September 21, 2011

PTC 5 Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:52 pm

(L to R) MJW, Footie Shirt Man and Ronnie.

The Players Tour Championship gets under way again in earnest on Friday as the professionals join the amateurs in Sheffield to fight out yet another wall to wall snooker event behind closed doors.

For some of the top boys and big names including Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan this represents the last chance they have to add to their ranking points before the first cut-off point, this being because all three of them and a whole lot more have decided against making the trip to Warsaw in Poland next week for PTC 6 which is the last event that will accumulate points.

This is less of an issue for Selby and MJW but potentially a crucial decision as far as Ronnie is concerned considering he has drawn Williams in round one and could conceivably drop out of the top 16 if he loses and other results don’t go his way. If he does drop out at the next cull he will of course, by merit at least, miss the Masters at Ally Pally in January. For Ronnie fans, this could turn out to be his biggest match for a few seasons in terms of keeping his ranking. Expect more as the season progresses.

For anyone interested in the ins and outs of the rankings as we near this crucial point of the season, the place to be as ever, is Pro Snooker Blog, where Matt has outlined the whole situation very succinctly here.

The match schedule for the PTC is on World Snooker here, but if you, like me, choose to browse through Google Chrome you are probably growing increasingly irate at the fact that the site hardly ever loads properly and cuts the screen in half so why not instead keep up to date with the matches at the excellent here.

Ok, to the event itself. We’ll stick to the usual method of selecting a likely winner to be accompanied by a proud Mustard Army of men who will be carrying the hopes of the blog. In the last two events we have found a 125/1 semi-finalist and a 66/1 runner-up so it isn’t going too badly at all as the outrights go. Let’s see if we can do the same or better, again.

The fact that Ronnie has drawn MJW does add a bit of spice to this and I’m sure that the live stream on Friday at 1pm will be swamped with fans of both wanting to see their man triumph. Now then, here’s a statistic to blow your socks off, Ronnie has won the last 10 meetings between the pair, yes, you read that right, the last 10 meetings.

(Edit: It’s been pointed out to me that I’ve gone all tabloid there, bloody snooker geeks. Williams won a couple of matches at Crondon Park a few months back in the Championship League. But this doesn’t alter the fact that Ronnie beats him in the big ones).

Mark has not beaten Ronnie in a major competitive match (see above) since March 2002, almost a decade ago. Before that time they were about level, but something has happened since that has given Ronnie a distinct psychological advantage over Mark. The fact that this match does not really mean anything to Mark who is set to be World Number 2 at the next revision whatever happens and that Ronnie may need a run in this to secure a Masters spot, to me says there will only be one result here.

You have to fancy the winner of this match having a very good run in this and therefore I have no hesitation in breaking with tradition and making Ronnie O’Sullivan my Team SB Skipper for the very first time in history. He can be backed at 11/1 with Victor Chandler to win PTC5 and I think he just might, it’s a fair price given that he has already won an event under these conditions this season when he won PTC1.

But what would a skipper be without a reliable crew? Well nothing that’s what, so therefore I’m going to look further into the draw to see who else I think could have a run in this.

In the second quarter, one name that leaps out to me is Marcus Campbell; a PTC winner last year and not in bad form so far this season, he will have benefitted from a couple of weeks off with the family before going back to the day job. He’s another that did well in PTC1 here and he has a winnable looking draw into Finals Day and to me, with one firm at least, he is overpriced.

A more familiar name who sits just below him in the first quarter of the second half is Neil Robertson. Robbo as regulars will know is a player that I think is coming back into form. Compared to some of the others he hasn’t been that busy and has had something of a summer break and I think that shows in his general demeanour and in the way he is beginning to play. Despite being in a tricky quarter including Judd and Ali, I’m prepared to give him a Mustard Jumper, in spite of the fact that it clashes with his hair a bit and may dazzle spectators.

Rory and Rod before the match.

There will be plenty that will fancy John Higgins to have a run in this looking at his draw but I still think he’s a bit rusty and in typical fashion I’d expect him to come good as we approach the BBC events. Of more appeal to me is Matthew Stevens who again despite a tough draw is capable of beating those around him.

Just a note that Matthew is in the same section as the first round clash between Rory McLeod and Rod Lawler which actually started last Tuesday in a cunning bit of scheduling by the organisers. The current score is 54-47 in Frame One with them locked in a safety battle on the green. Rory is currently snookered so Rod has gone for his evening meal.

For the last two members of Team Snookerbacker I am taking the usual outside punts. Both in the bottom section of the draw and call me foolish, gullible or just simply a love crazed fool but I’m going to let Fergal O’Brien back into the team again after his 125/1 heroics in PTC3. He is the same price again and may benefit perhaps from Stuart Bingham’s recent travels if they both win their first matches. To me this is the weakest quarter of the lot on paper and fans of young up and comers Michael White or Anthony McGill might want to have a little interest on them, but at a huge price again, strangely bigger than McGill and White in places, it has to be the in-form and vastly more experienced Ferginator for me.

My last Team SB member and someone that has actually had a Mustard Jumper before is Jamie Jones. A promising player who is no stranger to Finals Day as he has already made two this season and made the Final of the corresponding event last year losing to Ding Junhui, at the price he’s worth an interest, particularly as I can’t see Mark Selby doing much in this (he says casually).

Recommended Bets:

2 points win Ronnie O’Sullivan to win PTC5 @ 11/1 with Victor Chandlers

1 point Each Way Neil Robertson 20/1 @Skybet

0.5 points Each Way Marcus Campbell 80/1 Skybet and Fergal O’Brien 125/1 Apollobet

0.25 points Each Way Matthew Stevens 40/1 Apollobet and Jamie Jones 150/1 Apollobet

Remember the each way terms are 1/4 odds 1234 EXCEPT for Chandlers who are only paying the two finalists so my advice is take lower prices at other firms on the Each Way markets.

The best of luck with your bets.

(Top photo courtesy of World Snooker)

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