Does he know it’s Christmastime at all??? Well apparently not, as Barry ‘Ebeneezer’ Hearn is even making the players and officials work for their living over what must surely be a time when they’d rather be sitting wrapping presents and drinking mulled wine than slogging it out in yet another qualifying event on the baize, but there we have it, the congested calendar continues this week with the qualifiers for the World Open starting on Tuesday.
This was of course the event made famous last year by Tiddles, the dead Chinese cat much loved by the eventual winner Mark Allen who it’s fair to say wasn’t too taken with Hainan Island where this event will return in February, much to the defending champion’s delight I’m sure.
The path that all qualifiers must take can be seen here on the World Snooker PDF, a thing of great beauty which is under increasing threat as the governing body staff continue to attend IT training courses to broaden their skills base.
Amongst those in action on day 1 of 4 is SB Classic Champ Martin O’Donnell who again faces Norwegian Cockney Kurt Maflin following the pair’s meeting in PTC Finals Day which the MO’D won on the black in a decider. Other familiar names that will be looking to progress this week include India’s pairing Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani, the usual early starting Thai trio of Passakorn, Thanawat and Dechawat and the Chinese foursome of Tian Pengfei, Chen Zhe, Li Yan and Zhang Anda who will be hoping to make it all the way to one of their home events.
The evening session sees the return of Tony Drago, who was last seen slapping himself violently around the head in the last qualifying event. Let’s hope he’s recovered from his self-inflicted injuries in time to face Sam Baird.
Apollobet have match prices for tomorrow here.
Michael Wasley v Michael Leslie
Aditya Mehta v Scott Donaldson – STREAMED
Liam Highfield v Daniel Wells
Robbie Williams v David Grace
Tian Pengfei v Passakorn Suwannawat – STREAMED
Chen Zhe v Gareth Allen (a)
Michael Wasley has settled into the professional ranks a little better than his opponent Leslie who has lost his last 17 matches and only has a win against an amateur player to his name since turning pro, Wasley goes into that one as the favourite and only a total reversal of recent fortunes will see anything other than a win for the Gloucester man there. Scott Donaldson has to go back 5 months to his last victory over a professional and the improving Aditya Mehta is again a rightful hot favourite for that one. After a miserable run of results Daniel Wells is beginning to look a little more at home, he faces Liam Highfield who wins more often than the Welshman but at odds against I’d be prepared to side with Wells in that one. David Grace usually does the opposite of what I expect him to do and his match against Robbie Williams, another that has taken well to the pro-game is one to avoid from a betting point of view as it’s really all about who performs on the day. Passakorn Suwannawat is on a run the same as Leslie, 16 straight defeats and he faces Tian Pengfei, who though notoriously unreliable should add to his misery, Pengfei wins more than he loses at this level and the match should be quite one-sided, but like I say he is notoriously unreliable for whatever reason. Chen Zhe has been beating the likes of Mehta, Dave Harold and Dave Gilbert of late and faces Gaz Allen who qualifies for this again by virtue of his Q-School performance last season, it’s a big ask for Gaz and he is capable, but something tells me this will be a decent morning for the Chinese players.
Selections: Wasley, Mehta, Wells, Grace, Pengfei, Zhe.
Recommended Morning Bet: 4×1 point singles and a 1 point acca on Wasley, Mehta, Pengfei and Zhe. The acca pays 4.69 at Apollobet.
Li Yan v Duane Jones (a)
Kurt Maflin v Martin O’Donnell – STREAMED
Craig Steadman v Justin Astley (a) – STREAMED
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Mohamed Khairy
Paul Davison v Sean O’Sullivan
The first thing to say about this session is that Mohamed Khairy probably won’t show up, so I will ignore that match. Welshman Duane Jones is another amateur like Allen who lines up by virtue of his Q-School frame success rate and he faces Li Yan, Yan starts a hot favourite for that but he’s on a losing run and lost to amateur Gary Wilson at the weekend, Jones is a decent player and might be worth a punt at attractive odds. Maflin and The MO’D play again after their tussle in Scotland and despite the fact that the MO’D won the last encounter, Apollobet make Maflin clear favourite. Martin will be the first to admit that Maflin is the heavier scorer of the two but if he doesn’t get it all his own way he can make heavy weather of it, if this goes tactical I’d fancy Martin to do the job as he’s growing in confidence now his season is beginning to take off. Justin Astley will have his mind set firmly on the next PTC in Munich where he remains in the hunt for a main tour spot next season, he faces Craig Steadman in a match that for me is another one that could go either way, there may be a few deciders this afternoon I reckon. Finally, Paul Davison faces Sean O’Sullivan. Sean is another that has been slow to get going in this his maiden season on the tour but a confidence boosting win over Jack Lisowski in Scotland should help him a little, for me however Davison is one of the worst draws at this stage, his experience more often than not sees him through the early round and he’ll probably do it again here.
Selections: Jones, O’Donnell, Steadman, (Poomjaeng), Davison.
Recommended Afternoon Bet: 4x1point singles and a 1 point acca (all plus 2.5 frames) Jones, O’Donnell, Astley and O’Sullivan. The acca pays 5.07 with Apollobet.
Tony Drago v Sam Baird
Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon v Joel Walker – STREAMED
Zhang Anda v Michael Wild (a)
Ian Burns v Jamie O’Neill
Pankaj Advani v Simon Bedford – STREAMED
Sam Baird has gone off the boil a bit of late after a fine period last season which started at round about this time of the year. He faces Drago who I can never call, but if you believe that players tend to play best at certain times of the year habitually, this is the time to start backing Sam as it was this event last year that triggered a decent run of form. Thanawat is posting some very good results recently and he is a strong favourite to beat Joel Walker, I think he probably will but Walker is a player I have my eye on for next season, he very rarely gets hammered even by top players and is one that I think might just have a run in something when you least expect it. Michael Wild will be buoyed by his successful PTC campaign that has seen him land a professional card for next season, but he plays here as an amateur against Zhang Anda, Anda beat Wild 4-0 in their only meeting to date but Wild has that confidence behind him now, I’d marginally favour the Chinese player there. Ian Burns is a very solid player at this level with a game to match, his results of late have seen him shoot up the rankings and grab the attention, a rock solid cue-action and level headed shot selection make him very tough to beat in these early rounds, he’d be the bet of the night for me here. Finally, the Pune Piston Pankaj Advani faces the only player to have beaten the World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in a professional tournament this season Simon Bedford, Pankaj seems to be enjoying the tour and his results speak for themselves, there is not a lot to suggest that he won’t progress in this one.
Selections: Baird, Thanawat, Anda, Burns, Advani.
Recommended Evening Bet: 2 point treble on Thanawat, Burns and Advani pays almost 2/1 at Apollobet.
Your Daily Bet: 2 point acca on Chen Zhe, Wasley, Davison, Thanawat and Burns pays over 5/1 at Apollobet.