balls

Haining Open – Starts Monday

Bingham

The snooker tour resumes tomorrow with the start of this year’s Haining Open, an event won last season by Stuart Bingham who now has an impressive four Asian Tour titles to his name.

Although Stuart will not be returning to defend his title in 2015, the tournament remains one that is deceptively important for many players, more so than ever in 2015 as eight Players Championship places and two main tour cards could effectively be up for grabs this week…

Taking place a week ahead of the International Championship in Daqing, the draw for the Haining Open is as ever a mix of professionals and local amateur players, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Ju Reti who of course won an Asian Tour event back in 2013.

In all there are 50 professionals (plus invitational tour card holder James Wattana), in the draw for the tournament, including four from the top 16 in Ding Junhui, Ricky Walden, John Higgins and Marco Fu.

While all of the players in the draw will ultimately be looking to take home the title, for many there will inevitably be other secondary objectives, that will have played a part in the decision to enter this event.

For some, the opportunity to gain important match practice and to adjust to the time zone ahead of the International Championship a week later will be important.

Others however will have their eyes on securing a place in the lucrative Players Championship later this season, particularly those who are struggling to do so via the European Order of Merit. Ding Junhui for example has so far yet to participate in a European Tour event and so this could conceivably be his only opportunity to qualify, while John Higgins currently sits down in 64th position on the European Order of Merit with just two wins to his name.

Presumably Robert Milkins is another with this goal in mind, as he has elected to make the trip to Haining despite not having qualified for the forthcoming International Championship a week later and is currently only 42nd on the European Order of Merit.

The other obvious motivation for some players lower down the rankings in Haining will be the opportunity to earn a fresh two-year tour card by running sufficiently deep in the tournament, with two potentially (depending on whether there will be a second Asian Tour event held later this season), up for grabs this week.

Players to keep a particularly close eye on in this respect include Yu Delu, Cao Yupeng, Peter Lines, Craig Steadman, Oliver Lines, Zhou Yuelong, Zhang Anda, Michael Georgiou, Scott Donaldson, Michael Wasley, Barry Pinches, Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, Lyu Chenwei, Lu Ning, Ian Glover and Steven Hallworth.

For a full explanation of how players can earn a tour card and/or qualify for the Players Championship, see my previous blog post on the matter, or alternatively click here to read my recent player-by-player look at the battle for tour survival this season.

The action gets underway tomorrow (Monday) in Haining and will run until Friday when the semi-finals and final will be played to a conclusion.

  • ANON

    I appreciate that the rankings may have resulted in greater injustices over the time you have been running this blog, but the possibility that two players will get 2 year tour cards based on their performance in this one APTC is pretty staggering. Be interested to see if McManus blogs on this – didn’t he have something to say about APTCs in his press conference at the Crucible?

    What happens if a player who qualifies for a 2 year tour card through the ‘Asian Tour’ list opts not to take up the place? Does it go to the next player on ‘Asian Tour’ list?

    • E JONES

      to be honest the whole system regarding who gets tour cards needs a overhaul at least the winner of this event would have come through against good to great players….hand on heart i cant say the same thing about some on tour at the moment and the way they got there.

      We should strive to get the best players in the world on tour and not the token player just because hes from another country if the best players are British then get them on tour instead of Australians, South Africans etc etc.

      Barry Hearn said he wont reward mediocrity well that whats happening.

      • ANON

        Prize money for this event only paid from the last 64 so the APTC rankings (which might well end up as the final list) will be:

        1. £13,500
        2. £6,500
        3-4. £3,500
        5-8. £1,750
        9-16. £1,300
        17-32. £800
        32-64. £400

        if it is the two highest finishers in the Asian Order of Merit not
        already qualified for the main tour for 2016/17 it is not inconceivable that will be someone with £800 for winning two matches (given that there will be 16 players on £800 will “frame difference” be used?). Could be total luck of the draw who gets the spots.

        • E JONES

          Leo Fernandez however Leo did beat Li Hang and Tian Pengfei on Route who did Vinnie Calabrese, Itaro Santos and Hatem Yassin beat to get on tour.

          as i said the whole system needs a overhaul.

  • JF

    At the very least, players should only get a card if they can definitely commit to the tour- the likes of Steve Mifsud, Ju Reti, the African qualifiers etc. are really only professionals for a handful of tournaments, then after they’ve been thrashed several times and the money dries up, they spend the next 18 months as a World no. 120 who never actually plays. If Hearn wants to improve the international side of the game, then he should try some of his PDC ideas and set up second-tier Euro and Asian Tours with lower prize money, the top x numbers of players get a place on the Main Tour and a spot in the Crucible 1st qualifying round (or get to play in that strange “Members not on the Tour” round if it still exists).