As I type this, the inaugural Pinty’s GSOC Tour Challenge has kicked off in Paradise, Newfoundland. The first draw is still going on, and I’m avoiding looking at scores lest they influence me. This is the first of two new events this year in the expanded GSOC (read more about the expansion in my post here), and it features a pretty unique format. As opposed to a single tournament, the Tour Challenge features two different tiers. Each tier features 30 teams…15 each of men and women. Tier 1 teams were invited based on their world rankings, while Tier 2 features 10 teams invited based on their rankings with 5 regional teams invited based on the event location. Both Tiers are of course playing for monetary prizes, and for Rogers Grand Slam Cup points in Tier 1. Tier 2 teams will not earn cup points, but the winners earn an automatic berth into the Masters event in late October. More background information is available at the Grand Slam of Curling Website.
The Field & Draw Schedule
Well, I could sit here and list all the teams in the field, but I’d rather let the GSOC people do the work. Click on the links for lists of all the teams: Tier 1 Men Tier 1 Women Tier 2 Men Tier 2 Women
I’m not nearly as good at this as my friend JCR from Twine-Time. Check out his blog for in depth preview and predictions here. Besides that, I’m still catching up on all my teams and what not, so there are several teams that I’m not very familiar with. All that being said, I’ll give it a go.
Looking at Tier 1 Women, watch for Feltscher, Homan, Middaugh, Muirhead, Paetz, Sidorova, Sweeting & Tirinzoni to qualify. I Expect Sidorova to struggle a bit, and some games could be dicey, as they’re still adjusting to their new line-up (read more about that here). I also expect to see longtime alternate Kira Ezekh get some ice time for them. I think Carey, Fleury, Hastings, and Rocque still have some warming up to do, but if any of these teams click they could definitely qualify at the minimum. I don’t think Jones is going to do all that well, to be honest. As always with her though, if she’s on she is hard to beat. Full disclosure, I don’t know enough about either Kim or McDonald to make an informed opinion.
Quarter-Finals: Feltscher, Homan, Middaugh, Muirhead, Paetz, Sidorova, Sweeting, Tirinzoni
Semi-Finals: Homan, Muirhead, Paetz, Sweeting
Onto the Tier 1 Men, watch for Carruthers, Edin, Gushue, Howard, Jacobs, Koe, Laycock, & McEwen to qualify. Bottcher, Casey, Epping, & Michel could definitely find themselves in the playoff mix as well. I’m big Fans of Murdoch & Shuster, but looking at their schedules I think they’re going to have it rough. With this much parity in the field though, don’t be surprised if either of them make a tiebreaker. In fact, I expect there to be at least one for the men with a field like this. As for De Cruz, I don’t really know enough to make any kind of guess.
Quarter-Finals: Carruthers, Edin, Gushue, Howard, Jacobs, Koe, Laycock, McEwen.
Semi-Finals: Carruthers, Gushue, Jacobs, McEwen
As for the Tier 2 teams, I’m not nearly familiar enough with them all to make any predictions. I will say that I think for the women that you could see some non-Canadian teams qualify for sure. Hasselborg, Ostlund, Roth, and Sinclair are all very capable. Looking at the men, I’d keep my eye on Brewster, Cotter, and Kean for sure.
Where To Watch
Rogers Sportsnet will begin airing round robin matches on Thursday. TV Schedule
In the US and elsewhere, you can subscribe online to watch here.
As always, you can follow scores along via CurlingZone.
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