2018 UKPT Event 5 - Telford
Normally the focus at the 5th, and final, tour of the season is all about where people end up in the rankings, specifically for the Premier League placings and who can top each list. On this occasion, however, all eyes are on Karl Sutton. The Norwich cueist has produced some fantastic performances in the past two tours and has been nigh on unstoppable as he's picked both tour titles, a challenge title and a challenge semi-final, narrowly losing out 5-4 to Eddie Barker. The question now is, can Karl Sutton match Tom Cousins' amazing achievement of the 2017 season and pick up 3 tour wins on the bounce? When Cousins managed this last year, it seemed a feat that no one else would manage to emulate, but Sutton is on the cusp of doing so and who would back against him as he is clearly still in devastating form, recently adding the National Amateur title to his collection and defeating the likes of Giuseppe D'Imperio and Shaun Chipperfield along the way.
The Ladies Premier League sees Sharon James sitting comfortably at the top and the first-place position guaranteed. James only has 1 game left to go, as opposed to 3 for her closest rivals, Leanne Cragg and Amy Beauchamp. Should James lose her remaining game and either Beauchamp or Cragg win all 3, which only one can do as they're playing each other, then they would finish tied on points. James, however, beat both players earlier in the season and as such would win on head-to-head. Congratulations, therefore, go to James on reclaiming the Premier League title that she previously held back in 2016!
Congratulations also go to Dylan Leary for topping the Men's Premier League. Leary was joint on points with Davis and Kane but topped it by virtue of a better frame difference, aided by resounding wins of 8-3 and 8-2 against Davis and Harrison, respectively, at the fourth tour. Topping the table in such an elite field is an amazing achievement and all credit goes to Leary who has worked hard to do so, but the Premier League is not yet over. The final tour sees the top 8 players from the Premier League, Leary, Davis, Kane, Whitworth, D'Imperio, Cousins, Harrison and Brierley, do battle for a £5000 prize fund, so all is yet to play for. The remaining four, Wharne, Flack, Ward and Kendall, drop out and instead attempt to ply their skills in the Challenge event. The draw for the first match in the Premier League Knockout is a follows:
DYLAN LEARY vs PHIL HARRISON
GIUSEPPE D'IMPERIO vs TOM COUSINS
ADAM DAVIS vs MATT BRIERLEY
JOSH KANE vs DARRELL WHITWORTH
The tour itself sees a number of people battling for the coveted top 10 spots as these guarantee entry to the Premier League for 2019. The top 4 of Sutton, Kendall, Harrison and Flack, seem fairly safe, but for the rest it's anyone's guess who will end up making the cut. The likes of Tom Cousins and Giuseppe D'Imperio, seemingly ever-present in the Premier League, will need to produce their A-games as they currently languish in joint 18th place. Darrell Whitworth currently sits in 11th position and will be looking to add to his tally to keep his place in the Premier League after fairing so well in it in his first season, finishing in 4th. Tour 1 finalist David Stock will be looking to put in a performance at the last event to match that at the first to book his place in the top 10 as he has struggled to pick up any points to add to his tour 1 haul. He currently sits in 12th place, one ahead of Matt Brierley, by virtue of two merit points, who will be looking to make it three years on the bounce in the Premier League. All it takes is one good run at the last event to catapult someone into the top 10, due to rankings based on a single year, as such it could easily be someone currently ranked in the 30s who manages to book their place; it's certainly all to play for at the final tour!
As always, the tour is open for all to come and watch and play starts at 1pm on Friday 19th October at the Park Inn Hotel in Telford. Streaming will begin at 9am on Saturday 20th October and the link will be available on this site and Facebook.
The draw for both the tour and the challenge can be found below: