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2016 UK Championship

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  • 2016 UK Championship

    It's time for the second biggest tournament of the year.

    Here's the draw:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_UK_Championship

    All the big names are on the start again this week. So the favorites should probably be Mark Selby, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan. But the first four rounds are all "just" Best-of-11, so there is plenty of room for upsets.

    In the first section defending champion Neil Robertson should be the favorite, but his recent level of play is pretty inconsistent. But the same is true for the two other most prominent names here with Mark Williams and Ricky Walden. But maybe Thepchaiya Un-Nooh can use this advantage and get into the quarterfinals?

    In the second section Ronnie, who once again - also when you take section 1 into account - has one of the easier draws, is the clear favorite. Joe Perry is also here as is the ever inconsistent Michael White.

    In section three Ding Junhui should overcome his two first matches (against Igor Figueiredo and the winner of Joe Swail/Ross Muir) before he could have a rematch of this years World Championship semifinal against Alan McManus. If the Scotsman makes it that far, which is quite uncertain this year. A big threat for Ding could be Ali Carter. Also David Gilbert is in this section.

    Section four belongs to Judd Trump. The next highest seeds here are Marco Fu and Martin Gould, both which are playing a quite poorly season so far.

    The bottom half seems to be a little more interesting, though again thanks to a draw of 128 names we shouldn't expect many great match-ups in the earlier rounds.

    Section 5 could bring us a 3rd-round-match between World Number 2 Stuart Bingham and freshly World Ranking Event Winner Mark King though. King would have to beat probably Luca Brecel in round two before though. And in the other half of this section are Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire. Or maybe the supertalented Zhao Xintong maybe gets his first breakthrough?

    Also section 6 has some kind of interest for me. We could have 2nd round matches between Liang Wenbo and 16-year old Yan Bingtao as well as Zhou Yuelong against Michael Holt. And the winner of these matches play each other. In the second half of this draw is Shaun Murphy with probably Dominic Dale as the biggest hindrance to reach round four.

    In section 7 John Higgins is the big favorite. Biggest threat here is Mark Allen, who could ahve to beat Anthony Hamilton and Ryan Day before.

    Finally we have the world champion in the last part of the draw. Mark Selby could meet Tom Ford or Robert Milkins in round three and probably one of the youngsters Kyren Wilson or Anthony McGill in the fourth round.

    My guess at the quarter-finals:
    Tchepchaiya Un-Nooh - Ronnie O'Sullivan
    Ali Carter - Judd Trump
    Stuart Bingham - Dominic Dale
    John Higgins - Mark Selby

    I tried to call a few surprises, but as always with this, as the definition of the word already implicates I'm pretty sure there will some, but probably none of these I called.

  • #2
    Seems like Eurosport and The Beeb don't have any coverage this week, only from Saturday Nov 26 onwards.

    Am I missing something or is indeed the televised schedule of play from Saturday onwards...

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by daffie View Post
      Seems like Eurosport and The Beeb don't have any coverage this week, only from Saturday Nov 26 onwards.

      Am I missing something or is indeed the televised schedule of play from Saturday onwards...
      Just looked it up. In Germany - and so also in Austria - Eurosports coverage really starts only at Saturday. Don't know how it is in the United Kingdom though.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JimMalone View Post
        Just looked it up. In Germany - and so also in Austria - Eurosports coverage really starts only at Saturday. Don't know how it is in the United Kingdom though.
        Sorry, I did indeed mean Eurosport Europe. I'm in The Netherlands. So basically standard televised coverage will start on Saturday...cheers for the confirmation

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by daffie View Post
          Seems like Eurosport and The Beeb don't have any coverage this week, only from Saturday Nov 26 onwards.

          Am I missing something or is indeed the televised schedule of play from Saturday onwards...
          It is quite common for the "first round/s" not to be televised
          Up the TSF!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DeanH View Post
            It is quite common for the "first round/s" not to be televised
            Yes indeed now you mention it, I seem to remember this. Shame indeed

            (maybe eurosport player has some R1 coverage...)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by daffie View Post
              Yes indeed now you mention it, I seem to remember this. Shame indeed

              (maybe eurosport player has some R1 coverage...)
              from what I can see there could be some coverage on Wednesday onwards, but not sure if it is only Player
              Up the TSF!

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't remember the bbc ever starting coverage of an event on any day other than a saturday.

                I remember Mark Selby and Jimmy White losing on the opening saturday of bbc coverage 2 years ago and Ballrun Bingham beating Anthony Robin Hood Sherwood Forest Hamilton on the bbc's opening saturday last year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ronnie always having an easier draw early rounds is starting to get a bit suspicious lol.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    David Grace will potentially have to beat Xintong,Maguire,Hawkins,Bingham and then Murphy to equal his semi final run last year.Big job.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OmaMiesta View Post
                      Ronnie always having an easier draw early rounds is starting to get a bit suspicious lol.
                      makes no difference to him.

                      All he needs to do is start his engine and makes me rich.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess the winner should be found amongst Robertson, O┬┤Sullivan, Higgins, Trump and Ding.
                        ....its not called potting its called snooker. Quote: WildJONESEYE
                        "Its called snooker not potting" Quote: Rory McLeod

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Okay, so the UK Championship starts tomorrow and we don't have much time to go over the draw...

                          In all honesty, it's not been among the better events on the calendar in recent years, mainly because the playing conditions have been awful and the quality of snooker has suffered as a result. We have 128 players at the venue and slightly longer matches than usual, but we don't really have any pattern to go on. We've had years when all the top players came through and made for a spectacular quarter-final line-up, and we've also had years with plenty of surprises, not least last year when David Grace made it all the way to the semi-finals. Which way will it go this year?

                          As I said, limited time today, so just a quick look at the three or four major contenders in each section...

                          Quarter 1:

                          Neil Robertson v. Peter Lines
                          Alfie Burden v. Chris Wakelin
                          Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v. Liam Highfield
                          Peter Ebdon v. Wang Yuchen

                          Mark Williams v. Jason Weston
                          Andrew Higginson v. Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
                          Ricky Walden v. Fang Xiongman
                          Dechawat Poomjaeng v. Scott Donaldson

                          Neil Robertson has won the UK title twice in the last three years, and he looks to have a fairly easy path to the last16 here. This is a player who has won some sort of title every year since 2006, but of course at this point of his career he is looking for major titles, and winning only the Riga Masters in 2016 makes it quite an underwhelming year for him. His recent form has been quite poor as well, with 1st round exits in both major invitationals this month. He decided to skip the Northern Ireland Open, so he should be refreshed and up for it this week. The biggest immediate threat for him seems to be Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, another player who has been struggling for form since August, after playing well in the early season. His best result this season is a semi-final in the World Open, and I think a lot of people are expecting him to follow it up with a few more results like that. Peter Ebdon could be a danger in this section as well, although it's more than three years since he last reached the quarter-finals of any medium-sized event. The UK Championship has traditionally not been that great for him, with only five runs to the business end in his entire career, but he did win it in 2006 in great style. Chris Wakelin is also worth keeping an eye on, having reached the quarter-finals of the English Open last month, beating O'Sullivan along the way.

                          A little further from Robertson in the draw is Ricky Walden, possibly his biggest obstacle on the way to the quarter-finals here. He too played well in the English Open in Manchester, but he failed to reach the business end in any of the three biggest ranking events so far this season. He has slipped to 17th in the rankings now, so he could really do with a good run here to hold onto a top16 spot and all the benefits that come with it. Mark Williams had a couple of poor months recently, losing to unlikely players early on in the Chinese events, but supposedly he is putting more work in again, and a run to the quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open last week is a step in the right direction. He has struggled a lot with consistency over the last couple of years, and I think the slightly longer matches will possibly work against him here, because he doesn't seem to be able to play to a high standard for longer periods anymore. That said, an in-form Williams could still be a danger this week. Also in this section is Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, a player who has struggled badly to overcome obstacles unrelated to his snooker ability in his short career as a professional, but he was finally able to show his potential by reaching the quarter-finals in Belfast last week, although the competition he beat there was fairly unimpressive. He actually beat Scott Donaldson in the last16, another player who could perhaps do something this week.

                          Matthew Stevens v. James Cahill
                          Michael White v. Fraser Patrick
                          Xiao Guodong v. John Astley
                          Joe Perry v. Jamie Curtis-Barrett

                          Mike Dunn v. Darryl Hill
                          Matthew Selt v. Michael Georgiou
                          Li Hang v. Rhys Clark
                          Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Boonyarit Keattikun

                          Ronnie O'Sullivan looks like a strong favourite to reach the quarter-finals in his section. His biggest obstacle should be Joe Perry, a finalist in the World Open this season, where he just come up short again and is still waiting for his first traditional ranking title. He also reached the quarter-finals of the International Championship, an event with a similar format to the UK, but more recently he lost in the 1st round of both major invitationals, so his form is a bit suspect ahead of this week. He lost in the 2nd round of the UK last year and actually took it quite badly, with an out-of-character attack on Robbie Williams and his playstyle in the post-match comments, so I hope he can redeem himself with a better performance and a more gentlemanly attitude this year. What can Michael White do here? Well, he started the season in a similar way to how he ended the previous one, quite poorly, but recently he has been playing a little better, with runs to the quarter-finals in Shanghai and Belfast. He is in his mid 20s now, so he should be finding a decent level of consistency and mental preparation over the next couple of years. Matthew Stevens hasn't been to a major quarter-final in more than two years, so he wouldn't be my bet in this section, and neither would James Cahill who impressed so much in his run to the last16 here two years ago, but hasn't pushed on at all since. We also have a rematch from last week, Xiao Guodong meeting John Astley in the last128 again. It was Astley who won in Belfast, which means he has won at least a match at every venue he has qualified for this season. Xiao has looked a bit more like his old self recently, halting his drop down the rankings somewhat, but he is not quite back to his 2013 level, so he wouldn't be my bet here either.

                          Going back to O'Sullivan, he of course beat Xiao in a good match in Daqing this season, and he has a strong record over his competition in this quarter, particularly Perry. He hasn't played Michael White on the big stage yet though, so that could be a good one to see. Of the more immediate threats, there is only Matthew Selt really... A UK quarter-finalist last season, but this season he hasn't had a notable run in a major event yet, which is quite disappointing for a player who looked like he was about to push for a top16 spot in the rankings. Selt and O'Sullivan actually met in the UK Championship two years ago, O'Sullivan winning 6-0 with a 147 break in the process. I remember describing O'Sullivan's win in the 2014 UK Championship as probably the worst performance that won one of the really big events in all the time I'd been watching snooker, and it just goes to show what a solid player O'Sullivan is even when far away from his best form, and of course what a strong psychological edge he has over most of the competition. He hasn't played that great this season either, but his results have still been very respectable, including a run to the final of the Champion of Champions earlier this month. He has won the UK title five times in his career, and he could be a strong contender this year as well.

                          Quarter 2:

                          Ding Junhui v. Igor Figueiredo
                          Joe Swail v. Ross Muir
                          Alan McManus v. Michael Wild
                          Jamie Jones v. Eden Sharav

                          Allister Carter v. Christopher Keogan
                          Robbie Williams v. Akani Songsermsawad
                          David Gilbert v. Adam Duffy
                          Mark Joyce v. Lee Walker

                          I think the second quarter is quite open and could see a surprise or two. Ding Junhui is the biggest name here, but he is exactly the kind of player who could go out early and give everyone else a decent chance of going through, like he did in Belfast last week. He has been a slow starter in matches throughout his career, so the best-of-11 format works in his favour here. We were wondering what the heavy defeat in the International Championship final would do for his confidence, but he seemed alright in the Champion of Champions, where he made four centuries in losing to Higgins in the semi-finals. I think winning in Shanghai was a huge relief for him, and it makes him a danger in every tournament this season, despite his inconsistency. He has won the UK twice in the past, can he do it a third time? His match against Alan McManus in the semi-finals at the Crucible last season was absolutely superb, and we could have a repeat of that in the last32 here. It was incredible how well McManus played on that occasion. Even a hint of that form would be enough to see him do well this season, but unfortunately he has so far failed to reach those heights. Jamie Jones has also been disappointing this season, the only highlight being a run to the quarter-finals of the short-format Paul Hunter Classic, which isn't quite on the same level as his success in Australia last season.

                          It will be interesting to see what Ali Carter can do now that the tour moves to the UK, after a very successful showing in the big Chinese events in the first part of the season. He comes here as the reigning World Open champion and a top16 player on merit again, and he finds himself in a reasonably easy section of the draw. David Gilbert is probably his most immediate threat, himself a quarter-finalist in the World Open this season. A couple of good runs and a bit of consistency have helped Gilbert establish himself as a solid top32 player now, and a run here wouldn't be a huge surprise. Mark Joyce coming through would be more surprising, especially considering his recent form. While he doesn't have a major run this season, he has reached major quarter-finals in the past, including in the UK Championship back in 2010 when it still had two-session matches, beating Carter in the opening round. I would actually quite like to see Ding and Carter both doing the business and meeting in the last16 here, because they haven't really played each other in any memorable matches over the years, but for some reason I get the feeling at least one of them will fail.

                          Jack Lisowski v. Mei Xiwen
                          Martin Gould v. Gareth Allen
                          Rory McLeod v. Jak Jones
                          Marco Fu v. Josh Boileau

                          Jimmy Robertson v. Thor Chuan Leong
                          Mark Davis v. Sydney Wilson
                          Oliver Lines v. Martin O'Donnell
                          Judd Trump v. James Wattana

                          The second quarter-finalist in this quarter should really be Judd Trump, mainly because the two players who are supposed to be his strongest opposition in this section are both struggling at the moment. Marco Fu has done almost nothing since reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship at the end of last season. It actually took him until the recent China Championship to reach another major quarter-final, but in that particular tournament a win over an out-of-sorts Ding was all that was needed, so it's not really all that impressive. Martin Gould has struggled in a similar way since winning the German Masters at the start of the year. I think I'm right in saying that he hasn't actually won a single match longer than best-of-7 at any venue since February, and that's a worrying stat for a player of Gould's ability. His ranking has suffered as a result of course, and he has now dropped out of the top16 again. Can he reverse the trend here? Gould and Fu have played each other three times at the Crucible in the past, all close matches, and despite their struggles it looks quite likely they will meet again here. The player who is most likely to prevent their meeting seems to be Jack Lisowski. He has been regarded as a dangerman for a long time now, but never really had any notable success, so I don't think anyone expects any miracles from him at this point. He did reach the last16 in Belfast last week though, so he must be in decent form coming here.

                          Another player who could be a danger to Trump is Mark Davis, a semi-finalist in this event in 2012, which remains his best-ever result in snooker. He has reached two quarter-finals this season, but both have been in the short format, while his performances in the longer events have been very poor. One would think Trump and Davis can't have played each other too often, but thanks to events such as the Championship League they have actually played a lot, and it's Trump who has much the better record. I think this section and possibly the whole quarter will come down to how well Trump plays. He has been one of the best players in the world this season, particularly in the month of October, but it was clear towards the end of the International Championship that he was running quite low on energy. I think it was a good decision to skip the Northern Ireland Open, and if he comes here refreshed he could be one of the big favourites. It should be an interesting opening match against James Wattana for him. Wattana wouldn't be considered much of a danger these days, but it's worth saying that he reached the last16 of the International Championship last month, and it was Trump who eventually beat him, 6-3.

                          Quarter 3:

                          Stuart Bingham v. Adam Stefanow
                          Yu Delu v. Nigel Bond
                          Luca Brecel v. Aditya Mehta
                          Mark King v. Sam Craigie

                          Barry Hawkins v. David John
                          Fergal O'Brien v. Zhang Yong
                          Stephen Maguire v. Cao Yupeng
                          David Grace v. Zhao Xintong

                          The first half of the third quarter is one of the most intriguing sections of the draw here. Stuart Bingham is the big name, the world number 2 and one of the best performers of the season so far. He reached three semi-finals in September and October, two of those in major events, and he followed it up with a run to the final of the China Championship. The consistency is there, the only thing missing really is a major title. He has played strongly in the UK Championship in recent years, so he surely starts this tournament as one of the favourites. His biggest obstacle before the last16 stage should be Mark King, the man of the moment. There is no doubt King could go far if he plays as well as he did in Belfast, but history shows us that surprising winners and finalists often go on a losing streak right after their big success. Will winning the Northern Ireland Open give King the confidence to play well for the rest of the season, or will he be a little drained emotionally and struggle to get himself up for this one? My guess is that the latter scenario is more likely. A possible match between Luca Brecel and King could be one of the highlights of the early rounds here. Brecel is a similar story to Gould in a way, a great run to the final of the German Masters in February, but he has struggled ever since. Before last week he hadn't even won a single match at a venue this season, which is a shocking stat for someone of his potential. He actually got to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship back in 2012, in what looked like it might be a breakthrough tournament for him, and he beat King in both the UK and the World Championship that year. He will be second favourite if they meet here though. I would also mention Nigel Bond in this section, a semi-finalist in the Indian Open this season, although that was a pretty isolated good result for him.

                          Barry Hawkins could also be a little drained after Belfast, but in a different way. He will probably feel like he should have won that final, making quite a few unforced errors and throwing away a 5-1 lead. Still, it was another good result to add to his semi-final from Manchester, and it's certainly an improvement on how he played before new year in the previous two seasons. He is just barely holding onto a top16 place though, so he could do with another good run here. Stephen Maguire is a pretty nasty draw for him in the last32, especially considering he has already lost to him twice this season, in the Shanghai Masters and the Indian Open. The UK Championship is probably Maguire's favourite event. He won it in great style in 2004, and he has reached the business end of it eight times in his career, a record that compares favourably to Ebdon's for example, in much shorter time of course. Maguire played well to reach the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters, but since then he has done very little, and of course the fact that he is now outside of the top16 meant he couldn't play in the two major invitationals in the last month. It would be an interesting match if either Maguire or Hawkins came through to play Bingham. Maguire-Bingham would be a repeat of the 2013 Welsh Open final, an excellent match that went 9-8 in favour of Maguire, while Bingham and Hawkins haven't actually met in a major match in over 12 years, despite rising up the rankings in a similar way in recent years! Also in this little section is David Grace, last year's surprising semi-finalist. He hasn't done much since that run though, apart from reaching the quarter-finals of the short-format Paul Hunter Classic. Fergal O'Brien hasn't been in a major quarter-final in over two years, while the young Zhao Xintong has never been in one, but it seems like it's only a matter of time with him.

                          Zhou Yuelong v. Duane Jones
                          Michael Holt v. Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn
                          Stuart Carrington v. Yan Bingtao
                          Liang Wenbo v. Kurt Dunham

                          Dominic Dale v. Sanderson Lam
                          Graeme Dott v. Ian Preece
                          Robin Hull v. Jamie Cope
                          Shaun Murphy v. Itaro Santos

                          We have another couple of young Chinese players in this quarter. Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao haven't reached a major quarter-final either, but they have both come close. They are of course the two players who won the World Cup for China at the start of last season. Zhou has been in good form recently, and he could have possibly gone even further in a couple of events, but he was unlucky to come across John Higgins in the last16 of the International Championship and again in the last32 in Belfast last week. Yan is the youngest of this Chinese trio, and the thing that has impressed me the most with him is how well he is dealing with the minefield of the qualifiers in the UK. The Chinese players all mostly play well once they reach the venue stage of events, but the qualifiers have been a struggle for most of them. Not so for Yan. He has been to the last16 in a couple of events recently, and it seems like a major breakthrough could be coming soon, very impressive for a 16-year-old. The strongest Chinese weapon in this quarter is of course Liang Wenbo, last year's UK finalist and the winner of the English Open this season. It took him a while to find a level of consistency and maturity needed to challenge for major titles, but he has found it now and he could be a decent bet this week. He didn't get very far in the two ranking events since the English Open, but it's worth saying that he lost to the eventual champion both times. Michael Holt is another player who is having a good season. An excellent season in fact, with runs to the quarter-finals in Shanghai and Daqing, and a run to the final of the short-format event in Riga in the summer. He too has mostly improved in the mental aspects of the game recently, but one could argue those aspects are the most important in snooker. The only worry with Holt is that almost all of his best results in recent years have been abroad, while his performances back home have been fairly mediocre.

                          Shaun Murphy will probably feel like he has an excellent chance of reaching at least the last16 here, before he starts meeting players who can match him on paper. Of course in reality it's never quite so easy. Dominic Dale is a very experienced opponent who has shown decent form recently, not least by getting to the semi-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic. He has never been to the business end of the UK Championship in his career though. Graeme Dott is also well capable of challenging Murphy on his day, although he hasn't really had his day in a long time. I'm not sure what it is about the German Masters, but like Gould and Brecel, Dott too has struggled badly since reaching the semi-finals of that tournament last season. The next best bet to challenge Murphy here is probably Robin Hull, a player who got the opportunity to play in the recent Champion of Champions after winning a circus event. He actually played Murphy in the 1st round in Daqing this season, with Murphy winning 6-4. Murphy went on to reach the quarter-finals, his second major one of the season along with the World Open, and he also got to the semi-finals of the China Championship, losing 9-8 to Bingham in a cracking match. These results make Murphy's season much better than the previous one was at this time of the year, but of course a player of his standing is always looking to win titles. He has had a nice rivalry with Liang over the years, so this would be a match I would quite like to see here.

                          Quarter 4:

                          John Higgins v. Alex Borg
                          Ken Doherty v. Noppon Saengkham
                          Ben Woollaston v. Elliot Slessor
                          Gary Wilson v. Paul Davison

                          Mark Allen v. Chen Zhe
                          Rod Lawler v. Anthony Hamilton
                          Ryan Day v. Jimmy White
                          Kurt Maflin v. Allan Taylor

                          The first part of the fourth quarter doesn't look particularly exciting on paper, with a couple of clear favourites to come through. John Higgins stands out of course. In my International Championship preview I mentioned that Higgins was in danger of ending 2016 without a notable title, after winning three the year before. And here we are now, a month later and Higgins has won two major invitational events with big prize money, so he can consider this year a successful one. Of course those two events don't count towards the rankings, so his top8 ranking is perhaps a little too low now, considering his recent form. In the events that do count towards the rankings Higgins has reached four quarter-finals this season, two of them major ones. We have seen this a lot with him over the years, he has a couple of quiet seasons, then he suddenly starts winning everything again, and then another drought... He is definitely in the middle of a purple patch at the moment though, and that makes him one of the big favourites this week. It's hard to see anyone seriously challenging him before the last16 round here. Perhaps Ben Woollaston is the best bet, in what would be a repeat of the 2015 Welsh Open final, a match Higgins won comfortably. Wollaston's best result this season is an isolated run to the last16 of the English Open, a little weak for a top32 player. Gary Wilson also hasn't done much over the past 18 months or so, but a run to the last16 in Belfast last week is his best result since reaching the China Open final two seasons ago, so perhaps his form is returning.

                          Mark Allen has a tougher section to overcome if he is to reach the last16 and provide us with another round of his rivalry with Higgins. He was a finalist here five years ago, but since then he hasn't really played all that well in the big three UK events. He got to the semi-finals of both major invitationals in the last month, so he comes here on the back of some good recent form. He also reached the quarter-finals in Belfast, losing 5-2 to Anthony Hamilton. Hamilton's recent resurgence was a major surprise for me, after a couple of mediocre seasons that saw him drop way down the rankings. He was on the verge of joining Mark King in the final last week, but made an unforced error when he had the balls at his mercy in the decider in the semi-finals. He also reached the quarter-finals of the English Open earlier in the season, losing to the eventual winner Liang. Hamilton has had a pretty interesting career, but he has never reached the business end of the UK Championship. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that Ryan Day hasn't either, despite being ranked in the top8 in the world at one point. His best results over the years have mostly come in the overseas events, and this season is no exception, with Day having reached the quarter-finals in Shanghai. He lost in the 1st round of the last two events though, so he doesn't come here with any great form. Kurt Maflin could be a better bet, having reached the last16 in Belfast last week, losing to the eventual winner King. Jimmy White also deserves a mention here. He hasn't done anything in the major events in a long time, but he did play well to reach the quarter-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic earlier in the season.

                          Tian Pengfei v. Zhang Anda
                          Anthony McGill v. Craig Steadman
                          Sam Baird v. Sean O'Sullivan
                          Kyren Wilson v. Mitchell Mann

                          Tom Ford v. Hammad Miah
                          Robert Milkins v. Hamza Akbar
                          Ian Burns v. Daniel Wells
                          Mark Selby v. Andy Hicks

                          The final section of the draw could see a potential last32 match between Anthony McGill and Kyren Wilson, two players who have improved a lot over the past two seasons. They are probably the two best players in their particular age group, and they have already met in a final this season in the short-format Indian Open, McGill winning 5-2. It was a great start to the season for McGill, but the more recent events have seen him struggle a little. He lost in the 1st round of the International Championship, followed by 1st round exits in the two invitational events as well. Wilson actually didn't play in any of those events. He skipped the International Championship for a reason I am not familiar with, and he just missed out on being eligible to play in the China Championship and the Champion of Champions. He played pretty well for most of last week, particularly against O'Sullivan in the last16. In the end he put in a poor performance against King in the semi-finals, when it looked like the title was within reach. Some commentators suggested he didn't handle being the favourite too well, but for me Wilson was the favourite against his other opponents as well, apart from O'Sullivan, so I don't really agree with that suggestion. In any case, that's all in the past, and this is another chance for him to further establish himself as a top player. It's hard to see past Wilson and McGill in their little section, but perhaps Zhang Anda and Sam Baird could cause them a few problems. Neither has been to a major quarter-final yet, but it feels like both are on the verge of getting there, and Zhang was impressive in his run to the last16 of the World Open this season, beating Trump along the way.

                          It seems like the winner of the above section is destined to play Mark Selby in the last16. Wilson played him at the Crucible this year, and did well to make a match of it after a very poor start, while McGill of course delivered the Crucible Curse to Selby in 2015, although Selby has since got some revenge on him. Selby has been up there with Trump and Higgins as one of the best players of the season so far, winning the International Championship with some of his very best snooker, as well as the short-format Paul Hunter Classic a couple of months earlier. He also reached the final of the Shanghai Masters, losing to Ding in a decent match. The two big invitational events saw him lose 6-5 to Allen in the quarter-finals both times, and I would expect him to reach at least the quarter-finals here as well. His record in the best-of-11 events is probably unrivalled, having reached the final in 8 out of the 20 he has played in over the course of his career, if I counted correctly. That's a 40% success of reaching the final, with a couple of semi-finals thrown in as well, not bad at all. Could anyone trouble him before the last16 here? Probably not. Robert Milkins seems to be on his way down now, after a couple of really good seasons. Tom Ford played Selby in the Paul Hunter Classic this season, but in the longer events he is usually not a big threat. He did reach the last16 here last year though, and like Perry, he wasn't very gracious in defeat after losing to Liang.

                          Possible QF line-up:

                          Neil Robertson v. Ronnie O'Sullivan
                          Ding Junhui v. Judd Trump
                          Stuart Bingham v. Shaun Murphy
                          John Higgins v. Mark Selby


                          No surprises from me then... It should be a good tournament whatever happens though. I probably won't have the time to watch much streaming of the early rounds, but I'm looking forward to the televised stage of the event.

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                          • #14
                            great write-up again Odrl - sure you said you did not have much time to do a review?!
                            Up the TSF!

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                            • #15
                              I got the week booked off for this. (And Monday 5th, so I don't have to go to work Monday in case it runs late. Or I drink too much.)

                              Looking forward to it now. Bit of sofa action.

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