Snookerbacker

December 15, 2015

German Masters Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:41 pm

The final event of the calendar year sees 128 players heading to the cosmopolitan mecca of Wigan for the two qualifying rounds of the German Masters, the rest of which will take place in the contrasting surroundings of Berlin on the other side of new year.

Wigan

Wigan is a place that you only really go to if you have to. I used to live not far from there as it happens and it’s basically a town full of buffed up blokes who wear hoop earrings and clothes from the 1980’s, they co-exist alongside girls who tart themselves up in semi-permanent make-up at the weekend to go out on the town and nab one of these strange looking males. There are other people who have presumably been through this tribal ritual and lived to tell the tale who live there too and spend every day eating pies.

Pies are something which people from Wigan hold in some kind of sacred mystical awe and are probably, if you count a pier that isn’t really a pier, what the town is most famous for. Indeed, every year, the world’s best pie eaters descend on Harry’s Bar in Wigan to see who indeed is the best pie eater in the world in the creatively titled World Pie Eating Championship, interestingly this is one of the few sporting pies that Bazza hasn’t managed to get his fingers in.

Yet. Give him time, it’s just his bag in fairness.

Contrast this with the host city of this event when it reaches Germany. Berlin has a long tradition of art, music and architecture and has been the inspiration behind numerous global artistic and cultural movements. David Bowie made arguably his best music while he lived there, the fall of the Berlin Wall brought about the reunification of a nation after the dark years of the cold war and became a symbol of the hand of friendship being extended between the east and the west. Berlin’s architecture is as fine as you will see anywhere in the world. Just ignore the Hitler bits and you have a city of true global cultural significance and sausages, but not many pies.

This cultural heritage associated with the host city makes it all the more disappointing for an old sage like me that today it’s been announced that it’s being sponsored by yet another ‘gaming’ firm, this time one based in Asia. Is that a one trick pony I see before me? It’s definitely not a thoroughbred that’s for sure.

The venue for the main event, the Tempodrom, is also probably the finest snooker has to offer and yes, in that I do include The Crucible. Contrast this with the venue for this qualifying round, the Robin Park Sports Centre and again you find that this is very much a chalk and cheese (pie) kind of tournament if you look at it as a whole pie shaped type object. It’s almost like the losers in Wigan are shown a picture of Berlin in a Bullseye ‘look at what you could have won’ kind of way when they used to wheel out a new speedboat to dejected losing contestants who’d not scored 101 with 6 darts. But like most things in life, you need to wade through the shit to get to the sugar and that’s just what 32 players will have done at the end of this.

Anyway, as ever to my shame I have digressed on what is supposed to be a snooker blog. World Snooker have clearly got a new graphics person on the books and below is a shamelessly stolen set of images which depict each quarter being played with the Tempodrom arena rather than Robin Park wisely chosen as a backdrop, though I have had to make a slight correction to the top slide, I’m sure you won’t notice though.

As ever, rather than playing them in the order the matches were drawn, they have mixed up the schedule and you can view the match times here. I’ve taken a look at the matches below, each of them are the best of 9 frames, the winners of these matches will be one step nearer to boarding the plane to Berlin and the first round losers will be leaving potless, without so much as their BFH (Bullseye fans will not need that bit explaining).

You will be able to watch these at the bookies sites or World Snooker’s streaming channel if you are subscribed. I’ve put some overarching bets below but will probably stick daily ones up too.

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QUARTER ONE

Each of these quarters have matches to get your teeth into, much like the pies (I’ll stop now) and if you go by the reasoning that the top boys won’t want to miss their annual jolly to Berlin then you’d have to automatically fancy Selby, Maguire, Ding and Hawkins as your bankers in this quarter, but is it that simple? Selby should overcome Kuldesh Johal, a talented if rather careless amateur and post office manager from Leeds whilst Hawkins, though out of form could have had a more difficult opener to limber up. Maguire does have a tough match however and the fact that he has now dropped out of the top 16 for the first time in years arguably adds pressure, whilst Ding faces the dangerous Gareth Allen and any repeat of his recent petulance may see him dumped in Wigan too, a venue you’d assume he’ll think is crap. On the next rung down the ladder I’d fancy McManus to beat the fading James Wattana and Dennis Taylor’s new hot prospect, the boy Yolonge, should take care of fellow countryman Zhang Yong. Other names you would normally expect to see through are Higginson, Dott, Doherty and Pengfei but these are far from sure things and I feel the others might produce a few close encounters. I’d take David Morris to edge out Sam Baird and Un-Nooh to beat Hallworth, Michael White will be looking to carry his Gibraltar form over against Sandi Lam and Mike Dunn will be hoping to use his experience to overcome Syd Wilson. I’d normally give Zak Surety a chance against Jamie Burnett but the latter was scoring heavily in the UK and might have a bit too much in the tank. The other one that I think could be close is Andy Hicks against Dom Dale, Hicks was so unlucky not to beat Hawkins in the UK and assuming he has got over the disappointment of that, a performance of a similar standard will mean Dale will have to be on the top of his game to beat him, something he sometimes struggles to maintain for any great length of time.

EDIT: Selby and Dott both have a walkover.

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QUARTER TWO

Your ‘bankers’ following the reasoning above in this quarter you’d say are Trump, Carter, MJW and Murphy, though Murphy in particular faces a potentially tough tie against Michael Wasley. Wazza is low on confidence of late but proclaimed himself happy with a recent performance in the UK despite losing a decider to Peter Ebdon, so you never know when his fortunes might turn as this often happens when you least expect it. There is no reason to believe that David Grace can’t continue his winning form and I’d say him, Oli Lines, Jimmy Robertson, Dechawat Poomjaeng, Martin Gould, Li Hang and Xiao Guodong would all expect to come through barring form turnarounds. More competitive ties involve Alfie Burden and Ricky Walden, Alfie is showing signs of returning to form against a mostly lacklustre Walden who despite a better showing in Gibraltar seems low on confidence lately, Robin Hull and Paul Davison for me has decider written all over it which makes the latter value and Rob Milkins isn’t the certainty he would have been for his match against Zhang a year ago. Anyone betting on Greene v Bond should probably be sectioned as they are two of the most unpredictable players out there these days and that’s a real gun to head job. This leaves Ben Woollaston against amateur Sam Craigie, Sam is a decent player and has nothing to lose here so Ben will have to be on form from the off, again like Hicks against Dale, this looks like a potential banana skin for a pro against a carefree very capable amateur who is making up the numbers.

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QUARTER THREE

Again, following established logic your players for the banker list here are Neil Robertson, whose performance in the UK is the best I have seen from any player other than O’Sullivan in many years, Gibraltar champion Marco Fu, Mark Allen and the returning Rocket himself who takes on Hamza Akbar. The next step down the predicted winners for me would see wins for Jamie Jones, Luca Brecel, Kurt Maflin, Dark Mavis, Mark King and Anthony McGill. Dave Gilbert’s recent form would suggest that he’d be a worthy favourite over Martin O’Donnell, but Gilbert can be extremely unpredictable when he is a firm favourite to win and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turned over there now he’s had his good spell, we’ve seen that all too often before with him. I’d favour Xintong to overcome Yupeng but I won’t be betting on that one, similarly I’d marginally favour Liam Highfield to beat Yu Delu but it’s not a match that appeals from a betting point of view. Mark Joyce is a player I seem to rate higher than most people, possibly because he’s won me quite a few quid with this strategy in the past and I’d take his experience to tell over Taubs. The newly labelled Robbie ‘Boring’ Williams will be looking to use his extensive armoury to send Noppon home and I’d expect him to do just that, this leaves the fading force that is Jamie Cope, he faces a very tough opener against Stuart Carrington and on current form you have to say that Jamie is up against it there. 

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QUARTER FOUR

Roll up, roll up. Your ‘bankers’ roll up here should be concluded with John Higgins, Kyren Wilson and ermmm, none of the others as this section for me sees more matches that are a little more in the balance than any of the other quarters. Possibly you could argue that only mild upsets will stop Holt, Perry, Lisowski, Stevens, Day, Swail, Wenbo, Ebdon, Hamilton and World Champion Bingham from progressing but my guess is that if you did a roll up on those 10, it won’t be just the one that lets you down (go on try it and see, I know I probably will). The matches I have left out are too close to call really but that’s never stopped me before from having my say. I’ll take Aditya Mehta to beat Ian Burns, Adi is another player who has been talking about his lack of confidence lately but there are small signs he is getting that back and his temperament has always been a strength of his, Rod Lawler has nice memories of Berlin and he’ll be hoping to edge out Craig Steadman for a return visit and I’ll just side with the Liverpool man there. I’d give Calabrese a decent chance against Rory and this leaves Fergal O’Brien against Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, Fergal ploughs on regardless these days and still wins matches that you expect him to lose but it might be worth taking a punt on his opponent there in the hope that if he qualifies for Berlin, they let him in.

RECOMMENDED BETS

‘Banker Roll Up’: 3 points on these pays bang on 9/4 – Selby, Hawkins, Trump, Carter, MJW, Murphy, N.Robertson, Fu, Allen, R.O’Sullivan, Higgins, K.Wilson. Add McManus, Higginson, Brecel and Jamie Jones and take off Ronnie for a 2 point 15-fold pays nearly 7/1.

Chancey Doubles: 6 x 1 point doubles at Betfred on Alfie Burden 9/4, Paul Davison 11/4, Martin O’Donnell 10/3 and Vinnie Calabrese 5/2 also a 1 point acca pays over 183/1.

1 point on Andy Hicks at 10/3 and Sam Craigie at 3/1 and a 1 point double on the two.

      

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