Friday, 10 May 2019

European Tour qualifiers

Not going to talk much about tonight's event - Beaton got the win for our bets, nice, Durrant didn't, oh well, but Ryan Searle was finishing extremely well so give him credit for taking the chances he got. What I am going to talk about is the comments that Vincent van der Voort made in relation to the European Tour qualifiers.

Basically, the gist of what he was saying is that all players in the tour card qualifiers should play together. To give an idea of what's changed this year, whereas previously you'd have 8 European qualifier spots for an event, usually holding a couple the day before an event, then 4 home nation qualifiers the day before an event. There's still 18 UK qualifying spots and then 1 for each of the Nordic and Eastern Europe tours, but aside from possible Challenge Tour eligibility for the UK qualifiers, and some tour card holders having two chances in the Nordic events, for the most part it's unchanged.

Now you have 6 spots for all European (oddly not non-UK/Ireland, I think for example Murschell has needed to play the UK qualifier) tour card holders, then 4 for domestic qualifiers and 2 for associate European members.

This has really changed things for quite a lot of players. For German tour card holders, they've been seriously fucked over, especially someone like Christian Bunse who's just grabbed a card, probably too early, but now he's being passed over for a lot of fairly mediocre domestic qualifiers. For other European card holders, it's similarly bad, but not quite as bad, but they now have two less spots and, theoretically, a harder field as you don't have quite as much chance of running into an associate or otherwise fun player, and essentially getting a free win for a round.

On the other hand, if you've not got a tour card, it's incredible, but at least for the associate qualifier, it's resulting in very few players turning up (there were 15 yesterday, I think there were 12 in a previous one - and this is for two spots). The standard is not good, the standard for domestic qualifiers is worse (interested to see how it runs out when we hit the Netherlands), and it hugely dilutes the fields for the event proper, and squeezes out a bunch of otherwise good players that would make it.

I can kind of see why they have done it - for someone like a Jan Dekker, Ron Meulenkamp, Ronny Huybrechts etc, it would suck to need to trek to Gibraltar, Riesa, Prague or anywhere for that matter (while continental Europe looks close together, it really isn't, I feel for whoever were the away fans in the Freiburg/Kiel midweek cup game in football earlier this year, look it up on Google Maps to get the idea) only to not qualify, so having a qualifier somewhere they will theoretically going anyway to play the Pro Tour would reduce the expenses. But is it really that big a deal? I'm not so sure. I think Vincent's right, if you're getting all the tour card holders in the same place to qualify, have them all play in the same qualifier. Let the cream rise, regardless of where they're from. If you're wanting to push Euros into the event to get a greater blend of nationalities, then maybe just punt the top 2-4 non UK players in the Pro Tour OOM straight through into round one without needing to qualify. But if they're that high, they surely make it through anyway.

Bets for round 2 in the morning. The potential of a Wade/Durrant match for the ages is screwed given that Durrant didn't win, and Wade's withdrawn anyway. Not a bad result for Searle!

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