2023 Brier preview


Here’s a quickie Brier preview. First the odds:

Now, the tiers:

Tier 1: #1 Gushue (Team Canada), #4 Bottcher (Wild Card 1), #6 Dunstone (Manitoba).

It’s now been 16 months since Team Gushue has played an event in a curling club. They’ve played just 37 games this season, but 17 of them were against top ten teams, of which they’ve won 11. They’re still the best team in Canada.

Team Bottcher is 34-12 and had one really bad week this season, going 0-4 at the GSOC Tour Challenge. Ignore that and they’ve been right there with Team Gushue. You can’t ignore it, of course, but Team Bottcher is the clear second choice for Brier honors. These teams will definitely play each other because both of these teams play in the same pool.

Team Dunstone is ranked first in CTRS, so it’s his fault that Gushue and Bottcher went to the same pool. They’ve had a great year, going 50-17, including 17-7 against the top ten. He’s 6-2 against the top two tiers here.

Tier 2: #8 Kevin Koe (Alberta).

On the surface, Koe’s not far from the top tier, but the team has gone 4-14 against the top ten. And they’re a combined 1-7 against Tier 1. That “1” was a win over Bottcher in the Alberta final, so they got it done when it counted.

Tier 3a: #11 Carruthers (Wild Card 2), #22 McEwen (Ontario).

Here we have two former teammates who made mid-season shake-ups in their teams. Carruthers had a breakthrough in winning the Pointsbet Invitational in September by beating Koe, Dunstone, and Gushue. But the team struggled after that and eventually exiled Jason Gunnlaugson. Carruthers lost in the Manitoba final playing with just three (which more teams should consider). They’ve added Rob Gordon for the Brier.

Team McEwen’s not on the level of Carruthers, but the similarities are too good to not have them in the same tier. They’re just 8-21 against top 25 competition but they played their best curling of the year in winning the Ontario Tankard, and there’s certainly room for them in top 3 of Pool B (and thus a playoff berth) since after Gushue and Bottcher, there’s no obvious third-best team.

Tier 3b: #13 Asselin (Quebec), #14 Knapp (Saskatchewan).

Asselin and Knapp have common traits, as well. Neither really ventured outside their region this season, and both may well be a bit overrated in my ratings. Team Asselin at least has Brier experience, having appeared in some form in 2018, 2021, and 2022. (Felix Asselin played third, second, and fourth, respectively in those events, nearly going for the rare Brier cycle.) Team Knapp does not. (Not technically true – Kelly Knapp threw two stones as an alternate for Team Laycock in 2011.) These teams have combined to lose just ten games all year, but also have only played one top ten team – Asselin’s loss to #10 Glenn Howard in the Pointsbet Invitational.

Tier 4: #24 Sturmay (Wild Card 3), #27 Gauthier (British Columbia), #29 Horgan (Northern Ontario).

These teams are new to the Brier to varying degrees. Team Horgan has experience, but Tanner Horgan’s only Brier action was as an alternate on Brad Jacobs’ team in 2018. Jacques Gauthier’s only experience was as an alternate on Team Gunnlaugson in 2021. And Karsten Sturmay hasn’t thrown a Brier stone in his life. Anyway, these teams are looking to crash the playoff party.

Tier 5: There is no tier 5, but there are seven teams that have no viable shot at a playoff berth. That’s a lot!