The random draw for the eight competition grades at the 2014 World Pipe Band Championships has happened, and bands around the world are closely examining their placement, which, in larger grades and pools of contestants, can have a substantial impact on their chances of doing well or leaving the park dejected.
A total of 23 bands are entered in Grade 1, and 22 in Grade 2, each grade broken into qualifying heats.
Reigning champions Field Marshal Montgomery will be pleased with their position, playing eighth in Grade 1 Heat 1, sandwiched between Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany and New Zealand’s Canterbury Caledonian. The resurging 2010 World Champions, St. Laurence O’Toole of Ireland, perhaps have the best placement of all strong contenders for the title, second-last in the same heat as Field Marshal.
2014 European Champions Inveraray & District will be happy, on eighth in their 12-band heat, right after perennial contenders Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.
But those bands are almost certain to qualify for the final round the following day no matter where they are drawn, and it is not clear whether the final event will have its own draw after the results of the qualifier are known, or if original draw from the qualifier will be applied.
A band’s placement in the order-of-play can also dramatically change its collective attitude over the month leading up to the August 15-16 World’s, with a draw often either casting a pall on a band’s hopes and dreams or putting a solid spring in their step as they approach the big day at Glasgow Green.
Perhaps not so fortunate of the Grade 1 bands vying for qualification are the likes of Canada’s 78th Fraser Highlanders and Dowco Triumph Street, drawn second and third, respectively, in their heats, each with a perceived contender for the title in ScottishPower and Simon Fraser University immediately after them. But that juxtaposition can also be considered a big benefit, adjudicators able to compare them quickly with perceived strong-seeds.
“My initial impression was disappointment when I saw that we were drawn to play second – we’ve not had much luck with draws this year,” said Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe-Major Ryan Canning. “However when I realised it was in the second heat, meaning that if we qualify we’d play seventh or eighth out of 12, I was happy with that. Of course we still have to play well enough to qualify first of all!
“While the draw overall is quite good for us (should we qualify for the final) I think the most balanced option would be to do a new draw once the qualifying bands are known. It would be very disappointing to have to play first on in both the qualifier and the final especially given that it’s over four performances now and not just two.”
“There are many ways to guess the potential psyche of the adjudicators’ relative to your position of play on the day,” commented 78th Frasers’ Pipe-Major Doug MacRae. “Insofar as that goes, we have no reason to over-analyze our draw. From the band’s point of view, though, we are happy to be playing between Fife and Power. As The 78th Fraser Highlanders continue to improve, it makes for an excellent opportunity to perform our music surrounded by two exceptional bands.”
Adjudicators are always a factor, too, and this year the judges for the Grade 1 qualifying heats for the most part are likely to be considered free of . . .