PTC Finals: Tournament Preview

Click to view the draw…

Tomorrow sees the start of the PTC Grand Finals which will see the top 24 23 players from this season’s 12 regular PTC events come together in Ireland to compete for the £60,000 top prize…

An interesting event this one as there is a mixture of players from up and down the rankings, some of which have found form since qualifying back in 2010, some have now very much lost it.

One man who has looked consistently good throughout the season however is Mark Williams and the Welshman will for me enter the event as the favourite, opening with a match against the winner of that between Tom Ford and Anthony Hamilton.

Interestingly, the other form player in the draw is probably Mark Selby and he is actually in the same section as Williams, his potential opponent at the quarter-final stage. Stephen Maguire would have been another good tip but he has withdrawn from the tournament as his wife is set to give birth to their third child.

Aside from that obvious two, top seed Shaun Murphy remains a class player, particularly in the overseas events while Welshman Matthew Stevens has previously enjoyed success in Ireland, winning the Northern Ireland Trophy and reaching the final of the Irish Masters back in 2005 and will be feeling good following his last-gap win over Fergal O’Brien the other day.

Also feeling good following qualification for the World Championship will be Judd Trump, Dominic Dale, Martin Gould, Marcus Campbell, Stuart Bingham and Stephen Lee. I think that this will be important as they have had excellent match practice recently and will come into the event in a positive frame of mind.

On the other side of the coin though, the likes of Andrew Higginson, Mark Davis, Gerard Greene and Liang Wenbo have it all to do and will have to pick themselves up quickly if they are to bounce back.

Rankings – What to Watch

While many of the rankings issues lower down the list were decided last week, there are a few things worth looking out for.

As far as the battle for top 48 places is concerned, both Joe Jogia and Jack Lisowski can overtake Dave Harold and Michael Holt with good performances this week in Ireland. Two wins will be needed for each and at first glance both look to have favourable round one draws, coming up against Mark Davis and Andrew Higginson respectively who both failed to qualify for the Crucible last weekend, losing at the last 48 stage. With Stephen Lee and Mark Selby awaiting however, both will have to really earn that top 48 place in their second matches!

Michael Holt too can respond with a win against Marco Fu, though following his loss to Dominic Dale I would be impressed to see him do so.

As far as the top 32 is concerned the only man capable of changing anything is 33rd placed Tom Ford who with a run to the final could potentially overtake Gerard Greene, though the Northern Irishman is himself in this tournament also.

Moving on to the top 16 nothing will be decided this week but for Mark Davis in particular it is an important opportunity to add some much needed points to his total in pursuit of that elusive top 16 spot. While he has qualified for China, his World Championship defeat leaves him vulnerable and for me, needing to run deep in Ireland to stand a realistic chance of not being caught.

Otherwise the likes of Stephen Lee, Marco Fu, Ricky Walden, Judd Trump and Martin Gould will also be looking to secure important points heading into the closing weeks of the season.

The Important Bit

So how can you watch? The event will be televised on Eurosport and you can view the transmission times here.

Note that the event will only be televised from Thursday and so that is when I will start the livechats here on the blog.