This Saturday morning has seen the start of PTC11 which will be played to a finish on Monday afternoon, but over the course of the last two days we have also seen the PTC12 event played to the last 16 in Sheffield, a round-up of which you can now read below…
With Ronnie O’Sullivan not present at the tournament, eyes were on Mark Davis, Stephen Lee and Ricky Walden as the three looked to gain the points necessary to keep themselves in contention to move above him in the latest projected seedings and in doing so push the three-times world champion out of the top 16.
Needing two wins from the final two PTC events to move up above Ronnie to 15th place, Stephen Lee began well with a 4-1 victory over young Sam Craigie, but as he trailed Luca Brecel 2-0 in his second match it looked as though he might have to wait until PTC11 to secure his next victory. Impressively however Lee was able to battle back and take the next four frames for victory which meant that despite defeat to David Gilbert in the last 32, he has moved up to 15th in the rankings and surely secured his top 16 place at the next cut-off.
Mark Davis meanwhile came into the event knowing that he needed a strong run in order to keep himself in contention for a top 16 place and made the perfect start with a 4-1 win against Hans Blanckaert. Next up was a tricky tie with John Higgins but despite dropping the opening frame, Mark hit back to secure another victory and set up a tie with fellow On Q player Joe Perry. Unfortunately for Davis however, Joe was to emerge victorious from that match and not only deny Mark a place in Munich, but ensure that Davis now requires a run to the semi-finals at PTC11 if he is to overtake Ronnie O’Sullivan in the rankings.
The third player with a mathematical chance of jumping O’Sullivan in the rankings is Ricky Walden and though he will require a number of wins yet in order to do so, with victories against Liu Song, Gerard Greene and Ding Junhui he has kept his hopes alive heading into the weekend.
Away from the top 16 battle, there were also developments in the race for the top 32 as by progressing one round further, Ken closed the gap by 200 points to 370 heading into the final PTC event prior to January’s cut-off. Ken might have progressed further than the last 32 but he was to be denied by old rival Stephen Hendry having earlier defeated amateur duo Ben Harrison and Scott Donaldson, was able to defeat Ken 4-2 with a top break of 121. Incredibly, this represents the first ever time that Hendry has made it to the last 16 of a PTC event and ensures that despite missing out on a place in Berlin, Stephen will at least have one trip to Germany to look forward to in the new year.
What of the world’s top ranked players? Mark Williams was able to begin with a victory against top 48 chasing Ben Woollaston, but lost out to another man chasing a position in that bracket, Redcar’s Mike Dunn who would eventually follow that up with another victory against Liang Wenbo to qualify for Munich. Next up for Mike will be Mark Allen who picked up from where he left off in York, recording five century breaks during victories against Stuart Carrington, Barry Hawkins and Joe Swail.
Also impressing was David Grace who with his tour status on the line recorded three terrific victories against Anthony McGill, Gary O’Neill and Matthew Stevens to gain crucial Order of Merit points and move up to 7th on the list of players not already inside the top 64 on the two-year ranking list. In Germany he will play Martin Gould who defeated Martin Ball, Matt Selt and Jimmy White to progress to the last 16.
Elsewhere there were good runs for previous PTC winners Marcus Campbell and Michael Holt who also set up a last 16 clash in Munich, while Marco Fu won deciders against Fergal O’Brien and Ryan Day, the latter with a clearance to the final pink of 123, to set up a tie with Stephen Hendry at the venue. Stephen Maguire and amateur player David Gray also progressed which means that they will now meet in a repeat of their 2004 UK Championship final, while Kurt Maflin and Andrew Higginson will also meet.
Finally, there were also two terrific maximums recorded by Matthew Stevens and Ding Junhui, both of which you can read about here.