26th Aug 2012 everyone today at Thimphu Changlimithang range expected either Gyelyong Gaki or Druk Lhayul to win the last semi final match of the 16th Yangphel Open Archery Tournament. But it was not to be, as Phuentsholing’s Dragon Roots quietly completed two game sets against none of Druk Lhayul and one of Gyelyong Gaki to be one of the finalists of 2012 tournament.
Today’s semi final was one of the most competitive matches of the tournament, as the 3 teams matched each other karey for karey. It was only in the 8th round that first game set of the match was completed by Dragon Roots. At the end of this 8th round, each of them had hit equal 18 kareys. In fact the total karey at the end of the match remains to be 38 of Gyelyong Gaki, 37 of Dragon Roots and 35 of Druk Lhayul Const. It was in the last round, that Dragon Roots completed their 2nd game set with 3 bull’s eye hit, one sa-karey and one karey. In this last round, team in yellow – the Druk Lhayul was rooted on by the spectators since they were only one without any game set, Gyelyong Gaki had completed one game set in the 11th round. Everyone was hoping for penalty shootout between all of the team, but Dragon Root’s five hits made it unnecessary for any of them to have extra shots. Dragon Roots, who had been discounted even before the start of match, won to play finals on Sep 2.
On Sep 2, Dragon Roots would be joined by winners of yesterday’s (Aug 26) semi final matches – Pelden Group of Co. from the lower bacho and Yul-Gyel from the upper bacho. From the upper bacho, last year’s finalists Sonam Automobiles was expected to overcome Yul-Gyel and Ice Berg by many, yet Thimphu Phaka’s Yul-Gyel quietly completed two game sets in 4th and 8th round which could not be matched. Sonam Auto did glean one in the 11th round.
It was quiet victory for Yul-Gyel as the general attention was taken by the competition continuing at the lower bacho. And there, it looked like another underdog would win as ‘Snow Lion in Style’ kept the stronger Pelden Group of Co. on their toes till the very last round. Snow Lion had the best chance to equalize the 3rd game set of Pelden Group in the last two rounds. Snow Lion had completed the their first game set in first round itself which was matched in the 4th round and overtaken in the 5th round by Pelden Group. The two game sets of Pelden Group were then matched by Snow Lion in the 7th round. Pelden again overtook Snow Lion in the 10th round with their 3rd game set.
The 3rd game set of Pelden Group would have been matched by Snow Lion if not for Ata Boning that kept Snow Lion from completing their third game set crucially in the 14th and 15th round. In these last two rounds, Pelden Group could hit only one karey each, while Snow Lion hit 2 and 3 kareys in each, which were quite enough to complete their 3rd game set since they already had 5 points (2 points shy of a game set) from the 13th round. But Ata Boning players particularly Kinley Dorji hit not miss in these two rounds, matching Snow Lion’s karey and even making a point in the last round. Ata Boning kept Snow Lion in check and taking away the need to have penalty shootout and deciding the match in Pelden Group’s favour. Even though Ata Boning did not complete any game set, they did decide the match. Snow Lion gave tremendous performance and was worthy opponent to Pelden Group. Their seeded player Kinley Tshering made crucial hits, taking Snow Lion to nearer to their 3rd game set but it was not enough. Snow Lion hit as many as Pelden Group with 38 kareys. It was but the Ata Boning factor that kept them away from 2012 finals.
Ata Boning had come almost unnoticed till the stage, when their defeat drew the biggest attention. Now would other underdogs draw attention during the final? Yul-Gyel had almost been unheard of and Dragon Roots (though the best team from Phuentsholing) had been discounted against Gyelyong Gaki and Druk Lhayul Const. yet they are now the finalists. Pelden Group would have to watch out for them, for they may have been underestimated, they are not weak. After all they have become two of the three best teams of 2012 from among 26o that started off the tournament. They could become the best. Like today, the year does seem to favour the underdogs. The Sept 2nd final will show.