World Championship 2010: Qualifiers Preview Part 4

Ok so the qualifiers started earlier on today but better late than never and all that, click below for the final part of my World Championship qualifying preview…

The Fourth Quarter


Round One Round Two Round Three Round Four
Ben Woollaston David Roe Stuart Pettman Stuart Bingham
Andrew Norman
Atthasit Mahitthi Mark Joyce Michael Judge Jamie Cope
Jimmy Robertson
Simon Bedford Robert Milkins Mike Dunn Stephen Lee
Ian Preece
Daniel Wells Andy Hicks Jimmy Michie Graeme Dott
David Gray


The first pathway of the fourth and final quarter will see the man who once stunned Stephen Hendry at the Crucible, Stuart Bingham, attempt to make it back to the Sheffield Theatre for a third successive year.

Standing in his way however will mostly likely be Stuart Pettman or perhaps Leicester’s Ben Woollaston who is in need of a good run to retain his tour status for 2010/11. The other players in this section are David Roe and Andrew Norman, though with one win between them this season they lie 94th and 96th in the provisional rankings and will be underdogs as far as qualification is concerned.

Woollaston though has enjoyed a decent if not spectacular season back on the circuit and for me looks to be in with a decent chance of at least progressing to a third round tie with Stuart Pettman who has not enjoyed the best of  campaigns so far, winning just two matches. Stuart though is an experienced player and when it comes to the World Championship and its best of 19 frame matches, this can often count for more than simply form. I think it would be close but I would expect Pettman to find a way to win.

Bingham however would be  a different proposition altogether. Having qualified for the event five times in the past he has the experience of the having been there and done (though so has Pettman), not to mention the fact that he has enjoyed a relatively strong season and lies 14th on the one-year list as a result.

Overall therefore while I would not be surprised to see Stuart Pettman qualify for the final stages, Bingham has to start as favourite for me…

While the above section I think is relatively tough to call, it is clear to me that Stoke’s rising star Jamie Cope starts as a warm favourite here to qualify for the Crucible for the third year in a row.

Despite that statement however, it must be said that there are some capable players standing in his way, for example Jimmy Robertson who has come close to qualifying for a couple of events already this season, while Mark Joyce did reach the TV stages of the Grand Prix and Ireland’s Michael Judge has won his last three qualifying matches.

Atthasit Mahitthi should not prove to be an easy opponent for Jimmy in their opening match but if this season’s form is anything at all to go by then I would expect Jimmy to come through and book a round two tie with Mark Joyce. If this is to be the case then I would find it very hard to call a winner there, though either way I would expect the experience of Judge to prove too much in the third qualifying round.

Could Michael cause a shock and defeat Jamie Cope though? At first glance I would say no but on further inspection he was able to defeat Liang Wenbo recently to qualify for the Welsh Open, another talented player who in many ways plays a similar style to Jamie. It has been said of Cope that he does not have a B-game and if Michael can disrupt his rhythm, perhaps he could cause another shock here and end Jamie’s hopes of a top 16 place for another season.

That being said, could Michael keep Jamie quiet and not scoring for 19 frames? Perhaps, but Jamie’s consistency has been most impressive this season, indeed he has won all of his qualifying matches to date and I am backing him to make it six out of six this week…

The next section could be concluded by way of an all-pink final match as On-Q Promotions duo Robert Milkins and Stephen Lee are on course to meet next week.

That said, Simon Bedford, Ian Preece and Mike Dunn will be out to stop that from becoming a reality and Mike in particular has recorded a few impressive results over the last couple of seasons so will pose a genuine threat.

Milkins however has been in excellent form since he reached the quarter-finals of the Bahrain Championship last season, indeed he now lies in 22nd place on the one-year list! I would expect him to see off either Bedford or the struggling Ian Preece in his opening round match and he would at least go into his match with Dunn with an even chance of victory. While I do think that Mike would push Robert all the way, if pushed I would have to back Robert to progress.

So Milkins v Lee, sound familiar? It should as the two also met at the same stage of this season’s UK Championship qualifiers, Stephen emerging as a 9-7 winner on that day in Pontin’s. With his vast experience Lee would normally head into such a match as a favourite with me once again but there is of course the issue of his recent arrest in connection with suspicious gambling patterns. Although released without charge, could this have distracted him in the build-up to such an important tournament? Perhaps of even greater concern is the fact that he has lost both of his ranking event matches played so far this year and slipped down the provisional rankings slightly as a result.

As a result I am going to back the man with the momentum this time around and tip Robert to gain revenge for his previous defeat to Lee in a very tight match…

It is not every year that you see the man who was world champion just four years ago lining up at the qualifiers but that is the situation that we are faced with this season as Graeme Dott looks to book a place at the Crucible.

With the out of form Jimmy Michie the next highest ranked player, Graeme has not been handed the toughest draw that he might have had and Andy Hicks too has not had the best of seasons so far. Both are however vastly experienced pros and could push Graeme close if he is not at the top of his game.

Strangely however, for me the most interesting potential match here is that which will take place in round one between David Gray and Daniel Wells. Gray as you will know is a former ranking event winner and a very good player at his best, while Welshman Wells won three matches 10-9 a year ago to reach the final round and hang onto his main tour spot as a result. Having experienced a poor run this season it looks like he will need to repeat the feat this year if he is to remain a professional player in 2010/11 and looking at the draw it is not something that I would rule out.

Whoever comes through to face Dott though will be facing an uphill struggle and for me this is the simplest decision of them all this year, Dott to progress…