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2017 Players Championship

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  • 2017 Players Championship

    This tournament starts already tomorrow and after the Gibraltar Open have finished there finally is also the complete draw for this competition in which only the 16 best players of this season are allowed to enter.
    First two rounds are Best-of-9, semifinals are Best-of-11 and the final is Best-of-19.

    The ranking points and prize money distribution is as follows:
    Winner: £125,000
    Runner-up: £50,000
    Semi-finalist: £30,000
    Quarter-finalist: £15,000
    Last 16: £10,000

    So by this factors it would be the fourth biggest ranking tournament of this season. And this is the draw:

    Mark Selby - Ryan Day
    Anthony McGill - Marco Fu
    Ding Junhui - John Higgins
    Anthony Hamilton - Stuart Bingham

    Barry Hawkins - Neil Robertson
    Shaun Murphy - Ali Carter
    Ronnie O'Sullivan - Liang Wenbo
    Mark King - Judd Trump

  • #2
    You know what, I had dismissed this tournament as another best-of-7 event, so it's a pleasant surprise to see it has matches of decent length. Looking forward to watching some snooker tomorrow now.


    • #3
      McGill probablly wouldn´t be in this tournament if it wasn´t for the Shoot Out win. This gives him another 10.000 and probably a direct qualification for the cruicible, it just doesn´t seem fair to the other players figthing for a place.
      ....its not called potting its called snooker. Quote: WildJONESEYE
      "Its called snooker not potting" Quote: Rory McLeod


      • #4
        Let's take a quick look onto the draw:

        Match 1: Mark Selby isn't playing really great since the start of the year, while Ryan Day's form is increasing. The Welshman made the quarterfinals at the German masters, the final at the Grand Prix and the semifinals at the Gibraltar Open. So I could see an upset here. Of course you should never bet against Selby as he always has the class, often even with his B-game, to overcome an opponent.

        Match 2: Marco Fu lost early in the Welsh Open, but I'd still make him the favorite against McGill. But as we all know Fu isn't always a consistent player.

        Match 3: Since John Higgins lost the final of the Scottish Open he hasn't been the same as he was in the last months of 2016. But the results of his opponent Ding Junhui haven't been better. The Shanghai Masters (which he won) and the International Championship (runner-up to Mark Selby) were the only two tournaments where he came further than the 3rd round. So this is an important match for both. At least one of them will reach the quarter-finals here and maybe get a confidence boost for the remains of the season. Though therefore playing good snooker would even be more important.

        Match 4: Both met not long ago in the semifinals of the German Masters, when Anthony Hamilton beat Stuart Bingham 6-4 on the way to his first ranking title. The 2015 world champion won his first title of the season a few weeks later at the Welsh Open. Bingham has had quite a few good runs this season, making at least the semifinal of five ranking events this season (and also the final of the China Championship). But he also had a few early losses.

        Match 5: It's been a disappointing season for Neil Robertson so far. Reaching the quarterfinals at the Grand Prix was a sign of life. There he lost to Barry Hawkins by the way, which I liked when I saw him play most of the times this year. So I'd give the Englishman the edge here.

        Match 6: While not an impressive win the title in Gibraltar should make Shaun Murphy quite confident. Carter had a good start to the season, winning the World Open, but aside from the final at the German Masters his results have been less impressive lately, despite him being the 6th seed here, meaning he was the 6th most succesful player this season.

        Match 7: I got the feeling Liang and O'Sullivan met already on a few occasions this season, but it turns out it was only twice. Both were pretty close and both were won by O'Sullivan. He may have the mental advantage here as the teacher to the pupil? At least I got this feeling in Shanghai, when Liang should have won, but lost 4-5 after missing many good chances to win this match. The other duel this season was at the Masters, Ronnie winning 6-5.

        Match 8: Judd Trump has been probably the most consistent player this year. And I expect him to win this encounter.

        My guesses for the semi-finals:
        Fu - Bingham
        Hawkins - Trump


        • #5
          Huh, more-than-best-of-seven event?! They have become quite a rarity - who would have though so a few years ago?

          Should be some good snooker this week. Looking at the draw I hope for a Fu-King final (sorry, had to say it)

          @Odrl: at last I caught up with you in fantasy game :P Now just 140 points from the black ball trophy...


          • #6
            Yeah, this year isn't going well for me. Oh well, can't win them all...


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rane View Post
              McGill probablly wouldn´t be in this tournament if it wasn´t for the Shoot Out win. This gives him another 10.000 and probably a direct qualification for the cruicible, it just doesn´t seem fair to the other players figthing for a place.
              It's not fair, and is why the Shoot Out should have remained invitational.


              • #8
                How is it fair for this to be a ranking tournament when only 16 of the 128 tour professionals are allowed to enter it?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Achamian View Post
                  How is it fair for this to be a ranking tournament when only 16 of the 128 tour professionals are allowed to enter it?
                  That's a question I asked myself as well. I understand that you want to make tournaments of diverse formats and maybe even reward players for good results. But this doesn't seem the right way as it gives 16 players and also 32 players at the World Grand Prix an advantage over the others in terms of the ranking.
                  I think you can make a tournament with a 16-men- or 32-men-draw, but you should give other people the chance to qualify, meaning to hold a qualifying in a 128-draw.

                  On the other hand you can make this argument: The players have the chance to qualify for this event over the course of one whole year.


                  • #10
                    Just clicked on the Session times for this Tournament and nothing has come up on the World Snooker website .

                    Anyone got a list of match dates / times ?

                    And who is broadcasting this event ? ITV ?
                    Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !


                    • #11


                      • #12
                        ITV4 schedule
                        Up the TSF!


                        • #13
                          Cheers chaps .

                          Wanted to watch the Hamilton match , but Ronnie will obviously be on .

                          Thought there was only 1 table for this event , but with both matches starting at the same time and
                          being best of 9 . There must be 2 tables .
                          Last edited by Neil Taperell; 6th March 2017, 03:02 PM.
                          Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !


                          • #14
                            I didn't have anything particularly nice to say about the disgrace we had a week ago, nor the underwhelming short-format stuff in Gibraltar, so I will try to make up for it here. For some reason I thought the format of this tournament was the same as last year, with best-of-7 matches in the first two rounds, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover we actually have proper matches this time. If I'm not mistaken, that's the first time a tournament outside of China has had its format lengthened since Hearn took charge.

                            The format is still a little unusual for what is supposed to be a ranking event, with the rankings themselves used to determine the 16 participants. It always winds me up when people talk about how the top16 used to be protected under the old system, because I think the word "protected" is a little unfair and certainly misleading, but I think it certainly applies to this tournament. While the top16 in the rankings are not the exact 16 players we have here, it's nonetheless mostly the same guys, and they have a chance to further solidify their position here. On one hand, the flat 128 format of most ranking events these days has made the rankings themselves much less important, but on the other hand, there are still several invitational tournaments where being in the top16 (or at least in the top12 or so) is massively important. In any case, of all the snooker-related things worth complaining about, this isn't particularly high on my list.

                            We also have a somewhat unusual schedule again, with the two semi-finals played on separate days, and something similar for the quarter-finals. It shows the weakness of a sport's commercial appeal when its events have to adapt to the schedule of a TV channel, rather than the other way around. Still, it's been planned in advance and an effort has been made to show live coverage of every session, which is certainly a better option than having the host broadcaster not bother to actually show the matches, like we get with the BBC.

                            The line-up this week is world class, only a few of the usual suspects are missing, but all of the very top players are here. I guess the most notable absentees are Mark Allen, Joe Perry, Mark Williams and Kyren Wilson. I think JimMalone's post already covers most of what's worth saying about the draw itself, but for the sake of tradition I will add a few thoughts of my own...

                            Quarter 1:

                            Mark Selby v. Ryan Day
                            Marco Fu v. Anthony McGill

                            Mark Selby is comfortably the top seed this week, having won the two most important ranking events of the season so far. He also holds the World title of course, so it would be hard to justify not making him the favourite in this quarter. That said, he has done very little in the tournaments since new year, minor or major, which makes it an unusually long drought for him in terms of good results. It doesn't help that he is surrounded by players who have been in good form lately, not least Ryan Day. This tournament is especially important for Day, having failed to qualify for the China Open, which means this is his last event before the World Championship qualifiers. Since losing in those China Open qualifiers at the end of January, Day has enjoyed a little purple patch, first reaching the quarter-finals of the German Masters, followed by a run to the final of the World Grand Prix despite a very tough draw, and he also reached the semi-finals in Gibraltar last weekend. It's probably been the best run of results for him since he dropped out of the top16, and that's quite a while ago now. I would expect Selby to start looking more like his old self now that the short-format stuff is behind us though, so Day has a tough job here. They haven't actually met in a lot of major matches over the years, but they did play in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters this season, with Selby winning 5-3 on that occasion.

                            Marco Fu has been in good form in recent months as well. His transformation has been quite remarkable actually, the first half of the season was dreadful for him, probably the worst of any top player, but he found his game in the UK Championship and has played very well since. He too lost in the China Open qualifiers in January though, so he needs to make the most of this event. For some reason I have the feeling his form is on the way down again, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I have the opposite feeling with Anthony McGill, even though his recent results have not been particularly impressive. He played at the business end of quite a few tournaments in the first part of the season, including winning the short-format Indian Open, but it's been all early exits for him since October. He did win the disgrace in Watford, but that's probably more important as a confidence booster than as a serious indicator of form. I like that he spoke against the Shoot-Out being made a ranking event in his comments after winning, and if I believed in that sort of thing, I would say he is due some good karma in the remainder of the season. As I implied, my feeling is that McGill could beat Fu here, even though it was Fu who won their match in the World Grand Prix recently, and Fu also prevailed in a decent match between them in the 2nd round of the World Championship last year.

                            Speaking of the World Championship, the 2nd round here could also bring us a repeat of the World semi-final between Selby and Fu, an extremely hard-fought match that finished 17-15 in Selby's favour in the end. There is also history between Selby and McGill of course, with McGill knocking Selby out of the World Championship in the 2nd round two years ago, when Selby was defending champion. Selby does generally have a good record against both of these players though, so he remains the favourite for me. The pairing of Fu against Day could be interesting as well, a repeat of that intriguing semi-final in the World Grand Prix, a match that Fu should perhaps have won, but it was Day who prevailed 6-4.

                            Quarter 2:

                            Ding Junhui v. John Higgins
                            Stuart Bingham v. Anthony Hamilton

                            Ding Junhui has generally had a mediocre season, but there was one major highlight at the Shanghai Masters, where he won his first major title in more than two years. He followed it up with a run to the final of the International Championship, which makes him one of the highest seeds this week, but I think it's fair to say he is not among the big favourites here. He has played less snooker than most this season, for reasons beyond his control, so I hope he can come back strong in the final part of the season and play the snooker he is capable of. John Higgins is not one of the in-form players at the moment either, but his results before new year still make him one of the players of the season so far, although both big titles he won were unfortunately non-ranking. He didn't do too badly in the ranking events before new year either, getting to the business end in six of them (some of them major, others less so). But since new year, he has lost in the qualifiers or the early rounds of every event, a couple of times against a top player such as Mark Allen, but other times against players he really should be beating. Can he find some form again ahead of the most important part of the season? Higgins and Ding have had a wonderful rivalry over the years, and it's Ding who is a few wins ahead, particularly in recent years. It's 1-1 this season though, with Ding winning 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the International Championship, but Higgins getting some revenge with a 6-5 victory in the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions a couple of weeks later.

                            Stuart Bingham could be the man to beat in this quarter. He has reached five ranking semi-finals this season, three of those in tournaments with matches of at least medium length, and of course he finally took a trophy in the recent Welsh Open. He had some luck with the draw, it has to be said, as Judd Trump in the final was really the only worthy opponent he faced all week, but Bingham beat everyone that was put in front of him and outplayed Trump under pressure at the business end of the final. He also reached the semi-finals of the German Masters a month ago, where it was Anthony Hamilton who knocked him out, 6-4. It was remarkable for Hamilton to win his first major title at the age of 45, and equally impressive that he has held his good form throughout a large part of the season, reaching the business end of two further events. He is out of the China Open though, and it's doubtful whether he can do anything else this season, after what must have been an emotionally draining victory for him in Berlin. Bingham and Hamilton are among the veterans on the tour now, so it's a little surprising that most of their meetings have happened in the last decade or so, and only two prior to that. There is not much to choose between them, but Hamilton did win the last two. One was of course the aforementioned semi-final in Berlin, while the one previous was in the Welsh Open a year ago, when Hamilton produced a remarkable clearance to win the last frame by a point on the black in a 4-1 victory.

                            As I said, I think Bingham would be the favourite at this point in time against either opponent in the 2nd round. Against Higgins it would be a repeat of the China Championship final from earlier this season, a close-fought match for the most part, until Higgins made three centuries to close out a 10-7 victory. The head-to-head is against Bingham there, but it's certainly in his favour against Ding, although Ding did win when they met in the quarter-finals of the Champion of Champions this season. As for Hamilton, his record against both Higgins and Ding is quite dreadful, particularly outside of the short format, so it's tough to see him getting through here.

                            Quarter 3:

                            Barry Hawkins v. Neil Robertson
                            Allister Carter v. Shaun Murphy

                            Barry Hawkins has been ever-present at the business end of tournaments this season. He played well even before new year, but the last couple of months have seen him reach a strong level of consistency that had been lacking in his game in previous seasons. The year 2017 started with a run to the semi-finals of the Masters, which he threw away from a winning position, he also got to the quarter-finals of the German Masters and the Welsh Open, and of course won the World Grand Prix in great style. Looking at it now, he actually had quite a tough draw in Preston, so to win most of his matches so comfortably was certainly impressive. All of that actually makes him the third seed this week. The only setback he has had recently was losing in the qualifiers for the China Open. Neil Robertson is the opposite case, it's been one setback after another for him, but perhaps a run to the quarter-finals in Gibraltar over the weekend is a sign of better things to come? He also got to the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix, where it was Hawkins who knocked him out. These two have actually barely even met outside of the short format, but they did play one match that is likely to stick in the memory for a long time, in the quarter-finals of the World Championship two years ago, when Hawkins played remarkably well to win 13-12. This one is tough to call... On one hand, Robertson is the bigger name, but on the other hand, he has barely squeezed in this week as the 14th seed and hasn't won a title outside of the short format for 15 months, so I am tempted to go with Hawkins here.

                            Ali Carter has returned as a major player this season, but the only two results that really stand out for him are the World Open title and the German Masters final. Still, not many players have appeared in two finals outside of the short format this season. Wales has traditionally been a good place for Carter, so I wouldn't be surprised if he did well here. I'm not sure what to think of Shaun Murphy's chances really... He won in Gibraltar over the weekend, but he has always done well in the short format, even during his longest major title droughts. He has done a little better in the longer events this season than in the previous one, a lot better in fact, but it's more than two years since he won his last event with matches of at least medium length, and three years since his last ranking title of that type. It would be a little insulting to refer to him as a small-occasion player, considering he has won all the triple crown events and played in three World finals, but if he was going to win any title this past month, Gibraltar was always the most likely for me, let's put it this way. As for the 1st round match here, well, Carter has always had a surprisingly good record against Murphy and he is the higher seed here, but I think Murphy is the more consistent player these days, so it could go either way.

                            Carter also has a very strong record against Hawkins, but at the same time a very poor one against Robertson, whom he has lost to in their last eight meetings, including major ones such as the World Championship two years ago or the Masters this season. All four pairings are realistic prospects here, so let's look at the other two as well... Murphy has a pretty dominant record against Hawkins, including a World semi-final two years ago when he almost won with a session to spare, so it was surprising to see Hawkins beating him so comfortably in the Masters two months ago. It was Murphy who won the last one again though, in Gibraltar only a couple of days ago, but of course that was only a short match. As for Murphy and Robertson, they have had a nice rivalry over the years. Robertson has generally had the better of it, but Murphy has beaten him in a couple of notable matches where Robertson was arguably the favourite, including that 10-2 thrashing in the Masters final two years ago, which is also the last time they have met in any match of proper length.

                            Quarter 4:

                            Ronnie O'Sullivan v. Liang Wenbo
                            Judd Trump v. Mark King

                            An intriguing quarter to conclude with. Over the past 12 months or so, Ronnie O'Sullivan hasn't won any event that carried ranking points, but he remains one of the players to beat in any event he enters. He won a record seventh Masters title in January, raising his game to beat an in-form Fu in the semi-finals, but generally playing below his best in the other matches. In fact, Liang Wenbo missed match ball to beat him 6-4 in the opening round, although to be fair, it wasn't an easy pot. Liang also threw away a 4-1 lead in losing to O'Sullivan in the Shanghai Masters this season, so there could be some doubt creeping in if he gets the chance to beat him here. All in all, this has been one of Liang's very best seasons. He has finally rediscovered his form from the 2008-2009 period, and he got his reward when he won the English Open in October. He added a run to the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix as well, while O'Sullivan has mostly struggled in this recent period, losing to King from a winning position in the 1st round of the German Masters, and also losing to Davis from 3-0 up in a best-of-7 match in Cardiff. The recent form therefore suggests Liang could get through, but I think this is one pairing where the head-to-head could play the biggest part, so O'Sullivan would still be my choice.

                            Judd Trump is the second seed here, thanks to a very consistent season which has seen him win a title and reach three further finals, although all of them in the short format. It's true that he loses a lot of big matches when titles are in sight, but cutting out the early exits and consistently reaching the business end of events is the first step, and Trump has been very impressive in that regard this season. He reached the final of the last two events he played in, both very recent, so his form is clearly not in question. The only problem could be that he has played a lot better in the best-of-7s this season than he has in the longer matches, so the format here could work against him. Mark King is one of the rare outsiders this week, but he too shouldn't be underestimated. It was great to finally see him get some reward for all the hard work he's put in over the years when he won in Belfast, and although that event will always have a little asterisk next to it on my personal list, noting that most matches were best-of-7, I think this was one occasion where stuff like that doesn't really matter. Like I said with Hamilton, I didn't expect much from King in the remainder of the season after that success, but he went on to reach the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix last month, which shows he is still playing alright. He generally struggles against Trump though, so this is a tough match for him.

                            I think O'Sullivan against Trump is the 2nd round match most people are expecting here, and I would quite like to see it myself. They have had a great rivalry in recent years, with four two-session finals between them since 2014. O'Sullivan won the first two, but Trump got the better of him in the last two, including a dramatic 9-8 win the European Masters earlier this season. I think Trump will probably take the lead in their head-to-head eventually, but they are quite evenly matched at the moment, and of course it will only be a best-of-9 match if they do meet here, so it could go either way. Another round of the Trump-Liang rivalry would be great to see as well. They've played three times on the big stage in the last two seasons. Liang won from 4-1 down in the UK Championship last season, then threatened to knock Trump out of the World Championship as well, before Trump came back to win 10-8. Their biggest match came in the final of the English Open this season though, Liang winning 9-6 with some great snooker. Finally, it's worth mentioning that King is one of the very few players who have a positive record against O'Sullivan on the big stage, including of course the aforementioned win the German Masters last month, so this could make for a decent 2nd round match as well.

                            Possible SF line-up:

                            Mark Selby v. Stuart Bingham
                            Barry Hawkins v. Judd Trump

                            So there we are, starting in less than two hours now... Should be fun.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JimMalone View Post
                              That's a question I asked myself as well. I understand that you want to make tournaments of diverse formats and maybe even reward players for good results. But this doesn't seem the right way as it gives 16 players and also 32 players at the World Grand Prix an advantage over the others in terms of the ranking.
                              I think you can make a tournament with a 16-men- or 32-men-draw, but you should give other people the chance to qualify, meaning to hold a qualifying in a 128-draw.

                              On the other hand you can make this argument: The players have the chance to qualify for this event over the course of one whole year.
                              At least any player has a chance. Hamilton started the year from scratch in the ranking. And if someone had made a bet on Mark King and Hamilton to enter this tournament at the start of the season. He would have been a rich man by now.
                              ....its not called potting its called snooker. Quote: WildJONESEYE
                              "Its called snooker not potting" Quote: Rory McLeod