September 28, 2021

The proctor is in: PPBSO Toronto Branch maintains online format for 2022 Knockout series

Taking the cue from the success of its 2021 format and the lingering uncertainty of planning for indoor in-person events, the Toronto Branch of the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario is planning a virtual 2022 Knockout Competition series for professional and amateur so competitors.

The organization is leaving the door open for in-person events should conditions permit.

“Proctored” performances were a unique and popular differentiator with the 2021 series, aiming “to capture the tense excitement of having only one chance to get it right, and then streaming from one server, without worry about the Internet connectivity of the competitor’s location,” the largest branch of the organization said in a statement.

Piping and drumming contestants will have to video-record their performances while with a Toronto Branch official watching online. Competitors are allowed only one “take,” delivered at a set time in the days before the closing date.

‘This is the closest to a live competition that we can get.’ – Ellen Mole, PPBSO Toronto Branch

It’s an attempt to replicate the spontaneity and one-shot-only format of in-person events, including, where applicable, the judge selecting tunes from submitted lists, the proctor telling the competitor what they have to perform at the recording session.

“This is the closest to a live competition that we can get,” said Toronto Branch Knockout organizer Ellen Mole. “Some people like being able to do multiple takes, but the problem with that is that it doesn’t involve the adrenaline of live competition. The single take with someone watching definitely ups the adrenaline and makes the experience more challenging.”

They also have to wear “proper Highland dress” as outlined in PPBSO rules.

Enthusiasts can purchase a single contest or a full season pass to watch the action online.

“Streaming the entire competitions makes for a really enjoyable show and gives participants a chance for everyone listening to get to know them a bit and enjoy their playing,” Mole added. “It’s more like a live branch meeting experience.”

Streaming dates:

  • Round 1: October 23, 2021
  • Round 2: November 20, 2021
  • Round 3: January 2022 (date TBD)
  • Round 4: February 13, 2022
  • Final: March 13, 2022

“The thinking was that we will start off online for the fall, then see how things are going,” said Toronto Branch Knockout organizer Ellen Mole. “If it’s safe to do so and we can get the space, we’d love to get back to in-person events. Meanwhile, we’ll try to take advantage of the opportunity to book out-of-province/country judges we couldn’t normally get for the Knockouts.”

At least one other association has was reportedly inspired by the 2021 Knockout to use a proctored format for its online competitions.

Any piper or drummer who is a member of the PPBSO or an affiliated association can enter the events. All the information is on the PPBSO Toronto Branch site.

The Toronto Knockout competitions go back to the 1970s, and have been a popular series to maintain interest and keep up skills over the interminable Ontario winter. After a hiatus, the competition returned in the 2000s using a points accrual system rather than the original one-and-done approach where competitors are pitted 1:1 against a randomly drawn opponent.

The in-person events are normally held at Moss Park Armoury in the downtown of North America’s fourth largest city.






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