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Welsh Open 2016 - Discussion

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  • Welsh Open 2016 - Discussion

    So, the Welsh Open starts tomorrow...

    Not the most inspired of tournaments, unfortunately, with only the final weekend featuring matches of decent length. I usually like to go through the field and speculate which players might reach the quarter-finals, but we have 128 players at the venue this week, and the short format could see anyone reach the business end really.

    So just a quick look through the main contenders...

    Quarter 1:

    John Higgins v. Andy Hicks
    Sam Baird v. Thor Chuan Leong
    Peter Ebdon v. Zhang Anda
    Jamie Jones v. Michael Georgiou
    Liang Wenbo v. Hatem Yassen
    Gary Wilson v. Jimmy White
    Michael White v. Joe O'Connor
    Tom Ford v. Jason Weston

    We have John Higgins right at the top of the draw as defending champion. He has won this title four times in his career, and three times in the last six years. He even defended it in 2011, at a time when almost no major title was won by the same player for two years in row. So, I think it's fair to say Higgins likes this tournament. He has been very successful this season, with two major titles already, but the last two months have been fairly quiet for him. He lost in the qualifiers for the German Masters, so we did not see him in Berlin last week, and he also failed to reach the business end of the Masters in January, as usual. He did play well against Liang Wenbo in the 1st round though, and he could play him again here. The pair also met in Shanghai this season and in the Welsh Open a year ago, and Higgins was the winner both times. In fact, Liang has never beaten Higgins in any match, major or minor, even though they seem to play quite frequently. He is probably the first in line to take advantage if Higgins is out of sorts though, already a ranking finalist this season at the UK Championship, and he played quite well in the last two editions of the Welsh Open. Michael White could also be a danger in this part of the draw. In all honesty, he has been a little disappointing this season. The Indian Open he won last season was a decent title I suppose, but he should be looking to add a major title to it, and he hasn't really come close to doing that in recent months. Still, he is probably the best bet Wales has in this tournament, along with Williams perhaps. They also have Jamie Jones, a ranking semi-finalist at the start of the season in Australia. He actually led Higgins 4-0 in that semi-final match, but lost the last six frames. We haven't seen him at a major venue since the new year, but he showed quite consistent form prior to that, and it will be interesting to see if he can finish the season strongly. The fifth player I would mention in this section is Peter Ebdon. The main thing in his favour is that his record against Higgins over the years is superb, and he has won the last four matches against him on the big stage. On the other hand, he hasn't got past the early rounds of the Welsh Open for ten years now, and he generally doesn't like the short format. He also seems to play his best snooker abroad these days, so this may not be his week. Possible outside contenders? Gary Wilson certainly, the runner-up in the China Open at the end of last season. He did very well in last year's Welsh Open as well, beating Robertson and Perry on his way to the quarter-finals, but this year he has lost in the qualifiers in almost every event. The other two seeds in this section probably don't have much chance, although Tom Ford did reach the last16 in the UK Championship just before the new year, where he lost to Liang and behaved rather pathetically after the match.

    Mike Dunn v. Chris Wakelin
    Ryan Day v. Vinnie Calabrese
    Robin Hull v. Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
    Mark Allen v. Sam Craigie
    Xiao Guodong v. James Cahill
    Mark Davis v. Zhao Xintong
    Robbie Williams v. Luke Simmonds
    Barry Hawkins v. Lee Walker

    Barry Hawkins is seeded to meet Higgins in the quarter-finals, but he is by no means guaranteed to do so. The Masters was basically his one good tournament this season, while the rest has been fairly poor for a player of his ranking. Incidentally, it was a best-of-7 tournament (the 2014 PTC Finals) that largely contributed to his high ranking, so this is a format he is quite comfortable with. On paper his toughest opponent here should be Mark Allen, but I'm not sure that's true in practice. Allen lost to Hawkins comfortably in the Masters, and he seems completely out for form at the moment, after a fairly good first half of the season. He is one of the very few top players to lose in the qualifiers for the China Open, so he really needs a decent result here. One player who could really do something this week is Ryan Day. There are no Welshmen among the big favourites, but Day joins the likes of White and Jones in the group of potential dangermen, and his form in Germany last week was quite promising. I'm sure he won't mind being drawn into a section of the draw without a really consistent top player. And speaking of inconsistency, Xiao Guodong is surely among the most disappointing players of the season so far. His points from the 2013 Shanghai Masters have come off now, and he has done nothing to compensate for that, so he has dropped down the rankings somewhat. He also lost in the China Open qualifiers, which is obviously not a great sign for this week. Mark Davis could also go through here, but the thing with him is that he usually plays far better in the first half of the season, then goes somewhat quiet after the new year. He won the World Seniors Championship just recently, a bit of a joke tournament in all honesty, but it seemed to give Williams some momentum last year, so it will be interesting to see if the same happens with Davis. I would also mention Robbie Williams and Robin Hull here. Neither have done anything particularly great recently, but they both played fairly well in the UK Championship this season. They were in the same section as Hawkins on that occasion as well, and Hull was actually the player to beat Hawkins in York, so I wouldn't rule him out here.

    Quarter 2:

    Shaun Murphy v. Itaro Santos
    Zhou Yuelong v. Mitchell Mann
    Luca Brecel v. Ian Burns
    Mark King v. Scott Donaldson
    Ding Junhui v. Steven Hallworth
    Joe Swail v. Zak Surety
    Matthew Selt v. Nigel Bond
    Gerard Greene v. Sydney Wilson

    There have been quite a few disappointing players this season, but Shaun Murphy probably stands out more than anyone in that respect. This is a player who once went more than five years without winning a major title, but he has always featured at the business end of tournaments quite regularly, so this latest run of poor form is somewhat unusual for him. The World final last May is his last notable result in a major tournament, and there isn't much snooker left this season, so it's about time things start turning around for him. I'm not sure the best-of-7 format is to his liking though, as he has only gone past the early rounds of the Welsh Open once in the last six years. Ding Junhui has a much better record in this tournament. Last year was his only early exit since the best-of-7s were introduced, after four very strong years, which include a run to the title in 2012 and to the final in 2014. This season has been a similar struggle to Murphy's for Ding, although he does have a major quarter-final from Shanghai. These two have had a good rivalry over the years, and a few years ago it would have been a good bet they would meet in the last16 with this draw, but at this point in time neither is safe. The player most likely to take advantage of their poor form is Luca Brecel, last year's semi-finalist. He certainly did in Berlin, where he reached the final without playing anything special, and he also played a good tournament at the UK Championship, so perhaps a bit of consistency is emerging from him. He is yet to beat Murphy though, and his most recent defeat to him was a comfortable 6-2 in the International Championship this season. There are only four players I would give a realistic chance of going through in this section, the fourth one being Matthew Selt. At the age of 30 he is now starting to play some consistently good snooker, and he already has two major quarter-finals this season. The first was in Australia, where he has managed to reach the quarter-finals in all three of his appearances at the venue, and the second was in the UK Championship, where he beat Brecel along the way. He skipped the German Masters for some reason, so this is his first appearance at a venue since York. It will be interesting to see if his form is still there. Possible outsiders include Joe Swail and Mark King, two very experienced players who have both reached the final here in the past, in 2009 and 1997 respectively. Also here is Zhou Yuelong, who did so well to win the World Cup for his country in the summer, looking to meet Murphy again and possibly play better against him than he did in the UK Championship, when he lost 6-1. Another promising player in this section is Scott Donaldson, whose progress seems to have stopped completely these last two years, after a very strong 2013/2014 season. And I would also mention Mitchell Mann, who had a good win over Allen in the qualifiers for the China Open.

    Jamie Burnett v. Ross Muir
    Graeme Dott v. Darryl Hill
    Andrew Higginson v. Daniel Wells
    Marco Fu v. Joel Walker
    Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v. Paul Davison
    Anthony McGill v. Liam Highfield
    Stuart Carrington v. Jordan Brown
    Neil Robertson v. Fraser Patrick

    Neil Robertson is another player whose results in the Welsh Open have dropped since the introduction of the shorter matches. This is now probably his worst tournament, as it's been seven years since his last appearance at the business end. His defeat in the German Masters qualifiers was surprising but understandable, following his great triumph at the UK Championship. Since then he played alright in the Masters, and I expect him to finish the season strongly as well. On paper his toughest opponent in this section should be Marco Fu, who has been a little out of sorts since the new year. He lost to Robertson 6-0 in the Masters, but he played really well in a couple of their previous matches, so he is definitely a player who doesn't particularly fear Robertson. The pair actually played each other in the quarter-finals of this tournament back in 2009, in extraordinary circumstances. The four QF matches were played consecutively on one table at that time, and Robertson-Fu was scheduled for the evening session. Unfortunately for them, the first three matches all went very close and took much longer than expected, so I think it was past midnight CET when they finally got to start their match. Needless to say, the match turned out to be fairly disappointing in the end, Robertson winning 5-2. As I mentioned, Robertson hasn't actually reached the business end of this tournament since, while Fu got to the quarter-finals in the last two editions. Graeme Dott is another strong contender in this section, a semi-finalist in the recent German Masters, where he actually had quite a difficult draw to reach that stage. He too has had a good rivalry with Robertson over the years, Robertson winning their latest match 6-1, in the International Championship this season. While I would never underestimate Dott, it does seem like he plays a lot better abroad than he does in the UK these days, and he generally prefers the longer format. Another name we should pay attention to is Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who played very well to reach the semi-finals of the International Championship this season, and did alright in the UK Championship as well, both in the slightly longer format though. Unfortunately his performances after the new year have been poor, with a couple of surprising defeats in the qualifying stages of events. Also here is Anthony McGill, fairly disappointing this season, following his good display in the UK and the World Championship last season. Jamie Burnett got to the last16 in York before the new year and played fairly well to do so, but he failed to take advantage of the easy draw in the German Masters and the China Open qualifiers, so I suspect his form is not great at the moment. Joel Walker got to the quarter-finals here two years ago, but like Donaldson, he hasn't been able to push on in the last two seasons. And finally, I would also mention Andrew Higginson, the surprising Welsh Open finalist in 2007, when he nearly won the title, but he hasn't really been a danger in any tournament since.

    Quarter 3:

    Mark Selby v. Duane Jones
    David Grace v. Peter Lines
    Allister Carter v. Cao Yupeng
    Fergal O'Brien v. Noppon Saengkham
    Mark Williams v. Lu Chenwei
    Rod Lawler v. Sanderson Lam
    Kyren Wilson v. Leo Fernandez
    Kurt Maflin v. Hammad Miah

    The Welsh Open was the first ranking event Mark Selby ever won, and he has reached the business end of this tournament in eight of the last ten editions. He does generally prefer the longer matches though, and it's no wonder that his best results of the season so far have come in the two best-of-11 events (the International and the UK Championship). Selby is quite consistent and reliable at the moment, but no one really wants an early match against the likes of Allister Carter, especially in the short format. Like Selby, Carter also won his first major title here, back in 2009, and he reached the final the following year, so the Welsh Open is probably his best tournament. That said, recent form is obviously a worry for him, and it's a long time since he last beat Selby on the big stage. This strong section of the draw also features Kyren Wilson, one of the best players of the season so far. He won the title in Shanghai, then reached the semi-finals last week in Berlin without ever really playing his best snooker. The thing is though, if the German Masters was played under the best-of-7 format, Wilson would have probably been out in the early rounds, and there won't be as much time for comebacks this week. He made four centuries in his China Open qualifying match against Hamilton, and they made six in a row between them at one point, which is obviously a good sign. Mark Williams has always had a good rivalry with Selby, so it would be nice to have them meet in the last16 here, but Williams is probably not the favourite to reach that stage. His season has been similar to Ding's, a quarter-final in Shanghai and not much else since, and he also lost in the China Open qualifiers just recently. Last year he had a great chance in this tournament, but played a poor match at the wrong time against Woollaston in the semi-finals. It will be a tough job for anyone else to reach the quarter-finals from this section. Perhaps Kurt Maflin could do something, following his decent showing in Berlin, although he too failed to qualify for Beijing. David Grace was superb in the UK Championship this season, in the slightly longer matches, but so far that is his only notable result in snooker. We also have two very experienced players here, Fergal O'Brien and Rod Lawler. O'Brien is appearing at venues quite regularly lately, after a few quiet years, while Lawler is unfortunately the opposite case. And finally a quick mention for Cao Yupeng, who has suffered a drop down the rankings in recent seasons, but has shown on occasion that he was capable of a lot more, so I would expect him to return to form at some point.

    Dechawat Poomjaeng v. Craig Steadman
    Robert Milkins v. Sean O'Sullivan
    Yu Delu v. Ian Glover
    Ricky Walden v. James Wattana
    Jimmy Robertson v. Michael Wild
    Michael Holt v. Hamza Akbar
    Tian Pengfei v. Ashley Hugill
    Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Barry Pinches

    Ronnie O'Sullivan is by far the best bet to reach the quarter-finals from this section. He showed he was in good form by winning the Masters quite convincingly in January, and he has quite an easy draw here, or more importantly, he is surrounded by players he has a very good record against. The Welsh Open has also been a fairly good tournament for him over the years, with three titles, the last one coming in 2014. He hasn't entered the China Open, so he is under pressure to get a good result here, otherwise he won't qualify for the World Grand Prix next month. That means this could be his last tournament ahead of the World Championship, which is probably not the best preparation, although O'Sullivan has disproved that line of thinking in the past. Who could knock him out here? Ricky Walden perhaps, although this is probably Walden's worst season of the last eight, without a single appearance at the business end of a major tournament so far. He also lost the last three matches against O'Sullivan on the big stage, and O'Sullivan seems to play really well against him more often than not. I think Robert Milkins would need to hope someone else knocks O'Sullivan out, as I can't see him prevailing in a direct match between the two, considering he has lost 34 of the 38 frames in matches against O'Sullivan on the big stage. All in all, Milkins has been disappointing this season as well, with no major runs yet, even though he has been close to the top16 in the rankings for some time now. Michael Holt also hasn't had any great runs, but at least he has been quite consistent all season, qualifying for every major venue and winning at least a match there. Jimmy Robertson is another possibility, although his best results this season have been in the slightly longer matches. The same with Dechawat Poomjaeng, who did well to reach the last16 of the UK Championship before the new year. And finally, we have two interesting Chinese players in this section, and both of them have had notable wins over O'Sullivan in the past. Yu Delu beat him in the 2014 PTC Finals with a really good performance, while Tian Pengfei beat him in the China Open in 2010. You may remember that match for the controversial black off the spot O'Sullivan missed, in what proved to be the final frame, and I think Tian won another couple of frames on the black with good clearances. He is starting to look more like the player he was in 2010 lately, so perhaps he has a chance here.

    Quarter 4:

    Judd Trump v. Michael Leslie
    Rory McLeod v. Michael Wasley
    Alan McManus v. Rhys Clark
    Mark Joyce v. Gareth Allen
    Joe Perry v. Tony Drago
    Li Hang v. Chris Melling
    David Gilbert v. Zhang Yong
    Ken Doherty v. Lu Ning

    Judd Trump also seems to have a fairly easy draw in the early stages. He has played well for most of the season, but he will probably be annoyed that he hasn't been able to win any major titles, and I had a feeling he could have done a little more in London and Berlin, considering how well he played in the early rounds. The highest seed apart from Trump in this section is Joe Perry, but he hasn't really recovered from the early exit at the UK Championship yet. He was a semi-finalist here two years ago, and he has generally done well in the best-of-7 tournaments since their unfortunate rise in popularity. Mark Joyce is also here, Trump's old nemesis who knocked him out of the UK Championship in 2012 when Trump was defending the title, from 5-2 down in the 1st round. That said, Joyce was defeated the last three times they played, including a 4-0 in this tournament a year ago. For some reason I have good feeling about Joyce here, after his good showing in Berlin, where he reached the quarter-finals and only just missed out against Brecel. Another player who could do something here is David Gilbert, the runner-up to Higgins in the International Championship this season, although his results since the new year have been somewhat disappointing, at least compared to the first half of the season. Of the three veterans, I think Rory McLeod probably has the best chance, as his recent results include a PTC title, while Alan McManus and Ken Doherty have been less impressive lately. It's worth noting perhaps that Doherty has won this tournament twice in the past, most recently in 2001, although I'm not sure that's worth much in terms of his chances this week. It says a lot that he was whitewashed 5-0 by Rhys Clark in the recent China Open qualifiers. As for Li Hang, I wouldn't rule him out, but he does seem to play better in the slightly longer matches.

    Matthew Stevens v. David Morris
    Stephen Maguire v. Martin O'Donnell
    Jack Lisowski v. Eden Sharav
    Martin Gould v. Adam Duffy
    Dominic Dale v. Alfie Burden
    Ben Woollaston v. Jamie Cope
    Oliver Lines v. Allan Taylor
    Stuart Bingham v. Anthony Hamilton

    We conclude with one of the toughest sections of the draw. Martin Gould is the man of the moment, having won the German Masters in great style last week. He also has another final and two quarter-finals from the five major venues he has appeared at this season, which puts him among the most consistent players in the world at this point in time. He said that winning his first major title could lead to many more for him, and although I wouldn't necessarily go that far, I do think he is playing with the kind of confidence that makes him difficult to beat at the moment. This section also contains the World champion, Stuart Bingham, who has been struggling with consistency for most of the season. He reached the semi-finals of the Masters last month, but he would probably admit he was a little lucky that week, because he wasn't really playing the kind of snooker that would normally be enough to reach that stage. He also has a semi-final from Shanghai earlier in the season, which was probably a better tournament for him. As for the Welsh Open, he is of course a former finalist, narrowly losing to Stephen Maguire in 2013, and he could play Maguire again here, in the last16. Maguire's record in this tournament is as good as Selby's, with seven appearances at the business end in the last nine years, and the 2013 title also happens to be the most recent major title Maguire has won. His season hasn't been too bad, but like with Trump, I always get the feeling he could have done a little more. He also doesn't have the best record against Gould, and he could play him very early here. I suppose these three players stand out a little, but there are a number of dangerous players who could also go through here, starting with Ben Woollaston, last year's runner-up. While he hasn't really done anything great lately, he does appear at venues quite regularly and more often than not wins a match or two. We also have the two Welsh players, Matthew Stevens and Dominic Dale, but neither of them has ever done particularly well in their home tournament, apart from Dale's semi-final appearance way back in 2004. On top of that, both have been pretty poor so far this season, particularly Stevens. We also have two former ranking quarter-finalists in Jack Lisowski and David Morris, but they too have been fairly mediocre in recent times. Jamie Cope's two ranking finals are also a decade old now, while Alfie Burden's last appearance at a major venue didn't exactly go as planned, with a 5-0 defeat to Zhang Anda in Berlin. That just leaves Anthony Hamilton, who participated in those six centuries in a row in the China Open qualifiers, which may be a good sign, although he did end up losing the match. So, as I type this, I have actually convinced myself that this may not be such a strong section after all.

    Possible QF line-up:

    John Higgins v. Ryan Day
    Ding Junhui v. Neil Robertson
    Mark Selby v. Ronnie O'Sullivan
    Judd Trump v. Martin Gould

    There we are... Even with the short format there should still be some good snooker to enjoy, particularly over the weekend.

  • #2
    Superb post, thank you.


    • #3
      Be interesting to see if White gets anywhere seeing as he still thinks he can win the worlds...surely a smaller tournament like this should be a cake walk then?


      • #4
        I'm glad that was just a quick post
        Awesome work
        It's hard to pot balls with a Chimpanzee tea party going on in your head



        • #5
          I'll admit, I preferred The Welsh Open better when the first round matches were best of nine. Still, will be attending the semis and the final.


          • #6
            Any live links please and also does anyone know a live link to BBC Wales or what is the channel N0 for BBC Wales and what the BBC Wales TV Schedule is please thanks
            Ronnie O' Sullivan seven times the record breaking Snooker Master


            • #7
              Next year, maybe I'll go on this day rather than the final.

              I can sit where I like, watch what matches I like and there's something like 14 hours of live snooker.

              On the downside, it is wanky best of seven matches.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mr Snooker View Post
                Any live links please and also does anyone know a live link to BBC Wales or what is the channel N0 for BBC Wales and what the BBC Wales TV Schedule is please thanks
                Eurosport is on now
       is on now

                BBC starts at 13.05 (UK) with BBC Wales (sky971) and also on BBC RB (sky980) [hopefully covering the two TV tables? not sure but it looks like only one TV table! cut backs!)
                not sure but presumably the streaming off BBC Snooker site will start the same
                Up the TSF!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mr Snooker View Post
                  Any live links please and also does anyone know a live link to BBC Wales or what is the channel N0 for BBC Wales and what the BBC Wales TV Schedule is please thanks
                  971 on sky rings a bell?
                  Did you put my "1" up ?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SnookerFan View Post
                    Next year, maybe I'll go on this day rather than the final.

                    I can sit where I like, watch what matches I like and there's something like 14 hours of live snooker.

                    On the downside, it is wanky best of seven matches.
                    I now wish I was there
                    Up the TSF!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by narl View Post
                      Be interesting to see if White gets anywhere seeing as he still thinks he can win the worlds...surely a smaller tournament like this should be a cake walk then?
                      sorry to disappoint but... no
                      Up the TSF!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by danam1 View Post
                        971 on sky rings a bell?
                        Be careful. You have to scroll through all the porn channels on the 900s before you get to the BBC Regional variations.

                        I hope you gave him the right number.


                        • #13
                          Chris Wakelin lost 4:3 to Mike Dunn.

                          Dunn needed two snookers in the final frame, got them and won on a respotted black.

                          Chris is 'disappointed' to say the least


                          • #14
                            Max alert!

                            EDIT: that was disappointing and purposely so lol
                            Last edited by streamer45; 15 February 2016, 02:42 PM.


                            • #15
                              Hahahaha.... he gave it up !!!