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Gray stuns Appleton in Empire Pool Tour's Manchester Open Final
 Posted on Monday, June 19 2006 @ 00:45:02 UTCby admin
8 Ball THE 2006 MANCHESTER 8-BALL OPEN
Rileys American Pool & Snooker Stretford
Stretford Arndale Centre
Chester Road, Stretford
MANCHESTER
Greater Manchester
M32 9BD
Tel: 0161 865 8123
Fax: 0161 865 8123
www.empirepooltour.com
View the current rankings at the EPT website
www.rileysltd.com
Photographs available for purchase soon at PoolPhotos@Pro9.co.uk

Saturday/Sunday 17-18 June 2006


Empire Pool Tour Final - Darren Appleton congratulates Mark Gray.


THE EMPIRE POOL TOUR IS THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO UK POOL IN YEARS!

Ex-snooker player Mark Gray has beaten Ex-English pool player Darren Appleton by a massive 10 frames to 3 in the final of the Empire Pool Tour's inaugural event, The Manchester 8-Ball Open at Rileys American pool and Snooker Club in Stretford Mall, Manchester.

Gray's rather unorthodox break with it's super fast feathering and massive "whole body" follow-through, was patchy at best, and although his breaks were the more productive of the two player's, it was Gray's superior skill when "in amongst the balls" that provided the clear edge in this rather one-sided final.

Click on "Read More..." for the details.


The Empire Pool Tour Players Meeting.



Empire Pool Tour Player, Carl Morris.



Empire Pool Tour Players (from L to R) Mark Mills, Michael Valentine, Kevin Uzzell and Pat Holtz.



All the way from Canada via Northern Ireland for Sam Gibson, one of the many players from Club9 in Belfast that came to the Empire Pool Tour's first event.



Empire Pool Tour Player - Tim Singh.



Empire Pool Tour Players (from L to R) Pat Holtz, Darren Appleton and Rob McKenna.



There were some quite distinctive number plates in the car park.



Empire Pool Tour player Steve Brown.



THE FINAL

To be completely honest the scoreline of the final doesn't do justice to the very high standard of Appleton's performance overall in this competition, but he was cooled off by Grays first two racks and then never really got a break - literally!


The two finalists lag for the first break in this alternate break format competition.


Full Rack-By-Rack Analysis

The final is announced to the audience by Tour Founder Daryl Peach with a brief description of the player's recent results and titles, the crowd give the player's a warm welcome and they lag for the privilege of the first break.


Empire Pool Tour Manchester 8-Ball Open Winner Mark Gray.


Gray sets the tone of the final by winning the lag and getting a good break under his belt. After a short pause for thought he proceeds to comfortably "Break and Dish" the first rack.


Mark Gray 1 : 0 Darren Appleton


Darren gets the second break in this alternate break format, he checks the referees rack and event though the table has been "tapped" he manages to find something to his dissatisfaction, probably a small gap between the balls. He indicates it to the referee and Chris Billings delicately fixes it and Darren breaks.

It's an absolute MONSTER of a break, the balls are split all over the place but as they come to rest it's clear he hasn't made a ball. He heads straight back to his chair with the small comfort that the balls have settled awkwardly and a run out by his opponent is unlikely.

Mark chooses the lower numbered "spots" group, makes the first ball but then attempts a very difficult slow roll bank into the side pocket. Only half the pocket was available as an impeding ball occluded the remainder, and although it was a brilliantly executed shot, it missed by a couple of millimeters and deflected off the point of the pocket.

Darren returns to the table, as he surely knew he would, and runs the majority of his group, including a nice shot with the "rake" but he audibly exhales a sigh of despair when he sees that he has come up short of ideal position on his penultimate "stripe".

His premonition of doom is proved right as he misses the long shot to the corner pocket.

The table is now clear for Mark to run-out and although he felt it necessary to advise the referee of the "one in the corner" it was clear that he had won this rack already, and he just potted the remaining balls to prove it.


Mark Gray 2 : 0 Darren Appleton


Gray's snap in the third rack saw three balls scurrying into pockets and he looks in good shape for a run-out.

He has to use the rest for one shot,and then stares skywards as the cue-ball dies off the rail leaving a now, very tough 3-ball into the corner.

"3 in the corner" he confirms to the Ref, as he proceeds to make the tough shot.

Appleton can be seen sitting patiently in his chair, slightly gnawing at his lip, as Gray performs the formality of potting the last two balls for yet another nice run-out.


Mark Gray 3 : 0 Darren Appleton


Gray has started looking comfortable and it's possible that Appleton is getting "cooled down" with all this "chair time"!

Darren must know that he'll need to start making an impression on this match soon or he'll have an incredibly tough job winning this final.

He needs a break... He needs a good break... And he needs to make a ball on that break too !

With this in mind, he inspects the rack from above... It obviously meets with his approval as he immediately walks around the table to break.

He is breaking from the extreme left of the break box, placing the cue-ball very near the head-string.

His technique looks more fluid, more practiced and more controlled than Gray's, but perhaps he is a little cold, or perhaps he is trying too hard, but he's definitely not getting as good a result as Gray.

This time to his horror, he dumps the white straight into the side pocket... What a disaster, the worst possible scenario at this point given Gray's unstoppable run at the moment.

As we're playing to IPT rules Gray takes "Ball-In-Hand" anywhere on the table. It's odd to see him playing a ball behind the line without exiting the "kitchen" first but that's the rules!


The final was refereed by Chris Billings, who has recently earned his official referee certificate and has become the UK's first black cuesports referee.


Let's face it, BIH at this level normally means end of rack. These two players are very talented and have been playing competitive pool all weekend, and although Appleton has been warming his chair too much, that's not the case for Gray and he dishes up the rack without any problems.


Mark Gray 4 : 0 Darren Appleton


Appleton announces a "time-out" and takes a short visit to the "rest room" - not something that he should do on his opponents break, but Gray doesn't seem to mind waiting and Appleton returns after only a brief delay.

Did he need a break to collect his thoughts? Is the writing on the wall already for Appleton? This is looking like a serious problem now with the score standing at Four-Nil and Gray's turn to break.

Gray's performance so far has been of outstanding quality... Pretty much flawless. If ever Appleton needed a chance, it was now.

Hallelujah... Gray breaks DRY!!!

Can Appleton make the most of this opportunity?

He says nothing as he dishes up the rack, simply indicating the pocket for the black with the merest wave of the cue in the direction of the nominated pocket.


Mark Gray 4 : 1 Darren Appleton


Finally Appleton get on the scoreboard, can he use this win as a springboard for a new momentum?

No.

He breaks dry!

Mark Gray simply isn't in a mood for giving chances. He is SO good when he is in amongst the balls, he splits clusters with aplomb, always lands in good shape, and is making the odd tough shot look easy.

There's only one way this match is going from now on. Gray is just playing sublimely. Nothing ostentatious, nothing demonstrative, just a brilliant, awe-inspiring demonstration of pool played with a supremely professional manner.

He is poker-faced as he walks from shot to shot, betraying nothing of his emotions, efficiently potting ball after ball, until there are no more "stripes" remaining and he effortlessly sinks the "coal" for yet another perfect dish.

Mark Gray 5 : 1 Darren Appleton


Gray break dry.

Appleton prefers the "spots" and calls the 6-ball at first, but then, after a little more consideration he nominates the 5-ball into the side.

He executed it well and this time it's Appleton's turn to dish up.

Mark Gray 5 : 2 Darren Appleton


Once again Appleton's break is dry!

Understandably a little frustrated, he sighs as he returns to his chair.

Gray is in awesome form, he doesn't look like he's ever going to miss a shot again in his entire life, he's really looking indestructible. Every little cluster split is turning into gold, with precision control of all the balls involved.

It's awesome!!!
It's devastating!!!
It's another dish!!!
It gets a ripple of approving applause from the audience!!!


Mark Gray 6 : 2 Darren Appleton


Gray's break is an entertaining affair.

He's breaking from the right-hand-side of the table, near the edge of the break box, his bridge-hand resting on the back rail obviously favouring the extra speed and power this position affords the player.

He feathers many times, in very long strokes, very vigorously before a little pause and the striking the cue-ball followed by a full body follow-through toward the table.

He seems to be controlling the white much less than the other top players, but not losing it so much than it ever scratches.

Most importantly of all, this time, three balls can be heard dropping into the rubbery depths of the SAM's drop pockets with a satisfying plopping sound, as they've just rolled gently over the lip of the slate.

Gray is playing pretty fast now... Literally, as he walks a little faster around the table, as he confidently and decisively dishes up yet another rack.

Everything is easy for the man in form!


Mark Gray 7 : 2 Darren Appleton


Appleton breaks from the same side as before with a little extra power to the shot. This time he makes two balls, but unfortunately, once again, the cue-ball is one of them! How unlucky can one guy get?

Gray takes Ball-In-Hand and after a very long ponder, places it in the most awkward position imaginable, so that he has to "jack up" and bridge over an impeding ball shooting into a very distant pocket, watched like a hawk by the referee, Chris Billings.

Obviously playing the tough ball first pays dividends as he proceeds to dish up another flawless example of such high quality cuemanship, I'm running out of superlatives to describe them.


Mark Gray 8 : 2 Darren Appleton


Gray breaks but comes up dry.

The split isn't great, there are some bunches of balls but not clustered, more like a heavy traffic jam, they still go but it's a tough run out.


Empire Pool Tour Manchester 8-Ball Open Runner-Up Darren Appleton.


Appleton plays fast as he accurately and expertly navigates his way around the swathe of balls until there are none left.


Mark Gray 8 : 3 Darren Appleton


Appleton gets the break this time, and he tried something new in a effort to make a ball. He breaks from the right-hand-side this time, really hard!

DRY!!!

He curses under his breath as, visibly annoyed he places his cue more noisily than previously on the empty table next to his chair, this time preferring to stand instead of sitting.

Gray ponders his move for a while and then purposefully attempts his run-out. Balls are dropping as usual until he gets stopped, when a little "kiss" on the ultimate striped ball sends it safely to the middle of a rail.

Incredibly, with the score at 8-3, Gray plays the first safety of the match, developing the 14 and sending the cue-ball to a near rail!!!

An absolutely exquisite safety battle ensues during which Appleton buries Gray into a nightmare of a clustre.

Gray fails to escape and the referee gives him the "two fouls" warning as the Empire Pool Tour follows the example of the IPT's rules.

This time Gray manages to execute a terrific shot, hitting his object ball gently with enough force to make a rail, and after a few more exchanges he gets control of the table to take the rack.


Mark Gray 9 : 3 Darren Appleton


It's Gray's break for the match and he uses his time-out correctly to take a rest on his own break.

He returns promptly and settles into his usual pre-shot routine for his break.

He makes 2 balls on the snap, one of each flavour, and assess the position.

It's a very manageable run-out ordinarily, but the stakes are high and he doesn't want to wake Darren up!

Slowly but surely he runs ball after ball until he gets to the penultimate of his group. It's one of the tougher shots in this rack, if he makes it and gets good shape on the 8-ball it's all over. He does exactly that and Darren Appleton approaches him before he has played the 8-ball to shake his hand and congratulate him.


Mark Gray 10 : 3 Darren Appleton


It was a high quality final, conducted very professionally by two sporting players and it was a pleasure to watch. It would have been a legendary if either player had more luck with their breaks, but the table was a little stingy for that.


The beautiful winner's plaque-like trophies designed by Mark Mills.


Both Gray and Appleton gained a new army of fans and admirers of their ability and professionalism at this event... I know... I'm one of the people impressed by their ambassadorial demeanor and excellent cuemanship - I can't wait for the Emprire Pool Tour's next event at Harrow!


Empire Pool Tour Founder, Daryl Peach, with Winner, Mark Gray.


THE STATS






THE EMPIRE POOL TOUR MANCHESTER 8-BALL OPEN PAYOUT
     1st.      £2,000.00
     2nd.      £1,000.00
     3rd.      £700.00
     4th.      £700.00
     5th.      £400.00
     6th.      £400.00
     7th.      £400.00
     8th.      £400.00
     9th.      £250.00
     10th.      £250.00
     11th.      £250.00
     12th.      £250.00
     13th.      £250.00
     14th.      £250.00
     15th.      £250.00
     16th.      £250.00
     TOTAL                 £8,000.00


THE 67 ENTRANTS
(65 Men, 2 Ladies)

Jonathan Mathers
Andy Nicholson
Serkan Osman
Damian Overton
Andy Jeronimidis
Steven Johnston
Nigel Francis
Neil Jenkins
Steve Folan
Mark Hopgood
Geoff Edge
Mark Segal
Matt Hyden
Stuart Colclough
Vincent Facquet
Neil Raybone
James Kay
Kevin Brown
Dave Simmonds
Bob Harris
Steve Brown
Simon Widlo
Darren Appleton
Mike Keshish
Paul Strawbridge
Sam Gibson
Brett Armer
Brendan Leigh
Samrine Abugideri
Tim Singh
Anthony Illingworth
Ernesto Diaz
Rob McKenna
Carl Morris
Mark Gray
Dean Masters
Mike Rogers
Martinho Correia
Rob Chilton
Caroline Walch
Gary Houston
Gareth Esprit
Andy Worthington
Ahmed Miraghi
Michael Peel
Paul Canavan
Steve Higton
Mark Mills
Tony Gear
Phil Williamson
Daryl Peach
Rico Diks
Bradley Parker
Dean Goddard
Michael Valentine
Pat Holtz
Gary Millen
Kevin Uzzell
Yanxu Qu
Chapman
Paul Williams
Brian Saleh
Kevin McKee
Andy Barnett
Kevin Hew
Jon Davies
Lee Rigby



THE PRELIMINARIES

Nicholson

10 : 7

Mathers

Morris

10 : 5

McKenna

Mark Gray

10 : 3

Masters




THE LAST 64

Nicholson

10 : 2

Osman

Overton

10 : 1

Jeronimidis

Johnson

10 : 4

Francis

Jenkins

10 : 3

Folan

Hopgood

10 : 4

Edge

Hyden

10 : 4

Segal

Facquet

10 : 5

Colclough

Raybone

10 : 6

Kay

K. Brown

W : O

Simmonds

S, Brown

10 : 9

Harris

Appleton

10 : 1

Widlo

Keshish

10 : 6

Strawbridge

Gibson

10 : 3

Armer

Abugideri

10 : 7

Leigh

Singh

10 : 1

Illingworth

Morris

10 : 2

Ernesto Diaz

Gray

10 : 6

Rogers

Correia

10 : 4

Chilton

Walch

10 : 5

Houston

Worthington

10 : 4

Esprit

Peel

10 : 9

Miraghi

Higton

10 : 3

Canavan

Mills

10 : 6

Gear

Peach

10 : 2

Williamson

Diks

10 : 8

Parker

Valentine

10 : 4

Goddard

Holtz

10 : 5

Millen

Uzzell

10 : 1

Qu

Williams

10 : 2

Chapman

Saleh

10 : 0

McKee

Hew

10 : 3

Barnett

Davies

10 : 6

Rigby




THE LAST 32

Overton

10 : 9

Nicholson

Jenkins

10 : 4

Johnson

Hopgood

10 : 6

Hyden

Facquet

10 : 8

Raybone

S. Brown

10 : 7

K. Brown

Appleton

10 : 3

Keshish

Gibson

10 : 2

Abugideri

Morris

10 : 4

Singh

Gray

10 : 2

Correia

Worthington

10 : 7

Walch

Peel

10 : 3

Higton

Peach

10 : 2

Mills

Diks

10 : 6

Valentine

Holtz

10 : 3

Uzzell

Williams

10 : 9

Saleh

Hew

10 : 4

Davies




THE LAST 16

Damian Overton

10 : 2

Neil Jenkins

Vincent Facquet

10 : 4

Mark Hopgood

Darren Appleton

10 : 4

Steve Brown

Carl Morris

10 : 6

Sam Gibson

Mark Gray

10 : 6

Andy Worthington

Daryl Peach

W : O

Michael Peel

Rico Diks

10 : 4

Pat Holtz

Kevin Hew

10 : 4

Paul Williams



THE QUARTER-FINALS

Vincent Facquet

10 : 8

Damian Overton

Darren Appleton

10 : 6

Carl Morris

Mark Gray

10 : 8

Daryl Peach

Rico Diks

10 : 5

Kevin Hew



THE SEMI-FINALS

Darren Appleton

10 : 2

Vincent Facquet

Mark Gray

10 : 9

Rico Diks


THE FINAL

Mark Gray

10 : 3

Darren Appleton


On Sunday a Flyer was held for all the players who didn't qualify for the second day, but stayed anyway - it was won by Gary Millen who picked up £160 for his efforts and Kevin Brown was rewarded with £80 for the runner-up spot.

Don't miss the next Empire Pool Tour Event...
12-13 August 2006
2006 EPT Harrow Open
Riley's Wealdstone, Harrow


 

  8 Ball


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"Gray stuns Appleton in Empire Pool Tour's Manchester Open Final" | Login/Create Account | 1 comment
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