Closing In On Cut II

Tomorrow sees the start of the final event prior to the season’s first mid-season seedings revision on October 3rd and the key battles highlighted during my previous pre-PTC5 article are now coming to a climax. Click below for the latest position…

  • Click here to view the draw for PTC6
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings

Battle for No.1

Little change at the top, as explained previously the top three will remain set in stone come the next cut-off while Ding Junhui will retain fourth place unless Neil Robertson reaches the final in Poland.

Battle for the top eight

As expected, the fight for the top eight will be contested between Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire, with Ali Carter safe unless both Judd and Stephen reach the final in Poland.

Assuming that does not happen, Judd starts with a slender points lead following his two victories in Sheffield last weekend and an opening round tie in Poland against a qualifier, with Mark Joyce or Tian Pengfei to follow.

Stephen meanwhile begins with a match against Ireland’s David Hogan, with potentially the man who defeated him in Shanghai, Anthony Hamilton to come in the second round. His task is far from impossible but with a number of in-form players in his section, I would make Judd the narrow favourite to seal the deal and take the final top 8 place.

The Battle for the Top 16

The race for the Masters has become a lot clearer following PTC5 with Ronnie O’Sullivan now secure in the top 16 while the likes of Peter Ebdon and Jamie Cope are now definitely out of the running.

In simple terms, three from the four of Matthew Stevens, Stephen Lee, Martin Gould and Mark Davis will secure those all important places, with Davis being the outsider following his surprise 4-0 reverse to Andrew Norman in Sheffield.

Turning to Matthew Stevens, the Welshman although not quite certain to retain his top 16 place at the cut-off, is nevertheless well-placed to do so. Should Matt lose his opener in Poland it would take two wins for Stephen Lee, three for Martin Gould and a semi-final from Mark Davis to see him miss out. In any case you would expect Stevens to overcome Stuart Carrington in the opening round though of course you never can be sure.

For Stephen Lee the situation is not quite so certain, though it would still take an opening round win for Gould and a quarter-final run from Mark Davis to see him miss out should he lose his opening match.

As becomes clear, a lot depends on Mark Davis who must win at least three matches if he is to stand any chance of overtaking 16th placed Martin Gould. Looking at his draw, Mark  begins against Welsh amateur Gareth Allen with potentially Nigel Bond to follow in the second round. If he can come through those then one of Michael White, Liang Wenbo or David Morris is likely to await in the third round with potentially Stuart Bingham or Jack Lisowski to come in the fourth round.

So how will it go? My feeling looking at the draw and taking into account their experience, both Matthew Stevens and Stephen Lee will be able to do enough to make sure of their top 16 places come Monday. Beyond that Martin Gould has to be the heavy favourite to join them, although with a first-round clash against the talented Liu Chuang to come in Poland, a defeat would not be beyond the realms of possibility. Would Mark be able to take advantage however?

The Battle for the Top 32

Wide open heading into PTC5, the battle for top 32 places has become somewhat clearer now thanks to important wins for the likes of Ryan Day, Joe Perry, Tom Ford and Fergal O’Brien in Sheffield.

Defeat however for Ken Doherty means that having taken the decision not to enter Poland (judging by his comments on Twitter both he and Jimmy White have opted for exhibitions in Asia instead), his fate is now out of his own hands.

Who can deny him? The two in with a chance of doing so are Rory McLeod and Anthony Hamilton, Rory needing two wins to overtake the Irishman while Anthony Hamilton needs to make at least the final. Having played as well as he has recently, such a run from Hamilton cannot be totally discounted while Rory must beat a qualifier, followed by David Grace or a second qualifier which is more than feasible.

Tom Ford mathematically could still lose his place however it would take an opening round defeat combined with Rory making it as far as the quarter-finals and Anthony winning the event to deny him. All in all I think that Ken is going to be the one to miss out here with Rory taking his place…

Battle for the Top 48

While the top 32 race now looks a lot clearer, the battle for the top 48 is arguably more wide open than ever as good runs from the likes of Steve Davis, Dave Harold and Alan McManus have given them the advantage against the likes of Mark Joyce and Barry Pinches who suffered early exits in Sheffield.

In reality I would be surprised to see anyone above Jamie Jones brought into the mix as although they do not have a huge points advantage over those below, it is unlikely that all of these players will win multiple matches at the event.

The real battle then comes between Steve Davis, Joe Jogia, Alan McManus, Dave Harold, Barry Pinches and Mark Joyce – with four from the six likely to make it. Their respective PTC6 round one draws are:

  • Steve Davis: Qualifier
  • Joe Jogia: Sam Harvey
  • Alan McManus: Rod Lawler
  • Dave Harold: Qualifier
  • Barry Pinches: Mark King
  • Mark Joyce: Tian Pengfei

Outsiders include Tony Drago and Peter Lines, though they would require the title in order to stand any chance.

Battle for the Top 64

The battle for the final top 64 and therefore Shootout places also remains tight with crucial victories for players such as Michael White and Joe Swail helping to keep the fight alive to this final event. Defeat however for Liam Highfield has left him with a lot to do.

Again here are the opening round matches of those in the fight:

Adrian Gunnell: Craig Steadman
Liu Chuang: Martin Gould
Andy Hicks: Qualifier
Alfie Burden: Ryan Day
Liu Song: Mike Dunn (though Mike has been advised not to travel)
Michael White: Qualifier
Joe Swail: Robbie Williams
Rod Lawler: Alan McManus
Liam Highfield: Anthony Hamilton

Last chance saloon time therefore for both Joe Swail and Rod Lawler who must win at least one match if they are to hang on to their top 64 places following the PTC6 event. Hoping to fend them off however will be the likes of Michael White and Liu Song, while Alfie Burden is also in danger of being dragged into it following a poor 2011 by his standards.

For Liam Highfield meanwhile, a run to the semi-finals will probably be required if he is to steal one of the Shootout places after a poor recent run of form. Having twice reached the last 16 this season however, he is capable of running deep in these events.


Overall then a number of key battles still to be decided as the action kicks off with the amateur rounds in Poland tomorrow. Click here to view the match schedule.