Following the second round of qualifiers at Arlesey PC, the scene is now set for the final games in this year’s EPA international qualifiers.
12 teams contested the second round on Sunday 5th July, and after four rounds of Swiss, the top eight teams have been found.
Number one seeds will be Team Bavazzano, which brings together the new team of Sofiane Lachani, Lee Jamieson, Sean Prendergast and Herve Bavazzano. They stamped their authority on the second round by defeating the first three teams they faced 13-0, a feat that has not been achieved in recent memory. They did not prove infallible, however, as they lost their only game of the two round series in the fourth match of the day.
Also on 7 out of 8 wins was Team Seville, another new team comprising Ross Jones, Sam Blakey, Sylesh Smyker and Dean Seville. They were ranked second after the Buchholz tie break was applied. In third place was the reigning champions, Team Blows, which brings together the Kent quadruple of Rowland Jones, Scott Ashby, Kevin Spillett and Jack Blows.
The nature of the competition means that in many respects the form during the qualifiers is largely irrelevant as it all now comes down to an ‘all or nothing’ final day, which follows a barrage format in two seeded poules.
Keen observers of the top tier of the sport in England are already talking of a ‘Group of Death’ where Team Bavazanno has been drawn with Team Lewis (Matt Eversden, Phil Winston, Ben Treend and Jamie Lewis), Team Blows, and Team Baxter (Ashley Jamieson, Phil Claydon, Dave Chalkley and Nic Baxter).
The first round of the barrage pits Team Bavazzano against Team Lewis, whilst Team Blows will face Team Baxter.
The second poule brings together the teams that finished second, fourth, fifth and seventh at the end of the qualifiers.
The first round of the barrage has lined up Team Seville against Team Plumhoff (the all Southern foursome of Stephen Daykin, David Cruz, Steve Lombard and David Plumhoff), while Team Ashby (Chris Peel, Steve Brown, John Edmondson and Dean Ashby) will play Team Infantino (the all-Chiltern combination of Peter Taylor, Adrian Emson, Jeremy Huntley and Paolo Infantino).
Like the qualifiers, the Top 8 will take place on the challenging Arlesey pitches which inject a new level of uncertainty into pointing and require boule to boule shooting. A fascinating day of competition is in prospect on August 2nd. We’ll have the results and analysis of that here on PP.