9-Ball: Majid Finishes as GB9 Number 1… Again!
The final of this year’s British Grand Prix was contested by two of the most decorated players in GB9 history. Imran Majid, British number 1 in 2008 and 2011, came up against Mark Gray, British number 1 in 2009 and 2010. With both players having come back from Italy in the early hours in order to participate in the main event, doubts were raised at whether both players would be able to perform to their usually immaculate standard at such short notice. The punters weren’t let down as a day of tremendous pool began.
Majid began his campaign bright and early at 9am against long time tour player Paul Williams. By his own high standards he maybe came out of the blocks a little slow, but still dispatched Williams 9-5 to set up a last 32 clash with Daz Cooper. He stepped up a couple of gears in this round, winning through 9 racks to 2 and securing him a last 16 battle with Yorkshireman Dave Nelson. Majid managed a staggering 4 break and runs in the match but Nelson wasn’t going down lightly: he managed to score 6 racks of his own, but it wasn’t enough to stop Majid winning the 9 he needed to win through to the quarter finals. His opponent here was Andy Worthington and, knowing he had to step his game up in the business end of the tournament, he pulled away swiftly to secure a 9-2 win and set up a semi-final against Michael Valentine. A typically methodical match ensued here and both tried to grind out a victory. It was Majid, however, that pulled away to win 9-5 and reach the British Grand Prix final for the second year in a row.
‘Granite’ Gray was coming up against Ealing’s Lionel Brown in his last 64, also starting at 9am on the Sunday morning. He overcame the threat of the Londoner 9-2 to send him through to meet Chichester’s Luke Rollison in the last 32. Gray took his foot off the gas a little, but still managed to keep the game up enough to win through 9 racks to 5. In the last 16 he came up against all round cueman from Derby, Jack Whelan. Gray managed to go one rack better than his previous match in winning through to the quarter finals, with 9-5 enough to see him through to a quarter final up against Chris Buckmaster. The Surrey shooter was looking to go one stage further than his quarter final showing in this year’s Midlands Classic, but Gray stopped him in his tracks with a 9-4 win to set up what turned out to be a thrilling semi-final against young hotshot Phil Burford. The match went the distance – all 17 racks – but a composed final rack saw Gray through to his first main event final since April 2010 with a tremendous 9-8 victory.
The final swung strongly in both directions. After a tame start from both players, Gray managed to break away into an 8-4 lead, just three racks away from victory. Majid, however, proved why he was last season’s British number 1 and why he wasn’t going to relinquish that title lightly this year. The Maharaja turned the match on its head, winning 7 of the final 9 racks to win the final main event of the season 11-9. With the victory, Imran Majid secured his title as Britain’s number 1 pool player for another 12 months, a title only ever held by Majid and his fellow finalist Mark Gray. Credit must go to Gray also in finishing as this season’s British number 2. He will look to try and dethrone Majid at the top of the rankings, along with dozens of other players from across the country looking to take their slice of glory on the world’s toughest national pool tour.