By: Markus Noé
Canadian pool players and fans alike had to swallow a tough pill today as it has been announced that the World 8 Ball Championships have been granted to China. Just over a month ago the story broke that the World 8 Ball would be played at the Corner Bank pool hall in Toronto, Ontario. This was exciting news for North American players as they usually have to take a plane to the other side of the world to compete in a World Championship. There has not been a world title held on this continent since the 1990's and this was a real opportunity to grow the game here.
The word is that the China association after hearing about the Toronto announcement just simply outbid them. Once again we get to see how poorly pool is run even at the highest level, when saying that I mean the World Pool-Association. There has not been a World 8 Ball Championship in the last 4-5 years as pool has seen one if its biggest downturns in the last century. In Toronto a group came together stepped up, and put in the $275,000 needed for the prize fund and the W.P.A announced the first World 8 Ball in years, a good thing right?
This was announced as a firm bid but China countered with a long term deal and supposedly for the best interest of the sport the Toronto organizers stepped aside. The W.P.A like many associations is just a hollow organization who's sole ability is to give a rubber stamp sanction so you can call your promotion a World Championship. They do not organize any event, they sit back and wait for someone to come up with the minimum prize fund and a venue and then they take their cut of "administration fee's". This is the reason that we have had so much trouble getting the World 8 and 10 Ball played over the last decade. No one is putting up the money and the W.P.A is not doing anything to raise it so it simply does not happen.
This is what made the Toronto announcement so exciting. Someone is stepping up and doing a good thing for pool. You could say China is doing the same but why could they not wait until next year? Especially if there has not been a World 8 Ball in years. This is how it breaks down, China has guaranteed $300,000 prize pool for this years men's and women's events and have committed to invest $3,000,000 over the next 5 years. Overall this would be good news but it really speaks volumes to how the W.P.A is run, just based on integrity they should have postponed this announcement until next year. Let Canada enjoy a year of the World Championships and build the sport here then they can have it for the next 5 years that would have been perfectly acceptable.
The other thing that really burns for Canadian pool players is the timeline of this cancellation. I know many players personally who have signed up for the Canadian Championships next week in Québec City just so they have a shot to qualify for the World 8 Ball in Toronto. The commitment this takes financially and in terms of being away from work and family is significant and for this news to come out a week before the Canadians kick off is ridiculous. This did not happen overnight, the organizers must have had some advanced noticed and and should have shared this. Once again before a ball has been hit players going into the Canadian Championships players can only shake their head in disbelief.
For now Canadians and all North American players just have to suck up another disappointment as many were looking forward to having a World Championship in their backyard. In the end hopefully this does not mean that people will cancel their plans to play in the Canadian Championships. The C.B.S.A is struggling and could really use the boost in participation which was happening this year with the new location and the announcement of the World 8 Ball.
When a World Association in any sport announces a World Championship and location that's where it should be, this would never happen in any other sport. They are reporting this as the best move for pool which financially I guess could be argued for the players. For the W.P.A the reality is they are going to make more in fee's and hopefully strengthen the W.P.A. However I would compare this to a government program, sometimes more money does not mean the service will be better. As a Canadian pool fan I am severely disappointed in how this was handled and I think by making one announcement then changing their minds when a "better deal" comes through shows a lack of integrity.
Fortunately for Canadian pool fans their are rumors of another big event coming to Toronto around August nothing has been secured yet, so I will let you all speculate. Overall this does look like a good deal especially for the Women's side who get left out of a lot. But for myself and many others a bad taste has once again been left in our mouths.