Twenty-nine teams have entered for this year's Scottish Men's Curling Championship. All bar one of these will be on the ice this weekend at the Dewar's Centre in Perth attempting to qualify for the The Co-operative Funeralcare finals next month. The exception is the Tom Brewster team, the Scottish Champions, competing in Canada, who get a bye to the finals. There are two sections of nine teams, and one of ten. The qualifying competition is spread over two weekends, this one and the next, with the top three teams from each section going forward.
See here for the draw and results for Section A and here for Sections B and C.
It is open entry, still, for the Scottish. Any four curlers can enter, and there is a real mix, as always. To the outside observer - and we Scots do like the underdog - it will be interesting to see if any of the unfunded teams can beat the favourites. And of course those involved in the 'performance programmes', see here, will be hoping that all the money and effort that has been spent on these favoured teams will be rewarded with good performances. The teams skipped by David Murdoch and Tom Brewster are in the World Class Performance Programme Podium Squad this season. I've already mentioned that Tom's team gets a bye to the finals. Team Murdoch is in Section B which also includes Jay McWilliam's junior side, which is supported in the WCPP Performance Squad. David Edwards and Logan Gray, the other two teams in the Performance Squad, are both in Section C.
Ally Fraser's team, a Royal Club Academy GOLD supported team, see here, is in Section C. Kyle Smith's team, similarly supported, is in Section B. Kyle's main focus is the Scottish Junior Championship of course and the team will be without third player Thomas Muirhead who is competing in the Winter Youth Olympic games. It is good to see the junior teams in the draw for the Scottish. All about getting experience, of course. Gary Cannell's junior side, a Royal Club Academy SILVER team, is in Section A and will face Sandy Reid, last year's Scottish runner's-up, as well as the Ewan MacDonald side which brings lots of experience to the party. As does the David Smith team in Section B.
Bruce Mouat's junior side is in Section C and the Duncan Menzies team is in Section A, although Duncan himself is in Austria skipping Team GB at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Will there be surprises and upsets at Perth in the qualifiers? I wonder.