PTC Grand Finals 2013: Down To 16

Three long days down (almost), in Galway and Joe Perry has now completed the last 16 line-up, with a 4-2 victory against the higher-ranked Stuart Bingham this evening. Indeed there have been a few surprising results already, with the likes of John Higgins, Mark Selby and Judd Trump amongst those to crash out of the tournament at the first hurdle…

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With the world number one ranking up for grabs ahead of the final mid-season seedings revision heading into the World Championship, both Judd Trump and Mark Selby were hoping to add more points to their respective tallies this week, only to exit the tournament at the last 32 stage.

For Mark, his defeat was to come at the hands of Trump’s former flatmate Jack Lisowski, who defied his world ranking of number 42 to record his third victory in four meetings against the reigning UK and Masters champion. Strangely, all of those wins have been in deciding frames at PTC events and his reward for this latest success is a clash against another Leicester man in the shape of Tom Ford, who defeated Martin Gould on the opening day.

With Selby out of the tournament, Judd Trump soon followed him, hitting a top break of just 44 in losing to Alfie Burden yesterday evening. Take nothing away from Alfie however, he looked the more confident of the two and despite losing a nervy sixth frame, having missed chances to win the match on the final pink, he responded in the best possible fashion, by finishing off with a century break in the decider to claim the scalp of the world number one.

Next up for Alfie is a match against China’s Xiao Guodong, after last season’s quarter-finalist ran out a 4-1 winner against 2006 world champion Graeme Dott yesterday.

As well as Dott, there were early exits for fellow Scots John Higgins and Stephen Maguire, the latter falling victim to a trademark fightback from Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail, who recovered from 3-0 down to win in a decider. Higgins meanwhile lost out to Ali Carter, who overcame his recent difficulties with his ongoing Crohn’s disease to record a fine win against a player who has tended to have the better of him in the past.

There was however some joy for the Scots, as Anthony McGill recorded a 4-2 victory against Robert Milkins today to book his place in the last 16. He will next meet the man who defeated him in the recent Ravenscraig ET final Ding Junhui, who saw off Andrew Higginson in a decider yesterday.

Generally speaking, I have not been able to catch as much of the tournament as I would like this week, but one thing that has become evident is that the format needs to be looked at again before next year’s tournament, with the roll-on, roll-off system leading to some particularly late starts and even later finishes. Indeed at the time of writing, Jack Lisowski leads Tom Ford 3-2 at 11:20pm, with Mark Allen and Joe Swail still to follow this evening.

Still, the action continues and with a top prize of £100,000 on offer to this week’s winner, the tension is only going to increase from here…