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World Open 2014 - Discussion

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  • World Open 2014 - Discussion

    So, the World Open starts tomorrow...

    The first two editions of this tournament were not a great success, I mean mostly in terms of spectators, but the Shanghai Masters had similar problems in its first two years, and has since established itself pretty well. It's a nice spot on the calendar, a month before the World Championship starts, so the final build-up is about to start...

    The final PTC of the season finished yesterday in Dongguan, not far from Haikou, as a kind of a prologue to this tournament. Stuart Bingham was the winner, beating Liang Wenbo in the final. As always, it will be interesting to see if the players who played in that have any advantage now, having travelled to China earlier than the rest. Jet lag has been a common problem for players in these events, and it surely helps just to get used to the climate a bit as well. Although, funnily enough, four of the quarter-finalists from Dongguan have not qualified for the World Open, Jack Lisowski Gary Wilson, Dechawat Poomjaeng, and of course the surprising semi-finalist Cai Jianzhong, who is not on the Main Tour. Not many other notable absentees... Ronnie O'Sullivan obviously, but the only other player who could have been a reasonable contender is probably Peter Ebdon, so a pretty strong field remains.

    The draw looks pretty balanced this time, at first glance at least. But let's look at it more closely...

    Quarter 1:

    Mark Allen v. Mike Dunn
    Mark Williams v. Yuan Sijun
    Ken Doherty v. Barry Pinches
    Ricky Walden v. Alfie Burden

    John Higgins v. Alex Davies
    Michael White v. Aditya Mehta
    Matthew Stevens v. Yu Delu
    Judd Trump v. S.Lam/Chen Z.

    Mark Allen starts as defending champion, in fact still undefeated in this tournament, having won the first two editions. He has had his problems with China in the past, but surely he must be happy to return to the place of his greatest success in snooker. He is in a similar position as last year, coming here with a pretty mediocre season behind him. He has gone out early in every major tournament apart from the UK Championship, so he is one of the players who desperately need a good run here. The draw could have been kinder though... Mark Williams is the most successful player ever in the Asian events, along with Stephen Hendry, but not so much in the last two seasons, which included two 1st round exits in this tournament. He reached the last16 in Newport, his best this season, and he had a good win over Neil Robertson in the process. It kind of reminds me of Hendry, who also beat Robertson in the Welsh Open in 2012, but that proved to be a pretty isolated moment of glory for him. Hopefully Williams can do something more here. He doesn't meet Allen much, but one match that does stick in the memory is their QF in the 2011 WC, where Williams was in great breakbuilding form and won very convincingly. The third big name here is Ricky Walden, another China specialist with two ranking titles to his name. He too has had a pretty underwhelming season, the only highlight being his SF appearance in the UK Championship. He beat both Williams and Allen in that tournament, so he probably won't mind the draw here. He played alright in Wales, but nowhere near good enough to trouble O'Sullivan, and he might need some better form to be a contender here as well. The rest of this section is not that strong, but I would still keep an eye out for Ken Doherty and Barry Pinches, who have both played in Dongguan and won a couple of matches.

    The second part of this quarter is pretty similar, three players standing out again. Judd Trump has been getting better in recent months, reaching the final of the German Masters and playing alright in Wales, where he lost to John Higgins in the last16. It's well over a year since his last major title, so I expect he will be one of the most motivated players in this tournament and in the China Open. He has been known to come to these events poorly prepared in the past, but he can't really afford that at this point. There could be a rematch with Higgins in the last16 here, but a couple of obstacles to overcome first. Matthew Stevens was the player who took him out in the QF last year, on his way to a rare appearance in a ranking final. He is still waiting for his first major run since the Wuxi Classic, but it's getting harder and harder now that more players are finding their form. He too is looking for another match with Higgins, which would be their third in China this season. Higgins won their SF in Wuxi, but Stevens got some revenge in the International Championship. I think he could be in trouble in the 1st round though, because Yu Delu looks to be playing well at the moment. He was a semi-finalist in Dongguan, getting through a pretty tough draw of mostly Main Tour professionals, rather than the local amateurs. I watched a bit of his match against Liang Wenbo in the SF, and he was leading before I went to bed, but eventually lost 4-2. His professional career so far has mostly been one big struggle in the qualifiers, but he has shown in the past that he is pretty comfortable at the venues in China, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him do well here. Higgins is another player whose form has been getting better... He was finally able to win a close match against a top player in Wales, which is a good sign, but he ultimately wasn't able to compete with O'Sullivan. Can he string a couple of good matches together here? This tournament has been successful for him in the past, a QF and a SF in the last two years, both times some of his best snooker in an otherwise poor season. I don't know if it's just a coincidence, but Higgins' best results seem to come in China more often than not these days, so he could be dangerous. Other players here don't impress me particularly. Michael White hasn't really done much this season to suggest he could go through, his best result the QF in India. Aditya Mehta was the runner-up in India, but for all those platitudes about the cream rising to the top whatever the format, there seem to be quite a few players who have only had a run in that particular tournament, and Mehta is one of them, so I am quite sceptical about him. In fact, I would give Alex Davies a better chance, since he played the PTC and got through a couple of rounds.

    Quarter 2:

    Stephen Maguire v. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
    Andrew Higginson v. Craig Steadman
    Ryan Day v. Michael Wasley
    Graeme Dott v. Tian Pengfei

    Shaun Murphy v. Jimmy White
    Mark King v. Cao Yupeng
    Xiao Guodong v. Pankaj Advani
    Ding Junhui v. Li Yan

    Stephen Maguire finds himself in an interesting part of the draw again. I think it's fair to say he had a very easy draw in the Welsh Open, not facing anyone even remotely high-ranked at any point. His title defence ended against Joel Walker in the last16, another opponent he should have beaten on paper, but Maguire was struggling with an injury throughout the tournament. I don't know whether that's still affecting him, so it's tough to say what his chances are here, but the draw certainly isn't as easy. He hasn't played Andrew Higginson in a big match for a while, but they did once meet in a ranking SF, in the 2007 Welsh Open, Higginson winning 6-3 on that occasion. Graeme Dott should be second favourite in this section, in terms of ranking, but he hasn't really shown any great form for a while. He made the trip early to play in Dongguan as well, but he didn't make much impact. He played well before the new year though, reaching the SF of the International Championship. He is also a former China Open champion, as is Maguire of course. Tian Pengfei could be a tricky 1st round draw for Dott. He is playing his best snooker since 2010, or to put it better, it's the first time in years that he is playing anything decent. He had a great win over Robertson in the German Masters, and like Yu Delu, he has always been at his most dangerous at venues in China. He could potentially meet Ryan Day in the 2nd round here, in a repeat of the 2010 Beijing International Challenge final. He won that match 9-3, to win what was a good little tournament at the time. Day is also coming back after a couple pretty poor years. His best result this season was the SF in the German Masters, but unfortunately he couldn't follow it up with a good performance in his home tournament. He has always enjoyed playing in China though, this season reaching the QF of the International Championship, so it could be his week. Tough section to call...

    Ding Junhui is also in an interesting section, with four Chinese players. There is no doubt he is the man to beat in this tournament. He has won the last two ranking events in China before the new year, then had a couple of quiet tournaments, but he has since come back strongly again to win the German Masters and reach the final of the Welsh Open. His defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan was his first at the business end of any tournament this season, so he is quite tough to beat once he plays himself into a tournament these days. He is still looking to equal Stephen Hendry's record of ranking titles in a season, or possibly beat it, but the question is whether his best form is behind him now. I thought he did well to reach the final in Wales, because he never really played his best stuff, and of course staying for the full seven days (or sometimes longer) at venues every time is bound to take its toll on him. A lot of players also have the travel back to England for the PTC Finals, then another one to Beijing, and I think Ding could be a bit tired ahead of the WC. So, in some ways, an early loss here could be to his advantage in the long run. He has had a couple of surprising losses to Chinese players in the past, the 1st round of this tournament two years ago against Jin Long for example, so Li Yan could be trickier than it looks for him. His 2nd round match will probably be against Xiao Guodong, in a repeat of the Shanghai Masters final from earlier in the season, and that could be even trickier. I feared Xiao would be a one-hit wonder this season, so to speak, but he has actually done pretty well since Shanghai. He was a quarter-finalist in the German Masters, then lost to O'Sullivan in Wales and probably troubled him more than Walden or Higgins did. He could be especially dangerous now that we are back in China, here and also later in Beijing. It's interesting that he didn't play in Dongguan though, and neither did Cao Yupeng. Cao was of course a quarter-finalist in the first major event of the season, the Wuxi Classic, but has since been pretty disappointing. Shaun Murphy is another big name here, the first in line to take advantage if Ding is out of sorts. He looked to be coming back to his best form from the Masters onwards, taking the PTC in Poland, but he hasn't done all that much in the last two major ranking events. He has a decent record against Ding, he lost to him in Shanghai this season, but then beat him in the Masters in a pretty poor match. We know Mark King can also trouble Ding, as he did in the WC last year, pushing him very close in the 2nd round. He is a former quarter-finalist of this event, but unfortunately for him, he has an awful record against Murphy, never beating him before. Jimmy White is also here, one of the players to play in Dongguan, where he lost early to a local amateur. Pankaj Advani is another one of those good performers from India, a quarter-finalist there, but has done nothing whatsoever in the other major events this season.

    Quarter 3:

    Mark Selby v. Anthony Hamilton
    Gerard Greene v. Noppon Saengkham
    Liang Wenbo v. S.Donaldson/Lin S.
    Mark Davis v. Adam Wicheard

    Robert Milkins v. Rod Lawler
    Martin Gould v. Alan McManus
    Dominic Dale v. Michael Leslie
    Stuart Bingham v. Steve Davis

    As I said earlier, the draw is pretty balanced here, but if I had to pick the weakest quarter, this would probably be it. Mark Selby is the big name, remarkably consistent this season, with seven runs to at least the QF of major events, including the final of the UK Championship and the Masters. But of course he hasn't actually won anything major, so he is still under pressure to get a result here, or in one of the other tournaments that still remain until the end of the season. So motivation won't be a problem, but does he have the form? He didn't play too well in those two big finals, it has to be said, and he followed them up with an early loss in Germany. He reached the QF in Wales, but was completely outplayed by Joe Perry. Well, those are the losses, but in the matches he did win, he often looked quite good. He just needs to string a few together here. A tricky 1st round opponent, Anthony Hamilton, a quarter-finalist in Wuxi at the start of the season, and featured in both of the last two major events as well, so he is playing better this season than in the previous couple. He had a QF match against Selby in the 2009 Welsh Open that I really enjoyed, although I suspect I was in the minority. At one point they set the record for the longest safety battle, around 27 minutes, and that might still stand, I'm not sure... But Hamilton did win that match, and he generally has a pretty good record against Selby. Gerard Greene is a less tricky opponent on paper, but he did reach a PTC final earlier this season, so he shouldn't be underestimated. The last16 here could see another encounter between Selby and Mark Davis, the third this season. Selby has won the previous two, including a great match in the Masters that went to a decider. While Davis' rivalry with Selby is not going well for him, the one with Liang Wenbo is more even. Liang won convincingly in the International Championship, but Davis got revenge in the German Masters, on his way to the QF. Unfortunately he couldn't take advantage of a pretty easy draw in Wales, which has been something of a problem for him all season. Liang himself could certainly be a big danger here. He is making his debut at this venue, which just shows you how tough he has found it in the qualifiers in recent years. But this season has seen him return to form, a QF in the International Championship, beating Ronnie O'Sullivan on his way, and two runs to the last16 in the last two events, with another couple of good scalps to his name. He also played well in the Chinese PTCs, winning the one in Zhengzhou, and getting to the final yesterday, beating Ding and another couple of strong players on his way. I will also mention the promising Scott Donaldson who reached the last16 in Wales recently, which was his best-ever result. He also played well in all four PTCs in China, reaching the SF of the first one in June, and losing in the last32 of the last one to the eventual winner just a couple of days ago.

    I think Stuart Bingham could be one of the big favourites this week. Fairly consistent all season, with a great form peak in the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship just before the new year. He lost early in Germany, then played pretty well to reach the last16 in Wales, losing to a very strong Joe Perry. He has always been a strong traveller, and made the travel early this time to play in the PTC as well, which turned out to be a good decision. It was his third PTC title in China in two years, so it's clearly a format that suits him. Well, longer matches and stronger opposition here, but Bingham is still one of the men to beat. A couple more players in this section played in Dongguan, Robert Milkins and Michael Leslie without much success, but Alan McManus did reach the last16, where he lost to Tom Ford. McManus has appeared at venues quite regularly this season, and mostly played alright, so he might fancy his chances here, particularly against the lesser tactical players like Milkins and Martin Gould. Poor season for Gould really, no major runs in any big tournament, and his ranking has slipped a bit as well. Perhaps that will ease some of the pressure on him, as he has always done better in the role of dangerous qualifier, rather than one of the favourites. Milkins is the opposite in a way, getting through fairly easy draws to reach two ranking quarter-finals this season, but he doesn't really have too many major scalps. He wasn't impressive in the last two events, but this is one that suits him. It's the place of one of his best-ever results, a SF two years ago. Rod Lawler had a result like that just recently, the SF of the German Masters, where he battled through a couple of deciders to make it that far for the first time in his career, although he did have a bit of luck with the draw. Dominic Dale has had a couple of decent tournaments recently as well, although still waiting for his first run to the business end of a major tournament this season. Steve Davis is also here, his first trip to China since the International Championship, where he got his ass kicked by Zhao Xintong, a player young enough to be his grandson, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

    Quarter 4:

    Barry Hawkins v. Matthew Selt
    Mark Joyce v. David Morris
    Allister Carter v. David Gilbert
    Joe Perry v. Kurt Maflin

    Marco Fu v. Anthony McGill
    Michael Holt v. Nigel Bond
    Tom Ford v. R.McLeod/Zhao X.
    Neil Robertson v. Jamie Jones

    Another section that's very tough to call. Barry Hawkins is the highest seed, enjoying another strong season, with two major ranking semi-finals to his name. That would probably have been more than satisfactory in the past, but of course he is looking for more now. He played very well in the Welsh Open, and I suspect he would have reached the final had he faced Ding rather than O'Sullivan. He did face Ding in the SF in Shanghai, but Ding was playing really well at the time, so that didn't work out for Hawkins either. He is very strong in all aspects of the game these days, so it's tough to see him being troubled by the three players immediately next to him in the draw. I guess David Morris is the most dangerous of those three, having reached a ranking QF in Wuxi at the start of the season, with a pretty reasonable draw at the time. He has done alright since then, particularly in the UK Championship, and he has recorded a couple of good wins over the experienced Peter Ebdon. Mark Joyce was a quarter-finalist in the UK back in 2010, which unfortunately seems like ancient history now. He hasn't done much this season to suggest he could be dangerous. Joe Perry on the other hand... One of the most pleasant surprises this season, finding himself at the business end of tournaments more often than not. Recent form has been great as well, QF in Germany, SF in Wales, stopped by Ding Junhui both times. On his last trip to China he made the SF of the International Championship, losing to Marco Fu in the deciding frame. No obvious weakness in his game when he is playing well, which could make for a potentially great match against Hawkins in the last16, a player he has an excellent record against. He has to beat Kurt Maflin first though, another player enjoying an alright season, the highlight being his win over Selby in Germany, but he did lose to Perry in the following round there. He has been known to play well in China in the past, so it will be interesting to see how he does, particularly having made the trip early to play in the PTC as well, where he lost to McManus. Ali Carter is also here, I hope, after withdrawing from this tournament in the last two years due to health problems. He has been one of the weakest top players this season, not getting to any major QF yet, apart from the Champion of Champions. He reached the last16 in Wales, so his form might be getting better, and this is the part of the season he usually does well in. A potential 2nd round match against Perry here could be a good one, a repeat of their WC semi-final from 2008, when Carter won the last three frames to win a closely-fought match. Carter also has a terrific record over Hawkins, although the two matches that stand out the most were very close. Hawkins came from 8-3 behind to beat him 9-8 in the 2007 UK Championship, then came back from 9-6 down in the 2008 WC to force the decider, but they had to finish the match in another session, so Carter was able to compose himself and win in the end.

    And finally, Neil Robertson and Marco Fu find themselves in the same section for the third tournament in a row. They were favourite to meet both times, but managed to avoid each other. Will they meet this time? They are still two of only four players to win anything major this season, quite remarkable... Neil Robertson has been very consistent, winning two events and reaching another final, so you could say these two fairly early exits in the last two events have been his worst results in a long time. Ding and Robertson have won the last four Chinese ranking events between them, so I suspect Robertson is happy to be back in China. He is a big favourite in the 1st round against Jamie Jones, one of the big disappointments of the last two seasons. He will be favourite in the next round as well, I suspect against Tom Ford, a quarter-finalist in Australia at the start of the season. Ford has been pretty quiet since that run, but he played in Dongguan recently and was one of the better players there, losing to Yu Delu in the QF. Zhao Xintong will also be very interesting to see again, after his great success in the International Championship, where he thrashed three of his opponents, including Barry Hawkins, before losing to Fu, as a wildcard of course. Michael Holt could also be pretty dangerous in this section, enjoying arguably his best-ever season. He reached a ranking SF for the first time in his career in Shanghai, even though his draw didn't really open up that much, and he followed it up with the final in the next PTC event. He also got to the QF of the German Masters and played well in Wales not too long ago, so he could definitely spoil things for Robertson and Fu. He needs to beat Nigel Bond in the 1st round though, in what should be a good tactical match. Anthony McGill has also featured a bit in the last two events, and like Holt, he came early to play in the PTC, so that could give him an edge here. He is another one of those good Indian Open performers, a quarter-finalist there. As for Fu, he is one of the players of the season of course, already with a win over Robertson in the final of the Australian Open. He was also a finalist in the International Championship, taking Ding to a deciding frame there. If he does play Robertson again, it should be a good one...

    Possible QF lineup:

    Mark Allen v. Judd Trump
    Stephen Maguire v. Shaun Murphy
    Mark Selby v. Stuart Bingham
    Barry Hawkins v. Neil Robertson

    I will be watching this in the mornings, so hopefully we get better coverage than at the Welsh Open, and hopefully the atmosphere is better than the last two years. The snooker should be good in any case though...

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Odrl View Post
    I will be watching this in the mornings, so hopefully we get better coverage than at the Welsh Open...

    Any thoughts?
    Not sure what you mean about better coverage. The Welsh Open was covered on both BBC Wales and Eurosport fairly comprehensively.
    "Kryten, isn't it round about this time of year that your head goes back to the lab for retuning?"


    • #3
      Originally posted by Billy View Post
      Not sure what you mean about better coverage. The Welsh Open was covered on both BBC Wales and Eurosport fairly comprehensively.
      I mainly meant two televised matches, so we can see more players and switch to another match if the main one finishes early.


      • #4
        Is this on tv guys?


        • #5
          yes, British Eurosport is covering the event.
          Ordl, it looks like two tv tables but only one being shown at any one time
          maybe two tables on streaming?
          Up the TSF!


          • #6
            Originally posted by DeanH View Post
            yes, British Eurosport is covering the event.
            Ordl, it looks like two tv tables but only one being shown at any one time
            maybe two tables on streaming?
            That would be good enough for me.

            Eurosport had coverage of both tables in some of the Chinese tournaments this season, presumably because there wasn't much other live sport to show in the mornings, but one isn't too bad. As long as they can switch to the other table at the end, and at least give me the chance to watch a different match on Eurosport Player.

            The first session starts at 2.30am, the second at 7am. The question is, which one to sleep over?


            • #7
              Originally posted by Odrl View Post
              The first session starts at 2.30am, the second at 7am. The question is, which one to sleep over?
              Is that the live stream, Odrl? The first session on Sky seems to be 6am.
              "Kryten, isn't it round about this time of year that your head goes back to the lab for retuning?"


              • #8
                Originally posted by Billy View Post
                Is that the live stream, Odrl? The first session on Sky seems to be 6am.
                Yes, unless you can get Chinese TV.


                • #9
                  good quality live stream at 2am UK time of J Higgins vs A Davies for any night owls on the forum ...


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DandyA View Post
                    good quality live stream at 2am UK time of J Higgins vs A Davies for any night owls on the forum ...
                    It is on at 2pm here

                    Might get some sleep this tournament for a change.
                    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)


                    • #11
                      Selby/Hamilton both must be jet lagged I am fancying my chances lol


                      • #12
                        Good write up again Odrl.

                        With Ding showing such form and consistency, those demons from the Masters now must be gone and pundits saying that he doesn't have the bottle have been quelled. In addtion, it was said Ding had problems playing at home, once again, that has been quelled too.

                        What will be intersting for me is to see how he deals with playing a fellow Chinese player. His opening round is against Li Yan who hasn't done anything of note. His last 16 match could be against talented Cao Yupeng. Historically, Ding has had issues in playing other Chinese players in China.

                        Nonetheless, hoping for his 5th ranking title this season.


                        • #13
                          Defeat for Maguire in a match i thought he would he still suffering with his back ?
                          Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !


                          • #14
                            Is there a half a second time delay or is it me? For instance you see the tip hit the white ball and the sound is half a second behind.
                            After 15 reds and 15 blacks i did this


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by scottley View Post
                              Is there a half a second time delay or is it me? For instance you see the tip hit the white ball and the sound is half a second behind.
                              This happens for too often on eurosport player, always seems to effect the main channel feeds... the live feed without commentary is always spot on, strange...
                              Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning...