Gray, Rhodes, Dad and Stuart win on GB9 Tour



A thrilling opening event of the season saw two of the finest cueists in Great Britain fight it out for the Midlands Classic title of 2015, with Mark Gray and Darryn Walker making it to the climax of the main event.


Gray’s route to the final began in style, with a 9-0 win over Craig Seeneyputting him through to meet Britain’s wheelchair #1 Aslam Abubaker. Gray once again put on a quality show and saw himself safely through to the last 32 with a 9 racks to 2 win. A total of two racks conceded in his opening two matches boded well for his chances, but Chris Cowie made sure he wasn’t having it all his own way. Gray still prevailed over Cowie, however, and a 9-5 win put Gray into the last 16 to face Ian McCormick. Perhaps cautious after his latest encounter, Gray stepped back up to top gear against McCormick and handed out a 9-1 thrashing. That result put him into a quarter final against Benji Buckley who, on paper at least, was sure to give Gray a tougher test. The ruthless form that Gray was showing continued and a 9-1 win over Buckley saw him into the semi finals. Conceding just nine racks in his opening five main event matches is probably an all time GB9 record, but his opponent in the final four was sure to put a few more racks onto that tally. None other than Tony Drago was standing in the way of Gray and a place in the final, but Gray held on for a tough 9-7 win over the Tornado to secure his place in the final of the 8th edition of the Midlands Classic.


Walker’s quest for a maiden GB9 main event title began against Jamie Bryan, and a 9 racks to 4 victory ensured safe passage to the next round and a match against Simon Gardner. Walker’s steady form was probably the equivalent of a light jog, and a second straight 9-4 win put him through to the winners side qualification round. He too faced Ian McCormick, albeit one round earlier than Gray, but once again it was a 9-4 victory that saw Walker make safe passage through to the straight knockout last 16. Waiting for him there was Italy’s Bruno Muratore, himself now a regular on the GB9 circuit. Walker sent him packing in the end, but it took a hard fought 9-7 win to put him into the quarter finals. Another stalwart of the tour in the form of Craig Osborne was waiting in line to have his shot at Walker. Walker found his form with a semi final berth at stake, and a 9-5 win saw him into the last four to face his toughest test yet. The newly crowned UPC champion and British #1, Phil Burford, was looking to add the title of 2015 Midlands Classic winner to his already glittering CV. Walker, however, seemed to want it that little bit more. A 9-6 win meant that it was Walker who entered the final showdown to face the ready and waiting Gray.


With both players having a heritage in cue sports across more than just the 9-ball code, the Midlands Classic final of 2015 was sure to be a high quality affair. The pair shared out five break and runs in the match. Crucially, three of them went the way of the victorious Mark Gray. He seured an 11-5 win over Walker to take the opening main event title of the season and see himself lifted above Phil Burford to the top of the provisional main rankings.




It was another snooker fest in the Pro Cup final in Telford, with current pro Tony Drago and former pro Michael Rhodes battling it out for the first Pro Cup silverware of the season.


Drago began his quest for glory with a opening round win – a 10 racks to 4 victory over John Beesley took him through to the winners qualification bracket to face Italy’s Massimo Laucci. The Tornado began blowing more fiercely now with a 10-2 win putting him comfortably into the quarter finals where he was to face Laucci’s compatriot Bruno Muratore. Drago stepped up to top gear to reach the last 4, with a crushing 10-0 whitewash setting him up with a clash against Tommy Donlon for a place in the final. The pair shared 4 break and runs in a high quality encounter, but Drago prevailed 10 racks to 7 to put him into the final.


Prior to Laucci’s defeat to Drago in the winners qualifier, it was a victory against Rhodes that put him there. Rhodes succumbed to a 10-9 defeat which saw him one more loss from elimination. In a quirky twist, his next opponent was Drago’s victim from the previous round, John Beesley. It was second time unlucky for Beesley as Rhodes finally got off the mark with a tough 10-7 win. This was followed by a winners bracket encounter against Paul Dukes-Thomas and another 10-7 victory. This win saw him into a quarter final match against Mark Gray, the newly crowned Midlands Classic champion. He knew he had to step things up approaching the business end of the competition, and he did just that: a resounding 10-2 win saw Rhodes into the semi finals to face Darryn Walker, looking for a little revenge after his defeat to Gray in the Midlands Classic final. Rhodes was well and truly in the zone now, and a tremendous 10-3 win saw him through to face Drago in the final showdown.


With so many years of cue sport experience and quality behind both players, this was sure to be an unpredictable final. The Tornado ran out of steam at the final hurdle, however, and it was Rhodes who won through 11 racks to 6 to take the first Pro Cup title of 2015.




The Challenge Cup Tier I final in this opening event of the season was contested by two Yorkshiremen, with Wakefield’s Dave Nelson coming up against Keighley’s Arfan Dad.


Nelson started his quest for Challenge Cup silverware against Paul Wykes. Here he faced a stern test, but Nelson won through 9 racks to 7 to open his account and secure a place in the next round. He then came up against Chris Fraser, looking to improve on his already impressive record since joining GB9. It was Nelson again who won through 9-5 and sealed a spot in the last 8. Here he faced a newcomer to the GB 9 Ball Tour, with Manuel Montejo Fernandez looking for a semi final at his very first event. It wasn’t to be for the Spaniard as Nelson stormed to a 9-2 victory to line up a semi finalagainst Chris Cowie. The pair had one break and run each to their name, but the consistency was with Nelson as he sealed a 9-5 win and with it a place in the final.


Dad also started off in the last 32 stage, and his opening encounter saw him pitted against Craig Seeney. He was looking to make amends from his whitewash at the hands of Mark Gray in the main event, but Dad had other ideas. An emphatic 9-1 in put him into a last 16 match with Tom Staveley. A very high quality encounter saw a total of five break and runs, two going the way of Staveley and three going to Dad. Most crucially it was Dad who came away victorious by 9 racks to 7, setting him up to face Benji Buckley. It wasn’t getting easier for Dad, but he still did enough here to see off Buckley on the hill. A 9-8 win put Dad through to the semi finals where he faced Zoltan Kojsza. After two grueling encounters, Dad knew he would have to step things up a gear if he wanted an easier ride. He stepped things up multiple gears, however, and a brilliant 9-0 victory put him into the first Tier I final of the season.


The ‘White Rose’ final saw the two Yorkshiremen bring out the best in one another’s games. It was never going to be a walkover, but it was Arfan Dad who came out victorious. A 9-4 win over Nelson ensured that he started the year top of the 2015 Challenge Cup tree and wrap up the first title of the season.




The final of the first Challenge Cup Tier II event of 2015 was contested by two very different figures on GB9 – Gary Stewart playing in his first GB9 event, and Dominic Clemens as one of the most well attended players in GB9’s history.


Stewart began his quest for the title in the last 32 with a hard fought match with Jamie Bryan. Both players were keen to get on the board, but a victory on the hill put Stewart through to the last 16 by 9 racks to 8. His next opponent . Whilst it was a baptism of fire, Stewart was at least on the right side of it. Another 9-8 win sneaked him through to the quarter finals where he was to face Jack Hillan. He was well and truly settled in now and the scoreline of this match proved it – Stewart ran away a comfortable 9-1 winner to line up a semi final match against Matthew Christopher. Christopher too was bidding to reach his first GB9 final but it was Stewart who wanted it more, sealing an impressive 9-4 win and taking a well earnedplace in the final.


Clemens opened his Challenge Cup account for 2015 with a 9-5 win over Darren Randall in the round of 32. Through to the last 16 with relative comfort, he knew he had to keep the pace up if he was to advance deep into the competition. Darren Raine, his next opponent, gave a good effort of eliminating the Cornishman, but Clemens won through 9 racks to 6 and set himself up with a quarter final against Tony Southern. As one of the finest wheelchair players in Britain, Southern knew he had as good a short as any at making the semi finals. However, Clemens had other ideas – another 9-5 win put him through to the final four and a date with Paul Taylor. Taylor too was looking for a maiden final berth at a GB9 event, but Clemens’ steady form continued with a 9-4 win and with it secured a place in the showdown for the Tier II title.


The final went right down to the wire, with the two contrasting players both looking to take the silverware. With the game going right to the wire, it was Stewart who took the all-important 17th rack to wrap up a super 9-8 victory over Clemens and claim his first ever GB9 title.



In 2015 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Rasson Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and Carlson Rezidor Hotels making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.