July 28, 2010

PTC Event 3: The World Champion enters the fray

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:18 am

It's Grim Up North: The PTC set up at the Academy is a far cry from the Crucible..

The Players Tour Championship Event Three gets under way on Friday week, once again staged in Sheffield at the Academy and behind closed doors.

This event is notable for the addition of three new faces, the World Champion Neil Robertson, the legend that is Steve Davis and Liang Wenbo who also enters for the first time and is now presumably back in the UK and ready to begin his season, albeit a little later than most of the others. He must have read the updated ranking list.

The notable absentees remain Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and Mark Allen, with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Marco Fu and Ali Carter also sitting this one out having each featured in at least one of the two events so far.

We’ve enjoyed some success from the first two events selecting the two winners in Mark Williams (7/1) and Mark Selby (9/1) which I hope at least a few of you followed in on to take some money from the only bookie brave enough to price this up; Skybet.

I’m pleased to say that this time the other reliable snooker firm Sportingbet have taken up the challenge, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. In terms of the bets I’ll flag up, I’ll go with the best odds I can find at the moment and update if any better offers come along closer to the event as Skybet are yet to price it up.

As usual I will be selecting what I think is a likely winner and a Team Snookerbacker which might be worth an each way investment at the terms of 1/4 of the odds on a semi final place.

I’ve had a good look at the draw despite the fact that it is currently impossible to print off from the World Snooker website as they have changed the format from the first two events (try it and see how it prints out, I have contacted them and to be fair they responded very quickly). It’s fair to say that this one is a little trickier looking than the first two. The ‘method’ I have used so far, if you can call it that, is to select a top player with the best draw to finals day and while Mark Selby is obviously on fire at the moment his draw this time to get to Sunday may include Graeme Dott and Judd Trump, so again, I’m not going to go with the favourite.

'Back of the Net!': Can Shaun find his form?

Instead, as a possible winner I’m going to go with someone who is yet to shine in these events but looks on paper to have a very realistic chance of making Sunday for the first time in Shaun Murphy (12/1 Sportingbet).

Smurf surprisingly lost to Mitchell Mann in the first event not long after winning the Wuxi Classic in China after a Lazarus-like comeback against Ding. He might meet Mann again in Round Two here, where I’d expect him to get revenge and I think once he’s at the finals day he’ll come into the form that we all know he is capable of. Of the top players, he has the best draw and there was no disgrace in Event 2 losing to a brilliant Selby.

We then come to Team Snookerbacker for Event 3 and I have to say my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw that Anthony McGill was 400/1 at Sportingbet. UPDATE: Gone now I’m afraid but still 200/1 for anyone wanting to have a go, hopefully enough of us got on!

The young Scot whitewashed Stephen Maguire on finals day in Event 2 and then narrowly lost a quarter final to Gerard Greene 4-3, just by virtue of the price he has to be backed each way. He is a promising prospect and has been tipped up as a future face by many people ‘in the know’, get on while you can to small stakes ‘just in case’. I’d be surprised if he won it but 100/1 on a semi-final appearance is too good to miss and not beyond the realms of possibility. He currently stands in 9th place on the Order of Merit which can be viewed here.

My other four team members are not such silly prices, though I was tempted to add number three seed Barry Pinches at 100/1 having seen him make the final last time losing very narrowly to Selby, but this time he’ll probably have to beat Robbo so I’ve left him alone.

Hawkins: Good Draw.

So my other team members are Joe Perry (33/1 Sportingbet), Jamie Cope (22/1 Sportingbet), Barry Hawkins (50/1 Sportingbet) and Ricky Walden (40/1 Sportingbet).

Perry is showing some glimpses of form and is a player that will benefit from playing more this season. Jamie Cope enjoys this format, should be in confident mood and should not struggle too much to reach Sunday if he’s playing anywhere near his best.

Barry Hawkins, if he can get over Matthew Stevens has a plum draw potentially all the way to the Quarter Finals. Walden, runner up in the six reds to Selby will likely have a winnable path through to a possible meeting with Maguire on Sunday, Ricky, a ranking event winner is a confidence player and when his tail’s up he’s top eight standard.

I’ll be updating at regular intervals on here throughout the three day snookerfest, Global Snooker I’m sure will be their usual reliable selves in keeping us baize addicts posted on the finer detail, but I’m afraid World Snooker don’t yet seem to be pulling their weight with regard to these events and as yet, the much heralded new scoreboard is yet to materialise.

Good luck if you are having a go.

In other news, the draw for the first ‘full’ ranking event the Shanghai Masters has now been made and Matt at Pro Snooker Blog has done his usual thorough job in marking it up here.

Finally a big thank you to Alun over at Betfair who has unearthed some rare footage of myself and Mrs Snookerbacker, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the height of domestic bliss. It can be viewed here.

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