Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Will the Canadian Championships be a Success This Year ?

2014 Canadian 10 Ball Champion Erik Hjorleifson with Rob Sakell

By: Markus Noé

Here in Eastern Ontario we are getting our first wave of spring-like weather. The melting snow signifies that the Canadian Championships are just around the corner. It kicks off March 31st with the Open 8 Ball division and concludes April 4. During this week the 8, 9, 10 ball Men's Champions will be crowned as well as the 9, 10 ball Women's Champions.

Over the past year as the "Straight-Pool" blog gained in popularity and grew into Cue Sport Nation, I have had the opportunity to talk to many of Canada's top players. With less than a decade of competitive experience under my belt I still consider myself a rookie of sorts on the on-goings of the Canadian Billiard & Snooker Association(C.B.S.A) or cue sports in general in Canada. It did surprise me however that every single top player I had a chance to speak with did have a horror story to share about our Canadian Championships. Complaints include amateurish streams, and not enough added money which results in players getting gouged in entry fees. Overall payouts being next to nothing, poor organization and communication with provinces outside of New Brunswick and Ontario resulting in no qualifiers being held, little to no room for spectators and the list goes on. 

 To sum it up quickly for a lot of players, their relationship with the C.B.S.A has been comparable to being stuck in in a loveless marriage and not being able to afford the divorce. The C.B.S.A is the only association in Canada permitted to give out World Championship spots, and for our top professional players who live solely off their pool winnings they are forced to compete. Otherwise they risk the expense money to travel to Qatar to play in very tough qualifiers just for a chance to make the final group. Thus the 5 spots the C.B.S.A have are coveted, and in all fairness might be the only reason it has survived the last decade. In defense of the C.B.S.A , top players who I have talked to do praise their efficiency when it comes to securing these spots but admit they could do more overall. 

 This recent track record has been less admirable and has resulted in dwindling participation. Last year the turn out was so bad that I felt the need to express my thoughts in an articled I headlined "Is Pocket Billiards Dead In Canada".  A few months later I wrote another one "Why Will Canada not be at the World Team Championships". To the credit of the C.B.S.A one of their executives reached out and shared his willingness to put in the effort into improving our national association and working with media such as myself to grow the game as a whole. 

Over the past few months I have been sent and posted "new sponsorship" press releases from the C.B.S.A. They have obtained sponsors such as O.B Cues, Diamond Tables, Aramith Balls, Chalk Cube, and Kamui-Tips to mention a few. The location for this years Championships will be the Delta Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, ON, a great venue by all accounts. For streaming, I did recently hear that one of my favourite production companies Billard Québec offered its services for as little as $1000 plus accommodations, a true bargain price for the quality Guy Simard brings to the table for 6 days of uninterrupted coverage. 

Leading into this years events I am concerned that the entry fee is $325 for each division. Meaning that for players wanting to compete in all three they would be in for $975 and that is if you're from the G.T.A. For players who need to travel this can easily be a $2000 week. Also I have not heard of one C.B.S.A backed qualifier once again this year. However as pool players and fans have been accustomed to, we all must approach it as a clean slate. Already this year promises to be an improvement from years past and because of this there is interest from players who have not competed in the Canadians in years. This past weekend I had a chance to talk with one of our Canadian legends Luc "The Machine Gun" Salvas and he appears to be reinvigorated. He has been playing in all the Pro events in Québec and has hinted at participating in this years Canadian Championships and perhaps Turning Stone later this year

In conclusion I invite everyone to watch the stream this year if they cannot make it to Mississauga and like it or hate it be vocal on your thoughts of this years Canadian Championships. Because pool is not dead in Canada and whether the Canadian Championships is considered a success or not this year it is important to at least keep the conversation going. Remember the intention of this website - whether you are a pro, amateur or spectator, we are all one as a nation and are all responsible to improve the sport we love.

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