2019 PBA Tournament of Champions

The 2019 PBA Tour's First Major Is Upon Us

The 2019 PBA Tour's First Major Is Upon Us

One of the biggest months on the PBA Tour calendar kicks off this week when the first major title of 2019 will be on the line at the PBA TOC.

Jan 31, 2019 by Lucas Wiseman
Watch The PBA TOC On FloBowling

One of the biggest months on the PBA Tour calendar kicks off this week when the first major title of 2019 will be on the line at the PBA Tournament of Champions.

The TOC returns to historic AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio, for the second straight year as an elite field of players will battle for one of bowling’s most prestigious titles. AMF Riviera Lanes hosted the TOC from 1966 to 1994.

Live coverage of the TOC begins Wednesday on FloBowling and kicks off an incredibly important month of February for the PBA Tour. The TOC is immediately followed by the season’s second major – the PBA Players Championship – starting Feb. 13 in Columbus, Ohio.

Here are a few key points to get you ready for the TOC:

O’Grady is back after stunning 2018 victory

Last year, Matt O’Grady stunningly advanced out of the pre-tournament qualifier and took down a star-studded field of bowling’s biggest names to win the Tournament of Champions.

Prior to winning the TOC, O’Grady’s best career finish had been 14th place yet he climbed the stepladder as the No. 5 seed and won four consecutive matches on television to take the title.

O’Grady defeated BJ Moore, Jason Belmonte and Andrew Anderson en route to a matchup with top seed Jesper Svensson for the title, which he won 207-193 to hoist the trophy.

The path to a repeat victory will be shorter but no easier for O’Grady in 2019. As a champion, he at least won’t have to bowl the PTQ to advance into the main event but a tough field stands between him and the trophy again this year.

Limited field stacked with stars

The Tournament of Champions, as you would expect, features one of the most limited fields throughout the entire 2019 season.

As of today, there are just 60 champions entered directly into the main tournament. There is also a PTQ but only a maximum of six players will advance from that event.

So, while the field is small, it is absolutely stacked with talent and all the champions you expect to see will be there.

Among the big names in the field are nearly all of the players ranked in the FloBowling PBA Power Rankings, including No. 1 Jakob Butturff, No. 2 EJ Tackett and No. 3 Jason Belmonte.

Fourth-ranked Kris Prather, however, is not yet in the main field. Although he’s established himself as one of the best players on the PBA Tour, he has yet to win a title. Therefore, he’s relegated to the PTQ and must advance from there.

One other benefit of such a limited field? Guys we haven’t seen in awhile come out to compete and give it a try against the young hot shots.

Be on the lookout for Danny Wiseman, Harry Sullins, Carmen Salvino and Michael Machuga throughout the event as they are currently scheduled to compete.

The format and lane conditions

The Tournament of Champions offers a very straight forward and easy to follow format that is heavy on match play.

All players will bowl three six-game rounds of qualifying, the first of which gets underway at 11 a.m. Eastern on Feb. 6. After 18 games, the field is cut to the top 24 players who advance to round robin match play.

The first of three eight-game blocks of match play begins at 6 p.m. Eastern on Feb. 7, and we will know the five finalists for the show after the third round on Feb. 8, wrapping up about 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

As for the lane conditions, the players will face the 40-foot Don Johnson pattern and PBA Hall of Famer Chris Barnes thinks we should see a moderate to high scoring pace.

“Riviera can be a difficult house with some pairs tougher than others,” Barnes said. “I expect the scoring pace will be moderate and can be borderline high for certain types of players because of the friction in the front of the lane. Being able to clear the fronts will be a huge factor in how much success players have. Matt O’Grady is one of the best at clearing the front, so there you go.”

How to watch

The live action on FloBowling gets underway Feb. 6 with the opening round of qualifying and continues through match play on Feb. 8.

FloBowling subscribers will be able to watch the FloZone channel with commentary or select a specific pair to watch their favorite players.

The stepladder finals of the Tournament of Champions will be broadcast Feb. 10 live on FOX at 4:30 p.m. Eastern for audiences in the United States. International viewers can watch live on FloBowling. An archive of the show will be available on FloBowling seven days after it airs live.

What the schedule looks like

Here’s the schedule for this week’s event, all times listed are Eastern:

Wednesday, Feb. 6
11 a.m. – Qualifying Round 1 (six games)
6 p.m. – Qualifying Round 2 (six games)

Thursday, Feb. 7
11 a.m. – Qualifying Round 3 (six games)
6 p.m. – Round Robin Match Play Round 1 (Top 24, eight games)

Friday, Feb. 8
11 a.m. – Round Robin Match Play Round 2 (eight games)
6 p.m. – Round Robin Match Play Round 3 (eight games)

Sunday, Feb. 10
5 p.m. – Stepladder Finals* (Top five)

* - FloBowling live broadcast only for audiences outside the United States. The archive of the finals will be available for all audiences seven days after it airs live.