Preview: 2014 GB9 Midlands Classic

Date: 21-23 February 2014
Venue: Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, Telford, UK

World class pool returns to British shores this month as the 7th GB 9 Ball Tour season gets underway at the fantastic Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Telford.

When GB9 founder Lee Rigby first set the tour up back in 2008, little did any of us know just how far it would come in the years that followed. The tour to date has seen well over £300,000 in prize money handed out to players with thousands upon thousands of racks played in that time. This season brings with it a fine balance of old and new elements to the tour, all designed to give the players the best possible tournament experience.

The first and most major element of this season is the return to the tour's original Pro/Challenge division set up. For those unaware, this system takes 16 of the finest players on the tour as decided by the GB9 committee and pits them against one another in a Pro Division competition. The remaining players on the tour play in a Challenge Division which, for the first time, will feature a two-tier system. The country's leading amateurs will face off in the first tier, hoping to prove their worth for a lucrative Pro Cup spot in coming seasons. The second tier pits the rest of the Challenge division in a group of players with a similar ability, giving those who are new to the game a real chance to win matches and develop their skills on the 9ft table. All players from across the three divisions will then fight it out among one another to be crowned the winner of the main event at each tour stop. The cut-throat single elimination format will surely throw up some surprise results and make for some top quality matches just as we are used to on the tour.

In line with Lee Rigby's departure as Tournament Director, a slight reshuffle sees GB9 referee Phil Turner take on the mantle of Tournament Director from 2014 onward. As a much loved and well respected member of the tour, we know that Phil will be welcomed into the role. Given his extensive record of tournament directorship in numerous 8-ball competitions in the UK, he was the obvious candidate to carry on the role vacated by Rigby with the same level of passion and success. Mel Harley remains head referee, with Viv Ruscoe now becoming a permanent member of the GB9 team.

A brand new addition to the tour this season is the partnership formed with Rasson Billard which sees the stunning Victory table take pride of place as the live stream TV table. Already renowned in the world of cuesports as the official Bonus Ball table over in the USA, this table will hopefully host some equally memorable matches on the GB 9 Ball Tour. Lewis Taylor returns this season to host GB9's live stream, broadcasting across the globe the finest American pool talent that Great Britain has to offer.

One of the biggest changes in 2014 is the value for money available this season. With a full 2014 season membership coming in at just £399, this will be the cheapest season in the tour's history for Challenge players. With two tournaments per player on every tour weekend, this equates to less than £40 per player per tournament. Juniors, women and wheelchair players have even more of an incentive to play, with the whole season costing just £299. There really has never been a better time to be a 9-ball pool player in Great Britain and, with a weekend entry costing only £90 for two tournaments, those wishing to experience top competition level American pool can do so without breaking the bank.


In terms of venues for 2014, it's a case of old and new. The tour starts off at the fabulous Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Telford, home to last year's Midlands Classic and regular fixture on the 2013 calendar. The Puma Court Hotel in Daventry also returns to the GB9 schedule for two events this season. What became a spiritual home of the tour in the 2012 season was missed by a number of players last season and GB9 are delighted to have the venue back on the calendar. New to the fold this season is the magnificent De Vere Village Herons’ Reach hotel in Blackpool. This will be the first time in four years that GB9 has visited the Lancashire town, and we are sure that players and spectators alike will be blown away by the quality of this hotel.

With the action starting this Friday at 18:45, we hope you're all ready and geared up for what promises to be another electric season on GB9. It's time to sit back, relax and enjoy what the 2014 season has to offer!

Entry to spectators is free all week and live-streaming will be available throughout the British Grand Prix to compliment the unique rack-by-rack live-scoring service.

In 2014 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Rasson Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls, OB Cues and Kamui Tips making the perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding venues.