The World Crokinole Championship (WCC) is now entering its 21st year. The annual tournament has drawn players from around the world. This entry will focus on the competitive singles finger division, which is the most prestigious category at the event. Over the 20 year span of the WCC, there have been 11 unique champions. Let’s look closely at 3 specific past champions who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim their first title.
1999 – everything was a surprise in the first year.
2000 – Jon Conrad, perhaps in his first WCC tournament earns a 4th place finish. Jon would go on to victories in 2012 and 2013 and surprises no one to this day.
2001 – Paul Hartman and Robert Steckley finish 2nd and 3rd respectively perhaps also in their first entry at the WCC. Both of these players have been away from the WCC for several years now.
2002 – Dan Taylor earns a 4th place finish in his first WCC event. He would go on to finish as high as 3rd place in 2004, but has not been back for several years. Jason Beierling also finishes 2nd and breaks into the top 4 for the first time. This is a precursor to his 2006 victory.
2003 – No real surprises in the top 4, although Ray Beierling breaks through for his first of 10 top 4 appearances, tied for most appearances overall with Brian Cook.
2004 – Mervin Wice, a previous non qualifying top 16 player opens eyes with a 4th place finish. This is currently Mervin’s highest finish although he did win a 20s championship in 2008.
2005 – Bruce Hartung literally comes from out of nowhere and takes home the top prize.
2006 – Blain Patterson claims 4th place overall and has no known previous or post top 16 finish.
2007 – First year that all of the top 4 finishers had a previous top 4 finish.
2008 – Rob Mader Jr. finishes 3rd. Although Rob is known in the local crokinole community, based on his previous results, this finish was unforeseen.
2009 – Nathan Walsh finishes 2nd to Brian Cook. Looking back, this may not have been as big of a surprise as thought by many. Nathan had won the Intermediate Championship in 2006 and 2007 and was fresh off of the Recreational Championship in 2008. Never the less, he made a huge statement that he was a major player in his first Competitive WCC event.
2010 – Eric Miltenberg coming off of a 9th place finish the previous year, ends up with a 4th overall in what I believe was only his 2nd or 3rd WCC Competitive entry.
2011 - Paul Brubacher and Tom Johnston end the day 3rd and 4th respectively. Not new to the WCC or crokinole regulars, they both achieve career best WCC finishes and beat out other favourites such as Jason Beierling, Justin Slater, Jon Conrad and Nathan Walsh.
2012 – No new surprises in the top 4 this year. The interesting note this year is that Jon Conrad beat out 3 previous champions including, Justin Slater, Brian Cook and Ray Beierling to win his first of 2 consecutive championships.
2013 – Ray Haymes rolls to a stop in 2nd place. Although Ray had great success in Doubles action with his father over the years, his solid play had not resulted in high finishes in singles. He elevated his game to a career high at the WCC this year.
2014 – Matt Brown enters the top 4 at the WCC for the first time. Not a huge surprise to those who had been following Matt’s play the previous few years, but he did beat out previous champions Ray Beierling (5th) and Jon Conrad (6th) who was fresh off of his 2 consecutive Championships.
2015 – Roy Campbell earns a 3rd overall placing. In perhaps his 4th year at the WCC (and playing competitive crokinole) and a previous best finish of 15th, Roy shocked the crokinole world with his career best WCC singles performance. Robert Bonnett also cracked the top 4 for the first time. He had previously won the Recreational title in 2006 and 2012 and came off two consecutive top 16 finishes of 13th (2013) and 12th (2014). He also went on to win the Championship in 2017.
2016 – No huge eye openers this year, although Ray Kappes makes a return to the top 4 after a 10 year drought.
2017 - Connor Reinman and Nathan Jongsma finish 3rd and 4th. Connor, I believe, becomes the first non-Canadian to finish in the top 4 at the WCC in Competitive Singles. This after a very short competitive crokinole fingers experience. After several years competing at the WCC with up and down results, Nathan, with his laid back style, surprised even himself and made the top 4 and loved every second of it.
2018 – No “here I am,” in the top 4 this year as, for the first time, all 4 qualifiers were returning champions. A slight shock to some maybe that it was Jason Beierling’s first top 4 finish since his Championship in 2006. Also, it is the first time both partners of a doubles team made both the top 4 in doubles and singles in the same year (Ray and Jason Beierling), and it is the first set of brothers (or any family relation) to make the top 4 together.
2019 – This is to be determined. Will any non favourites make a surprise visit to the top 4 or possibly take home the top spot? The good news is we will not have to wait long to find out as the 21st Annual World Crokinole Championship is coming up on Saturday June 1st, 2019, in Tavistock, Ontario, Canada.
In 2011, Julian Chalmers, a then 13 (I believe) year old stone cold 20 shooter earns 5th place overall. Hailing from British Columbia and honing his skill in China, only participants who attended the Oliver BC Crokinole Championships would have predicted this.
Ezra Yantzi announces his presence at the WCC in 2012 with a solid 8th place finish. He would go on to finish as high as 7th a few years later and has currently switched over to cues play.
Ray and Jason Beierling are active Crokinole players and promoters of what they believe is the best game on wood.