Shaw, Appleton and Gray Score GB 9-Ball Tour Wins

Jayson Shaw
2012′s penultimate GB 9 Ball Tour event has come to its conclusion with Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton and Mark Gray coming home with the top prizes after another stunning weekend of 9-ball pool.


This year’s Southern Masters final was contested by two players who were far from southern – a Yorkshireman and a Scot. World Champion Darren Appleton found himself in his second final of the weekend, this time against one of the world’s hottest talents in Jayson Shaw. Exceptional credit must at this point go to Spain’s Albert Casellas. In his first ever GB9 event he was just one rack away from the quarter-finals before a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of GB9 stalwart Damian Massey. His performance is just one highlight amongst those of an increasing number of European players coming over to British shores to cut it in what many consider the toughest 9-ball pool tour in the world.

Appleton’s route to the final started in similar fashion to his Pro Cup campaign. Just as 9-2 was the result in that competition, so it was in the main event, this time against Adam Collins. The reward for his opening round victory? A showdown with none other than Daryl Peach – Britain’s 9-Ball World Champion from five years ago. It was nothing short of a showdown; a quite stunning match involving five break and runs, three for Darren and two for Daryl, went all the way to the final rack where Appleton won through 9-8 and into the last 32. Here he met the Challenge Cup runner-up Courtney Symons and, having kicked up a head of steam from his previous match, dispatched the East Anglian potter 9-4 and went on to meet another East Anglian in the shape of Thetford’s Tom Cousins. Another 9-4 result put Appleton two matches from the final and into a quarter-final against his first Pro Cup victim Chris Melling. This match was much closer than their first, but the result still went the same way. 9-7 in Appleton’s favour meant a semi-final against yet another professional in the shape of Imran Majid. Yet another breaktaking match followed with Appleton winning through 9-6, meaning Appleton had now won a staggering 11 matches in a row over the weekend – 5 of which were against cue sport professionals – and took his place in his second final of the weekend.

Shaw’s ranking as provisional British number 1 meant all eyes were on him from the word ‘go’. The Glaswegian’s opening match in the main event could hardly have come against someone further away from him in Britain. Penzance’s Robin Cripps was the first victim on Shaw’s road to the final, succumbing 9-4 to the Scot. In the last 32 he came up against Tom Staveley, but didn’t have to change gear in order to beat him. The final score this time was 9-5 to Shaw, and it was Shaw that he came up against in the next round. Yes, Jayson Shaw came up against his namesake Adam Shaw for a place in the quarter-finals of the main event. Needless to say that a Shaw that went through to the last 8 – Jayson, that is – and a destruction job saw Adam eliminated from the competition 9 racks to 1. Two hurdles remained for Shaw in order to get to his second main event final of the year, and this time it was Guapo who stood in his way. Karl Boyes just didn’t have the firepower, however, and it was Shaw who won through 9-5 once again to set up a semi-final with ex-snooker professional Michael Rhodes, himself having a quite spectacular maiden season on GB9. Here lied Shaw’s toughest test of the round – five break and runs throughout the match proves quality was in abundance. It was Shaw who limped over the line, however, taking out a thrilling 9-8 win and putting him into his first main event final since winning the 2011 British Grand Prix.

The final told a tale all of its own before a ball had been hit – the World Champion on his homecoming up against one of the fastest and brightest players in the world. It was World Champion Appleton, however, who found himself under the cosh at 10-3 down in a little under 40 minutes and just 1 rack away from defeat against a Shaw who quite amazingly missed just ONE ball in those 13 racks. Appleton had to pull out the comeback of his life to turn the match around, but at 10-7 the tension was simply palpable as people wondered whether he could pull off one of the greatest turnarounds of his career. It wasn’t to be, however, with Shaw keeping his composure to run out Appleton’s dry break in the 18th rack to win through 11-7 in an exhilarating 57 minutes – one of the quickest and most memorable finals in GB9′s five year history.


The Pro Cup final was guaranteed to be a sparkling affair. Winslow’s Stewart Colclough, one of GB9′s most consistent players ever, was facing newly crowned World 9-Ball Champion Darren Appleton at his home-coming tournament.

Appleton appeared to bring his World Championship form back home with him. His first match of the tournament was against his fellow England partner from the World Cup Of Pool and good friend Chris Melling. What on paper was a mouthwatering tie ended up being anything but; Appleton won through 9-2 and saw himself into the winners bracket. Here he faced Andrew Morris in a much closer affair. 9-6, however, was enough to see Appleton through to the quarter-finals and a date with Chris Hall. The opponent may have changed but the scoreline stayed the same – 9-6 once again seeing Appleton over the latest hurdle and into the semi-finals to face another globally recognised name in Karl Boyes. The 9-6 results were becoming a habit now – once again this was the score in favour of Appleton, and it was a score that saw Boyes out and Appleton into the final.

Colclough had a much less solid, and significantly longer, start to his Pro Cup campaign. Going straight in at the deep end with a 9-8 hill-hill thriller, Colclough failed to see off Chris Hall meaning a showdown with Arfan Dad awaited him in the losers bracket. He picked his feet back up here and saw off Dad 9-7 to put himself one match away from the quarter finals. He next met Northern Masters runner-up Shaun Storry and, despite making 3 break and runs in the match, Storry found himself on the wrong end of a 9-6 final score. Colclough went through to the last 8 to face another East Anglian in the form of Craig Osborne. Yet another long match followed with Colclough winning through 9-7. By this point Colclough had played a quite phenomenal 72 racks out of a maximum possible 76 en route to the semi-finals. Perhaps all this table time helped, however, as an imperious display including four break and runs saw him eliminate provisional British number 1 Jayson Shaw 9 racks to 5 to put him into the final alongside the World Champion.

Whether or not Colclough needed the rest, he was glued to his chair for most of a relatively one-sided match. Appleton pulled off a terrific display to see off the Cheshire shooter 9-2 and bag himself the coveted gold medal on his first GB9 competition of 2012.


The two finalists in the fourth Challenge Cup of the season were players with very different mindsets – Courtney Symons, already a Challenge Cup winner from April this year, and a certain Great Britain international and world number 40 Mark Gray looking to desperately reignite his ability in GB9 competitions after a dismal 18 months.

Symons’ campaign began first thing on the Saturday morning with a showdown against a slightly off-colour Al Coton. He ground out a 9-4 victory before showing everyone he’d saved his gas for the next round – Paul Williams shown no mercy with a 9-2 defeat sparking the end of his campaign and sending Symons through to the last 16. There he was to face Morley’s Mark Lunn, British Amateur 9-Ball Champion and a play consistently making the latter stages of GB9 competitions. A high quality match ensued and a 9 racks to 6 scoreline saw Symons through to face another Yorkshireman in the form of Dave Nelson. He went one rack better than before in winning 9-5 and matching that score once again in his semi-final against young hotshot Tom Cousins to book his place in his second Challenge Cup final in the space of three events – a rare and outstanding achievement.

Prior to this event, Mark Gray had a quite horrible time in his newfound home of the Challenge division – a semi-final finish in April not much consolation for two first round finishes in the year’s other events. His campaign in this event started against Elliott Sanderson – in no mood to hang around, Gray dished out a 9-2 hammering to see himself through to face Glenn Cooney in the last 32. A much closer match saw Gray scrape through with a 9 racks to 7 win, before reaching top gear and beyond in his last 16 match against Nottingham’s Kevin Simpson. It was bagel time with the quickest match of the round taking place –Gray going through to the quarter-finals with a 9-0 win to his name. Andy Worthington bore the brunt of Gray’s domination, himself only managing to put three racks on the board as Gray won through to the semi-finals 9-3. Fellow pro Phil Burford was waiting for him there, but it was Gray who finally seemed to brush away his Challenge Cup blues, winning 9-5 and entering his first final on GB9 since April 2010!

The final was a grinding yet quick affair. At 5-2 up the momentum looked to be with Symons, but four racks on the spin saw Gray move into the lead for the first time at 6-5. From there he held onto this lead and came away with a 9-7 victory. A much needed result for one of the world’s best cueists.