2008/9 Player Reviews: The Unlucky 24

Whilst you might be expecting me to review the season by looking back over the various tournaments staged, as I have already done that (for half the season anyway), as part of my 2008 review, I am going to do things a little differently here.

Instead I am going to look back at the seasons of each of the top 96 players on tour, increasing in detail as we move up the rankings. Today sees me look back at the 24 players who barring wildcards, will have lost their main tour places at the end of the season…

It is never nice to see players lose their tour places, particularly the newcomers as in some cases they are unfortunate due to the points system in place as highlighted by David Hendon recently.

For some however this is no such excuse and this includes David Gray (65th, 12208 points), who despite starting the season officially ranked up in 49th place and provisionally 52nd,  has amazingly lost his place on the tour just four years after falling out of the top 16.

His season actually started quite well as he defeated both Simon Bedford and Jimmy Michie to reach the last 48 in Northern Ireland before losing out 5-4 to Jamie Cope which is no disgrace at all. From there though his season fell to pieces as he lost his opening match in six of the next seven ranking events of the season, leaving himself needing to reach the last 16 of the China Open to keep his place on the tour.  Given his form however this was always going to be a tough ask and out in Beijing he fell at the first hurdle to local wildcard Tian Pengfei.

It was to be a similarly disappointing time for Welshman Ian Preece (66th,  12170 points), who despite stepping up to the main tour a few years ago with an enviable amateur record, has not been able to carry that on into the professional tour. Much like Gray his season started off reasonably well with wins during the the Northern Ireland and Shanghai qualifiers, but other than a strong run to the last 32 of his home tournament the Welsh Open it was to be downhill from there and he wound up narrowly losing his tour place too.

Further down the list come Andrew Norman (74th,  11126 points), Rodney Goggins (77th, 10413 points) and James McBain (76th, 10413 points) who have also seen their spells come to an end. Like Gray and Preece, Norman started the season ranked inside the top 64 only to endure a nightmare season in which he won just four matches.

Rodney’s campaign actually was not too bad as he won matches in both the UK and World Championships to give himself hope, but ultimately defeat to Martin Gould in Sheffield was to prove the decisive result. James meanwhile started and finished the season well, but a mid-season blip which saw him lose three straight first round matches was ultimately to prove his undoing.

It was a similar story for young Welshman Jamie Jones (78th, 10288 points) who despite winning six matches including four at both the big two events, saw his bid to remain on the tour end in vain. Still he did fare much better than on his last spell on the tour in 2006/7 and certainly showed promise during the longer frame matches.

Next up come youngsters Stephen Craigie (79th, 9901 points) and Vincent Muldoon (81st, 9513 points) who sandwiched last season’s PIOS number one Kuldesh Johal (80th, 9688 points) in the rankings. For all of them the season started reasonably well but unlike Jones they struggled in the longer frame matches and with the UK/World Championships carrying the most ranking points, this ultimately was to cost them dear. That said, Vinnie Muldoon did play very well against Jimmy White in Sheffield and came close to causing a real upset.

The next few players I am going to group together because ultimately their seasons went much the same way:

Each of these players had a couple of tournaments where they managed to string a few wins together, for example Aditya Mehta and David Grace at the Grand Prix and  Liu Chuang at the UK Championship, but generally they struggled and were rarely in contention to retain their tour places.

They did however manage to fare better than Michael Georgiou (94th, 7038 points), Chris McBreen (95th, 7038 points) and Declan Hughes (96th, 6138 points) who between them managed to win just one match and finished at the bottom of the rankings.

The next instalment of my review will look at the top eight on the one-year list outside of the top 64 and will be up in the next few days…