World Championship 2011: Tournament Preview – Part Three

Part three of my 2011 World Championship preview has an altogether Welsh look about it as Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day and Andrew Pagett enter the fray…

Thanks to both Jack for playing along as well as Jim for his assistance with the head to head stats.

To view the previous parts of this preview, please click here:


Match Nine: Mark Williams (3) vs Ryan Day (20)

Provisional world number one, winner of the PTC1 event and the German Masters,  on paper Mark Williams undoubtedly enters as one of the major contenders to win his third world crown this year and underline his return to form in the biggest way possible. That said though, he could have been handed an easier opening round tie as compatriot Ryan Day is too a man in form and one who will be hoping to make amends for a disappointing performance in Sheffield last year.

Head to Head

The first meeting between these two Welshmen came during the Tredegar Pro-Am back in the 2002/3 season and perhaps unsurprisingly it was Mark who came through a 4-0 winner during arguably the best season of his career. Their next two meetings however were to go the way of Day, firstly at the last 16 stage of the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy when he came through a 5-2 winner, before he also triumphed 5-3 during their quarter-final encounter at the China Open two years later.

Their two subsequent meetings have come during the Championship League and following a draw in 2008, Mark recently won 3-2 during their winner’s group clash last month to level their overall record at 2-2.

Crucible History


  • 1997 – R16, lost 13-8 to Stephen Hendry
  • 1998 – SF, lost 17-14 to Ken Doherty
  • 1999 – F, lost 18-11 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2000 – WINNER, defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16
  • 2001 – R16, lost 13-12 to Joe Swail
  • 2002 – R16, lost 13-9 to Anthony Hamilton
  • 2003 – WINNER, defeated Ken Doherty 18-16
  • 2004 – R16 lost 13-11 to Joe Perry
  • 2005 – R16 lost 13-12 to Ian McCulloch
  • 2006 – QF, lost 13-11 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-9 to Joe Swail
  • 2008 – R16, lost 13-7 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-7 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2010 – R16, lost 13-10 to Ronnie O’Sullivan


  • 2004 – R32, lost 10-9 to John Higgins
  • 2006 – R16, lost 13-10 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-5 to Neil Robertson
  • 2008 – QF, lost 13-7 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2009 – QF, lost 13-11 to Mark Allen
  • 2010 – R32, lost 10-7 to Mark Davis

Season So Far

What is there left to say about Mark Williams this season? He began as he meant to go on with wins over the likes of Jamie Cope, Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire to capture the season-opening PTC1 event in Sheffield. While he was not to add another, further consistent performances would see him finish inside the top eight of the Order of Merit and qualify for Dublin. The Shanghai Masters saw him lose out to Graeme Dott at the last 16 stage in a decider before he then improved to a semi-final run at the World Open before losing out to eventual winner Neil Robertson in another decider.

For all his success this campaign, it is another decider that his season may be remembered for as having reached the final of the UK Championship, he then went on to lose it 10-9 against John Higgins having at one stage led 9-5 and also having left John needing a snooker at 9-7. While some players might have been demoralised by that however, Mark’s response was to be almost immediate as following an early exit from the Masters to eventual winner Ding Junhui, he then then produced a week of fabulous snooker in Berlin to win his first full ranking event of the season. A quarter-final appearance at the Welsh Open then followed before an incredible match at the China Open which saw him lose out to Stephen Lee in the first round, despite four brilliant century breaks from Mark!

For Ryan meanwhile it has been something of a season of two halves. Coming into the campaign on the back of a nightmare 2009/10 season, Ryan’s struggles continued into this one with a series of defeats to lower ranked players during the PTC as well as opening round losses at both the Shanghai Masters and the World Open tournaments. As a result of these losses, Ryan was to lose his top 16 place at the first cut-off point and with further points to come off, the situation looked bleak.

Towards the end of 2010 however his fortunes were to improve as he began to win a few matches during the PTC, including one against countryman Dominic Dale at the Southwest Snooker Academy, before then successfully qualifying for the UK Championship with a 9-6 win against Jamie Burnett. Although he was to eventually be stopped by Shaun Murphy in the last 16 following a deciding frame defeat, he has qualified for the four ranking events since including the World Championship which has enabled him to remain inside the top 32. Most notably, Ryan was able to end his losing streak against Ronnie O’Sullivan at the last 32 stage of the Welsh Open before repeating the feat in Beijing.

Why Mark Will Win

Last a winner in 2003, it is incredible to think that Mark Williams has reached just one quarter-final since at the Crucible. This year however he returns to the venue as one of the men widely fancied for his third world title thanks to an excellent couple of seasons which have seen him return to something like his very best form after a period in the doldrums.

Back are the trademark long game and the confidence which took him to the ‘grand slam’ of BBC events back in 2003 and provisionally lying in top spot in the rankings, he has to be one of the favourites for every tournament that he enters. He might not have won the title here for a while but he has the experience and the knowledge that he can last the 17 day marathon to the end, something that counts for an awful lot here.

Also in Mark’s favour for this match is that he is a player who generally performs well early in tournaments, indeed at one point he actually won his first round match in 48 consecutive ranking events before losing to Fergal O’Brien at the 2003 UK Championship. At this tournament he has just lost once at this stage as the seeded player and on three of his last five occasions it has taken an in-form Ronnie O’Sullivan to send him home.

On the subject of form, Mark has recently been on fire and even in defeat to Stephen Lee in Beijing recently, he made four century breaks and it took a phenomenal clearance from his opponent to get see him over the line. While he will have been disappointed to lose, after a busy period it could also have been a blessing in disguise, giving him an extra week to prepare for this tournament.

As for Ryan Day, while he is in a much better place compared to a year ago, I am not quite sure that he is back to his very best just yet. He did play well to defeat Liu Chuang in qualifying for this tournament but as his young opponent came back to just one behind at 8-7, it was looking a little dicey for Ryan before he took the next two frames to get the job done. As far as their match-up is concerned while I think that Ryan can compete with Mark in the break-building department, will he have enough in the scrappier frames? That could be where the match is won or lost.

Finally I suspect that Mark will be keen to win in order to confirm his return to the top of the rankings at the end of the season and if needed, this will presumably provide him with added motivation to perform. That said, joining contemporaries John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan as having won the event on three occasions will surely provide him with enough motivation in itself…

Why Ryan Will Win

While Mark might be back as the Welsh number one, it has not always been that way as coming into the tournament last year it was Ryan who was the top ranked Welshman. Indeed Ryan was actually the leading Welshman during the previous two seasons which shows just how good a player he is and how dangerous he can be.

Twice a quarter-finalist here, Ryan has a reasonable amount of experience at the Crucible now and knows how to win here. Indeed even as a qualifier on his début back in 2004 he gave John Higgins a real scare, making an unprecedented three centuries on his début on his way to a 9-7 lead before his great opponent came back to deny him a famous win.

As a result then it is clearly one of the toughest draws that Williams could have been handed and with Ryan safe in the knowledge that he will remain inside the top 32 win or lose, the pressure is off him in this match to some extent. It will be Williams who will enter the event as many pundit’s tip for the title and also needing to win to make sure of moving up to number one in the rankings, something that cannot do Ryan any harm.

As far as the match-up is concerned, it will also help Ryan to know that he has won their two previous meetings in a ranking event, notwithstanding the fact that Mark was not then in the form that he is now.

On the subject of form, after a long season which has seen him consistently involved in the latter stages of tournaments, is there any danger that Mark could suffer from burnout to some extent? Certainly Ryan has played a lot less snooker this season and there is an argument to suggest that he could be the fresher of the two. While his qualification match against Liu Chuang was not straightforward, the circumstances there were very different as it was Ryan who had everything to lose and at a venue where he surely belongs, he will be far more comfortable.

My Prediction

Given some of his performances this season and his past record here, it would be easy to automatically tip Mark Williams to progress to the next round almost without thinking it through properly. For me however that would be a dangerous thing to do as Ryan despite not winning a ranking event has defeated all of the biggest names in the past, notably defending champion John Higgins here back in 2008 and if he can produce his best form, could well cause an upset.

That said, I do think that Williams will be the stronger in the scrappy frames and that while the match will be close, it will be the two-times former champion who will come through a tight one. 10-8.

Jack’s View

Another game that everyone is looking forward to. I am sitting on the fence on this one!




Match Ten: Jamie Cope (14) vs Andrew Pagett (77)

Not too long ago it was Jamie Cope who was the Crucible débutante when drawn against Peter Ebdon but this time it is his opponent Andrew Pagett who comes into the event as the outsider…

Head to Head

Jamie and Andrew have never met so this is the one pairing in the draw where the head to head currently stands at 0-0.

Crucible History


  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-9 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2009 – R16, lost 13-12 to John Higgins
  • 2010 – R32, lost 10-4 to Ali Carter


  • Debut

Season So Far

While his PTC season was relatively unremarkable, Jamie began his full ranking event campaign with an excellent run to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters. With wins against Steve Davis, Ding Junhui and Graeme Dott, he headed into his match with Jamie Burnett as a warm favourite but for whatever reason could not produce his best form and soon went down 6-1. Since then he has failed to hit those heights again, last 16 appearances coming at the World and Welsh Open tournaments while he lost his opening matches at the UK Championship, German Masters and China Open. He did though reach the final of the recent Hainan Classic before losing to John Higgins.

For Andrew meanwhile his season has been built upon his consistent performances during the PTC which helped to secure his main tour status for next season at an early stage and perhaps take some of the pressure off his shoulders for the major events.

Before this tournament however, the Welshman was able to win just one match, a 9-2 victory against Noppon Saengkham at the UK Championship which did not bode particularly well for his prospects at the World Championship qualifiers. Most impressively though, Andrew was able to see off Zhang Anda and Bjorn Haneveer to earn a clash with Nigel Bond which he was to eventually win on the black in a decider having needed two snookers. Riding on the crest of a wave, he then dispatched Andrew Higginson 10-6 to book a shock appearance at the Crucible for the first time.

Why Jamie Will Win

Making his fourth appearance at the Crucible now, his first as a member of the top 16, Jamie is no longer the inexperienced outsider that he was during his first couple of appearances and will now be hoping to make it to the last 16 for the second time in his career. He might not still have the experience that many of the others in the tournament have but in comparison to his opponent who will not only be making his Crucible début, but his TV début (6-Red World Championship aside), he does have a significant advantage.

He did not perform well against Ali Carter last year, whether that was down to the pressure of needing to win to get into the top 16 for what at the time appeared to be the next season, who knows. Prior to that however I had been very impressed with him at the Crucible as he pushed Peter Ebdon all the way in 2008 before defeating Joe Perry in fine style the following year. Following that he was to play John Higgins in an incredible last 16 match, making three centuries on his way to a 12-10 lead before watching Higgins launch a brilliant comeback en route to his third world title. It is apparent therefore that Jamie can play at the venue and with less pressure on his shoulders due to the more regular rankings updates these days, may be able to produce his best form unlike a year ago.

Will the same be the case for Andrew Pagett however? As I will detail below, there was a lot to be impressed with about Andrew’s qualifying run but statistics do not make good reading for Crucible débutantes, indeed just three have won since 2005 and though Jamie himself came close to doing so, he was not quite able to. I cannot profess to know Andrew but it will be most interesting to see how he handles everything from the the added media attention, to the TV cameras in the arena, to the autograph hunters outside and history does suggest that it will be difficult.

Why Andrew Will Win

Having stressed the difficulty faced by débutantes however, there are exceptions and I have to say that he was extremely impressive during his qualification run, defeating Zhang Anda, Bjorn Haneveer, Nigel Bond and Andrew Higginson to make it through to the Crucible.

As I noted on the blog at the time, his most impressive match to me was his 10-9 victory against Nigel Bond during which he reminded me very much of the player who had impressed so much the previous year, Zhang Anda. Like the Chinese player, his resilience was admirable, every time he had lost a frame that he shouldn’t have, he dusted himself down and won the next, eventually forcing two snookers to win the match on the black in frame 19.

When the draw was made last year and Zhang was paired with Stephen Hendry, many onlookers were quick to write off Zhang’s chances but the hundred or so of us who had watched him qualify knew that it could be a close one and so it proved as Stephen snuck through 10-9. Could it be a similar story for Andrew this year?

As far as his draw is concerned, while Jamie is a very talented player, on paper the draw could have been worse for Andrew as I would rather be facing him than someone such as John Higgins or Mark Williams. While Jamie does have a spectacular A-game, when the long pots are not going in then he can struggle to execute a back-up plan.

Also while there is less pressure on Jamie this year in terms of the rankings, he does have to win the match if he is to retain a place in the top 16 at the end of the season so he will be keen to win at least one match. Furthermore there will also be added pressure on Jamie’s shoulders as for the first time at the Crucible he is the seeded player, the heavy favourite and the one expected to win. It was a similar story when he played Jamie Burnett at the Shanghai Masters and that did not end well for the man from Stoke…

My Prediction

An interesting one this and a match during which not only will we learn a lot about Andrew Pagett, but Andrew Pagett will probably learn a lot about himself. I have to make Jamie the favourite for this and I do think that he will come through, but I also think that it will be closer than it might look on paper and that Andrew will give him a bit of a scare in the first session. 10-6.

Jack’s View

This will be the first game on TV for Andrew Pagett and because of that, I think that there will be too many distractions for him. If he can block them out and win here then he is superhuman!




Match Eleven: Mark Allen (11) vs Matthew Stevens (18)

One of the most fascinating matches of the opening round, Mark Allen and Matthew Stevens are two players who love playing at the Crucible and who both come into the event chasing a win in order to secure a top 16 place at the end of the season

Head to Head

Prior to this season these two had met on three occasions, the first coming here at the Crucible back in 2006 as Stevens won through 13-9 against the débutante to book his place in the quarter-finals.

Their second meeting came at the start of 2009/10 and again it was to be Matt who came through, an excellent performance containing breaks of 120 and 118 helping him to a 5-2 win. Mark though was able to turn the tables later in the season with victory at the Welsh Open by the same scoreline, though Stevens again made two centuries in the frames that he did win.

This season however they have met six times, all during the Championship League and demonstrating how evenly matched they are, both were able to win on three occasions. As a result their overall head to head stands at 5-4 to Stevens.

Crucible History


  • 2007 – R16, lost 13-9 to Matthew Stevens
  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-9 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2009 – SF, lost 17-13 to John Higgins
  • 2010 – QF, lost 13-12 to Graeme Dott


  • 1998 – QF, lost 13-10 to Ken Doherty
  • 1999 – QF, lost 13-5 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2000 – F, lost 18-16 to Mark Williams
  • 2001 – SF, lost 17-15 to John Higgins
  • 2002 – SF, lost 17-16 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2003 – R16, lost 13-6 to Paul Hunter
  • 2004 – SF, lost 17-15 to Graeme Dott
  • 2005 – F, lost 18-16 to Shaun Murphy
  • 2006 – R16, lost 13-8 to Ken Doherty
  • 2007 – QF, lost 13-12 to Shaun Murphy
  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-5 to John Higgins

Season So Far

Mark made a slow start to the season as he chose not to enter the first three PTC events before then losing his opening matches at both the Shanghai Masters and World Open tournaments. His fortunes however were to turn at the UK Championship where he saw off Tom Ford, Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham to progress to the semi-finals and a clash with the man who beat him at the Crucible in 2009, John Higgins. Unfortunately for Mark the outcome was to be the same this time as John ran out a 9-5 winner, though he was not to be too disheartened and followed up this performance with another run to the last four of a major event, this time the Masters in January. Leading Marco Fu 4-1 it appeared as though Allen was finally set to break his losing streak in semi-finals but unfortunately for him, the man from Hong Kong produced from fabulous snooker from that point, winning five in a row to move into the final.

Since then Mark has struggled to repeat those runs, last 32 defeats to Joe Swail and Marcus Campbell at the German Masters and China Open, together with a last 16 loss to Ding Junhui leaving him far from certain of remaining inside the world’s top 16 at the end of the season.

For Matthew meanwhile the season has been a near unqualified success having won each of his seven qualifying matches for the full ranking events as well as having performed well during the PTC, eventually reaching the semi-finals of the Grand Finals event in Dublin. Otherwise his best results this term have been quarter-finals at both the Shanghai Masters and Welsh Open, losing out to eventual champions Ali Carter and John Higgins respectively.

Having already lifted himself into the top 16 provisionally, the best though was arguably yet to come as he began a hectic March by qualifying for the this tournament with an incredible win against Fergal O’Brien following a match that came down to the final black of the final frame. Just days later he was in Dublin en route to the semis before he then went on to capture the Championship League title following four intense days of snooker at Crondon Park.

Why Mark Will Win

One of the most talented young players in the game, Mark is a player who has been knocking on the door for some time now and will be hoping to build on strong performances at the Crucible during the last couple of seasons by going even better this time around.

As I have commented on several times before, Mark impressed me a lot on his début here back in 2007 and last year he looked to be full of confidence during the early rounds, dispatching of Tom Ford and Mark Davis without too much trouble before losing a close one against eventual finalist Graeme Dott. It is clear from his performances during this tournament and the other majors that Mark is a player who loves the big occasion and who loves playing at the Crucible. Indeed aside from his defeat to Matthew back in 2007 it has always taken a world champion to send him out of the tournament.

A fine potter with an improving tactical game, Mark has a real presence around the table that makes him exciting to watch and in my experience easy to warm to from a fan perspective. It has been well documented that he has been suffering from depression recently and perhaps the warm reception offered by the Crucible crowd is just what he needs to inspire him in this match.

Looking at Matthew, while it is impossible to deny that he has been in excellent form so far this season, he has also played a lot of snooker which clearly took its toll when he came up against Stephen Hendry in Beijing. Will he have been able to recover in time and fully prepare for this event during the two weeks since?

Why Matthew Will Win

Making his first appearance at the Crucible Theatre since 2008, Matthew comes to the event as one of the form players on the circuit following a recent run of results which has seen him move up to 13th place in the latest provisional rankings. More so than at any point since his run to the final of the World Championship back in 2005, Matthew looks to be close to something like his best and in that case is capable of troubling anyone.

And nowhere is that more the case than at the Crucible where his record is excellent, right from his début back in 1998 when he was able to reach the quarter-finals. Indeed during his 11 previous appearances here he has lost just once at the first hurdle, ironically on his last appearance back in 2008 when paired with defending champion John Higgins, while he has only lost at the second round stage on two occasions. While Mark Allen’s track record here is good, Matthew’s is better.

What also cannot be ignored is the fact that Mark has recently gone on record as saying that he is suffering from depression and his form of late has been patchy, defeats to Joe Swail and Marcus Campbell not the sort of results he will have wanted heading into this tournament. While I do not know the extent of Mark’s situation, evidently there are problems at the moment and it is hard enough to win this tournament when everything is going smoothly.

There is also further pressure on Mark because he must win the match if he is to retain his place among the elite top 16 at the end of the season. Having broken into that group at the end of the 2007/8 season, I expect that Mark would not have been expecting to be in this position so soon and even with the more regular ranking updates, he will not want to be back at the qualifiers again for the start of next season…

My Prediction

A fascinating match-up this between two evenly matched, talented players who both love it at the Crucible, both are well capable of winning this one and moving into the last 16. While he might be the qualifier however, for me Stevens has to be the favourite given his form coming into the event, indeed he was even before news of Mark’s depression hit the press and I am therefore going to side with the Welshman, 10-7.

Jack’s View

I tipped Stevens to do well in this tournament so I think that he will come through.




Match Twelve: Stephen Maguire (6) vs Barry Hawkins (25)

Former world number two Stephen Maguire comes into this tournament hoping to build on his recent run to the final of the Welsh Open with another run at the Crucible but faces a tough test early on as Barry Hawkins looks to break his duck here…

Head to Head

These two have met on nine occasions to date starting back in 2000 during the Merseyside Open when Maguire came out a 5-3 winner at the George Scott Snooker Club. Hawkins won their second clash at the B&H Championship in a decider in 2002 but after that they were not to meet again until the 2007 Pontins Pro-Am Series when Barry again won in a decider at the Prestatyn venue.

Their first ranking meeting was to come during the Group Stages of the 2007 Grand Prix and again it was Barry who won his third consecutive match against the Scot, this time by a 4-1 scoreline. From there however the momentum switched as Maguire won their next three meetings, which incidentally all came in China between 2008 and 2010. With further wins coming at the 2010 Welsh Open and during the first PTC event at the Academy in Sheffield, Stephen now leads their duel 6-3 overall.

Crucible History


  • 2004 – R32, lost 10-6 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2005 – R32, lost 10-9 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2006 – R16, lost 13-4 to Marco Fu
  • 2007 – SF, lost 17-15 to John Higgins
  • 2008 – QF, lost 13-12 to Joe Perry
  • 2009 – QF, lost 13-8 to Neil Robertson
  • 2010 – R16, lost 13-6 to Graeme Dott


  • 2006 – R32, lost 10-1 to Ken Doherty
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-9 to Fergal O’Brien
  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-9 to Ali Carter
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-8 to Graeme Dott
  • 2010 – R32, lost 10-6 to John Higgins

Season So Far

Beginning the season with a run to the final of the PTC1 event, Stephen Maguire began the full ranking event season with a last 16 appearance in Shanghai before improving to the quarter-finals of both the World Open and UK Championship where he lost out to Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins respectively.

Moving into 2010, an early exit at the Masters was followed by another quarter-final appearance at the Welsh Open where he was eventually defeated by Graeme Dott as he was at the Crucible in 2010. The highlight of his year however was to come at the Welsh Open where he defeated Gerard Greene, Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams and most impressively Mark Selby to reach his first final since the 2008 China Open. Though he could not win it against John Higgins, his wins against Selby and Williams did show that he can still compete with the very best in the game at the moment. Following this he was forced to withdraw from the PTC Grand Finals event due to the imminent birth of his latest child while he lost early to Mark Davis at the China Open.

For Barry meanwhile it has been a solid season if not a spectacular one, his most notable win probably coming at the World Open when he defeated Mark Selby 3-2 en route to the last 16 stage. Elsewhere, he fell in qualifying for the Shanghai Masters and German Masters tournaments to Martin Gould and Thanawat Thirapogpaiboon respectively, while losing out at the last 32 stage of the season’s other three events not including this one.

Why Stephen Will Win

Following a lean couple of years, Stephen Maguire enters this year’s event on the back of a morale-boosting run to the Welsh Open final earlier this season. Having struggled to record victories against his fellow top players in recent times, Stephen bucked that trend with an excellent win against Mark Selby at December’s UK Championship before repeating the result en route to the final of the German Masters. While he could not find a way to defeat John Higgins that day, his confidence was no doubt given a boost by his run and when at his best he is as good as anyone else in the game.

His Crucible record too is impressive, only having fallen at the first hurdle to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the venue and most recently defeating Stephen Lee in a tricky opener last year before losing to eventual finalist Graeme Dott. In the midst of what should be his peak years as a professional, Stephen will be determined to win the tournament on at least one occasion and despite a recent lack of silverware, remains capable of doing so.

While Hawkins had the better of their earlier meetings, Maguire has certainly held an advantage in recent times, winning five of their six ranking event clashes, three coming during the last 12 months. Psychologically this has to play a part, as does the fact that Hawkins is yet to win at the Crucible in five previous attempts, twice having lost in a decider.

Also Barry’s recent record against top 16 players on television is not the best, having won just three matches against that elite group during the last three seasons. Contrast that to Stephen Maguire who has lost just four last 32 matches during the same time period. Can Barry reverse the trend this time around?

Why Barry Will Win

Barry might not have won at the Crucible in the past but he has now come close on several occasions and arguably would have won back in 2008 against Ali Carter had the pair not been pulled off at 9-9 with Hawkins clearly in the ascendancy. His TV record might not have been the best over the last few years but he has performed well on the big stage in the past, reaching the semi-finals of four ranking events between 2005-7. If he can recapture that level of form that once saw him move up into the top 16 then Maguire will have to play well to beat him.

Furthermore while Maguire did reach the final in Wales, his most recent match was a 5-3 defeat to Mark Davis in China and generally he has not quite looked like the player that won two ranking event titles during 2007/8 and reached the semi-finals of the World Championship a year later. Is the Scot putting himself under too much pressure to win the big one and could he be vulnerable?

Barry has also been a consistent winner during the qualifiers this season and knowing what to expect on the TV and at the Crucible, will not be overawed by either the venue or his opponent.

My Prediction

Another match that could go either way but on balance Maguire has to be a warm favourite for me, though Barry should certainly keep him honest. Another 10-7.

Jack’s View

I think that Stephen Maguire will win. I played him once this season and although I played well, I could never get in front. His concentration is incredible.

Click back soon for Part Four…