Eight Ends: Ultimate guide to the GSOC Champions Cup

Watch as Niklas Edin misfires his last, giving up a steal and it's handshakes as Kevin Koe wins the Players' Championship 6-2.

CALGARY — It’s the last hurrah for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season at the Humpty’s Champions Cup.

For some teams, this will also be their last time together on the ice as they rebuild for the next Olympic cycle (hello Beijing 2022) while for some players, it’ll also be their swan song (for now) to stellar careers as they step back from competitive curling.

The last tournament of the 2017-18 campaign runs Tuesday to Sunday at WinSport Arena. Television coverage begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

Here is everything you need to know about the Humpty’s Champions Cup before Tuesday evening’s opening draw:

1st End: What is the Humpty’s Champions Cup?

The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the youngest of the seven tournaments in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling and has been held annually since 2016.

Unlike the other events in the series where the World Curling Tour’s rankings determine entry, teams must win a tournament over the course of the season in order to receive an invitation to the Humpty’s Champions Cup. Just being good isn’t good enough, you have to win to get in.

Sherwood Park, Alta., hosted the inaugural event featuring a classic matchup between Jennifer Jones and Rachel Homan in the women’s final. Jones prevailed and was crowned the first champion.

Reid Carruthers battled John Epping for the men’s title in a match that required not one but two extra ends. Carruthers looked to hit and stick in the first OT but landed off the nose and rolled out to blank the house. He made no mistake the second time around drawing for the win to earn his first title in the series as a skip.

WinSport Arena hosted the Humpty’s Champions Cup for the first time last season with future Olympians Rachel Homan and Anna Hasselborg clashing for the women’s title. Homan trailed by one but held the hammer coming home and bumped to score two in the final frame.

Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe collided in a heavyweight tilt for the men’s championship and the two put on a clinic. Jacobs emerged victorious to take his second title of the season and third of his career in the series.

2nd End: About the venue

WinSport Arena is located at Canada Olympic Park, perhaps a fitting place to close out an Olympic season. There’s an Olympic atmosphere throughout the venue with bobsleigh and luge tracks plus ski jumps surrounding the venue.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is adjacent to the arena plus if you’re in the mood to check out some Hollywood memorabilia, you can find the Jamaican bobsleigh from the movie Cool Runnings.

If you’re at the Humpty’s Champions Cup, feel free to drop into the Pinty’s pub and grill zone located at the away end at ice level. It’s a one-of-a-kind fan experience watching the game up close, just watch your wings as you never know if a hungry curler might swipe one when you’re not looking.

3rd End: When we last left our heroes …

The penultimate Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament of the season just wrapped up a little over a week ago with the Players’ Championship in Toronto.

Koe claimed his fifth title in the series posting a perfect 8-0 record and closed things out with a convincing 6-2 win over world champion Niklas Edin in the men’s final.

Jamie Sinclair made history in the women’s final becoming the first American champion in the series. Sinclair stunned Jennifer Jones, who entered the final with a sparkling 27-game winning streak, stealing four points in the first half and putting the game on ice with a three-ender in the seventh during the 7-2 victory.

Jones, who has won two titles in the series this season, was the runaway winner of the GSOC’s Bonus Cup, awarded to the season champions with a $75,000 bonus. Brad Gushue, who also picked up two trophies in 2017-18, held on for the men’s Bonus Cup prize.

4th End: Men’s division preview

Calgary’s own Team Koe completes its four-year run together on home ice. They already won the big one at the Players’ Championship but can they add a cherry on top? Third Marc Kennedy is taking a break from curling while second Brent Laing will return to playing in his home province of Ontario for skip John Epping.

Gushue is the only skip who has won six different Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event titles. The last one to check off the list? Why that would be the Humpty’s Champions Cup! The world silver medallist, who was a semifinalist at the Players’ Championship, will be looking to make some history here.

It’s the last stop for the Team McEwen farewell tour, which began in March with a title victory at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in their hometown of Winnipeg. Will Mike McEwen’s crew go out with a bang before parting ways?

Before welcoming McEwen to the fold next season, keep an eye on Team Carruthers, who will have John Morris filling in at third this week. It’ll be the first competition for Morris since capturing gold for Canada in mixed doubles at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

5th End: Women’s division preview

As Team Jones’s winning streak came to a shocking end, will a new one begin? As noted, Jones has won this event before and it might be the last one for second Jill Officer, who is taking a step back from competitive curling but will stay on as the team’s alternate.

Will Team Homan bounce back from a winless Players’ Championship? Nobody expected the Canadian Olympic reps to go 0-5 in Toronto and they look to retain the Humpty’s Champions Cup here.

Can Team Sinclair follow up on their Players’ Championship victory? What’s in store for the encore? The double defending U.S. champs have had a strong season and should cap things on a high note.

Val Sweeting joins Kerri Einarson next season but before that happens their current squads square off in Draw 2 (interesting how that worked out). Chelsea Carey’s crew is another to watch before they break up.

6th End: Draw Schedule

Day/Time (MT) A B C D E
Tuesday, April 24          
7 p.m. Flasch vs. Pfister Koe vs. Gunnlaugson Hasselborg vs. Sinclair Carey vs. Fujisawa Muirhead vs. DeJong
Wednesday, April 25          
8:30 a.m. Einarson vs. Sweeting   Feltscher vs. MacDiarmid Jacobs vs. Persinger Tirinzoni vs. K. Jones
12 p.m. Paetz vs. DeJong Muirhead vs. Fujisawa Edin vs. Pfister Gunnlaugson vs. Balderston Mouat vs. Bottcher
4 p.m. Gushue vs. Tardi Homan vs. Sinclair McEwen vs. Howard J. Jones vs. Sweeting Jacobs vs. Carruthers
8 p.m. Koe vs. Balderston Carey vs. Paetz Mouat vs. Flasch Einarson vs. K. Jones Hasselborg vs. Feltscher
Thursday, April 26          
8:30 a.m.   Persinger vs. Tardi   Bottcher vs. Pfister Sinclair vs. MacDiarmid
12 p.m. Homan vs. Feltscher J. Jones vs. Tirinzoni Sweeting vs. K. Jones Fujisawa vs. DeJong Balderston vs. McEwen
4 p.m. Carruthers vs. Persinger Flasch vs. Bottcher Gushue vs. Jacobs Edin vs. Mouat Koe vs. Howard
8 p.m. Gunnlaugson vs. McEwen Carey vs. DeJong Hasselborg vs. Homan Paetz vs. Muirhead Einarson vs. Tirinzoni
Friday, April 27          
8:30 a.m. J. Jones vs. K. Jones Hasselborg vs. MacDiarmid Howard vs. Balderston Sinclair vs. Feltscher Edin vs. Flasch
12 p.m. Fujisawa vs. Paetz Mouat vs. Pfister Carruthers vs. Tardi Tirinzoni vs. Sweeting Gushue vs. Persinger
4 p.m. Edin vs. Bottcher J. Jones vs. Einarson Carey vs. Muirhead Gunnlaugson vs. Howard Homan vs. MacDiarmid
8 p.m.   Gushue vs. Carruthers Koe vs. McEwen Tardi vs. Jacobs  
Satuday, April 28          
8:30 a.m.     Tiebreakers (if necessary)    
12 p.m.     Women’s Quarterfinals    
4 p.m.     Men’s Quarterfinals    
8 p.m.     Men’s & Women’s Semifinals    
Sunday, April 29          
10 a.m.     Women’s Final    
2 p.m.     Men’s Final  

NOTE: Draw schedule subject to change.

7th End: Tickets

Tickets are available at the box office and online at Ticketmaster.ca. Full package tickets ensure you never miss a moment of the action with access to every draw from the opening rock to the championship-winning shot.

Weekend passes covering all the playoff draws plus single draw tickets are also available for purchase.

8th End: TV schedule

Date Draw Eastern Time Pacific Time Channel
Thursday, April 26 Round Robin 2:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 6:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
  Round Robin 10:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
Friday, April 27 Round Robin 2:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 6:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
  Round Robin 10:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
Saturday, April 28 Women’s Quarterfinals 2:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Sportsnet 360
  Men’s Quarterfinals 6:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
  Men’s & Women’s Semifinals 10:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360
Sunday, April 29 Women’s Final 12:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Men’s Final 4:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. Sportsnet 360

Note: Broadcast schedule subject to change.

Watch the broadcast draws online by subscribing to Sportsnet NOW (Canada; log in free with your cable subscription) or Yare TV (international).

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