Two teams and some individual players will be heading to Calgary from April 24-28 to compete in the CCS Western 8/9 Ball Championships. Those competing have been practising their craft at Porter Creek Billiards throughout the year.
While there, the players will have the options to play 8-Ball, 9-Ball, compete in as part of a team, and Scotch Doubles. The Scotch Doubles teams are made up of a male and female, and they alternate shots while playing 8-Ball.
Vicki Irvine has been travelling to Calgary since 2015. She will be playing Scotch Doubles, 8-Ball and the team event. Having played in the league all year, she feels she has continued to improve and is ready for the tournament.
"It is good to play a lot," said Irvine. "Practice makes perfect. Playing two/three times a week it betters your chances. If you practise more, you get your angles right and you can run the table."
In previous trips to Westerns, Irvine has come in 12th and ninth.
"I'd like to get into the top 10, maybe try to win. There is a lot of good players there. It's a lying, cheating, scheming game," laughed Irvine.
She is excited about the competition she will get to face at Westerns.
"It makes you play better and if you love the game like I do – I've been playing the game for 30 years and I enjoy it," she said.
Rob Sinclair was the winner of the league in town and will be competing with team Alpha Cues in the team events. He too has travelled out to play, and said he needs to be at his best.
"I'm looking forward to that for sure," said Sinclair. "There is going to be a lot of good players down there, so you really have to buckle down and play your A game. It's one way to get better is to play people that are better than you; tough competition."
Oliver Robitaille will be competing with Sinclair. He has been to Calgary six times.
"The previous one, I did pretty good, but never won anything yet in Calgary, but I won in Penticton two years in a row," said Robitaille.
Although he has not won in Calgary, he likes his and the team's chances while recognizing the challenge ahead of them.
"It's going to be a hard one because we won first place in Penticton the last time we were there as a team," said Robitaille. "Now we are in the B bracket, which is semi-pro, and we have a new player who has never been there before but it is going to be a good challenge, we have a good chance."
He believes his team will be able to rise to the challenge.
"We have been training pretty good and playing good shots and defensive shots, so I think we will do pretty good," said Robitaille.
Personally, Robitaille believes he has improved his game throughout the season.
"I always do every year and step it up a little bit," he said.
Joe MacLellan is no stranger to Outside competition, having competed in Calgary seven times as well as in Las Vegas, amongst others. MacLellan said he is looking to improve his game while at Westerns.
"I go to have fun and learn more skills," said MacLellan. "Every time you go, you learn more. It is more skills more practice if you don't learn you aren't playing."
MacLellan will also be a member of the Alpha Cues.
Ron Stanyer will be competing as an individual in 9-Ball and 8-Ball. He said he prefers playing 8-Ball.
"Nine-Ball is not a real game," said Stanyer. "It's a fluke game; if you shoot well, you'll win, and if you are lucky, you will win. I love 8-Ball; it is really cool."
Stanyer is also looking forward to the stiff competition from his competitors.
"The competition is awesome," said Stanyer. "If you miss a shot, you lose, simple as that. If you don't play a shape or a safety, you lose."
Shape is looking three shots ahead, and in 8-Ball, you have to call your ball and the pocket.
Safety is playing to your strengths and relying on averages, explained Stanyer.
"If I am better at the long shot than a bank shot, then, of course, I will take the long shot," he said.
Stanyer came in third place in the A division league playoff for 9-Ball. He is hopeful about his chances in Calgary.
"I should be to do something down there," said Stanyer. "I'm not optimistic I am going to win, but I should do something anyway."
He did acknowledge that it is possible that he wins if he is on his game that day.
This will is the 17th Annual CCS Western 8/9 Ball Championships. The players from Porter Creek Billiards, some very decorated, will be bringing a wealth of experience to Calgary.