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China Open 2018 - £1 million prize money

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  • #46
    I came from the old BBC forum in 2006. The biggest snooker quiz was quality.

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    • #47
      Okay, a few words about the China Open then...

      It is the eighth and penultimate major ranking event of the season, and possibly the biggest event outside of the World Championship at this point in time. The UK Championship is still way ahead when it comes to history and perhaps even prestige, but the China Open has now overtaken it in terms of prize money and format. In the past we've seen some players skip this event in order to concentrate fully on the World Championship, especially before they moved the cut-off point for the rankings to a later date, but now there is absolutely no chance of anyone treating this event casually. Everyone who is worth anything in the game is here, or at least attempted to get here, except for Marco Fu who is away from the game at the moment.

      So, for the penultimate time, let's have a look at the draw...

      Quarter 1:

      Mark Selby/Wang Yuchen v. Scott Donaldson
      Ben Woollaston v. Lee Walker
      Liam Highfield v. Lyu Haotian
      Stephen Maguire v. Fergal O'Brien

      Not the strongest part of the draw, which is something I am sure Mark Selby will be happy about. He won this title twice in the last three years, playing some of his best snooker of the season. It is the fourth and penultimate major title he is attempting to defend this season, and so far he has only succeeded in the International Championship, another event with a very similar format to this one. I have basically predicted his return to form in every one of my recent previews, but so far he is still some way off his best. Will the longer matches in the final two events of the season finally bring out the best in him? Winning titles is not easy when recent results have been so mediocre, but somehow I can't see Selby going out early in both of the remaining events. He played and beat Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals here last year, but he will possibly have to play him a round earlier on this occasion. Maguire's story is very similar to the last couple of years, he is just outside of the top16 ahead of the cut-off point, so he needs a really big result here to guarantee his place at the Crucible. Well, he played well here in 2016 and 2017, and this time he comes to Beijing on the back of quite a decent season, which includes a run to the SF of the UK Championship and some other good results in the short-format events. He actually played quite well in the Players Championship last week, but was unlucky to come up against an inspired Trump in the opening round. It's difficult to look past Selby and Maguire in this section, but let's try anyway... Also here is Scott Donaldson, who actually played very nicely to knock Selby out of the UK Championship this season, but apart from that hasn't really been able to make any progress in the game. He did get to the SF of the Gibraltar Open a few weeks ago, but that is arguably the smallest event that carries ranking points (excluding the Watford circus act), and he never had to play any notable players along the way. Lee Walker also got to the SF in Gibraltar, but his draw was a bit more difficult and included wins over McGill and Kyren Wilson. Ben Woollaston has been extremely consistent in the qualifiers this season, but his performances at venues have been underwhelming by comparison, and that dreadful statistic I keep mentioning still holds true - he has never reached the QF of any event outside of the short format. Fergal O'Brien reached that stage in the China Championship at the start of the season, but hasn't won any match outside of qualifying since new year, so I don't fancy his chances here. On top of that, his record against Maguire is quite dreadful, including a defeat at the same stage of this event a year ago. Lyu Haotian is perhaps worth keeping an eye on. He plays Liam Highfield in the opening round, an opponent he beat on his way to the semi-finals in Belfast this season, and he also played quite well in the best-of-11 format at the UK Championship. I suppose anything is possible in this section, but I will play it safe and go for Selby to come through.

      Michael Holt v. Mark Davis
      Mark Williams v. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
      Yan Bingtao v. Kurt Maflin
      Mark Allen v. Noppon Saengkham

      A couple of very strong contenders for the other QF spot. Mark Williams has won this tournament on three occasions, although one of those was back in 2002 when it was held in Shanghai. Last year he needed a miracle win here to get into the top16 ahead of the World Championship, and he almost pulled it off, only losing to Mark Selby in a very close final. This time he comes here as a top8 player after what has been a very good season for him, with a couple of ranking titles. He got to the SF last week, so the form is clearly still there. It's a tough section of the draw though, with Mark Allen possibly waiting in the last16. Allen has also had a very good season, most notably winning the Masters in January, and he also played very well in the Chinese events in the first half of the season, getting to the SF of the World Open and the final of the International Championship. He has played five major finals in China in his career, so it's clearly a part of the world that suits him, despite some of the controversy he has caused here in the past. It's his first appearance in Beijing since 2013 though, having either skipped or lost in the qualifiers in the last four editions of this tournament. Yan Bingtao is surely third favourite in this section, another player with a good season behind him. He lost to Williams in the final of the Northern Ireland Open, 9-8 it was, and he also lost 9-2 to Allen in the SF of the International Championship, so I'm sure he would have preferred different opposition here. I think he has five defeats against the two of them in total this season. That said, he is climbing up the rankings all the time, and he could be especially dangerous on home soil. The other players in this section are mostly struggling, so it's difficult to see anyone else coming through... Michael Holt has been quite consistent in qualifying, but his results at venues have been underwhelming. Mark Davis hasn't reached the business end of any proper event either, while Thepchaiya Un-Nooh has dropped down the rankings quite dramatically after failing to reproduce the kind of form that saw him reach two semi-finals last season. Kurt Maflin was a semi-finalist in this event in 2015, his biggest success in snooker so far, but he too has not done anything great this season, apart from a run to the QF of the Shanghai Masters in November. Perhaps Noppon Saengkham could be the best bet of the outsiders here. He recently got to the SF of the Welsh Open, beating a couple of strong players on his way, before losing to Hawkins in a close match. I don't know... Allen has quite a good record against Williams, especially in recent years, but the last couple of weeks suggest Williams is in better form at the moment, so I'll pick him to come through.

      Quarter 2:

      John Higgins v. Martin O'Donnell
      Anthony Hamilton v. Jack Lisowski
      Allister Carter v. Gary Wilson
      Joe Perry v. Chris Totten

      John Higgins is the man to beat in this section. He has had a pretty solid season so far, winning a couple of minor ranking titles, but he hasn't done as well as some other players in the really big events. He's won the China Open in the past, but not since it moved to Beijing in 2005. I bet he would love to win one of the last two events of the season... He certainly has the consistency to do well in both, but he will probably need an extra gear to actually take the title. This section is not too difficult for him, at least not until the last16 stage. There is a possible meeting between Ali Carter and Joe Perry in the last32, which would of course be a repeat of the 2016 World Open final, which Carter won 10-8. Carter has also beaten Perry twice over distance in the World Championship, both close matches, so he possibly has the edge in this pairing. He hasn't had the best of seasons though. He started fairly well, reaching the SF of the China Championship and the QF of the International Championship, but since then he hasn't really had any notable results, so he is just barely holding onto his top16 place in the rankings at the moment. Perry has been similarly unimpressive, he only has a run to the QF of the UK Championship and a couple of decent results in the short format this season. Also, the China Open is clearly not his favourite event, as he has only won one match here in the last ten years! Gary Wilson reached the final of this event in 2015, in one of the most surprising runs we've had outside of the short format in recent years. He was out of form in the two seasons that followed, but this season he is playing better again, including a run to the SF of the Welsh Open, where he lost to Higgins. Also playing better this season is Jack Lisowski, who has qualified for almost every venue and also reached a major SF for the first time in his career when he did so in Shanghai. I think he could possibly be the biggest danger for Higgins in the early rounds. I wish I could say the same about Anthony Hamilton, but apart from a couple of wins in the Champion of Champions, his season has been absolutely dreadful. He got to the final of the China Open in 2002 when it was held in Shanghai, but amazingly, he has never won a match in Beijing. All things considered, I think Higgins is the right call here.

      Mark King v. Peter Ebdon/Zhang Yong/Chang Bingyu
      Kyren Wilson v. Andrew Higginson/Chen Feilong/Fan Zhengyi
      Xiao Guodong v. Jimmy Robertson
      Ding Junhui/Michael Georgiou v. Craig Steadman

      Another section with a fairly limited number of genuine contenders. There is a potential clash between Ding Junhui and Kyren Wilson in the last16, and it looks fairly unlikely that anyone could spoil the party here. Wilson actually played some terrific stuff to reach the SF of this tournament last year, beating Ding 5-1 in the QF. It was good to see him pushing on from there and playing very well this season, with runs to the final of two ranking events and of course the Masters as well. The only thing missing is a title really... Ding and Wilson also played each other in the World Open final this season, with Ding winning very comfortably on that occasion. It was one of the rare highlights of Ding's season, along with his run to the final of the World Grand Prix, but it looks like he just might be reaching good form at the right time. The China Open is traditionally a very strong tournament for him as well, as he has reached at least the SF in 7 of his previous 12 appearances here. I suppose Xiao Guodong could be the biggest obstacle for the two favourites here. He was overshadowed by some of the other Chinese players in the first half of the season, then found some form himself and reached three ranking quarter-finals, including the German Masters in the traditional format. He lost to Ding in the final of the Shanghai Masters back in 2013, then played him again in the World Open this season and lost 5-0, so it might be difficult for him to get past the last32 stage here. Wilson's biggest threat in the early rounds should be Mark King, the player who surprisingly beat him in the SF of the Northern Ireland Open last season. He's made the venue stage of almost every event this season, the highlights being his runs to the QF of the UK Championship and the SF of the Indian Open. He's also been known to play well in Beijing in the past, with three QF appearances. It's tough to see anyone else causing any problems in this section. Peter Ebdon, the 2009 and 2012 champion, is not really a factor in the game anymore, as he hasn't reached the business end of any event that carries ranking points in the past year and a half, and it's almost four and a half years since he last did so outside of the short format. Jimmy Robertson made the QF of the German Masters this season, but apart from that he doesn't usually do too well at venues. Zhang Yong is perhaps the most dangerous of the lesser-known Chinese players in this section, a quarter-finalist in the Gibraltar Open this season, but the competition he faced there was nothing special. That leaves Michael Georgiou, the Shoot-Out champion, probably high on confidence after his success in Watford, but it's worth pointing out that he has never reached the business end of any proper snooker event, minor or major, so I'm not expecting any miracles from him here. I'll go for Ding in this section.

      Quarter 3:

      Jak Jones v. Nigel Bond
      Zhou Yuelong v. Chen Zhe
      Neil Robertson v. Robbie Williams
      Martin Gould v. Sam Craigie

      Probably the weakest section in the entire draw, with very few players that even deserve consideration. Of the first four players, Zhou Yuelong is the only one who has done anything at all this season, getting to the QF of the China Championship and the SF of the European Masters, but even he has failed to win a single match at any venue since new year. He did have some success in the Championship League though, so perhaps his form is coming back. Neil Robertson is supposed to be the big name in this section, but we know he hasn't been playing anywhere near his full potential recently. He's won a couple of titles this season, a fairly minor ranking title in Scotland and a decent invitational event in Hong Kong, but apart from that he only has a couple of quarter-finals. He hasn't won a match in Beijing since 2014, but this is the kind of section he really needs to take advantage of, especially since the matches are longer this year and surprises are less likely as a result. Martin Gould reached the business end in both of the first two best-of-11 ranking events this season, the International and the UK Championship. He also got to the QF in Shanghai, so I think the longer matches here will suit him. He hasn't played Robertson for quite a few years, so it will be interesting to see if the setbacks he's had against him in the past are still relevant, assuming they both get through to meet in the last32 here. The only other player I will mention is Robbie Williams, who made the QF in this format in the International Championship this season, beating Robertson along the way. He's never played in Beijing before, but I wouldn't be surprised if he played his part in this section. I must confess Zhou's name surprised me when I glanced at JimMalone's QF predictions yesterday, but having looked at the draw myself, I think it might actually be quite sensible. He has never played Robertson before, but he's beaten Gould on a couple of occasions, including the China Championship this season. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but personally I will go for Gould.

      Ricky Walden v. Hamza Akbar
      Stuart Bingham v. Matthew Stevens
      Graeme Dott v. Mark Joyce
      Shaun Murphy v. Chris Wakelin

      One of the more interesting sections for me. Shaun Murphy is the favourite on paper, very consistent this season with five finals in total, three of them in major ranking events. He was always winning the occasional title, but this is the kind of consistency he was perhaps lacking in the previous couple of seasons. The only argument against him here is the fact that he is traditionally not that strong in China, while the other main players in this section are. Graeme Dott, for example, won this title in 2007, and he is also having his best season in a long time. He reached his first major final in eight years at the German Masters, beating Murphy 6-4 in the SF, but unfortunately he couldn't make a match of it against Williams and lost heavily. Stuart Bingham is another strong performer in China, although his best result this season came in Belgium when he got to the final of the European Masters. He then had to miss a large part of the season, including two major events in China and all the best-of-11 stuff, but he came back with decent runs in the minor events in Gibraltar and Romania recently. This is the first real test since his return though. How about Ricky Walden? He's played four major ranking finals in China in the past and won three of them, so this is clearly a part of the world that suits him. He attributed his poor form in recent seasons to an injury, and even though he said it was now largely behind him, his results still haven't improved much. His only QF appearance so far this season was in Scotland in the short format, and he also played some decent stuff in the UK Championship, but he was outclassed by Murphy in the end. He has dropped down the rankings a little bit and is not really challenging for a top16 spot anymore, so he could do with a good result here. Matthew Stevens is also here, but apart from stringing a few wins together in the Welsh Open, he has largely struggled this season, failing to reach the business end in any event that carried ranking points. Of all the outsiders, I think Mark Joyce is possibly the best bet here. All in all, he's had a pretty decent season, including a run to the QF of the UK Championship in spite of a fairly tough draw, and he came within a frame of beating Day and reaching the SF. This is a tough little section to call... Murphy has a pretty dominant record over Walden, whereas his head-to-head against Bingham is more balanced. They've had some great matches over distance, including of course the 2015 World final, so it could go either way if they meet here. I think I'll go for Bingham to come through.

      Quarter 4:

      Barry Hawkins v. Sam Baird
      Michael White v. Paul Davison
      Luca Brecel v. Cao Yupeng
      David Gilbert v. Mike Dunn

      Another intriguing section, lacking any really big names, which makes it wide open. Barry Hawkins is possibly the favourite on paper, but he has had a pretty dreadful season for a top8 player, at least until recently when he got to the final of the Welsh Open. He didn't collect enough ranking points to qualify for the World Grand Prix or the Players Championship, which must have been disappointing for him, but there is still time to salvage something from this season. He has played very strong snooker in April for a number of years now, so perhaps his time is still to come. On the other hand, his best results have rarely come in China over the years. Michael White has an abysmal record against Hawkins, with three defeats in 2017 alone, including the Shanghai Masters this season, so I'm sure he would have preferred to be somewhere else in the draw. He managed to win the Paul Hunter Classic this season, his second title in the really short format, and he added another couple of quarter-finals, all in the best-of-7 stuff. It's becoming a worrying pattern for him, not a single notable result in the events with matches of at least medium length this season, so he would not be my pick on this occasion. I hope Luca Brecel against Cao Yupeng makes it on TV, one of the most interesting prospects of the 1st round for me, and a fairly harsh draw from both players' perspective. I remember mentioning Brecel's relatively poor record in the Chinese events in my first preview of the season, but he has reversed things in a major way since then. He won his first major title in the China Championship in Guangzhou, then added runs to the SF of the World Open and the QF of the Shanghai Masters as well, to firmly establish himself in the top16 in the rankings. He hasn't done a lot since new year though, which is a worrying sign ahead of two very important tournaments. Cao Yupeng is having a fantastic season by his standards, having more success this season alone than in his entire career prior to that, including runs to the final of the Scottish and the Gibraltar Open, as well as a run to the SF of the European Masters. The only problem is, those were all best-of-7 events, while his performances in the traditional format have been less impressive. It was Brecel who prevailed when these two met in the World Open this season, but the match went all the way to a deciding frame. David Gilbert could also be a big danger here. His run to the final of the International Championship in 2015 was a big surprise, in a similar way to Gary Wilson's run in the China Open that year, but Gilbert has always had a lot of potential. This season he has qualified for almost every venue, but his success at venues has been limited, with only a couple of ranking quarter-finals early on in the season. One of those was in China though, in the World Open. I will also mention Mike Dunn in this section, a semi-finalist in this event four years ago, and a quarter-finalist in the Northern Ireland Open this season. He won't be happy to land so close to Brecel in the draw though, having lost to him in both the China Championship and the World Open this season. It's interesting that the two highest-ranked players here, Hawkins and Brecel, have never played each other in any match, so there is no advantage either way. I think this is a section where we could potentially see a few surprises, so I am not really confident in my prediction, but I will pick Brecel to come through.

      Liang Wenbo/Rhys Clark v. Duane Jones
      Anthony McGill v. Stuart Carrington/Basem Eltahhan/Luo Honghao
      Tom Ford v. Yuan Sijun
      Ronnie O'Sullivan/Ross Muir v. Elliot Slessor

      And we conclude with a section that is a little more predictable, though unfortunately lacking a little in quality. Ronnie O'Sullivan is of course the man to beat, having won three of the seven major ranking events we've had so far this season. He may not have the best record in China over the past decade or so, but he managed to win the Shanghai Masters this season, which was his first title in China in eight years. He also won the China Open in Beijing way back in 1999, although subsequent years have been full of controversy and "weird" performances here. I think he is a pretty safe bet at the moment, as he tends to get to the business end in the vast majority of events he enters, especially when there is big money on offer. Liang Wenbo has had his problems with Beijing as well. In fact, he has never won a single match here outside of held-over qualifiers, which is amazing for a player of his class. It's also amazing for him to go an entire season without reaching the business end of any event that carries ranking points, which is exactly what's happened to him this season. He has just never found any momentum, and I have to question whether skipping all those events in the early season was a smart decision for him. Anthony McGill has been the opposite case, with lots of appearances at the business end of various events, particularly in the short format. He has found some much-needed consistency in his game, and he will be going to the Crucible as a seeded player in all likelihood. His only problem is his generally poor record in China, where he's had a qualifying and a couple of 1st round defeats this season, with the QF of the World Open as his only decent result. It's tough to see either of these two challenging O'Sullivan here. He's found a way to beat them in the vast majority of their previous meetings, including a couple of real chokes against him from Liang in the past. One player who has beaten him recently though is Elliot Slessor, in Belfast this season where he went on to reach the SF. Could he do it again here? Somehow I doubt it... I will also mention Tom Ford, who has had a decent enough season, but hasn't actually reached the QF in any event. Finally, Yuan Sijun is a very intriguing player, and I can only hope he goes on to play O'Sullivan so we can see him on TV. He made a name for himself a couple of years ago when he whitewashed Martin Gould on two separate occasions, and he is still only 17 and just starting out as a professional player. I'm not expecting any miracles from him on this occasion, but you just never know. Not surprisingly, O'Sullivan is my final pick to reach the quarter-finals.

      Possible QF line-up:

      Mark Selby v. Mark Williams
      John Higgins v. Ding Junhui
      Martin Gould v. Stuart Bingham
      Luca Brecel v. Ronnie O'Sullivan


      So there we are... Some proper snooker with a world-class field and matches of decent length. I'm sure it's going to be a great week.

      Comment


      • #48
        I feel a bit sorry for Ross Muir having to go all the way to China just to play a qualifying match (which he will more than likely lose) against Ronnie. Does he get any travel money for doing that?

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by jonny66 View Post
          I feel a bit sorry for Ross Muir having to go all the way to China just to play a qualifying match (which he will more than likely lose) against Ronnie. Does he get any travel money for doing that?
          yes, for heldover matches there is a payment of £200 to assist with travelling costs
          Up the TSF!

          Comment


          • #50
            I've often thought there should be a better way to structure qualifying but that could mean doing away with q-school (and who are we to argue with Barry Hearn who has revolutionised snooker as he has done with darts). But I'll try anyway... A 64-man tournament would have the top 32 in the world automatically qualifying + 32 qualifiers with events played regionally (obviously the vast majority from the home nations and China). Travelling halfway across the world for a qualifier isnt doing any good.

            Comment


            • #51
              To add to this, its doing no good for the game in Canada/South Africa/Australia (old strongholds of snooker) to have them set up over here and get demoralised by ending up skint.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by DeanH View Post
                yes, for heldover matches there is a payment of £200 to assist with travelling costs
                200 quid? What a joke, I'd be surprised if that covered a one way flight to China,

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by jonny66 View Post
                  200 quid? What a joke, I'd be surprised if that covered a one way flight to China,
                  ah, £2000
                  :blush:
                  Up the TSF!

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by DeanH View Post
                    ah, £2000
                    :blush:
                    Oh, that's fair enough then.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      what channel is covering the China open in UK. this helps me to find a stream . Thanks in advance...
                      I try hard, play hard and dont always succeed, at first.!!!!

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by sharkster63 View Post
                        what channel is covering the China open in UK. this helps me to find a stream . Thanks in advance...
                        Eurosport and quest

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          not plugged in the commentators' mics
                          Up the TSF!

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Solid win for O'Sullivan then. Never looked in doubt really, even though Muir did have his chances.

                            I enjoyed Cao's break to take a 2-1 lead on the other table, I think it was a 135, with some very difficult pots along the way. Unfortunately the match has turned into a bit of a missfest since then, Brecel in particular looks like he can't really be bothered to concentrate today.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Unfortunately I have to miss the end of the match, but I'll eat my hat if Brecel comes back from here. He is just not taking enough care on most of his shots this morning...

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Odrl View Post
                                Unfortunately I have to miss the end of the match, but I'll eat my hat if Brecel comes back from here. He is just not taking enough care on most of his shots this morning...
                                your hat is safe for another day
                                Up the TSF!

                                Comment

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