Unlimited feast of free wine, beer and soft drinks while watching the boys on the baize is the tantalising prospect for World Pool Masters premium ticketholders at the Europa Sports Complex this month!
Gibraltar’s ever-increasing participation in global sport takes another giant step forward this month when the nation once again stages the World Pool Masters, a leading tournament featuring the sport’s elite players, household names from many lands coming together at the new state-of-the-art Europa Sports Complex, all eager to hustle their way to stardom, each one chasing the same impossible dream of donning the Mosconi mantle of greatness, all eager to emulate legendary Willie Mosconi, the 15-time world pool champion and the greatest ever exponent of the game, whose exploits on the table meant the game’s popularity rapidly grew throughout the sixties and seventies in the saloons and gaming halls of the United States and far beyond, giving birth to modern-day showdowns like this month’s “Shootout on the Rock”.
Four action-filled days, from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th March, will see 24 of the world’s top cuemasters congregate in pursuit of the first prize of 25,000 dollars from the tournament’s total prize fund of $100k – apologies for expressing the prize money in greenbacks, but ever since the looming spectre of Brexit hoved on to the horizon and sadly has now become a reality, administrators of major global sports, like football, golf and tennis have spooked at the possibility of currency collapse, have ditched the pound, preferring the perceived safety of Uncle Sam bucks – the centuries old maxim Sound As A Pound would now, alas, appear to hold sway no more in financial circles.
Sponsors will be hoping for a repeat of the excitement of last year’s epic final when Spain’s David Alcaide emerged as champion, pipping Greece’s Alexander Kazakis 10-9 in a thrilling decider, clinching victory with an awesome table-length double pot, a spectacular shot that brought the crowd to their feet and the Masters’ title to the Spaniard for the second time.
Alcaide is back this year to defend his crown and will be joined by the sport’s finest from all over the world, a stellar cast including Russia’s European champion Feydor Gorst, United States Open champion Joshua Filler from Germany and two-time tournament winner Shane van Boening, an American who seems to have been a staple of the sport forever. The lineup contains a great global mix featuring contestants from China, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain is represented by tough as teak Glaswegian, 31-year-old Jayson “Eagle Eye” Shaw who has been playing pool from when he was a tiny tot of five years and who relishes the prospect of winning his first Masters to go with the multiple honours won in a long outstanding career.
Gibraltar, shorn of the shackles imposed by a recalcitrant and belligerent neighbour that had for decades vetoed admission to major sporting bodies such as UEFA and FIFA, is now revelling in its new found role of hosting global sporting events – football has seen The Rock welcome international hotshots Denmark, Switzerland and Ireland, while at club level both Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers have come calling, with darts, snooker, chess and last year’s acclaimed Island Games putting this tiny nation under the world spotlight – and now this picture-postcard location will add the prestigious World Pool Masters 2020 to its burgeoning portfolio.
While glancing at the media release advertising the event, my eye was drawn immediately to the line that jumped up off the page right at me, the promise of ‘unlimited free beer and wine’ to premium ticketholders – what….? Yes, it’s true, make merry and watch the World Pool Masters with as much Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and pints of bitter you can ship on board, and don’t worry if the little woman decides to tag along, there’s plenty of the soft stuff to keep her happy. I can’t wait.