Doing it Differently? – GB 9 Ball Tour – Britain’s Official Professional Pool Tour

GB9 Tour Player Darren Appleton wonders what the new season will have in store

Great Britain's official Pool tour, The GB 9 Ball Tour enters its third season on Friday March 12th, a season heralded by many as the turning point for the sport in Great Britain. Already dubbed, 'the toughest national tour in the world', the GB9 team have worked hard in the close season, and in recent months announcements have not only heralded an increase in participants but also in major sponsors looking to be associated with the tour. 

Since it's inception in 2008, the GB 9 Ball Tour has maintained its ethos of being run with the players' interests at the forefront of all decisions, a concept that has been touted by previous organisations, but never truly fulfilled. A 'not-for-profit' organisation, GB9 is run on a solely voluntary basis by a dedicated committee of pool players, with the progression of American Pool in Great Britain as their collective goal.

The innovative format that proved popular over seasons one and two will continue, despite the tour increasing the field from 128 players to 144. Catering for both professionals and upper level amateurs, each GB9 tour stop is a three day affair and will consist of three separate straight-knockout events; a Pro Cup, the select competition for the top 32 professionals; a Challenge Cup, for the country's top amateur cueists; and the Main Event which will see all 144 players do battle against each other for the honours.  Previous winners of the main event include Darren Appleton, Karl Boyes, Mark Gray, Imran Majid, and Daryl Peach, the 5 players who recently formed the victorious Team GB at the World Team Championships in Hannover, Germany.

Signing a two year deal, the Barceló Hotel Group have joined forces with the GB 9 Ball Tour to enable ranking events, for the first time in a twenty year British history, to move away from pool halls and into the professional and superior surroundings of the beautiful Barceló Hotel venues. Equipment for the tour stops will be provided by SAM Leisure. SAM have also worked tirelessly since the close of the 2009 season to design and manufacture 16 custom built tables, all to tournament specification, especially for the GB 9 Ball Tour. The one-piece slate SAM Magno Pro table has been endorsed by World 9 Ball Champion Daryl Peach, who comments; 

"The custom table that we will be using on the GB 9 Ball Tour is a picture of perfection with a super sleek look that is a sure winner. On the playability side of things this table is second to none." 

The SAM Magno Pro table revolutionises tournament set up in Britain and is sure to become the standard for tournament organisers who need quick install and the highest quality playing conditions across Europe. The Barcelo Hotel Group and SAM Leisure join established market leaders in Billiards products, Simonis Cloth, Aramith and Flexirest as this season's sponsors. 

Having fought an up-hill battle for recognition in recent years in a cuesport market dominated by Snooker and English 8 Ball, it is now evident that American Pool is finally making inroads to claim a piece of that pie. GB 9 Ball Tour Chairperson, Jonathan Mathers notes; "British tour events have not traditionally had a substantial money-added component. We're confident that we've put ourselves in the best possible position to provide an attractive proposition for sponsors wanting to access a substantial, ever growing and so far untapped market.” 

Season three kicks off on Friday 12th March in the splendour of the Barceló Buxton Palace Hotel, with, 'Granite' Mark Gray looking to defend his British Number 1 ranking and a wealth of amateur talent hoping to make the early running in the race to earn promotion from the Challenge ranks into the Pro division. For 32 hopeful players, the weekend will not end until late in the evening of Monday 15th March as the GB 9 Ball Tour run their 'Race to Vegas' World Pool Masters qualifier in conjunction with Matchroom Sport, with names such as double World English 8 Ball Champion, Chris Melling; current European Number 14, Craig Osborne; and 7th place finisher at the 2009 US Open, Karl Boyes, vying to book their spot at the prestigious annual competition.  

For more information on the GB 9 Ball Tour and to follow Live Scoring from the events, visit