Prague is a really nice city. Awesome public transportation, beautiful old town and great cheap food and drinks. My only problem is that I don't drink beer and has to pay the same price, sometimes even more, to get a coke that's only 60% of the size of the beer. Having been to Prague at several different times during my life, I've started to get to know some parts pretty good.
When I got the news that the organizers had changed the hotel I was happy since the new hotel was close to a place which I know well, called Anděl. That came in very handy indeed on Thursday night when we arrived. Having set some sort of minigolf time record from the airport to the hotel (1h10m from landing to check-in), Anders and I marched straight down to Anděl for a dinner at TGI Friday's.
The course is in the mall Galerie Butovice, which is 2 tram stops and 5 underground stops from the hotel. The time door-to-door is, when you're unlucky, 25 minutes. The location inside the mall was one that most of the indoor courses in Europe could only dream about, which the 4 000 visitors since the opening in October 2010 proofs.
The course itself had to be moved, or half of the lanes, to make room for the spectator stands. This of course removed some of the advantage the home players had and being nice to us visitors we had been sent suggested lines and balls a couple of days before the event. Two lanes could have been better; the salto had ha bump in the obstacle preventing a normal shot, but it was certainly possible to control the outcome and then the cannon/tube was a lottery lane with a win being awarded approx 80% of the time. Thankfully the cannon was in the beginning (lane 5), so if you lost that lane in the green you still had 13 lanes to make it up.
On the Friday there was a small opening ceremony, without the normal long speeches, at a restaurant in the mall where we were informed of the rules of the competition. We also got shirts with name, country and sponsors printed to be worn during the competition. On the day of the competition we also got access to a great backstage area where there was free drinks, some food and a place to relax between the rounds.
The competition was well though out with the 4 best players in the preliminary rounds getting a bye in the first cup round and moving directly into the quarter-finals. By the way, that's something that I highly and strongly recommend to the EMF/WMF for the European and World Championships. The cup was played in the now common way of winning lanes and that's a good way to play these types of events.
In the cup rounds there were girls keeping scoreboards for all the spectators to see which was great, but they also could have used that type of showing in the preliminary round as well. As it was now a spectator would have no chance to know how the players played until we went into the KO-system. Apart from being shown on the scoreboards on the course there were both paper lists and a digital scoreboard showing the results. It was a simple system using Excel, which filled the need, but I would recommend using the Swedish Bangolf Arena for next years competition to enhance the presentation even further.
Media was present in form a TV-team with three different cameras and a couple of photographers, which were all very good at being invisible for the players (at least for me), and also a speaker. Since my knowledge of the Czech language is very limited I couldn't understand what he was saying, but I suppose he was informing the spectators of the standings in the matches and maybe a little extra. He also did a very good job of not speaking that much when players were concentration on making a shot.
All in all a great job by the organizing committee and with an upgrade of the results system that enables live internet lane-by-lane results would benefit the tournament and move increase my grading from great to perfect.
Some notes after the competition:
- Don't drink 16 years old champagne in plastic mugs
- With this tournament my career statistics in KO-matchplay is 3-1 ;)