Tour Challenge

One of the newest additions to the Grand Slam of Curling, the Tour Challenge has been around since 2015 and is now a part of one of curling's most prestigious competitions. Comprised of two different tiers of competition, the format of the Tour Challenge adds a layer of intrigue to the grand slam of curling. In this guide to the Tour Challenge, we will run down the history of the tournament, the format, and everything else you need to know.

The format of the Tour Challenge consists of two tiers. Both tiers consist of 15 teams, with those 15 teams being put into three groups of five teams for a round robin style competition. The top eight teams qualify for the playoff rounds, where a single elimination tournament is used to determine the winner of each tier.

Qualifying for the Tour Challenge is interesting, just because of how many teams that are required to fill out the bracket for the event. The 15 teams in tier 1 are chosen based on the World Curling Tour's order of merit classification, as are the first 10 teams to be chosen for tier 2. From there, the final 5 teams in tier 2 are chosen using regional invitations.

Normally, hearing that there is a second tier to a competition would make people ask what the point of that second tier was, but in this case, the Tour Challenge attaches some interesting stakes to the second tier of competition to make that event often just as exciting as the top tier of the tournament. The team that wins the second tier of the Tour Challenge is granted entry into that year's Masters competition, which means that the stakes could not be higher for teams that normally wouldn't have a chance to play at that high a level.

Past winners of the top tier in the men's competition have included Kevin Koe, Niklas Edin, and Brad Gushue. On the women's side, Silvana Tirinzoni won the inaugural competition at tier one, while Valerie Sweeting has also won the competition at a point in its history. As the stakes continue to increase and both tiers feature top level competition, it will be interesting to see who adds themselves to the list of winners.

With the Tour Challenge being younger than other grand slam events, there is only room for the competition to grow, with prize pools currently sitting at at least $100,000 for the men and women at tier one, and $50,000 for both sides at tier two.