Corner Bank 10-Ball Series Postponed

For the second time in less than two months, pool fans and players in Canada have had the rug pulled out from beneath them. First, the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) announced in March that the 2016 World 8-Ball Championship would be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in August. A group of investors working with The Corner Bank billiard club and sports bar promised a $250,000 prize fund.

A month later, the group announced its decision to pull out of its involvement in the tournament. The WPA, according to Corner Bank owner Jim Wych, was apparently also dealing with a Chinese promoter for the rights to the World 8-Ball Championship. The Chinese promoter allegedly promised a five-year commitment to produce both men’s and women’s championships, with $300,000 prize funds for each division. (The WPA’s deal with the Chinese promoters is slated to be signed in July.) In late May, The Corner Pocket announced a six-event 10-ball series, with $25,000-added events scheduled for September, October, November, January and February. The series would conclude with a $100,000-added Grand Championship in April. A June 15 follow-up press release defined the playing format, prize fund breakdown and stated that all six events would carry Mosconi Cup points for American and European players.

Just five days later, however, Wych issued yet another statement, this time announcing the cancellation of the 10-ball series.

“It is with a great sense of disappointment,” the press release read, “that the owners of The Corner Bank in Toronto must announce that their plans for The Corner Bank 10-Ball Series are now on hiatus. Quite simply, our guarantee of funding evaporated over the weekend and has made our plans for beginning a series this September unrealistic.”

The press release added that efforts would be made to “re-engage” the financial supporters of the series. “I’m terribly disappointed,” Wych said in a telephone interview shortly after the announcement went public on AZBilliards.com. “This is a huge opportunity missed for a lot of us. There was such enthusiasm building for this series.”

Without casting blame on the WPA, Wych acknowledged that the investment group that had promised to back him may have looked at anything less than a sanctioned world championship as not impactful enough.

“A big part of the draw for the investors was the event’s draw with Asian players,” Wych said. “There is a big Asian community here. The fact that so many of the top players are Asian, and that they would likely come to Toronto was important to them. Perhaps they didn’t think the series would give them the same punch.”

Wych said he had yet to speak formally with the investors, but maintains hope that the funding is not gone forever. “When we first discussed bringing a big pool event to Toronto,” Wych said, “the response was, ‘What can we do?’ I didn’t think it hinged completely on a world championship. Bottom line is I didn’t go to contract with them to lock in the funding. I probably didn’t stay on top of it as well as I should have.” Wych added that he planned to continue his efforts to bring major tournament pool to Toronto.

“I hope to get everything back on track soon,” he said. “It’s possible we will have to reconsider going back to a single big international tournament. We’ll see.”