Ryan Davies comfortably won the inaugural EPSB Open Series Order of Merit title following the final events of the season last weekend. Davies wins a free Q School entry, as do the remaining top four ranked players Patrick Whelan, Simon Blackwell and Andy Marriott.
With the support of EPSB 147 Club venues, the Series was created to provide further competitive playing opportunities in England, with the events open to all – including professionals and non-English residents.
Teenager Davies, who has claimed several big junior titles over the past several years, was the standout performer throughout the campaign, winning an incredible nine events at four different venues. The Oldham-based star finished the season with 381 points – amazingly, over 100 points clear of second place. The 19-year-old also reached two further finals in what was a stellar term.
In the end, Whelan had plenty of breathing space in second. The 24-year-old won a hat-trick of event titles – including on the opening weekend in September in Hull – and was a runner-up in another three.
Going into the final weekend with events at Landywood and Tradewell, the top four picture was finely in the balance with realistically two from Blackwell, Marriott, Jack Bradford and Josh Thomond in contention.
Saturday’s event at Landywood did not go well for Marriott, Bradford or Thomond, with only the latter winning a match before elimination in the last 16. So, it all went down to a tense finale in Hull the next day.
All four made it through to the quarter-finals. Three-time event winner Bradford was first to depart when he lost 3-0 to Thomond in the last eight.
In a fitting climax to the season that could hardly have been closer, the final four at Tradewell were Marriott, Thomond, Davies and Blackwell. In a huge match, Barratts 7 winner Marriott took the final two frames to oust and end the hopes of Thomond 3-2. Thomond travelled to the venue outside of the top four but was a man on a mission and in-form – throughout the day he made breaks of 57, 64, 81, 94, 118 and 140 in just 11 frames.
Blackwell – like Thomond – had not long returned from competing in the Gibraltar Open. He got the frame he needed against Davies to secure a top 4 berth and went on to reach the final with a 3-1 win.
In the final, Blackwell defeated Marriott (in his eighth final) 3-2 to claim his fifth Open Series title of the season.
In total, over 340 players took part throughout the season; a mixture of local players, up-and-coming youngsters, budding amateurs and current professional players.
The English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards would like to thank all the venues, organisers and tournament directors for helping make the first EPSB Open Series a success.
Over the coming months, the organisation will be looking at how to improve on this year’s Series and is keen to invite and work with venues across the country to achieve this.