There are a couple of provincial events going forward this week and I, for one, am thankful. (Just don’t test anyone and I’m sure we’ll get through it fine.)
I coded up the brackets and simulated each event one million times and I have probabilities to talk about. Allow me to write a few words about this.
Alberta women: Let’s start with the most interesting event of the four. The format here is an 8-team round-robin with a three-team playoff. Walker (#15), Scheidegger (#16), and Rocque (#22) are all fairly equal and each has a very real chance of earning a Scotties berth. And between Selena Sturmay (#44) and Kayla Skrlik (#45) there’s a strong second tier that could crash the playoff round.
There’s a combined 80% chance of one of the top three winning here, so don’t completely count out the underdogs. Walker is the “favorite” at 29.8%, which I dare say will be the lowest percentage for a favorite of any men’s or women’s provincial, and would be even if all of them were being played. This should be fun.
Alberta men: While it would be neat if most events were as wide open as the Alberta women’s championships, the reality is most provincials are like the men’s event – one obvious favorite that everyone is gunning for. The Boston Pizza Cup, where the winner joins The Cheat in the small club of entities winning pizza trophies, is a triple-knockout format leading to a four-team page playoff. And with Team Bottcher representing Team Canada in the Brier, Team Koe is a serious favorite here. They’re 67% to win, with no other team reaching 10% in the simulations.
Koe’s at a whopping 98% to make the playoffs. The difference between playoff chance and the event chance is an illustration of how (almost) anything is possible in a playoff scenario. In a single game, #47 Karsten Sturmay, #53 Ryan Jacques, or #55 Jeremy Harty can beat Team Koe. Koe is actually 0-1 against that group this season (losing to Harty in Penticton).
BC women: This is also a triple-knockout/page-playoff format, with eight teams participating. You might just be assuming #20 Corryn Brown will be winning this event, but #46 Kayla MacMillan has been traveling Canada like a team that means business and has the results to match, having beaten #22 Kelsey Rocque in Sherwood Park in September and #26 Chelsea Carey twice in Manitoba last month. That was part of a runner-up finish at the Dekalb Superspiel, a field that included #23 Hollie Duncan, #36 Irene Schori, #53 Darcy Robertson. And #33 Amber Holland, whom MacMillan lost to in the final.
The 2019 winner of this event, Sarah Wark, is also here. Team Wark has fallen to #111 after a brutal 3-9 record in three events this season. But they had Brown in grave danger in the 2020 BC final and are obviously capable of better curling than they’ve shown. Brown has a 56.5% chance of winning, MacMillan is at 31.5%, and Wark is at 5.5%. Keep an eye on a potential second-round matchup in the A bracket on Wednesday afternoon between MacMillan and Brown as that could have a large impact on who wins the event.
BC men: The 2020 event featured one of the more dramatic provincial finals that year when Jim Cotter was barely able to hold off Tyler Tardi, postponing what seems to be an inevitable changing of the guard. #25 Tardi comes in as a clear favorite this season with #42 Cotter spending more of his time focusing on playing mixed doubles with his daughter. But the field has a slightly better than 50/50 chance of preventing Tardi from earning his first Brier appearance as a skip.
As a result of provincial qualifiers getting cancelled, this is a fantastic 13-team triple-knockout event. But as you might expect under such circumstances, the bottom of the field is rather weak and therefore window dressing for a likely Tardi/Cotter showdown in the final. Although neither would fancy seeing #77 Sebastien Robillard in the playoffs. Team Robillard has victories over #17 John Epping and #22 Yuta Matsumura among its 18-9 record this season. The forecast here is Tardi 45.6%, Cotter 24.5%, and Robillard 14.1%.