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Canada’s PointsBet Invitational—greeted with some unease regarding the title sponsor’s function of sports betting—was a weird and sometimes wonderful event.

So what are the takeaways?

1. Creating your own event and format way early—in September—means you get your main sponsor a ridiculous number of brand impressions.

Team Carruthers won the men’s title • Michael Burns-Curling Canada

Team Carruthers won the men’s title • Michael Burns-Curling Canada

The event had only had one nickname or frame of reference: The PointsBet. It’s a win for Curling Canada’s most recent major corporate partner (they signed on last October) seeing as some other marquee event references bury the sponsor, aka “Brier” versus “Tim Hortons Brier.”

2. Rule changes can be fun. Wild, even.

This was a single knockout competition, with first-round losers guaranteed cash for making the trip east. In addition, some enterprising folks created a “Repechage” event at the local Capital Winter Club for some extra game play ... and it was nice to see PointsBet throw some cash at that, too.

There were no extra ends, just draws to the button. Controversial, certainly, where the team throwing last got to choose their draw turn, forcing their opponent to a side of the ice he or she may not prefer. In the two instances I saw, the selector walloped their opponent’s effort—and that’s a major reason the new Homan/Fleury combo got sent home in the “Elite 8” while Brad Gushue’s new outfit were dumped in the “Final 4.”

Michael Burns-Curling Canada

Michael Burns-Curling Canada

3. On the above note, don’t celebrate or fret about the final results. It’s still September, and all but a handful of teams are still working through their lineup changes.

Some squads selected for this event hailed from club championship play or the junior ranks; two others came through a fan Twitter vote, a most inexact science.

Team Scheidegger was dubbed #TeamSchmoore as skip Casey Scheidegger couldn’t make the trip due to work commitments; former teammate Kristie Moore stepped in and the makeshift foursome made it all the way to the final.

Michael Burns-Curling Canada

Michael Burns-Curling Canada

Above all, the single KO format meant each of the final four men’s and women’s teams played a total of only four games over a five-day span.

Adding to the fun was the Friday night celebrity match featuring new curling fans Georgia Simmerling and Stephanie Labbé—they’ve signed on with Curling Canada as ambassadors—as well as former NHL hockey players Shayne Corson and Marc Methot, Trailer Park Boys actor Pat Roach and legendary Olympic sprint king Donovan Bailey.

Down goes Bailey • Michael Burns-Curling Canada

Down goes Bailey • Michael Burns-Curling Canada

5. Don’t bet against the veterans—not in September, at least. Retired fours player John Morris, himself a veteran, was on the scene, resplendent in a blazer, offering betting tips … and his first-round pick of Felix Asselin over Glenn Howard turned out to be an 11-2 Howard victory.

John Morris • Curling Canada

John Morris • Curling Canada

And look at Jennifer Jones. The two-time Olympian just won’t quit, and took her youthful “Zacharias” squad to the women’s title. 

Fredericton marked their second win of the new tour season, to go with a third-place and fifth-place finish.