Barry Hawkins’ popular victory at the Australian Goldfields Open last weekend marked not only his first ranking event victory, but also the end of what has been almost an ‘Asian swing’ of events as the snooker circuit returns to the UK with the start of the PTC events. Click below for a few musings on what we have to look forward to in the weeks ahead…
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During his press conference at the Crucible back in April, Barry Hearn remarked that there would be a snooker event played during 50 of the year’s 52 weeks and true to his word, it has been a busy period of late with a string of events held in Asia in particular. Indeed we have had the APTC1, Wuxi Classic, Sangsom Six Red World Championship and Australian Goldfields Open tournaments in quick succession and it is notable that there have been both players who have come out of the blocks quickly and taken advantage of the opportunity to get some crucial ranking points in the bag, as well as those who have elected to enjoy an extended summer break.
This week however the action returns to the UK with the first of four UK PTC events that will be held in Gloucester, as the season really kicks into the life for the 99 man main tour. As has been the case during the past two seasons, the upcoming schedule will be a demanding one and although there will be two fewer PTC events held in the UK, the signs are that the majority of professional players intend to enter the three new APTC events held in China, understandably so with both ranking points and Grand Finals places up for grabs.
Turning to the draw for UKPTC1, there are a few non-entries as outlined here, none particularly surprising aside from perhaps Matthew Stevens who usually enters most events and looked somewhat rusty in Bendigo last week. Having had a few weeks without a tournament (invitationals and exhibitions excepted), it remains to be seen which of those further down the rankings will be able to put a run together in Gloucester, indeed the PTC events are hard enough to predict at the best of times, while it will also be interesting to see whether form players such as Mark Davis and Barry Hawkins can also hit the ground running. As an aside, I am also curious to see whether these players will perhaps suffer from ‘burn-out’ later on in the season having played so much snooker already. A theme to revisit later in the campaign perhaps.
Beyond this week, arguably the biggest qualifying tournament of the season so far follows from Sheffield as the Shanghai Masters qualifiers take place in Sheffield from 24th July 2012, before another PTC event which will also bring the first seedings revision of the new season. As I have commented on a number of times in recent weeks, it remains to be seen exactly which points World Snooker will choose to remove at that first revision, but that has not stopped me from taking an educated guess in my latest projected seedings list.
Hopefully I will be able to learn more at Gloucester this weekend where I will be from Friday for my first event since the Crucible, armed with my camera and hoping to bring you some interesting stories from the tournament…