February 18, 2018

World Grand Prix

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:14 pm

Bit careless putting the holder Hawkins on the poster. He ain’t qualified this year.

After all the hullabaloo last week in Watford, it’s time for the return of real snooker as we head up north to Preston for this season’s World Grand Prix. This is the event which rewards the 32 top players of the season with a chance to further raise their ranking status and improve on what already for some has been a very successful season.

Without doubt, the man of the moment in snooker just now is Mark Williams. His triumphant return to the champion’s table just before Christmas continued with that win over in Berlin where he looked as close to unbeatable than anyone has all season. This of course, MJW attributes to the benefits of the Sight Right coaching technique and the new lease of life this has afforded him on the baize.

Similarly to the world championship triumph of Stuart Bingham, who Williams faces in the first round here, MJW has seen immediate results with his new technique, he’s even embraced it so much as to do his coaching course and become one of the disciples, there to spread the gospel according to Sight Right to anyone that will listen.

Now a lot of stick has been levelled towards this coaching method, some particularly unsavoury stuff from a few no-marks over on Twitter which went far beyond the banter threshold. To be more specific, the vemon seems to be aimed more at the man behind the myth that is Steve Feeney. Steve isn’t really one for engaging on social media and instead chooses to ignore anyone that disagrees with him or questions his techniques or motives. Whilst I am all for ignoring people who get personal I think he takes it to the extreme and seems to alienate people as a result, but each to their own I suppose.

Whether Sight Right is the long term answer to every struggling snooker player’s prayers is yet to be seen. Certainly it appears to have an immediate ‘correction’ (some might say placebo) effect, but the benefits long term are harder to gauge, which to me suggests that it is simply a technique which corrects mistakes and sloppiness that may have crept into already gifted players games. I very much doubt that it is something that can improve players to a level they were incapable of before, only practice and matchplay, I’d argue, can do that.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the World Grand Prix. Williams joins the likes of Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and most of the usual suspects for a straight 32 man knockout comp this week, all covered over on ITV with I dare say regular updates from the happiest place on earth, yes, the Johnstone Decorating Centres, where not only does life revolve around cups of tea and saucy innuendo, but the sun always shines and everyone is always smiling, it must be the paint fumes I reckon.

The first two rounds unfortunately are the best of seven, before the matches get a bit longer and it starts getting interesting. I really don’t see why these can’t be best of nine from the off, it would make this a much better event and make it quite unique and one to really look forward to, but I really struggle to get enthused with these lottery matches at the beginning. But the flip side of this is of course the excellent ITV coverage (and the decorators obvs). It means that once again we’ll be able to sit there not suffering cringeworthy ‘features’ and be treated like we actually know what snooker is all about by the panel of experts.

I’ll leave the matches alone in terms of recommended bets but I may post the odd flutter on Twitter. With a classy field this size though it’s worth having a good look at the draw and having a bash at the outrights. Traditionally you’d not say that this is a tournament that Ronnie O’Sullivan will enjoy, it’s a few days between matches more than 20 miles from his house and he doesn’t tend to perform as well in this type of event as some others. Mark Selby will be keen to get back on track, the snooker world is holding it’s breath as I think we all know a win is coming, but I’d not touch him until there are some real signs that he’s getting back in the groove, so that means it might be worth looking at a few big prices this week.

These are the ones I’m backing. 

Recommended Outright Bets: Neil Robertson (16/1), Yan Bingtao (40/1), Kyren Wilson (40/1), Stephen Maguire (50/1).

You can see the draw below and the format is here.  

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