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What you need to know for the 2022 GSOC Masters

OAKVILLE, Ont. — The 2022-23 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season resumes with the WFG Masters beginning Tuesday and running through to Sunday at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.

The major tournament features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams competing for a combined $300,000 prize purse.

Broadcast coverage starts Thursday, Dec. 8, at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know before the event gets underway.

What’s at stake?

Both divisions are split up into four pools of four with teams playing four round-robin games against teams from outside of their pools. The top eight teams overall, regardless of pools, qualify for the playoffs.

The winning men’s and women’s teams earn $35,000 from the prize purse plus berths to the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup taking place May 2-7, 2023, in Regina.

One may think it’s still a little too early to be talking about the final event, however, the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup requires teams to win a top tournament in order to get in and spots are filling up fast.

Teams are also competing for points in the race for the Pinty’s Cup, awarded to the season champions in the series. Team Edin, runners-up in the Boost National and victorious at the HearingLife Tour Challenge, lead the men’s division while Team Einarson, finalists in both events, are in first place on the women’s side.

Men’s Division

Team

Country

Team Bottcher

Canada

Team Brunner

Switzerland

Team Carruthers

Canada

Team Dropkin

United States

Team Dunstone

Canada

Team Edin

Sweden

Team Epping

Canada

Team Flasch

Canada

Team Gushue

Canada

Team Hösli

Switzerland

Team Koe

Canada

Team Mouat

Scotland

Team Ramsfjell

Norway

Team Retornaz

Italy

Team Schwaller

Switzerland

Team Whyte

Scotland

Men’s Division storylines

Brad Gushue and his No. 1 ranked team in the world headline the men’s division. With their victory at the Boost National, Gushue earned a 14th Grand Slam title to tie Glenn Howard for second among skips on the all-time list. Gushue defeated Edin in that final, however, his team got “Gushue’d” during their rematch in the HearingLife Tour Challenge semifinals.

Skip Niklas Edin sustained a lower-body injury prior to the game, however, his team carried on as a trio ala Team Gushue minus third Mark Nichols during the Brier playoffs earlier this year. Team Edin sans Edin beat Gushue to book a spot in the championship game and topped Team Dunstone to win a fourth career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s title and the first since 2017. The Swedish squad will look to do it again short-handed as Edin remains out of the lineup for the WFG Masters.

Matt Dunstone and his Winnipeg-based club are also worth keeping tabs on as they’ve been on quite a roll. The team followed up their HearingLife Tour Challenge run with another second-place finish, at the Nufloors Penticton Curling Classic, before winning the Prism Flow Red Deer Curling Classic for their first tour title as a new foursome. Dunstone is ranked fifth on the world team rankings total and second when looking at just year-to-date numbers.

Kevin Koe is just behind Dunstone, sixth on total rankings and fifth on year-to-date, and coincidentally enough his team will need to figure out how to get by their fellow Canadian club on the ice before rising above them in the standings. The two sides have faced off three times in elimination games already this season, including the final in Red Deer, with Dunstone winning all three meetings.

Scotland’s Team Mouat had a subpar start to the season although second Bobby Lammie was playing with an injured hand and skip Bruce Mouat was forced to pick up sweeping duties. They’ve now returned to form, winning gold at the European curling championships last month.

Women’s Division

Team

Country

Team Carey

Canada

Team Einarson

Canada

Team Fujisawa

Japan

Team Gim

South Korea

Team Grandy

Canada

Team Hasselborg

Sweden

Team Homan

Canada

Team Jäggi

Switzerland

Team Jones

Canada

Team Keiser

Switzerland

Team Kim

South Korea

Team Lawes

Canada

Team Peterson

United States

Team Scheidegger

Canada

Team Tirinzoni

Switzerland

Team Wranå

Sweden

Women’s Division storylines

Kerri Einarson and her team have reached four consecutive women’s finals in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series stretching back to last season with a title victory at the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup and runner-up results in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship, Boost National and HearingLife Tour Challenge. Will they make it a drive for five straight finals in the series?

Rachel Homan claimed a record-extending 12th Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s title as team captain in the HearingLife Tour Challenge. Can Homan turn the dozen into a baker’s dozen with a 13th title?

Silvana Tirinzoni’s Swiss squad — ranked No. 1 on the year-to-date standings — defeated Einarson for the Boost National title and cruised along again in the HearingLife Tour Challenge undefeated until falling to Team Wranå in an upset during the quarterfinals. Tirinzoni recently earned silver at the European curling championships after losing to Denmark in the final on a steal in an extra end.

Team Lawes will have a different look at this event with skip Kaitlyn Lawes away on maternity leave. Third Selena Njegovan moves up a spot in the lineup with former skip Laura Walker subbing at vice.

Clancy Grandy’s team won the HearingLife Tour Challenge Tier 2 women’s title and it’ll be intriguing to see how the Vancouver club performs here. Grandy has won the WFG Masters before while playing third for Allison Flaxey in 2016 and now competes in her first major as a skip.

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