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Wuxi Classic 2013 - Discussion

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  • Wuxi Classic 2013 - Discussion

    Right, the first major event of the season starts tomorrow...

    It doesn't really feel like a new season at all, especially if you've watched the first two PTCs, or whatever they're called now. A lot of the players were in Yixing this week, so they shouldn't have the usual struggles with adjusting to the different time zone here, but I'm sure we will still see a lot of surprises, like we do every year in the opening event.

    This is also the first event under the new format, with 64 players fighting it out at the venue stage, along with a reduced wildcard round. It will be interesting to see how it goes, and what kind of lineup we get at the business end. A couple of the top players have already gone out, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy the most notable, along with the absence of Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Maguire, which leaves the draw pretty unbalanced. A couple of top players find themselves without any strong competition in their parts of the draw, at least on paper, which could potentially leave it wide open for some unlikely contenders, should the top players disappoint. Carter, Hawkins and Ding seem to have been particularly lucky.

    Before we look at this mess, just another thought... In the last couple of years we have seen the dumbing down of three traditional events with a lot of history behind them. The Grand Prix was effectively cancelled and initially replaced by a best-of-5 format in an attempt to sell it to the BBC, which didn't work. The Welsh Open saw its matches reduced to best-of-7 in most rounds, partly to get rid of a "cubicle" at the venue and play it out on two tables, where everything could be televised. Finally, the UK Championship got reduced to the current best-of-11 format, once again in order to make room for an extra session and play it out on fewer tables. Here we have another new format, supposedly fairer than the old one and giving everyone the same chance. But at the same time, it's gone from four tables to six, which means only a third of the matches can be televised. There is also a morning session, middle of the night for us in Europe, which won't be on TV here, even if someone had the commitment to get up and watch it. Personally, I don't find this a problem. I am perfectly happy to watch Ding Junhui against Jamie Burnett in tomorrow's "evening" session, and I won't be too disappointed to miss out on Joel Walker against Alex Davies because the main match isn't short enough. I sure as hell don't see how any TV company could see it differently either. In many ways, this change of format is the opposite to some of the previous ones, and in my opinion, it shows what kind of bull**** the reasoning behind those really was.

    That having been said, let's look at this massive draw...

    Quarter 1:

    Ricky Walden v. Jimmy White
    Robert Milkins v. John Astley
    Scott Donaldson v. Gareth Green
    Graeme Dott v. J.Robertson/Zhou Y.

    Mark Williams v. Liam Highfield
    Jack Lisowski v. Tian Pengfei
    Ryan Day v. Anthony Hamilton
    Stuart Bingham v. Yu Delu

    A couple of interesting players in the top quarter. Ricky Walden perhaps starts as one of the favourites for this title, having won the opening ranking event of the season twice in his career already, both times in China as it happens. He could play Robert Milkins in the 2nd round, in a repeat of their 2nd round match at the WC. I guess Milkins can no longer be described as one of the most dangerous qualifiers, as his top32 status in the rankings is now largely irrelevant, but I'm sure no one will want him particularly close in the draw this season. Graeme Dott is the other top16 player here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him start the season slowly. I think Scott Donaldson could be the bigger danger here. While I haven't actually seen him play, his results in the first two PTCs of the season can't really be ignored. He reached the last8 in Sofia and the last4 in Yixing. On top of that, he was a win away from qualifying for the Australian Open under the old format, starting in the very first round. Jimmy Robertson also comes here with some sort of form, having reached the business end in Sofia as well.

    The second part of this quarter is one of the most promising of the entire draw, with all eight players having some sort of chance to reach the quarter-finals. I guess Stuart Bingham starts as the favourite, having played so well last season, particularly in the first part which was mostly in China. Well, this is his first event of the season, having missed Yixing, so he hasn't had that useful warm-up. Could it cost him? Yu Delu is a very tricky opening opponent here. He's never found playing in his home country a struggle, at least not as a wildcard, so I expect him to be strong here. He reached the last8 in Yixing, so his form could be good. Similar case with Tian Pengfei, another former wildcard specialist, but somewhat quiet in his recent couple of seasons as a professional. He too reached the last8 in Yixing, so he will fancy his chances here, but it's a tough ask to get through this quarter. Jack Lisowski is his first obstacle, a player who had a minor breakthrough in Beijing a couple of months ago, and is now looking for a major one. Could it be this week? I think Mark Williams has won more major titles in China and Asia than any other player playing today, so we can't underestimate him either. He failed to win a title in the last two seasons, but he played some of his best snooker at the start of the season both times, so this could be the time for his return as a serious contender. And perhaps a mention for Ryan Day as well, a player who has the experience of having gone far in this type of tournament in the past, a former finalist at the Shanghai Masters and a player with more breakbuilding firepower than most.

    Quarter 2:

    Joel Walker v. Alex Davies
    Ben Woollaston v. Chen Zhe
    Michael White v. Cao Yupeng
    Barry Hawkins v. Fergal O'Brien

    Marco Fu v. Nigel Bond
    Mark King v. Rory McLeod
    Martin Gould v. Kurt Maflin
    Neil Robertson v. R.Evans/Zhu Y.

    The second quarter is somewhat underwhelming, but still fairly interesting. Let's start with Barry Hawkins, who is surely the big favourite to reach the quarter-finals here. He was in great form last season, with results similar to someone like Ding or Stephen Maguire, so he definitely needs to be taken seriously, as I doubt his form will drop dramatically now. He started last season strongly, and looks like doing something similar this year, opening with a run to the last4 in Sofia. His 1st round opponent, Fergal O'Brien, also found himself at the business end of that tournament, so this could be a decent match between two in-form players here. Michael White finds himself in a similar position to Jamie Jones last season, after his run to the quarter-finalist of the WC, with everyone wanting to see whether he can build on that. He could have had a nicer draw though, as Cao Yupeng should be the more comfortable of the two playing in China. Cao himself is mostly remembered for his run in the WC two seasons ago, but he did knock John Higgins out of the International Championship last season, very much on the big stage, and like Yu and Tian, he too did well to reach the last8 in Yixing. The other four players here also have some interesting results behind them, so I wouldn't rule them out either.

    The other half of this quarter features some more familiar and experienced players. Nigel Bond, Rory McLeod and Mark King have all shown themselves to be very capable of causing upsets in the past, but none of them comes to this event with any recent form. Unless you count King's good performance in the WC of course, although King is generally stronger as the big underdog, which he won't be here until he potentially plays Neil Robertson. Marco Fu is the biggest danger to Robertson here. He had a surprisingly consistent last season, with a number of strong runs in tournaments, including the final of the German Masters. When Fu is bad, he is really bad, but he finally seems to be playing more good tournaments than bad ones, so I definitely think he has a chance. Having said that, he doesn't usually play all that well in China. Martin Gould is another dangerous player... Although not really good at handling pressure on the big stage, he still has the firepower to cause problems for anyone in the early rounds. He won't be happy to find himself next to Robertson in the draw though. And he could probably have drawn an easier 1st round opponent as well, as Maflin's form towards the end of last season was quite solid and I'm sure he will be looking to build on it here. Reanne Evans has also been mentioned a lot in the media in recent days. Her win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was the biggest of her career so far, and more than she managed in the entire season as a professional. Robertson was one of the players who came closest to losing to her that year, so it could be interesting to see this match. Unfortunately there are two obstacles - the fact that the match is scheduled for a morning session, and of course her very possible defeat to Zhu Yinghui. As for Robertson himself, he is the most recent winner of a major event in China, having finally got that monkey off his back in Beijing a couple of months ago, and he has already reached a minor final this season in Sofia. While there are a lot of capable players around him looking to take him out, and he does get taken out early even in the big tournaments such as the WC, he must surely still start as the favourite in this quarter.

    Quarter 3:

    David Gilbert v. Andrew Pagett
    Ken Doherty v. Alan McManus
    Joe Perry v. Jamie Cope
    Ding Junhui v. Jamie Burnett

    John Higgins v. V.Calabrese/Zhao X.
    Dominic Dale v. Dechawat Poomjaeng
    Peter Ebdon v. Xiao Guodong
    Judd Trump v. Li Hang

    Another interesting mix of players in the third quarter. Ding Junhui is the only really big name in the first part, but we've seen him go out early on many occasions in these Chinese tournaments. This is the event that is really the local one for him, but it could prove to be more of a burden than an advantage for him. Who could cause him the most problems? Well, Alan McManus beat him in Yixing and generally seems to be back to decent form. He plays Ken Doherty in the 1st round here, in a match that would be highly anticipated in the 90s, but even now they can both still produce it on their day, like they did at the Welsh Open last season. I don't expect Andrew Pagett to come through here, but it's worth mentioning that he beat Mark Selby in the qualifiers for this event. Jamie Burnett is also not among the favourites here, even though he is a former finalist of the Shanghai Masters. Jamie Cope is a former finalist of the China Open, way back in 2007, which seems like ancient history now, especially considering the struggles Cope has gone through with his form in recent years. He meets Joe Perry in the 1st round here, in a repeat of a 1st round match at the WC in 2009. I think Perry could be Ding's biggest obstacle here. He played very well to win the title in Yixing, so he comes here in good spirits, with good form and high confidence, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him have another run.

    This brings us to the strongest part of the draw, at least in terms of the top players. John Higgins could be the man to beat. He played very well in Sofia to win the title, overcoming just about as tough an opposition as you can get in a PTC. Not previously a specialist for the Chinese events, his results in China over the past two seasons have been better than his other ones, including of course his most recent major title in Shanghai last season. I don't think we will see another brilliant season from him now, I mean one of those where he is almost impossible to beat, but there is no reason why he can't still play more good tournaments than bad ones. Obviously his big opponent here is Judd Trump, one of the few top players not to disappoint at the World Championship. I have a feeling he might need a couple of tournaments to play himself back into form, but he could just as easily be up for it here, which could give us a couple of lovely matches in this quarter. The others? Well, Peter Ebdon is also here, a winner of two ranking titles in China in recent years, and a finalist in Australia near the start of last season. He struggles against Trump, the 9-1 defeat in the semi-finals of the International Championship springs to mind, but he has a very good record against Higgins. Dominic Dale and Dechawat Poomjaeng meet in a battle of two eccentric characters, and although Dale is a former Shanghai Masters Champion, it's hard to see either of them going through. The same with the two Chinese players, although I wouldn't be surprised if Xiao beat Ebdon here. As for Li Hang, nice to see him back on the Main Tour as well, but it's going to be tough to make progress here.

    Quarter 4:

    Mark Allen v. Peter Lines
    Andrew Higginson v. Steve Davis
    Liang Wenbo v. Jamie Jones
    Matthew Stevens v. A.Duffy/Lu N.

    Allister Carter v. Alfie Burden
    Craig Steadman v. Lu Haotian
    David Morris v. Gary Wilson
    Gerard Greene v. Michael Wasley

    I think the last quarter is the weakest of the four, with only a couple of top players. And if any of them are suspect, we could see a surprise or two. Of all the top players that have embarrassed themselves at the WC, I think Mark Allen might be the most frustrated, because it was his second 1st round loss in a row at the WC. He used to play his best snooker in the biggest tournaments, but the last two seasons saw him win two World Open titles, in a place he supposedly doesn't like, while the rest of his performances have been mostly mediocre. He decided to sit out the first two PTCs, so this is the season opening for him, and there is every chance he will be out of sorts. On paper, his biggest obstacle should be his opponent from the World Open final - Matthew Stevens. Stevens hasn't really won anything major for a decade, but last season finally saw him reach some consistency. He could have a good match in the 2nd round, if indeed he gets there, against either the hero of the 2012 WC - Jamie Jones, or his old rival Liang Wenbo. Liang will be interesting to see here. He went from an extremely dangerous qualifier to a player who could barely win a match, but now he seems to have established himself as a solid player again. He is a former finalist at the Shanghai Masters, the opening event of the season on that occasion, and this quarter is quite reasonable, so with a bit of form, he could go through. I like Andrew Higginson's chances as well. He is a player that quietly goes about his business, and he too will like the look of this quarter. I don't think Lu Ning will go through, but I mention him every time anyway, after some of his success as a wildcard in the past.

    I don't really know what to say about this last part of the draw. I think Carter probably has the most outrageously easy draw anyone has ever had, at least on paper. He hasn't played so far this season, so if we assume his form isn't that great, it really is wide open for anyone. I think the first in line to take advantage must be Alfie Burden, an experienced player who has played some of his best snooker in recent months. The next biggest name would be Gerard Greene, a former ranking event semi-finalist, at the Grand Prix way back in 2007, but very quiet in recent seasons. Then there is Michael Wasley, a fairly unknown player, the lucky guy who drew O'Sullivan and didn't have to play him. And finally, there is Lu Haotian, the Chinese prodigy and the hero of the International Championship last season, the youngest-ever quarter-finalist of a ranking event. If there is to be a surprise, I would love to see Lu have another good run, but Carter could quite possibly do the business.

    Possible QF lineup:

    Ricky Walden v. Stuart Bingham
    Barry Hawkins v. Neil Robertson
    Ding Junhui v. John Higgins
    Mark Allen v. Allister Carter

    Should be a good week.

  • #2
    Thanks for the summary Odrl !!
    My favourite players: Walter Lindrum (AUS), Neil Robertson (AUS), Eddie Charlton (AUS), Robby Foldvari (AUS), Vinnie Calabrese (AUS), Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, Alex Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Dominic Dale and Barry Hawkins.
    I dream of a 147 (but would be happy with a 100)


    • #3
      Good to see Reanne playing.


      • #4
        Originally posted by FerruleFox View Post
        Good to see Reanne playing.
        I agree, but I wish she wasn't up against Neil Robertson . . .

        Anyone else and I would want her to win!

        My favourite players: Walter Lindrum (AUS), Neil Robertson (AUS), Eddie Charlton (AUS), Robby Foldvari (AUS), Vinnie Calabrese (AUS), Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, Alex Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Dominic Dale and Barry Hawkins.
        I dream of a 147 (but would be happy with a 100)


        • #5
          Looks like Neil is getting the better of her so far. 3-0 so far.


          • #6
            Originally posted by FerruleFox View Post
            Looks like Neil is getting the better of her so far. 3-0 so far.
            She is playing Zhu Yinghui at the minute (wild-card match) to see who plays Neil Robertson. Reanne has come back 2 frames to 3.

            Update: she lost 2 - 5. But Vinnie Calabrese (from Australia) won his wild-card match 5 - 4
            Last edited by mythman69; 17th June 2013, 04:53 AM. Reason: update
            My favourite players: Walter Lindrum (AUS), Neil Robertson (AUS), Eddie Charlton (AUS), Robby Foldvari (AUS), Vinnie Calabrese (AUS), Jimmy White, Stephen Hendry, Alex Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Dominic Dale and Barry Hawkins.
            I dream of a 147 (but would be happy with a 100)


            • #7
              Nice start from Bingham, winning both frames with superb breaks from behind.


              • #8
                Good to Vinnie start with a win hope he does well .


                • #9
                  Just noticed Vinnie plays Higgins next will be tough for him to win .


                  • #10
                    Another great comeback, this time from Yu Delu. Bingham only needed one more red but missed it, and Yu managed to clear the tricky table in two visits to win on the black.


                    • #11
                      Congrats to Jimmy, great win. I must admit I thought he would bottle it when Walden started to come back, but he held himself together well in that last frame.


                      • #12
                        Pretty comfortable stuff from Bingham after the interval, as Yu just failed to put any additional pressure on him.


                        • #13
                          So unfair to Reanne she had to play a wildcard game!! A real shame. A clash with Robbo right from the get go would have been such a superb promotion for the game...
                          and what had to happen happenned...she lost to the Chinese lad. Great effort from Reanne though, I hope we'll see more of her on the big stages this season.
                          Ton Praram III Series 1 | 58" 18.4oz 9.4mm | ash shaft + 4 splices of Brazilian Rosewood | Grand Cue medium tips


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rich45 View Post
                            Congrats to Jimmy, great win. I must admit I thought he would bottle it when Walden started to come back, but he held himself together well in that last frame.
                            Quote on World Snooker from Jimmy White :

                            It's a fantastic victory for me to beat Ricky," said White. "I've had a problem with my cue for a long time, there was just a nick in it and a piece of wood was catching my thumb. I went to see Robert Osbourne and he fixed it for me and now I'm hitting the ball really well.
                            Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by neil taperell View Post
                              Quote on World Snooker from Jimmy White :

                              It's a fantastic victory for me to beat Ricky," said White. "I've had a problem with my cue for a long time, there was just a nick in it and a piece of wood was catching my thumb. I went to see Robert Osbourne and he fixed it for me and now I'm hitting the ball really well.

                              Doesn't really make much sense that he would leave it so long to get fixed if it was annoying him. I'm guessing the "nick" in it came from the numerous times he's thrown it in exhibitions and on tv. Had to do some damage sooner or later. In the video interview he reckons it might have been water damage.
                              Last edited by narl; 17th June 2013, 02:09 PM.