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Feb 07 2014

Gdynia Open 2014: Tour Survival Blog

Poland

The eighth event of the 2013/14 European Tour is now underway in Gdynia and as explained earlier in the week, the implications of the event in terms of tour survival is significant, with the finalisation of the European Order of Merit after this event.

Click below for my rolling blog which will be updated throughout the day, flagging up the results to keep an eye on and those currently in position to retain a tour card through this list. I will also keep an eye on the race for PC finals spots, wherever that event will ultimately end up taking place…

  • Click here to view the draw for ET8
  • Click here to view the latest European Tour Order of Merit (after seven events)

Latest in-running tour survival battle (players outside of the top 64 on the money list only):

Sam Baird – 16,351 (SF)

Joel Walker – 7,199 (r128)

Scott Donaldson – 6,699 (r64)

Luca Brecel – 6,599 (r128)

Ian Burns – 6,266 (r32)

Michael Wasley – 6,049 (r32)

Barry Pinches – 5,949 (r16)

David Grace – 5,283 (r64)

————————————-

Tony Drago – 5,266 (r64)

Martin O’Donnell – 5,100 (r32)

Mike Dunn – 4,449 (r64)

Liam Highfield – 2,766

Daniel Wells – 2,583

Michael Leslie – 2,349

In addition to these players, there are others who are currently just inside the top 64 on the two-year money list, who will half have an eye on this event as a safety net, in the event that they slip out of the top 64 between now and the end of the season.

These are Robbie Williams (9,115), Gerard Greene (12,783), Jimmy White (1,183), Peter Lines (4,049), Steve Davis (4,866) and Dave Harold (2,100).

Also note that there may be an extra place on this list when Stephen Lee falls out of the top 64 of the two-year ranking list, depending upon who takes his place.

(names crossed once out of the tournament)

Friday Blog

9:29 – Good morning all – the opening session of the ET8 event is underway and already there are key matches in progress, with Steve Davis, Peter Lines, Mike Dunn and James Wattana among those in action.

You can view the full list above at snookerorg, however discounting those players already assured of their tour place next season, the current state of play is outlined above.

At the time of writing, Steve Davis leads his opening match 2-0, Peter Lines trails Xiao Guodong 3-1 and Mike Dunn is level at 1-1 with Michael Leslie.

10:21 – James Wattana loses 4-0 to Aditya Mehta, confirming that the Thai player will not be taking one of the eight tour spots from the European Order of Merit for next season. He will need either a deep run at the final Asian Tour event of the season, or to bridge gap of almost 10,000 on the two-year money list if he is to remain on the main tour for next season.

Lines4

10:53 – Big win for Steve Davis, he defeats local Polish amateur Wojciech Przylucki 4-1 to move into the last 64 and perhaps more importantly, closer to the group of players who would stay on tour should they finish outside of the top 64 on the money list.

Next up for Davis will be either Mike Dunn or Michael Leslie, Dunn currently leading 3-2 and in real need of a strong run this week to boost his tour chances.

Meanwhile, a brilliant win for Peter Lines, who from 3-1 down has defeated Xiao Guodong to move into the next round. Like Davis, Lines is currently placed inside the top 64 on the main money list, but would like to perform well here and climb the European Order of Merit if possible. Could be a crucial win further down the line.

11:18 – Mike Dunn completes a big win against Michael Leslie, which not only effectively ends Leslie’s chances of remaining on tour for next season, but also keeps Mike’s hopes of a ‘top eight’ place alive, should he not make it back into the top 64 on the money list.

Standing in his way next however will be Steve Davis, who too will be looking to move into the top eight, should he fall out of the top 64. In simple terms, it is a big match for both players!

11:46 – A 4-1 win for Joe Perry against Daniel Wells, which realistically means that the Welshman will be relegated from the circuit at the end of the season, barring a surge up the money list between now and the end of the season

Murphy

13:29 – A lull in the matches affecting tour survival at the moment gives me a moment to look in on the battle for top 24 places, eg Grand Finals spots.

So far there have been no changes to the running order, Shaun Murphy holding on to the final spot, while the likes of Aditya Mehta, Robert Milkins and Martin Gould have kept their hopes alive with wins so far this morning. One to keep an eye on, particularly as we get to Sunday and the prize money jumps start to increase…

14:31 – Huge win for Martin O’Donnell, who comes back from 2-0 down to defeat Jak Jones and keep his hopes of taking a tour place through the European Order of Merit alive. In fact, the result takes him into a tie for the eighth and final spot with Tony Drago, who begins his tournament tomorrow against Liam Highfield, who is also fighting for his tour card.

Elsewhere, a 4-0 win for Shaun Murphy has seen him move up one place to 23rd in the Order of Merit, although currently 3-0 up, Barry Hawkins looks set to jump straight back above him in the next few minutes. With next placed man Robbie Williams also through to the second round a 4-0 winner, the race remains very much on for those final spots…

14:49 – A 4-0 victory for Michael Wasley boosts his hopes of a top eight spot on the European list, moving him above Ian Burns into fifth and further from the chasing pack behind…

Wasley

16:16 – Defeat for Peter Lines against Martin Gould in the second round means that Peter will need to remain ranked inside the top 64 on the money list if he is to retain his tour place next season.

Also underway now is the big match between Steve Davis and Mike Dunn, the six-times world champion having taken the opener…

17:05 – An excellent 4-3 win for Anthony Hamilton against Mark Selby lifts him up to 20th on the Order of Merit, boosting his chances of a place in the PC Finals, while Tom Ford has ended the hopes of Aditya Mehta with a second round win. Tom himself can still make the Finals, but would need to run very deep into the tournament to do so…

18:07 – Big win for Steve Davis, who defeats Mike Dunn 4-2 to move into the last 32 here in Poland. The result means that as it stands, should Steve fall out of the top 64 on the main money list between now and the end of the season, he would still retain his tour card by taking thee 7th qualifying spot on the European list.

As for Mike Dunn, the result means that effectively, he must do enough between now and the end of the season to climb up into that top 64 bracket on the main money list, if he is to avoid a trip to Q School in May.

Significant results also in the battle for PC Finals spots, as Shaun Murphy produced a brilliant display to see off Stuart Bingham 4-2, while chaser Robbie Williams suffered a 4-2 defeat to China’s Tian Pengfei. As a result, Shaun climbs to 23rd, while Williams now cannot move higher than 25th, just outside of the qualifying places.

19:02 – And now an even bigger win for Martin O’Donnell, 4-1 against top 16 player Mark Davis to give his hopes of remaining on the main tour an even greater boost. Having started the day outside of the ‘top eight’, Martin now lies 7th, with a last 32 tie against Jamie Jones still to come this evening. He’s not safe yet, but his position looks a lot better than it did earlier in the day when he trailed Jak Jones 2-0 in his opening match…

Odonnell

21:40 – Back from my weekly shop to see that O’Donnell and Jones are currently locked at 3-3, 34-34 in what would be another big match for Martin to win.

Michael Wasley meanwhile was able to withstand a fightback from Gary Wilson from 3-0 down, to sneak through into a decider and further consolidate his position inside the top 8. Unfortunately for Michael, he could do nothing to stop Stephen Maguire in his final match of the day, but he has given himself a good chance of retaining his tour place via the European list.

It was also a good day for Steve Davis, who despite narrowly losing out to Judd Trump, has also lifted himself into contention, in the event that he falls out of the top 64.

Meanwhile, in the battle for PTC Finals places, Shaun Murphy has delivered when it mattered most, winning three matches from three to climb six places to 18th in the latest European Order of Merit.

Now on the bubble therefore is Barry Hawkins, at the time of writing 3-2 down to John Higgins in one of the last remaining matches of the day. With several players below, including Robert Milkins who is now through to the final day, within striking distance should they run deep into the tournament, Barry can only wait and hope, should he lose tonight.

22:02 – Martin O’Donnell’s run is over, as he loses out in the decider to Jamie Jones on the colours. With two wins today, he has given himself a real chance of taking one of the top eight spots, though he is now waiting on results tomorrow of the likes of Tony Drago and David Grace, to see if they can overtake him. Both need just one win to overtake him, so he is far from safe yet, but he can only wait and watch now…

Meanwhile, Barry Hawkins has forced a decider with John Higgins in the final match of the evening…

22:23 – Higgins wins 4-3, so Barry Hawkins can only wait and hope now. A run to the semi-finals from Milkins would be enough to stop him, Rob into the last 16 today with a final win against Martin Gould. A note from that match however, Martin came close at one stage to making a maximum break, only to not finish on the final yellow as required.

So that’s it for day one. What will happen tomorrow?

Drago

Saturday Blog

9:32 – Back underway again in Gdynia as the remaining protagonists in the battle for tour places take to the baize today. Names to keep an eye on include Ian Burns, David Grace, Tony Drago and Liam Highfield, while the race for PC Finals spots will also continue further up the list.

Something that I hadn’t mentioned yesterday that will inevitably help those battling for the eight tour cards is of course the fact that Stephen Lee is almost certain to drop out of the top 64 on the money list, potentially opening up another spot on the European list, depending upon who takes that spot.

We won’t know exactly how it will shake out until the end of the season, but we should have a much better idea after today…

10:16 – An impressive win for Gareth Allen against Joel Walker means that the man currently in second place of those players looking to earn a tour place through the Order of Merit cannot now add to his tally this weekend. With a more than comfortable lead over those behind him however, Joel’s position nevertheless looks to be secure.

11:19 – Another early loser this morning is Luca Brecel, who fell 4-1 to amateur Jamie Rhys in the opening round. Like Walker, Brecel looks to be safe inside that top eight, but it is a minor blow to his hopes of climbing up into the top 64 on the main two-year money list, which would be preferable to Luca and potentially open up his spot on the European list to other players.

Burns

11:58 – A good win for Andrew Norman against Dave Harold in a deciding frame, confirms that Dave will need to remain inside the top 64 on the money list if he is to retain his tour place for next season. He is currently well placed to do so in 57th place, but will need a few more wins between now and the end of the season to be sure.

12:19 – A 4-0 win for Ian Burns against Yu Delu takes him to 5,849 on the latest European Order of Merit, consolidating his position inside the top eight. Next up for him will be either Scott Donaldson or James Cahill, the pair currently locked at 1-1 in their opening round match.

So far, so good for David Grace, who leads amateur Matthew Day 2-0…

12:55 – And David Grace completes a potentially huge win, to move back up above Martin O’Donnell and into seventh on the list of players who as it stands, would stay on the main tour through the Order of Merit. The situation could change with the likes of Tony Drago still to play later, but every place counts and of course Martin cannot now overtake the man from Leeds, having lost out to Jamie Jones yesterday.

15:17 – The biggest match of the day was always going to be that between Tony Drago and Liam Highfield and it is the man from Malta who has emerged as an emphatic 4-0 winner, a victory crucial to his hopes of remaining on the tour for another two years.

in simple terms, the win lifts him up above Martin O’Donnell and back into position to remain on the main tour as it stands. For Martin, he now slips out of those nine places, but could yet be given a reprieve, depending on who will take Stephen Lee’s place inside the top 64, should the currently suspended player drop out of that bracket in the coming weeks as looks certain.

Following the conclusion of this event, I will try to explain how the land lies in more detail…

Pinches6

Meanwhile, Barry Pinches is on the brink of a massive win against Nathan Jones, following a predictably nervy match in Gdynia this morning. By my calculations, Barry really needs three wins today, to move himself up above O’Donnell and into contention to survive via this list. Next up for him will be Malta’s Alex Borg…

19:14 – The last 64 matches are beginning to come to a conclusion now and with David Grace and Scott Donaldson bowing out, the situation is becoming a little clearer.

Marching on however are Ian Burns and Barry Pinches, both moving into their third and final matches of the day, following wins against Donaldson and Alex Borg respectively.

For Ian, the victory moves him up above Michael Wasley and further strengthen his grip on a tour card, while for Barry the victory in itself changes little, but it gives him a chance to move up into the top eight places if he can defeat Burns in their last match.

Also still in action and very much in the mix is Tony Drago, currently 3-1 up on Fergal O’Brien and looking to leapfrog David Grace in the list…

20:16 – Tony might have been 3-1 up, but he could not get over the line against Fergal, losing 4-3 and leaving his fate out of his own hands now.

At the time of writing, Drago currently holds on to the eighth and final qualifying spot through the European Order of Merit, but could still be overtaken this evening, should Barry Pinches be able to defeat Ian Burns (Pinches currently 1-0 up.

If Barry were to win, he would climb up above Tony and David Grace, pushing Drago down to ninth place of those not inside the top 64. Of course, there is still hope for Tony, depending upon who finishes inside the top 64 at the end of the season, particularly once Stephen Lee drops out of that bracket.

Fergal

23:49 – The final two matches of the day are over and they might prove to be two of the most significant when looking back at this event, with wins for Barry Pinches and Fergal O’Brien.

For Barry, his third victory of the day crucially moves him up above Martin O’Donnell, Tony Drago and David Grace, into the top eight players on the European Order of Merit currently ranked outside of the top 64 on the two-year money list. Simply put, if the season were to end now then, Barry would be safe, something that had appeared unlikely at the start of the day.

This does not mean that his place yet is absolutely guaranteed – it will all depend upon who finishes inside of the top 64 on the main money list at the season’s end, but he has certainly put himself into a much better position with that last win against Ian. Another win against Sam Baird tomorrow would really make sure.

I will attempt to clarify the various permutations tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the race for PC Finals spots, there was an important win for Fergal O’Brien this evening, who climbs to 25th place and just one win away from a place in the finals. Standing in his way will be Alan McManus, who enjoyed an extremely successful day to reach the last 16, with wins against Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott.

In short, those players still in the tournament need to achieve the following results tomorrow, if the are to break into the top 24 and deny Barry Hawkins a place in the Grand Finals:

Fergal O’Brien – QF

Robert Milkins, Mark King – SF

Rod Lawler, Alfie Burden, Barry Pinches, Marcus Campbell, Alan McManus, Matt Selt, Zhang Anda – F

Baird

Sunday Blog

11:38 – What a start to the day with Shaun Murphy’s brilliant 147 break against Jamie Jones, as he further rubber stamped his place at the PC Grand Finals for the first time since he won the event back in 2011.

In respect of the other battles going on today, Robert Milkins’ 4-0 defeat to Matt Selt means that his late bid for a place at the Grand Finals has now come to an end, but with Fergal O’Brien currently 3-1 up on Alan McManus, it looks like Barry Hawkins may well lose out on the final qualifying place, which he has held onto since late Friday…

12:19 – Well done to Fergal O’Brien, who has completed a 4-1 victory against Alan McManus to move up six places into 19th on the European Order of Merit and therefore crucially, into the PC Grand Finals.

No such joy however for Barry Pinches, whose run came to an end against Sam Baird in the morning. Although victory would have assured the Norwich veteran of his main tour status for next season, he remains well placed as it stands, certainly far better than he was before the tournament started.

A full blog on that will follow after the tournament…

UPDATE: Click here to view my look at the tour survival battle after Gdynina.

  • Rana Mittra

    Matt, do you know what happens if someone earns a place in the Grand Finals by both European and Asian PTCs?

    Because it’s looking like Selby will qualify on both lists, so one extra space will open up on one of the lists, which could be useful for whoever’s 25th or 9th.

  • mikets

    You seem to have missed out Robbie Williams from the list of players who might just miss out on the top 64 – like Greene he’s certain to get a card via the European Order of Merit if he needs it.

    • Matt

      Good spot, added

  • Alan Moroney

    Just spotted that if number 64 at end of season creeps over 38,223 points on money list, that opens up another spot on European order of Merit – that is Stephen Lee’s total, so if he stays in top 64, effectively only 63 players stay on tour vis top 64?

    • Matt

      Yeah I remembered that last night, just depends who takes that spot I guess, it’s going to change right to the world champs

  • roy142857

    Just realised there’s a chance Gary Wilson could cling on to a Top 24 position – if that’s the case won’t he get money for the PTC finals and move into the Top 64 on the money list? Leaving one more player needing to use an Order of Merit place?

    • Matt

      Yeah, it’s going to change a few times between now and the end of the season…

  • Stephan E

    If Scott Donaldson earns a place via both lists (Europe and Asia), who will take the other spot. Will it be an Asian, as Scott earned his place via the EOoM earlier, or is there a chance for Tony Drago (regardless what will happen with Stephen Lee).

    • Matt

      Your first guess is right, it would go to the Asian due to the European finishing earlier. As you suggest though, still hope for Drago with the Lee saga