Gareth Hibbott Crowned IPA World Professional Pool Champion
February 11, 2016 11:40
Gareth Hibbott had a fantastic time last week in Bradford at the IPA World Professional Pool Championships.
Hibbott, who hails from Southport, won his first professional World title when he defeated Welshman Craig Marsh in a very thrilling final. Hibbott won the first set 5-2 only to see Marsh level it in the second set with a 5-3 scoreline.
This meant a very tense end to a fantastic week of competition. It was a very tight affair as neither player really managed to get a foothold and then it reached 4-4. One frame to decide who would become the 2016 World Professional Champion. It was Hibbott that had the break and under what must have been immense pressure managed a break and dish to lift the title. A title that most involved would say was well-deserved.
Prior to the singles final Hibbott (ranked 2 on the IPA Tour) had also won the World Professional doubles title with his partner Dean Shields and had also reached the semi-final of the Seniors event. Without a doubt the most consistent player of the week in Blackpool and also a very well-respected man amongst the player base.
In the ladies event it was Deb Burchell who retained her title after defeating Scotland's Shona Lucas for the second year running. Both are class acts in the ladies game and it was Burchell who powered into an early lead leaving Lucas a little perplexed. Lucas had to settle for the runner-up trophy once again though as she failed to get back into the game enough to cause Burchell a problem.
The IPA Tour and the World Professional Championships are a huge step forward for the Blackball rule set. The Tour is organised by dedicated players and officials and has struck a sponsorship deal with Coral Bookmakers for the 2016 season. The feedback from the sponsor was excellent which may see more money and more media coverage of this game, something that is beyond overdue.
The live streaming was excellent with multiple camera angles and of course on screen scoring, the sponsorship with Coral added an extra element with live odds also next to the players on the live streaming.
For the first time the IPA Tour will travel outside of mainland UK this season with the Simonis World Series stopping in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Norway and also South Africa. This is the first step into what I think will be a truly worldwide professional tour.
Other nations like Morocco, Australia and New Zealand could be other hotbeds that the IPA Tour could target in future seasons.
If the tour maintains its professionalism and continues to innovate we may finally have a professional circuit for the small-ball game, where prize money and the players come first rather than the promoters and venues.