January 9th & 10th kick off the season’s Stage 1 events open to Amateur players only. The buzz will be all across the nation as the 32 NBL sanctioned venues hosting the qualifiers will collectively gather up 1,024 players vying for a spot in the 128 player Pro/Am main event in March. This first of 2 chances to qualify for the March event will begin on Saturday the 9th in locations running a 2-day qualifier while other locations run a 1-day event on Sunday alone. History will be made as the very first 32 local champions earn their way onto the big stage as the competitions conclude at all locations together on Sunday the 10th. It will be more exciting than watching the elections to see who won at each location, advancing to the national main event fully sponsored with their $1,000.00 entry, travel & lodging expenses all paid, representing their qualifying state and venue on their back. That’s right, each winner will be issued 2 official personalized NBL uniform jerseys to wear during competition! All 32 winners will also be issued an annual NBL tour card granting them the option to buy into the next 3 main events should they not qualify in though the next stage 1 event.
Stage 1 events are designed to allow a more level playing field for the underdogs in the competition. Shorter races to 5 with an alternate break format are applied in the 1st round and throughout the one-loss side of the charts. Winners yet to be defeated, will all race to 9 with alternating breaks. These numbers balance out the amount of play time, fatigue endured and even the number of racks players must win on either side of the charts from beginning to end to make it to the finals! An undefeated player must win a total of 41 racks to get to the finals, while a player losing their first match and going all the way trough the one-loss side wins a total of 40 racks in order to make it back to the finals: just 1 rack difference. The event is a true double-elimination format with the first set being a race to 9 and a second set if necessary a race to 5. It’s anyone’s game!
In addition to leveling out the above mentioned, some other variable factors are being addressed as well. In an effort to eliminate unsportsmanlike pattern racking, a specific racking pattern is mandatory for all; everyone gets the same exact rack to start! Reinforcing this will be the use of a template rack to negate the much despised “rack mechanic” from gapping the balls as much as possible. Finally, eliminating the ability to manipulate the cut-break causing an easy and unfair advantage to the masterful soft-breaker, and a boring to watch repetitious rack for spectators, a specific break location is designated for all to break from: the spot! Breaking head on forces a harder or higher speed break in order to make balls. Same tight rack, same pattern and same break spot for everyone. Practice it all you want from now until competition. This is as fair as can be.
Enjoy the video below demonstrating all this and see the actual racking pattern! Good luck to all those competing! See you at the National Main Event in March. Practice hard, play well!