Friday sees the start of a non-stop period of 24 days, yes 24 days, of snooker which kicks off at the Event Forum in Fuerstenfeldbruck, Munich. This is the last event on the Players Tour Championship for the season and is the final chance some players have to qualify for the Grand Finals in Galway.
It’s good that the PTC’s are finishing with an event screened comprehensively on Eurosport in the country which is arguably becoming the home of the PTC’s (give them the finals I say). All tournaments in Germany seem to go down better with the players than most of the others and are always well-attended, unlike the recent Scottish event in Ravenscraig which had about as much atmosphere as the moon on a particularly unatmospheric kinda day when all the shops that sell moon dust and rock for the tourists are shut.
The qualifiers for this were played out in November which means we are down to the last 32. UK Champion Mark Selby and Masters Champion Neil Robertson are the big stars of the show but there is also the likes of Stephen Maguire, Graeme Dott and Matthew Stevens from the top 16 as well as the ultra-consistent Dark Mavis and a load of other familiar names to regular baize followers.
The plan will be for the final to involve two of the big three in Selby, Robbo and Maguire and as none of them feature in the first group of the Championship League which gets underway early on Monday in Essex, they won’t be in a huge rush to get home and can use this as some preparation for the Masters, though Robbo and Mags do start their collective CL campaign on Wednesday in Group 2.
The same cannot be said for Dark Mavis, Martin Gould or Matthew Stevens who all have to be in Crondon Park on Monday for midday matches, a late night in Germany celebrating a PTC win the night before won’t exactly be ideal preparation for an event which is worth potentially a lot more in terms of cash to them than this is, in particular for Gould who is already certain of his Finals Day place in the PTC. Mavis is currently also in there but not completely guaranteed until he wins a couple of matches while Matthew is a little way off the pace in the Order of Merit and unlikely to feature in Dublin unless he makes the final of this at the last time of asking.
Although getting from Germany back to Blighty isn’t exactly Whickers World, for me all this points to a nice little weekend away for the big boys. I’d always back Robbo over Maguire so I think and I actually hope for the fans that turn out that the final will be him against the in-form and fully rested Selby. We all know what Robbo is like when it comes to mind games and he has a score to settle here with the man who came back in York from 4-0 down to beat him 6-4, with a Masters title to defend in just over a week, he’ll want to make amends for that here you would feel and what better way than doing it in front of a full house on the telly?
If you don’t feel much like taking the shorter odds, there are plenty of attractive outright prices available on players showing huge improvements lower down the rankings, Michael White, Ian Burns and Thepchiaya Un-Nooh (though the latter two face each other first round) are three players who are more than holding their own in higher ranked company of late. Proven PTC winners Rod Lawler, Dom Dale and Ben Woollaston are also attractively priced as are the experienced old heads of Dave Harold, Alan McManus, Ken Doherty, Anthony Hamilton and various others.
EDIT: Ken Doherty has withdrawn from the event and Rod Lawler receives a bye.
There are also three Chinese players left in the last 32, perhaps one of them can make a breakthrough with a maiden win? Or perhaps a ‘knocking on the door’ player such as Jamie Burnett, Rob Milkins or Jack Lisowski might have a decent weekend? Ricky Walden is also in there and a repeat of his early season form could see him go very close.
There is even a Snookerbacker Classic 2013 finalist in there in the shape of Kyren Wilson, he faces Selby first up and he’s the complete outsider to win the whole thing at 300/1. The bloody cheek of it.
But for me, it has to be Robertson as a main bet, with a few bits and bobs on a few others in case of some shock results, but these German events tend to bring out the best in the best and for me Robbo is the best player left in this now. I think this might actually be quite a decent tournament and worth a watch.
Recommended Bets: 3 points on Robertson at 9/2. 1 point on Walden at 20/1. 0.5 point each way on Burnett at 33/1. 0.5 point on Lisowski at 25/1. 0.25 point each way on Dale at 40/1. 0.25 point each way on Un-Nooh and Burns, both at 66/1. All prices with Apollobet.
You can view all Apollobet’s outright and match betting for this event here. They are currently going 16/1 bar three in a 32 player event.
Friday January 4
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 1-4 Ian Burns
Jimmy Robertson 3-4 Dave Harold
Ricky Walden 1-4 Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Liang Wenbo 4-2 Justin Astley
Graeme Dott 4-2 Aditya Mehta
Tian Pengfei 4-0 Jamie Burnett
Matthew Stevens 0-4 Ben Woollaston
Dominic Dale 2-4 Liam Highfield
Stephen Maguire 2-4 Anthony Hamilton
Martin Gould 4-3 Rob Milkins
Neil Robertson 3-4 Kurt Maflin
Dark Mavis v Liu Chuang
Saturday January 5
Jack Lisowski v Alan McManus
Rod Lawler W/O Ken Doherty
Mark Selby v Kyren Wilson
Mark King v Michael Wasley
Followed by later rounds to Sunday’s Final