It’s Day Three in York and today we revert to the format for the rest of the event up to the final with two sessions each day, today seeing the conclusion of the last 32 after a day of shocks yesterday with the two most hyped players in the tournament both crashing out.
Day 2 started with Shaun Murphy’s hair being admired by John Virgo, JV will be delighted that Shaun’s hair will be making a further appearance at the venue as he came through against Mill Hopkins. On the other table Dark Mavis, who still hasn’t succumbed to the inevitable fact that he’ll have to change his nickname sooner or later beat Cao Yupeng, who wasn’t at the races at all.
In the afternoon Judd Trump seemed to be coasting to victory but completely took his eye off the ball and allowed Mark Joyce back into it. Joyce held himself together well to pip Judd in a decider in a match that in truth, Judd should have put to bed. The defending champion and World Number 1 won’t be grabbing any more headlines this week.
On the other table Ali Carter and Steve Davis had a bit of a dogfight but in truth there was only ever really going to be one winner once Ali had established an early lead. It’s Joyce rather than the rematch with Judd next for The Captain.
In the evening session, it was Mark Allen’s turn to be turned over. His defeat to Marco Fu was unexpected and Allen did look like a player with other things on his mind, but Fu was superb and played extremely well and Allen for his part acknowledged this. He then took to Twitter to retweet the entire population of Northern Ireland and a few others too. A reaction to the frankly tedious media focus on things that happened months ago as some try their very best to get him banned for three months and have only Judd left to write about for the Masters.
In the other match Stuart Bingham’s very good form of late continued and he came through against Jack Lisowski. It’s odd that Stuart is a proven winner now yet not a lot of people are giving him a chance in this. He has the game and he has the bottle, so he could be a real dark horse this week.
While my cold is festering on and seriously jeopardizing my trip to York tomorrow I sat with mugs of tea and inadvertantly walked straight into a bit of a spat on Twitter yesterday surrounding the Mark Allen ‘story’ that’s doing the rounds again about him facing a three month ban for standing by, rather than repeating comments he made relating to certain Chinese players at the Crucible. A ban which Allen himself says he doesn’t expect to materialise having had a chat with Jason Ferguson, let’s hope not.
As someone who has snooker’s best interests at heart and who knows a fair bit about the way the media works (more than some people might know or like to give me credit for, I do have a life away from snooker too, well I used to have one anyway), I am firmly of the opinion that the angle taken with Allen to get this story was flawed. He shouldn’t have said what he said in the first place of course and he knows that but on the other hand it doesn’t have to be raked up time and again in the desperate scramble to get a story by journalists who seem to settle for the easiest target too often.
Allen isn’t ‘outspoken’, he just states his opinion and that should be applauded and not punished, unless of course he is implicating other people in what he is saying which in this case he obviously was and he has been punished for it. But why bring it up again? Why not create new stories based on what’s actually happening in York? Why don’t snooker journalists actually do some snooker journalism now and again? Or shall we just get everyone banned, pack up and go home?
There is of course a place for off-the-table chatter and building the characters of the sport and I’d like to think that this blog contributes to that. But why when it hits the papers is it almost always negative? That has to be counter-productive to any sport. The reason the hype worked in the 1980′s in the UK is because it was fresh, new, largely positive or tongue-in-cheek news and it wasn’t obvious that players were being bigged up, we just thought they were really like that and of course some of them were.
By comparison today’s efforts to make players into someone they are not are so transparently obvious to anyone with half a brain that it’s all left looking a bit desperate. Today’s audience aren’t as gullible as they used to be and can tell when something is being blown out of all proportion, which in Allen’s case it is. You only have to look at the opinions on Twitter to see that these kind of stories aren’t really ticking the boxes.
Anyway, enough of the playground stuff which is what it is in reality, a sense of proportion and perspective is sometimes needed outside of the journalistic bubble. It is after all, as the old saying goes, only a game.
Today’s action sees Robbo take to the stage and the exits so far of Ding, Judd and Allen will have done nothing to dent the Aussie’s confidence that he can win this week. There’s the all Welsh clash between Stevens and Dale on Table Two and the evening sees the all bald clash between MJW and King which I think could be a cracker. Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel also takes to the stage to face Ricky Walden, it will be interesting to see how the youngster copes with his second visit to the big arena following his debut at the Crucible in April.
Despite the shocks so far, wins for Robbo and Walden will see us come out of the first round in front which I’d guess not a lot of punters will, a win for King on top would see us emerge from the carnage with a tidy profit even taking the outright losses on board.
Neil Robertson v Tom Ford
Matthew Stevens v Dominic Dale
Mark Williams v Mark King
Ricky Walden v Luca Brecel
Recommended Outright Bet: 1 point on Ali Carter at 20/1 with Bet 365.
(Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, her Facebook gallery can be found here)