Premier League Snooker 2008: Night One Preview

Premier League Snooker – Night One from Grimsby, SkySports1, 7:30pm

Mark Selby v Ding Junhui
Ronnie O’Sullivan v John Higgins

So here we are, night one of the new Premier League season and what a tournament it promises to be. Please click here for my tournament preview posted yesterday.

Match One: Mark Selby v Ding Junhui

So to start with we have world number 3 Mark Selby against Chinese star Ding Junhui in what should be a close match. Selby, last season’s Masters and Welsh Open champion is making his debut in the competition tonight and it will be interesting to see how he handles the 25 second shot clock. He has said that he has shortened his cue action to become a quicker player which should help here, but it is still early on in the season and it remains to be seen whether he is entirely comfortable with it at this stage. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him take a week or two to settle into the conditions posed by the League, we shall see.

As for Ding he should have no trouble settling in. Having topped the league phase last season, making an incredible 12 centuries on the way, he will be keen to keep that form going this time around. He did lose his opening match of the season in the Northern Ireland Trophy to Mark Davis but I wouldn’t expect that to count for much tonight. Ding seems to enjoy the glitzy atmosphere provided by the league and produce his best snooker on a consistent basis in the competition.

The match could go either way but my gut feeling is that Ding will win this, possibly 4-2.

Match Two: Ronnie O’Sullivan v John Higgins

New season, same old story? Judging by O’Sullivan’s success in Northern Ireland it seems that way, and coming to a tournament that he has made his own for the last four years he will be confident of getting off to a good start tonight. Interestingly however, only last week O’Sullivan described Higgins as the only man who can stop him when on full form. Given some of their matches in recent years (THAT performance in the Grand Prix and the 2006 Masters from Higgins), this is perhaps unsurprising, and O’Sullivan clearly won’t be taking anything for granted.

In what is a repeat of last season’s final, Higgins will be hoping for a better result tonight. Having reached the semi-finals in Northern Ireland he has started the season well and will look to give his confidence a further boost with a win tonight. Twice a world champion, we all know that Higgins is capable of beating O’Sullivan, but it has to be said that these conditions and the shot clock in particular favour Ronnie tonight.

O’Sullivan beat Higgins 5-1 on the opening night last season but Higgins will be more used to the shot clock this season and I expect it to be a closer contest. A draw would not surprise me but I will stick my neck out and say 4-2 O’Sullivan. Premier League Snooker 2008: Tournament Preview

Tomorrow night marks the start of the 2008 Premier League and what promises to be another hotly contested series of matches culminating in the semi-finals and final in early December.

The Players

The field this year is headed by world number one and reigning World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the Premier League for the last four years. With his quick, aggressive game being perfectly suited to the shot clock conditions he will be favourite to win the title again and at this point it is hard to see anyone stopping him.

Leading the chasing pack however will be both finalists from the 2007 World Championship final, John Higgins and Premier League debutant Mark Selby. Despite a disappointing end to last season losing to Mark King at the Crucible, Selby had a memorable year, capturing his first ranking event title in Wales as well as winning the Wembley Masters in January. It will be interesting to see how a player who in the past hasn’t been the quickest out there, adapts to the 25 second shot clock in the League. He has said that he has made some changes to his cue action in an effort to improve his game, and no doubt his chances during this event so we will have to wait and see. John Higgins meanwhile is a player who at times last season appeared to struggle with the quick pace, but still did enough to reach the final. Now he will be used to the rule from the off he will be hoping to hit the ground running and go one step further this year.

Also back again for another year are the duo with 13 world titles between them, Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis. Hendry, a six-time winner of the event, will be looking to reach the play-offs once again and show the form that enabled him to beat O’Sullivan in the league phase last year. Davis meanwhile will be sure to entertain the crowd with his quips and having spent the summer working on his cue action it will be interesting to see how competitive he is. Either way he will enjoy every minute of it.

Finally the league is completed by Chinese star Ding Junhui and last season’s World semi-finalist, Joe Perry. Ding will be hoping for a better season this time around having seen his career stall somewhat following his 2007 Masters defeat to O’Sullivan. He certainly knows how to cope with the shot clock, having scored a record-breaking 495 points without reply against Stephen Hendry in last season’s competition, so it would be no surprise to see him make the play-offs for the second season in a row.

Perry meanwhile is another debutant in the Premier League and he certainly made it the hard way, qualifying by winning the inaugural Championship League final in May. Also reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship that month, Perry finished the season in the best form of his life and started well this time round, narrowly losing to O’Sullivan in the first ranking event of the season. It will be interesting to see therefore whether he can carry this form over to the conditions posed by the Premier League or whether he will take some time to adapt.

Overall it should be a close league with virtually every player having a realistic shot at qualifying for the semi-finals. Again though, O’Sullivan is undoubtedly the man to beat in the end and in these conditions it is hard to see anybody doing so.

Venue and ticket information

For a full schedule of the matches please click here to visit view my ticket information page. More information on the tournament can also be found via the Matchroom sport website.

If you get a chance to attend an evening at a Premier League event then be sure to take it, I have attended the Grimsby round for the past two years and have found it to be great fun. The atmosphere is relaxed, the live TV action is broadcast on the monitors in the arena and MC John McDonald does a great job during the intervals. I will be going to the Sheffield leg this time around and hopefully it will be just as good.

A preview of tomorrow night’s matches will be posted tomorrow.

Roewe Shanghai Masters Qualifying – Day Three

Click here for the draw.

White sets up Doherty clash

Crowd favourite Jimmy White maintained his 100% Prestatyn record this season by beating former Welsh Open finalist Andrew Higginson 5-3 on Thursday afternoon. Although White failed to hit top form in terms of his scoring, he showed his experience to come through several close frames to reach the fourth round, finishing the match appropriately by winning the eighth frame by just five points. He now faces the 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty in what is an intriguing match-up for the right to play in Shanghai later this month. Doherty, the likeable Irishman, will be looking to build on a solid start to the season himself however and put a run together that will help him to regain a top 16 position for next season.

High break

Scoring well however was Welshman Ian Preece who not only progressed to the next round with a 5-2 win over Marcus Campbell, but also recorded his highest break in professional competition. His previous best was a 134 break that he made in qualifying for the 2004 World Championship but in frame six today he bettered that by five points with a sublime 139 to put him 4-2 ahead at the time. Next up for him is a tricky clash with Irishman Fergal O’Brien tomorrow.

Round 1 runs come to an end

All but one of the players still in the draw who played in Monday’s first round matches bowed out today with defeats for Lee Spick, Andy Lee, Robert Stephen, Stephen Craigie, Matt Selt and Matt Couch. Indeed the sole remaining player Atthasit Mahitthi is yet to progress to round four as his match with Liang Wenbo has been held over until the venue.

Selt and Craigie’s impressive runs in the tournament were ended by experienced pros Jamie Burnett and Mike Dunn respectively. Burnett in particular played well, recording a break of 114 and not dropping a frame in a 5-0 win while Dunn secured a 5-2 victory. Both Selt and Craigie however will take a useful 900 points from the event along with some match experience that can only be useful for the rest of the season.

Couch meanwhile went down 5-2 to Alan McManus who maintained his impressive recent form and set up a rematch with Matthew Stevens who he beat 5-2 in Northern Ireland just last week.

High standard

Arguably the match with the highest standard today however was Gerard Greene’s 5-3 victory over Mark Davis, a match containing one century and five over breaks over 50. Given Davis’ good form in his last couple of ranking events going back to last season when he qualified for the World Championship, this was a very good result for Greene who lost to Doherty in Northern Ireland. Next up is snooker legend Steve Davis and Greene will be hoping for better luck than in their meeting in the first round of the 2005 World Championship where Davis prevailed 10-9.

Today’s results in full:

Round Three

* held over to Shanghai

Gerard Greene 5-3 Mark Davis 22-68, 108(108)-8, 75(44)-21, 23-77(53), 59(53)-44(36), 83(83)-6, 7-86(57), 70(57)-0

Jimmy Michie 4-5 Rod Lawler 44-72(34), 10-73(48), 43(38)-74(32), 76(38)-50, 68(36)-1, 63(41)-34, 35-76, 64(59)-57, 29-60(51)

Marcus Campbell 2-5 Ian Preece 64(31)-50(36), 33-60(49), 62(44)-44(36), 1-84(54), 0-139(139), 35-78

Ricky Walden 5-3 Lee Spick 39(39)-76(45), 69(69)-7, 99(99)-0, 2-84(80), 10-108(48, 60), 63(42)-45, 81(38)-41, 110(101)-6

Judd Trump 5-2 Andy Lee 71(52)-18, 58(58)-61(46), 70(38)-63, 79(68)-7, 89(70)-47(47), 35-57(33), 66-33

Andrew Higginson 3-5 Jimmy White 55-65, 54(36)-63, 38-74(43), 62(40)-53(40), 6-74(74), 74(74)-1, 80(68)-17, 54-59

Michael Holt 5-1 Robert Stephen 104(74)-6, 64-50, 68(49)-18, 0-68(51), 77(36)-50, 66(61)-9

Dave Gilbert 2-5 Andy Hicks 9-60, 21-68(44), 42-45, 70-0, 27-57(54), 71(71)-29, 42-58(34)

Tom Ford 5-2 Andrew Norman 129(125)-0, 0-106(91), 93(62)-16, 27-71(70), 72(55)-46, 80(45)-6, 79(35)-47(39)

Mike Dunn 5-2 Stephen Craigie 117(39,69)-0, 97(91)-8, 0-79(31,48), 64-52, 0-67(46), 71(47)-30, 77(71)-24

*Liang Wenbo 0-0 Atthasit Mahitthi

Rory McLeod 3-5 Stuart Pettman 106(45,57)-0, 41-53(39), 50-66(36), 66-52, 62-61, 22-72(72), 11-67(48), 50-78(47)

David Gray 3-5 David Morris 20-65(43), 65(43)-21, 66(51)-42(37), 9-62(35), 7-82(73), 73-50, 26-82(82), 20-56(34)

Jamie Burnett 5-0 Matt Selt 64-54, 80(54)-42(36), 60(38)-15, 115(114)-0, 57-47

Alan McManus 5-2 Matt Couch 86-51, 28-52, 68(60)-35, 70(69)-8, 31-86(54), 72(51)-36, 72(46)-16

Adrian Gunnell 3-5 Mark Joyce 45-67, 67(48)-4, 11-65, 41-73(39), 76(46)-0, 72(40)-34, 50(40)-74(45), 8-90(77)

Roewe Shanghai Masters Qualifying – Day Two

Day two, round two as some of the bigger names entered the fray in Prestatyn today. Click here for the draw.

Not such a good day for the PIOS brigade

Though six of those promoted from the PIOS last season won yesterday as reported previously in this blog, today was a much less successful day with with Kuldesh Johal, Peter Lines, Daniel Wells, Simon Bedford and Paul S Davison all bowing out in the second round.

However, Matt Couch had another excellent win, whitewashing former UK quarter finalist Barry Pinches 5-0, the Norwich cueman scoring a mere 56 points in the entire match. Next up for Couch is Scottish veteran Alan McManus who will be hoping to build on a much improved showing in the Northern Ireland Trophy last week. A note on McManus, like a few players on the tour this season he is playing with a new cue so it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Craigie and Selt march on

The other two standout results went to Stephen Craigie and Matt Selt who overcame two experienced and talented opponents to reach the third round. Craigie, the talented 18 year old from Newcastle, followed up yesterday’s win over Stefan Mazrocis with a 5-2 victory over Joe Delaney. Delaney who qualified for the World Championship in 2007 is no mug at all so this is another good result for him and it will be interesting to see how he fairs against Mike Dunn tomorrow.

Selt showed similar class to get past Robert Milkins, a player who although ranked down in 51st place these days is more than capable of a good run when playing well. In a match where high breaks were at a premium, Selt showed great resilience to come back from 3-1 down at the mid-session interval and win a series of close frames to close out the match. Next up for him is another Scottish veteran, Jamie Burnett.

The Whirlwind wins again

It was always going to be interesting to see whether White keep up his promising start to the season and the signs are good as he won his fourth ranking event match of the season today. Having reached the last 48 of the Northern Ireland Trophy and the semi-finals in the Paul Hunter Classic recently, this time he saw off China’s Li Hang 5-3, finishing up in style with a break of 78. Having started in round 2 due to John Parrott’s non-participation (due to a clash with a prior charity engagement), he is now just two matches from reaching the TV stages of a second consecutive event.

Davis (no not that one) does the same

Finally Mark Davis who not only qualified for Northern Ireland but managed to record an outstanding win against Ding Junhui last week managed to see off James McBain 5-3. In a match with nine breaks over 40 Davis recovered from being 3-2 down to win the last three frames and set up an intriguing match with Gerard Greene in the third round.

Today’s results in full:

Round Two

Mark Davis 5-3 James McBain 57(40)-60, 79(51)-5, 76(45)-39(39), 26-72(45), 16-94(77), 72(48)-1, 71(48)-64(56), 68(40)-32(32)
Rod Lawler 5-1 Peter Lines 64-50(34), 52(51)-66(65), 80(66)-45, 92(45)-0, 71(70)-0, 58(48)-29
Ian Preece 5-1 Daniel Wells 70-15, 67-6, 65(65)-24, 75(30)-9, 38-61, 70(56)-7
Liu Song 3-5 Lee Spick 107(107)-10, 60-71(30), 77(77)-11, 0-86(86), 74(74)-0, 9-71(50), 18-66(34)
Martin Gould 1-5 Andy Lee 52(38)-68, 23-68, 17-63, 64(48)-67, 99(85)-16, 9-76(34)
Jimmy White 5-3 Li Hang 86(53)-1, 73(40)-13, 38-48, 9-106(54), 63-42, 56-28, 9-68(46), 78(78)-7
Paul Davies 2-5 Robert Stephen 47-72(38), 60(45)-20, 46-67(35), 75(75)-0, 40(40)-79(79), 14-58(30), 35-51
Andy Hicks 5-3 Kuldesh Johal 105(105)-11, 89(39,48)-1, 38-68(63), 41-65(32), 52-67(61), 58-44, 70-42, 62(34)-40(32)
David Morris 5-3 Jin Long 51-73(42), 68(51)-29, 77-24, 31-101(94), 19-84(50), 82(82)-6, 74(74)-19, 54-29
Joe Delaney 2-5 Stephen Craigie 54-46, 5-81(65), 13-69(44), 12-65, 21-59, 83(58)-6, 44-79
David Roe 3-5 Atthasit Mahitthi 65(58)-58(42), 62-70, 65-61(45), 32-69(50), 67(56)-26, 64(36)-72, 0-66(42), 46-65(36)
Andrew Norman 5-3 Vinnie Muldoon 96(60)-28, 101(101)-7, 72(71)-8, 36-72(31,30), 82(62)-0, 1-72(63), 0-130(65,650, 69-48(41)
Mark Joyce 5-1 Paul S Davison 80(47)-66(37), 17-110(110), 72(68)-0, 81(67)-0, 70(30)-27, 82(52)-24
Rob Milkins 3-5 Matt Selt 2-78(33), 69(55)-24, 56-22, 76(76)-0, 45-59(58), 9-84(42), 64(32)-78(36), 50(33)-71
Barry Pinches 0-5 Matt Couch 0-85(85), 11-66, 32-80(45), 0-82(76), 13-72(51)
Stuart Pettman 5-3 Simon Bedford 68-50, 31-74(74), 12-84(69), 61(61)-60(60), 68(51)-50(37), 28-71(65), 68(68)-62(56), 65-19

Roewe Shanghai Masters Qualifying – Day One

Today marked the start of the second ranking event of the season as the qualifiers got underway in Prestatyn once again.

Good day for PIOS Graduates

Of the eight players to qualify for the main tour via the PIOS last season, six have managed to progress into round two. The first was Leeds based cueman Kuldesh Johal who took his second victory of the season with a 5-3 win over the 2008 EBSA European Champion David Grace. His reward is a meeting with former World semi-finalist Andy Hicks for a place in round three tomorrow morning.

One of the most emphatic victories of the day however went to last season’s PIOS runner-up Peter Lines who managed to whitewash Welshman Andrew Pagett 5-0. The score is perhaps slightly harsh on Pagett, many of the frames being tight affairs with both players scoring in every frame, but Lines was ultimately well worth the win. He will now face Rod Lawler in the next round for the right to face Dave Gilbert later in the week.

The other winners from the PIOS group were the 2007 Paul Hunter Scholarship winner Daniel Wells, Paul S Davison and Matthew Couch who recorded a very impressive 5-1 win against Liu Chuang, the player who gave Ronnie O’Sullivan a fright in the first round of this year’s World Championship.

Bad day for veterans

Less impressive today were the results of Stefan Mazrocis and Patrick Wallace who both slumped to 5-1 defeats against their younger opponents. Mazrocis, the Dutchman famous for defeating Peter Ebdon in the first round of the 1997 World Championship, was soundly beaten by Newcastle’s’s Stephen Craigie despite making a strong start with a break of 73. Craigie, described by Snooker Scene assistant editor Dave Hendon as someone who “could prove a handful” hit back by taking the next five frames and secured the first of what will surely be many victories on the main tour.

Wallace, like Mazrocis a former World quarter-finalist also suffered his second defeat from two matches this season, losing to China’s Jin Long. Long, back on the tour for a fourth time, opened the match in some style with a break of 116 and never really looked back, making three further breaks over 50. His reward is a clash with Irishman Joe Delaney in round 2.

Best of the rest

The second whitewash of the day was handed out by Matt Selt who responded to the recent controversy surrounding him in the best possible way. His 5-0 victory over the struggling Michael Georgiou is his second win of the season and included a high break of 112 in what was a dominant performance.

The highest break of the day however went to England’s Lee Spick who notched up 130 in a 5-1 win over Declan Hughes.

Today’s results in full:

Round One

James McBain 5-2 Aditya Mehta 063(60)-15, 75(43)-45(45), 26-83(53), 121(121)-1, 74(61)-62(62), 43-78(59), 60-54

Peter Lines 5-0 Andrew Pagett 56-24, 88(68)-6, 77(69)-32, 64-43, 67-16

Daniel Wells 5-3 Wayne Cooper 67(67)-16, 7-113(42,58), 63-24, 43-67(42), 86-37, 80(76)-0, 47-60, 71(51)-17

Lee Spick 5-1 Declan Hughes 75(62)-48, 130(130)-7, 63-20, 62-42, 31-73(38), 104(36,36)-10

Rodney Goggins 2-5 Andy Lee 67(50)-39, 46-62, 68-55(46), 53-58(35), 22-84(40), 16-48, 7-69(49)

Jamie Jones 2-5 Li Hang 13-76(68), 45-67, 1-75(75), 29-64, 75(72)-13, 65(39)-19, 38-53

Scott MacKenzie 2-5 Robert Stephen 14-97(35,36), 70-7, 102(96)-14, 54(41)-73, 23-62, 55-60, 34-59(43)

Kuldesh Johal 5-3 David Grace 43-58, 100(31)-29, 15-62(36), 85(65)-22, 71(58)-8, 71(30)-29, 40-63, 62(49)-8

Patrick Wallace 1-5 Jin Long 0-116(116), 18-81(66), 20-76(69), 66-9, 52-75(63), 41(35)-60(47)

Stephen Craigie 5-1 Stefan Mazrocis 17-77(36), 73(73)-0, 63-31, 66(42)-48, 53(43)-17, 68-40

Lewis Roberts 1-5 Atthasit Mahitthi 73(39)-76(38), 81(66)-14, 37-72(54), 41-67(33), 16-73(73), 6-73(50)

Supoj Saenla 2-5 Vinnie Muldoon 28-67, 31-66, 61(38)-48(48), 43-58, 11-86(73), 69-0, 16-42

Paul S Davison 5-1 Chris McBreen 64(41)-51(43), 34-60(43), 78(36,34)-41, 60(60)-1, 82(61)-0, 66-18

Matt Selt 5-0 Michael Georgiou 58-19, 129(112)-0, 71(47)-29, 63-5%(55), 68(38)-60(38)

Matt Couch 5-1 Liu Chuang 81(430-47(34), 83(37,46)-8, 53-27, 16-72(38), 50-36, 58-28

Simon Bedford – BYE

Roewe Shanghai Masters – Draw Overview (updated)

With the draw out last week for the Roewe Shanghai Masters and all but one of the final qualifiers decided, it is time to examine the paths ahead for the top players and see who might have a shot at a deep run into the tournament.

The top quarter

Defending champion Dominic Dale enters the tournament in the unusual position of being top seed and faces six times world champion Steve Davis. This promises to be a very close match, Davis playing very well to beat Gerard Greene 5-3 in what was his first win of the season while Dale pushed rising star Mark Allen all the way in Northern Ireland. In round two the winner will face either Ding Junhui or surprise Northern Ireland finalist Dave Harold who maintained his strong run of form with an impressive win in qualifying against Rod Lawler. Harold made a series of high breaks in that match and will fancy his chances of causing an upset in front of Ding’s home crowd.

In the next section are Neil Robertson and Stephen Hendry though having both lost their opening matches of the season, it is by no means certain that they will meet again. Robertson faces the experienced Fergal O’Brien while Hendry has a tie against Ricky Walden who surprisingly overcame Preston’s Ian McCulloch in the final qualifying round. If Hendry can get off to a good start I fancy him to have a good run here to kickstart his season.

The second quarter

The big story here is that owing to the seeding quirks resulting from Dale’s win here last year, both Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby have been paired together in this section, scheduled to meet in the quarter finals. As well as Mark King and Marco Fu who are no mugs and there are also some potentially tricky qualifiers floating in the section too. Jimmy White who has won all of his qualifying matches this season, including a superb 5-1 win over Ken Doherty, will push Mark King hard as well as Anthony Hamilton who is up against Marco Fu.

The third quarter

Stephen Maguire and John Higgins headline this section and are poised to meet in the quarter finals, though Ryan Day and Peter Ebdon will have something to say about that. Looking at Ryan Day’s draw however, he looks like he will face either the attacking Liang Wenbo or the talented Mark Allen in the first round and that will be a tricky one either way. We will have to wait to find out who though as their qualifying matches have been held over to Shanghai. If Allen could safely make it through his first few matches then I would fancy him to at least make the last 16 and possibly go further. The other dangermen in this section are Barry Hawkins who has started the season well and Tom Ford who beat Stephen Lee in a tremendous match in Prestatyn.

Last but not least

Fresh from the back of his victory in the Northern Ireland Trophy, world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan could potentially face a few familiar opponents if he wants to make it three titles in a row. Seeded second due to Dominic Dale’s victory here last year, he faces Stuart Pettman in his opening match before possibly coming up against Joe Perry and then Ali Carter once again. In what is arguably the toughest quarter of the draw however this is by no means a formality with twice world champion Mark Williams, the highly talented Jamie Cope and Matthew Stevens possible opponents should they win their matches.

Rankings Watch – Post Northern Ireland Trophy

Rankings Watch – Post Northern Ireland Trophy

In the first instalment of what will become a regular feature on this blog following each ranking event, it is time to analyse where last week’s results leave the latest provisional rankings.

The top three

It might still be very early in the season but following Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 21st ranking event victory, this time culminating in a comfortable 9-3 win over Dave Harold, it is apparent that he already appears to be in an extremely strong position when it comes to retaining his number one ranking for the 2009/2010 season. With a lead of 6,225 points over second place Stephen Maguire and 10,300 points over Shaun Murphy in third, barring the wheels totally coming off this season then it is hard to imagine him being caught.

Speaking of Maguire, his quarter-final place consolidates his second place and gives him a comfortable lead over Shaun Murphy who falls further behind the top two following his early exit to Mark Williams. Following a 4-0 win over Mark Selby in the Final of the Paul Hunter Classic yesterday however, he will surely be confident of going on a better run over the next few events.

Fight for fourth

A bit further back is where the real interest is though, with just 1,800 points separating Mark Selby, Ali Carter, Ryan Day and Joe Perry. Given the strong form of all four players towards the end of last season it will be intriguing to see how this battle unfolds over the course of 2008/9. Carter appears to have kept the momentum from his first World final going into the new season so perhaps he will be the one to watch. Marco Fu is not far behind either and certainly capable of going on a good run.

The old and the new

A bit further back are a mix of legends and some of the most talented young players on the tour. John Higgins, Stephen Hendry, Mark Allen, Mark Williams, and Ding Junhui take us down to 13th with Dave Harold on the back of his Northern Ireland final at his highest position in years in 14th. On recent form I am tipping Mark Allen to be the one to watch from this group as it is surely only a matter of time before a player with his potential takes the next step and is a regular face in the latter end of the ranking events. Would not be surprised to see him win an event this season…

Who else?

Who else is worth flagging up then? 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon sits perilously in 15th now and he will be keen to go on a good run sooner or later. Despite never being to bring out his best form in the best of nine matches, his 5-0 defeat to Liang Wenbo last week was a very disappointing result to say the least. Without really going deep in a tournament since his brilliant victory in the 2006 UK Championship, it will be interesting to see whether he can recapture that old form that made him so difficult to beat when at his best.

Current World number 10 Neil Robertson will be hoping to bounce back from a hugely disappointing 2007/8 season and get back to the form that won him two ranking titles previously, but the early signs were not good in Northern Ireland. A disappointing defeat to the dangerous Ian McCulloch leaves him 23rd in the provisional rankings, his lowest position in a number of years. Hopefully he will pick up his form soon enough because an on-form Robertson would be great for snooker.

Of the other players to recently fall out of the top 16, Stephen Lee’s run to the last 16 this week puts him up to 27th while Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and Steve Davis remain on the fringes of the top 32 following the tournament. It is imperative for these guys to win their opening qualifying matches as much as possible this year as the difference between winning and losing in most events is 875 points, not an insignificant amount with the field as close as it is. In order to get back into the top 16 though they will probably need a run deep into an event, but with a favourable draw all are more than capable of doing that. Graeme Dott further back in 44th place provisionally needs more than one however, following his nightmare season last time around.

Finally, Jimmy White’s highly impressive run to the TV stages in Northern Ireland moves him up six places to 59th, crucially inside the top 64 bracket that would secure him a place on the main tour for another season. Still very early days but if he can have similar runs in another couple of tournaments, he’ll have every chance of remaining there. With the Shanghai qualifiers starting tomorrow we will soon see…

Number 1 points: 34,700

Number 16 points: 15,475

Number 32 points: 10,969

Number 48 points: 8,563

Number 64 points: 6,176

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Welcome to Pro Snooker Blog, a site interested in all things relating to professional snooker. Posting began in September 2008 and I am currently working on getting all of the player profiles and other parts of the website up to date.

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