August 24, 2011

PTC4 Paul Hunter Classic Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:51 pm

It's nice of them to wear the SB vest I supplied. Unfortunately, the printer had a stutter.

Another week and another PTC event, this time it’s from Germany which of course is always welcome at any time as the tradition of the blog is to celebrate this fact with gratuitous, unapologetic pictures of German Girls. One regular last year even suggested starting a petition to ship the World Championships over there such was his love of the headline beauties.

Anyway, this one of course honours the late, great Paul Hunter who I’m sure himself would have enjoyed the pictures being something of a pin-up boy of the baize in his all too brief time on the planet. He is and continues to be very sadly missed indeed by anyone that knew him and also by his many fans all over the world.

It also celebrates the first anniversary of Judd Trump winning this event in what was to mark the beginning of his meteoric rise to fame last season. A momentous occasion of course which saw him carry the coveted Team Snookerbacker Mustard Skipper’s Jumper to the winners podium at odds of 33/1. I remember the day well, though not a great deal about the day after, such were the celebrations in SB Mansions.

The poor old qualifiers from the amateur circuit do battle tomorrow of course and the likes of The Assassin, The MO’D Martin O’Donnell and Chester’s finest Gareth Allen are amongst those in action. They fight it out amongst themselves for the right to join the professionals in the Last 128 that starts on Friday.

These previews don’t mean to dismiss the chances of the amateur players but in a way they reflect the unenviable path they tread as they try and chase what to me seem largely unobtainable professional places on the tour via this route. Matt from Pro Snooker Blog sent me his explanation of the process the other day and to me it seems a bit of a wild goose chase. With the exception of National Championships, I believe the best chance amateurs stand of making professional is at the Q-School and (advanced self-promotion warning) if they can get to enter that for nothing all the better, the winner and runner-up of the Snookerbacker Classic will have just that luxury, with a shedload of match practice in top conditions under their belt. Now that’s what I call value for money.

Anyway back to the matter in hand and at time of writing only Sportingbet have outright prices up though Victor Chandlers have priced up the matches and I have to say the original prices made for some interesting reading for me. When I saw Kurt Maflin and James Wattana both at 11/10 to beat Jimmy White and Peter Ebdon respectively I had to have a small plunge. They are both now more realistic prices of 5/6 and it’s fair to say I’d be happy if they both won from a financial perspective.

So to the preview and as ever I will segment the draw into, ermm segments, plumping for a Team Skipper and a faithful supporting cast. Thankfully I will be able to see some of this as a Bank Holday weekend approaches in the UK and Mrs SB is feeling very sorry for me as I’ve been so busy and missed most of the event last week. I’ve promised that on Bank Holiday Monday we will pack up a picnic and a flask of tea and disappear off walking for the day with the Whippet. This means that I’ll be able to snooker away to my heart’s content this weekend.

Up at the top Mark Williams again has a highly winnable section but he has failed to take advantage of the draws he has had so far so I’m going to trust he will do so again, despite his liking for tournaments overseas where he always seems to perform. His German Masters win last season was the latest in a long line of tournament wins for him away from the UK and he starts favourite for the event here.

But I am not giving up on Jack Lisowski (100/1) despite his incredible final frame loss to Jamie Cope last week. Once he gets on a roll he’ll be hard to stop and while he’s still a three figure price I’m happy to keep faith with him. He wears the Team SB colours again and I doubt this will be for the last time.

The next section of the draw may see Ali and Robbo fight it out again after a grand old tussle last week. But it’s the section underneath this that sees the second member of the Mustard Army in Mark Davis (66/1) Mavis is a solid performer and is already in the second round given that he has drawn the withdrawn Bjorn Haneveer, so two matches to Finals Day against players ranked either below or there or thereabouts with him in the rankings is enough to gain him a team place.

I agonised over the next section and after careful consideration I have decided to plump for Shaun Murphy (12/1) as this week’s Team Snookerbacker Skipper. Shaun is another good traveller and whilst his results in these events so far don’t exactly inspire confidence he is bound to come alive at some point. He is likely to have a bye into the Last 64 too as he faces the lesser-spotted Lucky Vatnani first and may have a match against the man he beat in the Grand Final of this event Martin Gould to qualify to Sunday.

A Proud Skipper

We then come to the bottom half of the draw and only a fool would ignore Judd here. But I’ve been called a lot worse than that so that is precisely what I am going to do and instead I’m jumping to the next set of eight matches and selecting the in-form Stephen Lee (40/1) to wear the extra-large cashmere this weekend. Hats were well and truly off when Anthony McGill beat Lee last weekend when it looked to be set for a Lee/Dott final, Lee was looking very solid indeed and again has a highly winnable path to Finals Day again here.

It’s the usual ‘punt’ next and this week it’s on Tom Ford (125/1). Tom won a PTC event last season of course and may face the ultra-consistent Graeme Dott in the second round, but Dotty for me isn’t a player that always revels in overseas events and if Tom can beat him I reckon he should make Finals Day, by which time that price will look massive each-way value with a winnable last 16 match ahead.

The final name I am going to plump for is fairly predictable, it being the World Champion John Higgins (11/1). He is definitely showing signs of coming back to form and when he does, god help the rest of them. A Higgins/Murphy final would be a speculative punt for me if any bookies would like to price this up as a Snookerbacker Special. Given the size of the field I’d want at least 66/1? Come on, what are you scared of??

Recommended Bets (all at Sportingbet prices at time of writing):

1 point win Shaun Murphy 12/1

1 point win John Higgins 11/1

0.5 points each way on Stephen Lee 40/1 

0.25points each way on Ford 125/1, Lisowski 100/1 and Mark Davis 66/1

Good Luck if you are having a bet.

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