Toronto Professional Knockout resuscitated
The Toronto Professional Piping Knockout competition was once a staple over the long, cold Ontario winter, but the event for forgotten reasons stopped in 2003 and hasn’t warmed players and fans until now, with the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s Toronto Branch resurrecting the event.
The branch restarted amateur piping and drumming knockout competitions in 2007, which have enjoyed strong attendance from contestants and audience, each session usually featuring an adjudicator who then holds a brief recital.
The Toronto Professional Knockout will use a points-based format instead of elimination rounds. Each entrant participates in three preliminary rounds, and six with the most points compete in a final. The branch’s amateur knockouts use the same format.
A true knockout competition takes an elimination tournament format, where two opponents compete against one another, the winner going through to the next round, each subsequent round half the size of the previous round until only two finalists remain. The College of Piping in Glasgow was probably the first solo piping knockout event in the1950s, which featured the likes of legends such as Duncan Johnstone, Donald MacLeod and Peter MacLeod Jr.
According to PPBSO Toronto branch official Rob McKenzie, the branch was approach last year by a number of professional pipers who asked if the event could be restarted, primarily so they could have an opportunity to compete locally over the off-season.
The previous Professional Piping Knockout offered the Archie Dewar Memorial Trophy to the winner, with the last winner being Michael Grey in 2003. Other winners include Bruce Gandy, Alasdair Gillies, Ian K. MacDonald and Colin MacLellan.
The PPBSO’s Toronto branch ran into an almost dormant period over 10 years in the mid-1990s and early-2000s, but was resurrected about 10 years ago with new leadership that has returned the group to vibrancy, with the annual Toronto Indoor Games – which also had not been held for more than a decade – being its biggest event.