respect the W.P.A and feel they do not have to obey their rules.

An example of this was during the interview with Cindy Lee, Mike Howerton made it clear that the W.P.A was extending yet another olive branch. Anderson was willing to change his previous ruling as long as Dragon Promotions revamped their promotion of this tournament.  Howerton outlined this and made it painfully obvious the solution. And when  asked if they were willing to submit to the W.P.A for the sake of their own event Lee arrogantly replied,"anything could happen"

To me this demonstrates the very low regard they hold the W.P.A. Furthermore it took them until yesterday to have a public announcement stating that have met the requirements and now the sanctioning against them will be lifted. Considering that they were on the defensive with zero bargaining leverage and with players needing to make decisions on whether or not they participate, this was handled with little consideration.

Let's not forget Dragon Promotions is not a non-profit, and this is not a charity event they are hosting. They wanted to falsely promote a World Championship not unlike what they do with the World 14.1, and make a bigger profit while showing disregard to the integrity of what a World Championship is.

For a company with a public imagine who is dependent on the support of the players it would have been wiser to not blame the W.P.A. Rather to take responsibility for what they did and apologize for it and move on. However their choice was to promote a watered down World Championship for their own personal gain and defend this right up until the W.P.A had to make a ruling. Simply put, if you want the prestige of hosting a World Championship - meet the requirements.


Monday, 17 November 2014

World 10 Ball Qualifier of Sorts Held in Laval

By: Markus Noé

Once again, as has often been the case since the debut of the Billard Feminin tour, attention has been diverted from its players to its promoter. Edwidge Cavanna, player/director of the Billard Feminin tour which is a WPBA sanctioned tour, held a qualifier for Dragon Promotions upcoming Women's International Pool Championship on November 15.

Cavanna's own tour has been riddled with controversy since its inception because of her inability to work with others. At the inaugural tournament at Le Skratch Brossard I witnessed one of these "episodes" which as become a norm. It was with the owner of Billiard Québec Guy Simard, who came in support and to set up a free live stream.

There was a point in the tournament where Simard and Cavanna began to have words. What I understood from the discussion as my french is not great, is that Cavanna was attempting to dictate to Simard who would be on his stream, in a hostile manner. Simard who was obviously insulted, packed up immediately after the completion of the next match and left.

Cavanna's reaction to this was to denounce the entire Billard Québec production publicly on Facebook.  The main complaint from Cavanna was with the commentating on the stream as she found some if it insulting. However with this being an amateur event, some of the players barely play at a C level making some of the matches very difficult to commentate. Regardless of this the bridge was burned and Cavanna instantly lost one of the most valuable resources in the Québec pool scene when it comes to promoting and streaming events.

Since then she has had a personal conflict with Hanna Kwon, the winner of the of the first two tournaments as well as several arguments with players and pool room owners. Kwon was the run away points leader on this tour which meant she was essentially denied a chance to compete for a pro tour card which this tour offers to its points leader. She was banned, along with anyone who argued her point or had any kind of disagreement with Cavanna. When asked for a comment Cavanna wished not to many one and only sited the tours code of conduct which was only made available shortly before the ban was handed down.

Last week, days before the qualifier was to be held, it was announced that anyone who was "not in good standing" with the Billiard Feminin tour was ineligible to play. This had me scratching my head in amazement as surely an amateur tour which averages 12 players an event is not comparable and should have no impact on a World Qualifier. It was this thinking that got me to send an email to Dragon Promotions detailing many of the same issues I have spoken about here, along with the following question:

"Does Dragon Promotion give full licence to the directors of their Qualifiers to openly pick and choose who can play these events? Even if the reason may be strictly personal and perhaps petty? "

After a few days I received an email from Dragon Promotions which completely neglected my previous email. Instead they chose to simply send me their promo packages of upcoming qualifiers with no reference to the issues I had brought up. Despite this I posted the press releases on our website and waited for the completion of the qualifier to respond.

In the end 8 people came to Billard des Pros to partake in the qualifier, which took place in a round robin format. Meaning everyone would play one another and the player with the most games won would win their spot at the World International Pool Championships. This event of course was not completed without instance, as in one match involving Cathy Verret a very controversial call was made by Cavanna.

It was made clear before this event that if the 10 ball is obviously going to be made in a particular pocket, calling it was unnecessary. In this particular case it has been made aware to me that the ball was well within a foot of the pocket meaning no bank shot or other option was available. Thus Verret casually went up and potted the 10 ball, immediately after her opponent asked her if she called that pocket. Cavanna's ruling, despite what was previously discussed, was that she had to call the pocket regardless and that it was her opponents shot with ball in hand on the game ball.

In frustration Verret reached into the pocket to concede the game, when she did so she was then informed that this action was forbidden and cost her an additional game. In the end she finished two racks behind the leader Natalie Chabot who won the qualifier. Taking nothing away from Chabot, who is one of the most dedicated and respectful players I have seen, Verret feels robbed and rightfully so.

I felt that it was not to much to ask that Dragon Promotions dictate to Cavanna that she has no right to ban anyone interested in participating based on personal issues, or "standing" on her tour. Their lack of interest into this issue says a few things to me. That they were unwilling to go out on a limb as they have no previous background information on Cavanna or the ongoings of her tour. It also tells me that perhaps there was a fear that if approached her, maybe she would choose not to hold a qualifier at all; not only losing one player but the money as well.

Luckily for Hanna Kwon and others who would not have been allowed to compete there is one more qualifier that has been added. This will be in Toronto at "Shooters" a six hour drive for those who were not allowed to participate from Montreal.

In conclusion even though this World International Pool Championships is not a World Pool Association (WPA) sanctioned event, Dragon promotions is promoting this as a World Championship in the same way they promote the 14.1 World Tournament. I have been a fan of theirs because as more and more events are being taken away on the international level, they are attempting to replace them. However if they want the recognition for hosting world class events there needs to be policy in place for these types of situations. Because as always, it is these types of incidents which get the discussion going on the subject that "pool is dead." When it is clearly not as tens of millions of people play throughout the world. It has been my opinion for sometime now that pool is far from dead, however its continued and prolonged mismanagement cripples its image and jades the players, resulting in poor participation.

*1 Nathalie Chabot 40

*2 Cathy Verret 38

*3 Corrine Johnson 36

*4 Rita Fortin 34

*5 Venus Belanger 32

*6 Christiane Boulay 30

*7 Marie-France Blanchette 25

*8 Stephanie Thompson 14