As the 2017 Major League Fishing Summit Cup unfolds in Grand Rapids, Minn., there almost seems to be two tournaments being contested within one.
On the one hand, you’ve got the battle among anglers to win the day – or to survive and advance from the Elimination Round into the Sudden Death Round and ultimately, into the Championship Round.
The latter being where an angler hopes to win this week’s event on the epic bass waters in and around Grand Rapids, securing one of the sport’s most prestigious titles in the process.
But on the other hand, there’s also a two-year long points battle that sees the current Cup level anglers jockeying for position to avoid the disappointment of finishing this particular cycle in the bottom points positions and secure the thrill of being one of the Top 12 anglers who get to move on to the first ever MLF World Championship.
As the pros of Jack Links Major League Fishing assemble in Minnesota for the Summit Cup, there are a number of anglers casting a wary eye at both SCORETRACKER LIVE! and the two-year standings.
Because in the vernacular of points races in other major sports, those anglers uncomfortably close to the bottom of the standings enter this week’s event as MLF’s so-called “bubble boys.”
Timmy Horton, the Alabama pro who captured the 2000 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year title in his rookie year of pro fishing, finds himself as one of those perilously close to the bottom two spots.
Does that mean that he is beginning to feel the urgency of battling for points and positioning?
“Not yet,” said Horton. “I think that will be at our next event (the Challenge Cup). Everything is pretty tight in accordance with how one event can go.
“In MLF, you’re really looking at four events for points (in each cycle) and that can really change up with one event. If you make the cut, you’ve really gained a lot of points.”
After pausing and giving it some additional thought, Horton indicated that even at the year’s final event, he’ll really be trying to simply focus on what’s in front of him on a given day at any given moment.
And that means moving up the SCORETRACKER LIVE! leaderboard along with either winning and/or advancing from day to day and round to round.
“Even at the last event, I think you look at it as you’re trying to go out every day and trying to catch as many fish as you can to move ahead,” said Horton. “All we are looking at is SCORETRACKER and where we’re at (during that period), that’s all we’re thinking about in that moment.
“You don’t think about ‘Oh man, I need to finish eighth instead of 10th, you don’t think about that,” he added. “You think ‘I need to make that cut and get to that next round.
“That’s all we’re thinking – the rest will take care of itself.”