Gdynia Open – ET2 Down To 32

Somewhat under the radar, the last couple of days has seen the early rounds of ET2, also known as the Gdynia Open, take place at the EIS in Sheffield to decide the 32 players who will compete at the venue. Click below for a round-up of the main stories and a discussion as to the suitability of the format employed at this event.

Also, tomorrow sees the start of the International Championship qualifiers, click here to view the drawsheet.

  • Click here to view the results at snookerorg

World number one Mark Selby declared recently on Twitter that he is ‘really struggling’ at the moment, but comfortable victories against Mitchell Mann and Australia’s Ben Judge saw him safely through to the venue stage of this event in Poland.

Not so fortunate however was second ranked Judd Trump, who after a 4-1 win against James Cahill, fell at the last 64 stage to Rory McLeod, a 4-0 winner. With birthday celebrations planned for tonight in Manchester, I don’t imagine that Judd’s spirits will be unduly dampened, but take nothing away from Rory who will now meet Ireland’s Ken Doherty in Poland after the former world champion saw off Michael Leslie and Chris Norbury today.

Trump aside, the majority of the other established names have been able to make it safely through the first two rounds, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui and Stephen Lee among those through to Poland, though Robertson was required to win the last two frames against Yu Delu on Friday to come through 4-3.

Exiting the tournament however were Matthew Stevens and Mark Allen, Stevens falling victim to two-time PTC event winner Tom Ford in the opening round, while Allen was ousted by China’s Liang Wenbo.

From the top professionals to those at the other end of the scale, the sole amateur to make it through to the venue is Kyren Wilson, who saw off Jamie Gibson, Scott Donaldson and Joe Swail to do so. A mention though for Joe who having been relegated from the tour at the end of last season, now appears to be in a far better place emotionally and looking to enjoying himself again, recorded an excellent 4-1 win against Ryan Day before losing to Kyren.

Elsewhere, there was a remarkable victory for Andy Hicks against David Gilbert, during which Hicks won a series of close frames, including the decider with a clearance of 62 to snatch it by a single point. Normally we would not know how the match unfolded, but it has come to my attention this week that new website Love Snooker not only has a version of the World Snooker livescores console, but also carries a version which makes public individual frame scores such as here. Aside from making it easier for bloggers like me to prepare a reports, for me frames scores are something that should be made public anyway, so fair play for those behind the site for making this possible.

One man who I was pleased to see make it through to Poland was Welshman Jamie Jones, who after a stuttering start to the season, got his campaign up and running with victories against Barry Hawkins and Steve Davis. Jimmy White too was able to qualify, while form men such as Martin Gould, Stephen Maguire and Mark Davis also booked their places at the venue.

To close, I started a debate on Twitter tonight as to the actual suitability of a format whereby the early qualifying rounds for a European PTC are played in Sheffield, before the latter stages are played at the actual venue, in this case in Poland. To my slight surprise, the reaction was near unanimously negative, due to the fact that the perceived aim of the European Tour events is to help grow expand the game in Europe, but by effectively removing the chance for Polish amateurs to compete in the event, this object is to some extent defeated. It was mentioned to me on Twitter this evening that there were 34 Polish players involved in the event last season, compared to just two this weekend.

It is an interesting debate, on the one hand that argument appears to make sense, but on the other I wonder in reality how much the involvement of local amateur players does add to these tournaments. Simply put, I don’t know, and there are others who have attended such events who will be far more qualified to judge than me and I would be interested to hear your views.

As a TV spectacle, I must confess that I did enjoy the PTC event staged in Munich under a similar format last season, whereby the initial rounds were played in Sheffield and at the venue, every match was held on an arena table before the TV cameras. The circumstances this time though are a little different and the UK-based pre-qualifiers do not come without cost.

Next stop, the qualifiers for the International Championship which begin tomorrow at the EIS, click here to view the drawsheet.