Winner: Karl Powell
Summary in a Sentence: A scrappy, but competitive game which saw the new boy Karl Powell vanquish the existing champion against all the odds.
So the King is dead. His reign lasted just over half a year; a time period he could do nothing about as the last tournament overran and he won 2013’s tournament in March 2014. But even the pundits thought he would last until some X Factor has-been turns on Cardiff’s Christmas lights. The TPC earthquake has come and gone, but the tremors will continue as the champion, Gareth Big G O’Neill, will no longer be participating in this tournament.
The young upstart who tossed him aside and unleashed this natural disaster inflicted the first defeat upon Big G since his semi final loss against the first ever champion Jon Ridout in 2012. There couldn’t have been a tougher, but more satisfying way to win his first ever TPC game as a captain.
It wasn’t a classic by any means in comparison to last week’s masterclass from Team Rolan, but it wasn’t a one-sided affair either. Another factor which didn’t help matters was the occasional torrential rainfall which at one point meant that the game had to be abandoned. At least we had brooms to brush away the excess rainwater and offending foliage!
With no Pishty at the pick arguably the key striker would be Dan, who Karl grabbed – forming potentially a tasty striking partnership in itself. Meanwhile G built his side around a meaty midfield – deploying the services of rain-god Michael Pinto Castro, the versatile James Pugh and the pacey Chris Swanie, whilst the captain played the typical workhorse at the heart. However without an out and out striking option, were Team G doomed from the start? Only a fool would say goals don’t come from midfield.
As the wet weather took its greasy grip on the game, the players struggled to adjust to the conditions – allowing the ball to take a life if its own. Overhit passes and lapses of concentration meant that possession swapped sides quite often, making this the scrappy affair which it will be remembered for.
Team Karl however perhaps enjoyed more possession and argubly the more menacing attack. With Callum and Paul manning the back, the wave of four including Chris P, Karl P, Dan and Tom was a lot to handle for Greg and Karl M in defence. Their direct style was reaping rewards and was the main reason for their commanding position in the first half. On the other side, G provided the engine room but perhaps was struggling to maintain a balance within his players as defence and attack was often disjointed.
Things may have looked bleak for Team G, despite all their passion and resilience, but they were still in this game kicking and screaming. Pugh was in fine form, Swanie was producing excellent runs and Mike was testing Billy in goal. Karl Manley even pushed up in the second half and grabbed a hat-trick plus 1 for himself. No Karlito Kool celebration however!
In the end though Team Karl did enough to withstand the resurgence of Karl the Player. It was the decisive pick which gave them a more balanced side and the firepower to create one of the TPC’s biggest shocks. This now means that the TPC will have a brand new champion – but will Karl go all the way?