Snookerbacker

July 1, 2014

Looking Ahead: July on the Baize

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:10 am

ClosedJuly sees something of a rarity these days in snooker, once the Aussie Open finishes in Bendigo on Sunday there is nothing else on, absolutely nothing, zilch, zero, nada, nowt.

So what are we to make of this? Has the absolutely barking mad schedule of last season been taken on board and revised? Or has the administration failed to secure tournaments around the world to cater for the new breed of full-time potters?

Either way, it goes against Bazza’s initial promise of providing something for the professionals to play in for 51 weeks of the year somewhere in the world. So is this the first sign that this promise was hollow, too ambitious and just plain wrong?

As regular readers will know I am not a fan of blanket coverage of any sport and I fully support downtime between each event to keep things fresh on the restart. That said, given the last couple of weeks have seen Wuxi immediately followed by Australia it also now makes perfect sense to me to split the tour into two distinct sections, with a period of activity in the UK and Europe at the back end of the season and the concentration of events further afield at the beginning, perhaps this is the start of a move to that model?

Either way, the next time we will see any action is in Latvia for the first EPTC on 8th August, a full calendar month since the last ball will have been struck in Australia. This is the longest gap in proceedings that I can remember since Bazza took to the throne of World Snooker and I hope is a sign that a bit of common sense is kicking in.

There’s been a few bits and bobs of news this past month or so for anyone that has missed them. The World Grand Prix which was announced during the World Championship will start it’s existence in North Wales, Llandudno to be specific, which should be a convenient location for many supporters and I hope it will be a successful event. It’s going to be covered in full by the excellent ITV4 and will feature the world’s top 32 players competing for a prize pot of £300,000.

It’s interesting that the main new initiative this season is an invitational event and that anything won won’t count towards the money list, not that I’m complaining as I quite enjoy watching this type of tournament instead of the roll-on roll-off nature of the PTC’s and, increasingly, the Chinese events. I’d rather the televised final stage events all started with a maximum of 32 instead of this 128 at the venue idea personally, for me the latter just all feels a bit rushed.

Continuing on the Welsh theme, it’s goodbye Newport and hello Cardiff as far as this season’s Welsh Open is concerned. It’s a tournament with a rich history and despite the fact that the players seemed to like Newport, it makes sense that it goes to the capital, though I have no idea if the venue is suitable or not. All we need now is a return to best of nine’s rather than seven’s and the upgrade is complete.

All this of course gives you all plenty of time to submit your Anorak List here, where you get to choose ten players to follow this season, starting with the Latvia event in August. Some clever chaps have come up with a very interesting and thoroughly anoraky way of scoring your team and I’ll be setting about blagging a bundle of prizes from here, there and everywhere between now and the end of the season. We’ll see about setting up a page with a rolling leaderboard on it too so you can check your progress, so get your team in during July to stand a chance of winning. Who knows? You could be crowned King or Queen of the Anoraks come next May.

I’ll also be officially launching the Snookerbacker Classic and inviting entries to all qualifiers in the intervening period so keep an eye out for that if you want to enter this year, prize money is up again and there are venues all over England, including three new ones.

But the message from me is, have a bit of time off, there’s a long season ahead and it’s a chance to recharge the batteries and (if you are in the right place at the right time) to enjoy the sunshine.

June 29, 2014

Australian Goldfields Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:10 am
It's chill-out time, Aussie style.

It’s chill-out time, Aussie style.

On Monday we return to the land where men are men and shiela’s are second class citizens. Yes, it’s down under we go for this season’s Australian Goldfields Open from the freezing cold city of Bendigo.

I don’t think I was alone in being fairly surprised that the future of this tournament, at least in the short term, was rubber-stamped towards the end of last season, but I also don’t think I’m alone in being glad that it was.

Although I never watch the very early matches, whenever I have tuned in for the coverage of the mid-morning starts it’s been first rate, with a nice relaxed style from the studio and the chance to listen to the velvetesque tones and laid back style of the undisputed King of the Snails Robby Foldvari in commentary.

It’s also a nicer format at the main venue than we’ve seen in Wuxi this week, with less of a conveyor belt feel about it and a simple two table set up with 32 players made up of 16 seeded players and 16 qualifiers plus two wildcards, keeping the tone of the relaxed feel of the tournament.

Despite all its plus points, a lot of the top players still don’t want to enter it. Lots moan about the financial side of things, claiming that flying to (sometimes) the other side of the globe for the possibility of earning less than they could earn for an exhibition at home is a waste of their precious time.

That may be the case for some and I suppose the better off players coming to the end of their careers who perhaps aren’t quite as driven as the younger crop have a point. But it’s nice that some of them do make the effort and support the event, they’ve a decent amount of time off after this so why not combine it with a holiday? That’s what I’d do, but some potters aren’t exactly known for their adventurous ways and will probably head home the minute they are beaten.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me is that Marco Fu has chosen not to defend the title he won last season. One can only assume that he has personal reasons for this as he’s competed in Wuxi and is not one that drops out of events lightly. It would be interesting to know why Marco didn’t enter though. But there are still enough big names in there to make it a decent spectacle for the locals who include of course, Maggie the Dog, the much loved pooch who attends and has won the hearts of the likes of Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy in the past.

Of course the locals will all want to see Robbo break his Aussie duck this week after a good week in Wuxi, rumour has it that Neil almost forgot to enter this and got his entry in at the last minute, which is very unlike him (it isn’t). Anyway, let’s hope he’s a bit more chirpy this week after his table gripes in China, he usually looks more settled at home and he will definitely want to win this for the crowds having disappointed them on the last three occasions.

Just a word on the wildcards, I’m not that familiar with Johl Younger but the other bloke, Matthew Bolton, has been the subject of a right old ding-dong in Snooker Scene of late. Apparently, our Matty got tanked up at the World Amateurs and started giving some Chinese kids the verbals in what was described as a borderline racist pissed up rant during which he ‘mocked their speaking style and mimicked their Oriental features’. He hit back with a right old go at the reporter Marcus Stead, who witnessed this in full, and all hell then broke loose both in the magazine and in a wider context on Facebook, which led on to a go at the editor Sir Clive of Everton, at one point Stephen Lee chipped in to say he’d knock Clive over in his car if he saw him. It’s been quite entertaining as a bystander I have to say.

Anyway, the draw for the tournament is here and I usually tune in to the action via the Bet 365 live streaming service which runs the Australian TV coverage, if you get the chance take a look, I like the way they cover snooker and it’s a bit like the way ITV set things up, which of course is a world away from the BBC with its sometimes ridiculous features, inappropriate howlers in commentary and it’s tendency to treat the viewers as if they are retarded, when as we all know, only half of them are.

Here’s my outright thoughts and the match schedule is included below.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Neil Robertson to win the Australian Open at 7/2. 1 point each way on Ricky Walden at 33/1.  

Monday (ALL TIMES ARE UK) 

12am
Andrew Higginson 5-0 Matthew Bolton
Dominic Dale 5-0 Johl Younger

3am
Mark Allen 2-5 Fergal O’Brien
Matthew Stevens 5-3 Luca Brecel

Followed by
Robert Milkins 5-3 Liang Wenbo
Ryan Day 3-5 Mark Joyce

10am
John Higgins 5-3 Tom Ford
Ricky Walden 5-0 Marcus Campbell

Tuesday

2.30am
Dark Mavis 5-3 Dominic Dale
Stuart Bingham 5-0 Scott Donaldson

Followed by
Fergal O’Brien 2-5 Matthew Stevens
Xiao Guodong 5-2 Liam Highfield

10am
Robert Milkins 5-2 John Higgins
Stephen Maguire 0-5 Jamie Jones

Wednesday

2.30am
Shaun Murphy 5-0 Jack Lisowski
Joe Perry 4-5 Alan McManus

Followed by
Judd Trump 5-2 Rory McLeod
Barry Hawkins 2-5 Peter Ebdon

10am
Neil Robertson 5-2 Andrew Higginson
Michael Holt 3-5 Martin Gould

June 28, 2014

Wuxi Classic Finals Weekend: The Missing Crowds

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:33 am
Crowds have been poor.

Crowds have been poor.

It’s finals weekend over in Wuxi in an event that continues to go a little under the radar of snooker fans over here given the time of year and the times of the matches.

That said, at least there is some interest which is more than can be said for the locals, who again have hugely failed to embrace the event by actually turning up to the venue to watch the potters.

I’d use the phrase ‘watched by one man and his dog’ but at one point yesterday that would have looked like a massive exaggeration on my part as there didn’t seem to be a single person there apart from the players and the ref and there definitely wasn’t a dog in there.

Is this a consequence of Ding not qualifying? Has this shown Bazza that there are inevitably negative consequences to his flat structure if the big boys don’t all turn up? Well I’d argue that this would only happen in China, why they only seem to want to watch their own players and even then, in particular Ding, is beyond me. The only person that comes close to this in other countries is Ronnie, but we are so used to not seeing him it doesn’t really have the negative impact that it once did.

It’s all a bit embarrassing really, we are constantly told how popular the sport is in China, how the players are treated like film stars and how China is essential to the globalisation of the sport, but why don’t they come and watch the snooker live? We are told that they all like to watch it in bars or at home, so why is more not being done to encourage them to attend the venues?

Whatever the issue, whether it be cultural or the ticket prices, televising a ranking event and constantly showing the players with a crowdless backdrop is not good for any sport, let alone one that professes to be massive in that particular country. They might as well hold it in someone’s house, it would save on the venue costs and nobody would notice, the atmosphere might be a bit better too assuming the owner of the house was in and stayed to watch.

On the table, Neil Robertson had a right old moan yesterday, again joining the chorus of players calling for change in the conditions. He talked of turning heaters off and changing the brand of cloth, echoing the thoughts of the man he knocked out, Professor Shaun Murphy, who not long ago conducted an in-depth study on kicks. Neil reckons that all the players are sick of the current stuff ruining the sport. It’s strange that the governing body don’t seem to want to listen to the players on this one, after all, it’s them that keep the sport going, without them, we don’t even have a sport do we?

Anyway, Robbo is up against Barry Hawkins in the first semi-final and Joe Perry takes on 100/1 recommended each way bet Martin Gould in the other one. There seems to be a general concensus amongst the Twitter snooker community that we all want Gould to break his ranking event duck, it would be sweet if he did that against Robbo given their previous. We’ll see.

It’s all on Eurosport all day, then after tomorrow’s final it’s off to Bendigo for the Aussie Open on Monday.

Semi-Finals – Saturday

7.30am

Neil Robertson v Barry Hawkins

12.30pm

Martin Gould v Joe Perry

Final – Sunday

7.30am

1st session, 9 frames

12.30pm

2nd session, maximum 10 frames

June 26, 2014

Wuxi Classic Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:07 pm

The tournament continues at a pace over in Wuxi and Friday sees the Quarter Finals played out, notable performances so far from Robin Hull, who’s resurgence in the game is continuing.

Sorry I haven’t really been covering this in any depth but it’s not really fitted in with other things and as I have hardly watched any of it it’s very difficult to comment on how things are going.

It’s the Aussie Open next week before a rather large gap in the calendar and no action at all in July once they are done in Bendigo. Perhaps for me the season will really get going in September when the nights are drawing in a little and it feels a bit more like snooker weather outside.

At least Marco Fu and Martin Gould are still in there fighting in the outrights so perhaps the weekend could be worth tuning in for after all.

7.30am

Neil Robertson 5-4 Shaun Murphy
Marco Fu 4-5 Barry Hawkins

12.30pm

Martin Gould 5-4 Stephen Maguire
Robin Hull 2-5 Joe Perry

June 25, 2014

Wuxi Classic Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:16 pm

A few early season ‘shocks’ if you can call them that at this stage of the season in the Last 32 saw Mark Selby, the World Champion lose to Liang Wenbo and Finland’s Robin Hull taking out Dotty.

It’s passing me by a bit this tournament if I’m honest, not a realistic betting proposition as we can’t really assess how most of the players are playing but I suppose as we move into the final stages we get more of them covered.

Here’s the running order for Thursday.

7.30am

Neil Robertson 5-1 Michael Holt
Zhao Xintong 2-5 Shaun Murphy
Marco Fu 5-4 Stuart Bingham
Alan McManus 2-5 Barry Hawkins

12.30pm

Martin Gould 5-3 Ryan Day
Stephen Maguire 5-0 Judd Trump
Cao Yupeng 1-5 Robin Hull
Joe Perry 5-2 Liang Wenbo

June 24, 2014

Wuxi Classic Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:58 pm

The Wuxi Classic continues on Wednesday as the last 32 round is played out over in China.

If you want to take a look at any head to heads you should go to the Cue Tracker website then enter the two names and take it from there.

3am

John Higgins 4-5 Alan McManus
Anthony Hamilton 4-5 Stuart Bingham
Joe Perry 5-0 Robert Milkins
Zhao Xintong 5-2 Jack Lisowski
Michael Holt 5-2 Sam Baird
Oliver Brown 1-5 Martin Gould

7.30am

Neil Robertson 5-3 Michael Georgiou
Robin Hull 5-3 Graeme Dott
Chris Wakelin 2-5 Shaun Murphy
Marco Fu 5-3 Jamie Jones
Ricky Walden 3-5 Cao Yupeng

12.30pm

Liang Wenbo 5-3 Mark Selby
Ben Woollaston 3-5 Judd Trump
Yan Bingtao 4-5 Barry Hawkins
Stephen Maguire 5-3 Michael White
Ryan Day 5-2 Mark Williams

June 23, 2014

Alexander Ursenbacher: The Case for the Defence

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:38 am

VisaIt’s the first hot topic of the season and it’s got everyone talking, well, not everyone, just the usual suspects really, but the change in rules introduced by Bazza regarding withdrawal from events has definitely set tongues wagging in the snooker community.

This season sees the following change to the rules:

“Players who qualify for the final stages of an event but do not subsequently attend that event, for whatever reason, will not receive any prize money, nor will they receive any contribution towards the prize money rankings.” 

The first player to be affected by this rule is the Swiss Wonderkid Alexander Ursenbacher (no relation by the way). He was forced to withdraw from this week’s Wuxi Classic due to issues involving his Visa having qualified back in May to play Neil Robertson and therefore he loses his £3000 prize money and associated ranking points.

Now then, assuming that he didn’t simply forget to apply for it, didn’t know how to fill in the form or applied too late, this seems to me to be a bit harsh on the lad.

He’s not exactly one of the games big money winners and I’m sure he’d have loved to play Neil on the telly safe in the knowledge that even if he lost he’d get three bags as a consolation. But now Bazza’s new rule has kicked in this isn’t the case and poor old Alex is left potless.

When questioned about this change yesterday, Baz maintained that this would be the case in all cases, saying that players had been abusing the system in the past and it was getting impossible to administer. He said he prefers a no-nonsense policy which is clear and not open to interpretation, which I suppose is fair enough, but when the withdrawal is out of the player’s control or is perhaps a matter of life and death, can this really stand up to scrutiny?

Let me illustrate what I mean:

Player A: Dear Bazza, I recently qualified to the final stages of that new tournament you’ve put on in the Amazonian Rainforest. I was really looking forward to playing but unfortunately I have a slightly sore toe and the doctor reckons it might not stand up to the journey and it might even get a little bit worse if I decide to walk on it for longer than 3 hours, so I’m going to have to withdraw, but I hope you understand that I’d still like my prize money?

Bazza: You’re ‘avin a laff aren’t ya son? In my day Davis would play if ‘is leg was hangin’ off, that nutter O’Sullivan was even gonna saw ‘is off at one point, ya can go and sing for ya prize money ya big nonce.

Verdict: CORRECT DECISION

Please Daddy don't go to the snooker.

Deer Baddy, pleez giv my daddy his munny. Fanks :)

Player B: Dear Mr Hearn, I recently qualified for the Antarctica Open after a close match in Wigan but since then I have had some devastating news. My little girl (she’s only 4) has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and her dying wish is to go to Disneyland, she’s only got a couple of weeks left so as you can imagine I had to make the tough decision to not travel to Antarctica and I have instead managed to secure a last-minute deal for £3000 to take her along before she croaks. I’m gutted as I was looking forward to travelling there for the best of three match against Mark Selby, but I hope you can still award me the £3000 prize money as, being number 423 on the current ranking list this would be easily my biggest payday and would help me pay for my darling daughter’s final dreams to come true.

Bazza: Sorry son, rules are rules and I ain’t bendin’ them for no one. It’s ‘ard work that makes the bunce and if you’d got ya nut down sooner you wouldn’t be in this mess, bit more graftin’ and you’d be raking it in like the big boys. I ain’t in the charity bizznizz soft bollocks so you just enjoy your time with Mickey Mouse but don’t come cap in ‘and to me, it’s a harsh world out there and it sounds to me like you and the little lady need teachin’ a lesson. Tell ya what I’ll stretch to an ice cream for the binlid, but I’ll want the receipt to show the taxman.

Verdict: INCORRECT DECISION

I know these are extremes, but something like this could feasibly happen (OK, perhaps not the rainforest bit but don’t rule out Antarctica). If similar scenarios came up, would Barry really stick to his guns? If he did, how would the wider world react? ‘Snooker Supremo Denies Dying Child’s Last Wish’? Well, I might not be the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to business but I know a bit about public relations and I don’t think it would be a wise move to say the least.

This one needs a rethink. If people are clearly taking the piss then keep the money (or better still give it to the charity of choice), but if there is unequivocal, cast iron proof that the situation is totally beyond a player’s control surely common sense must prevail. But I suppose this is the same organisation that decided to sting Ding for five bags for skipping supper. The world’s gone mad.

Sorry I’m in a bad mood this morning because three wildcards won. To cheer you up I’ll tell you my favourite Swiss joke. How do you make a swiss roll? Push him down a hill.

June 21, 2014

Wuxi Classic Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:22 am
Robbo won a little pot last year.

Robbo won a little pot last year.

Monday sees the start of the final stages of the first main ranking event of the season and the return of snooker to our screens via Eurosport as the Wuxi Classic gets underway in China.

Of course the big news from the qualifying round that has already been played is that local boy Ding, who has just won the first Asian PTC event crashed out, losing 5-0 to Oliver Brown who now takes on Oliver Lines in the Last 64. Answers on a postcard if two people called Oliver have ever played each other in a professional tournament before, but I digress…

The big names in this are holder Robbo and newly crowned World Champion Selby. Robbo has even got a bye in the Last 64 because Alexander Ursenbacher had trouble getting a visa, which is unfortunate for him as I’m sure he was looking forward to taking on Neil on the big stage, but it wasn’t to be as the Chinese don’t like the Swiss.

In amongst the more recognisable faces there are a few players who’ll be visiting China for the first time, there are also 4 wildcard matches but I’ve decided that I’m not going to moan about these fucking pointless and unfair inclusions this season. Oops, bang goes another promise.

All the bookies have their prices up and predictably the outright betting is headed by the big two, there is therefore a bit of value out there if you think they might be a bit rusty and fancy a winner who might not be a usual suspect. It’s always very difficult to know who will be the most prepared players there and who wishes they were on their summer holidays having only dusted off the cue a few days ago.

Below you can view all you need to know about the tournament and if you want to take a look at any head to heads you should know by now that the fabulous Cue Tracker website is the place to be, simply click here, enter the two names and marvel at the statfest which awaits your analysis. Talking of anoraks, you still have time to enter your season team into the Anorak List, to find out what that’s all about click here, this tournament and Australia won’t count so there’s still plenty of time to get your entry in.

In terms of an outright bet in this, I’ll limit stakes considerably in view of the timing of the tournament and just take a punt that the big boys won’t start with a win.

Outright Bets: 1 point each way on Marco Fu at 28/1 and 1 point each way on Ricky Walden at 33/1. 0.5 point each way on Jack Lisowski at 80/1 and Martin Gould at 100/1.

You can view the Eurosport schedules for the week by clicking here and you can view the draw for the tournament by clicking here.

Prize Money Breakdown

Winner: £85,000
Runner Up: £35,000
Losing Semi-Finalists: £21,000
Losing Quarter-Finalists: £12,500
Losing Last 16: £8,000
Losing Last 32: £6,500
Losing Last 64: £3,000

Order of Play (Last 64 and Wildcard Round) – UK Time

Monday 23rd of June
3am

Ricky Walden v Peter Lines
Yu DeLu v Yan Bingtao
Andrew Norman v Zhao Xintong
Scott Donaldson v Chen Zifan
Robbie Williams v Niu Zhuang
Fraser Patrick v Sam Baird

7.30am

David Grace v Judd Trump
Xiao Guodong v Robin Hull
Tony Drago v Stuart Bingham
Gary Wilson v Alan McManus
Michael Holt v Rory McLeod
Kurt Maflin v Anthony Hamilton

12.30pm

Neil Robertson w/o Alexander Ursenbacher
Marco Fu v Craig Steadman
John Higgins v Anthony McGill
Cao Yupeng v Mark King
Fergal O’Brien v Ben Woollaston
Michael Georgiou v Marcus Campbell

Tuesday 24th of June
3am

Rod Lawler v Shaun Murphy
Jack Lisowski v Lyu Chenwei
Mark Joyce v Mark Williams
Jamie Cope v Michael White
David Morris v Robert Milkins
Michael Tomlinson v Martin Gould

7.30am

Lee Page v Barry Hawkins
Liang Wenbo v Jamie Burnett
Stephen Maguire v David Gilbert
Joe Perry v Scott Donaldson/Chen Zifan
Chris Melling v Andrew Norman/Zhao Xintong
Oliver Brown v Oliver Lines

12.30pm

Robbie Williams/Niu Zhuang v Mark Selby
Zhou Yuelong v Graeme Dott
Jamie Jones v Ken Doherty
Ryan Day v Matthew Selt
Barry Pinches v Yu DeLu/Yan Bingtao
Chris Wakelin v Joe O’Connor

Recommended Match Bets: 2 point double on Fraser Patrick and Jamie Burnett pays just on 6/1. 2 point acca on Milkins, Gould, Oli Lines, Wakelin and Dott pays over 5/1. 2 points on McGill to beat Higgins at 5/2. 2 points on Gilbert to beat Maguire at 2/1.  

June 19, 2014

Here’s the Season: Ten to Follow – CREATE YOUR OWN ANORAK LIST!

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:21 am
Time to get your balls out and give them a rub.

Time to get your balls out and give them a rub.

It’s been a period of welcome respite from the baize these last couple of weeks. OK, there are a few of them potting in China at the moment in the first APTC event, but come on, let’s face it, the season hasn’t really started yet has it?

But all that changes next week as the first proper tournament is decided over in Wuxi. Monday sees the resumption of this first real ranking event following the qualifiers in May and the draw and format for it can be found by clicking here.

The start of the season always brings with it a sense of anticipation amongst the baize anorak brigade. Wild predictions prevail and everyone has an opinion on who are the players that will dominate, flunk and make their big breakthrough over the next 11 months.

Well, this place is no exception. I’m not one to flannel around using wishy-washy language, it’s time to say it like it is. So I’m going to list my own ten to follow this season, ranging from the established big boys, through the teetering on the edge gang to the lower ranked dudes and rookies who I think are capable of making a name for themselves in an event or two.

You may agree with some, you may disagree with them all, that’s kinda the idea if you catch mee drift. None of us have a crystal ball but cor blimey if I had one I’d be polishing it furiously ahead of the action starting to try and get the advantage on those nasty old bookies.

If you are clever, bored or simply have nothing better to do in life you could post your own ten in the comments section. Just follow the format I have used below.

If you are clinically insane or have recently been imprisoned or hospitalised you could even come up with a clever scoring system and make this a little season-long contest based on how your team does.

The Anorak List perhaps?

If someone wants to do that and is prepared to keep the scores updated I suppose I’d better blag a decent prize from somewhere….it’s up to you. If I get more than 20 entries let’s do it.

The categories are based on the latest projected seeding list which is displayed here. Why not give your balls a good old rub and have a go yourself?

Was a bit shit until he won this.

Was a bit shit until he won this.

The Top 16

Mark Selby: The World Champion may have some added pressure on him now, he’s arguably now the scalp that all the players want but Selby seems to have the temperament to handle his new found elevated status. It’s easy to forget how poor his season was by his standards until winning in Sheffield and turning his whole life around. He’s got a nipper on the way, he’ll tingle every time he’s introduced and I think it will bring out the best in him. I’d take him to win at least 2 full rankers this season. Perhaps he might even break the Crucible Curse? Don’t be daft, of course he won’t.

Ronnie O’Sullivan: ‘Bloody hell SB, you’re stating the bleeding obvious here, I’m not reading any further’ I hear you cry, but I shun your cries for this is my blog and I’m sticking with the lesser spotted Rocket to return to winning ways this season. A new ranking system that he might as well have written himself in the bath, a more or less categorical assertion that he’s not going to China anymore and that blasted man Peters still in his corner for me makes him as dangerous as ever. He’s bound to win a biggie, he might even be looking at the BBC Grand Slam to reassert his position at the top. Now there’s an incentive and a half.

17-32 

Xiao Guodong: I think this is a big season for Xiao. He looks to me like the only Chinese player at the moment that might achieve the kind of consistency that only Ding has managed before. Wenbo flattered to deceive and for me is now firmly stuck in this 17-32 category without the obvious potential to rise any further and emulate the long-standing Chinese number 1. Guodong has the game, does he have the temperament? Whilst I don’t necessarily think he’ll win anything I can see him being at the business end a few times this season.

Martin Gould: A disappointing season last time saw Gould suffer in the rankings but in the World Championship qualifiers and even his defeat at The Crucible to Marco Fu, The Pinner Potter showed that he’s not quite dead and buried just yet. A couple of seasons ago he was the man most people had down as the next new ranking winner, he’s got the game and I think he’s capable of putting the results of last season out of his mind. He can start by deep runs in Wuxi and Australia if he’s still in the mood he was in April.

The only way is up.

The only way is up.

33-64

Jack Lisowski: Jacko is keen to brush off the tag as ‘Judd’s mate’ and carve out the career that he seemed destined to flourish at two seasons ago. This has resulted in him getting back to his roots and leaving the trappings of fame which human magpie Judd so loves. As he puts it, Judd has won things and has earned it, he hasn’t. He’s started the season well in qualifying for Wuxi and Australia and perhaps the two seasons in the snooker wilderness have been a necessary exercise for him to get back on track and focus on what is most important to him. He’s got the game, now he has to give snooker 100% and fulfil his undoubted potential.  

Anthony McGill: Anthony is another who like Jack might have expected to be a little higher in the rankings than he currently is if you’d have asked him a couple of seasons ago, but he’s been consistent without really making that big push to the top 16, which of course is a major step up for any player ranked outside the top 32. Anyone who watches him play knows how good he is, he is also, like Jack, one of those players with a good head on his shoulders. His dedication will pay off, it’s just a question of when.

The Rest 

Chris Wakelin: Lower down the list lies a player doing his thing under the radar. If this horse got any darker it would need headlamps. Chris came through Q-School last season to a chorus of ‘Who?’ from most in the snooker fraternity, me included. One minute he’s delivering your dog food and fishfingers in his supermarket van, the next he’s taking on bigger names on the baize and beating them. Watch this lad, he’s got a lot of positives going for him.

Grown a bit.

Grown a bit.

Oliver Lines: I first met Oli when he apprehended me in Leeds in 2012, he tugged at my knees (he was only little, I nearly tripped over him) and asked could he enter the SB Classic the following year. He did just that and to this day still holds the record break in the tournament, which is still his match highest of 142. Oli has seemed destined for pro-status since he shat his first nappy and now he’s there I’m sure he’ll make the most of it. A tactical game that defies his years, a cool head under pressure and a dad who will keep him grounded if his bonce starts expanding makes him the player to watch over the next two seasons.

Michael Leslie: Having served his two year professional apprenticeship and fallen off the tour it took a very impressive effort for young Michael to get straight back on via Q-School and a new two year card should see him make the most of the invaluable experience he has gained. John Higgins predicted a bright future for this fella when he first arrived but warned that his first experiences would be a lot of knocks, he was right. He’s already proved that he’s down but not out and if that potential that Higgins saw is to be realised, this is the start of that upward curve in his fortunes.

Mitchell Mann: Mitchell has already taken a few knocks and near-misses in his early career, more than some might take who are years older, but he’s now achieved his lifetime ambition by winning the European Championships and earning his pro ticket. Runner-up in last season’s SB Classic, he impressed me hugely and I believe he has what it takes to get to the top. He might not do it this season but I’ll bet he upsets a few higher up the list and progresses over the course of his first two seasons as a pro. One to watch now he’s made it to the pro-ranks. 

Time to put the crystal ball away now, what do you reckon? Can you do any better?

HAVE YOU GOT THE BALLS TO ENTER ‘THE ANORAK LIST’?  

SEE MARKO’S POINTS SYSTEM TABLE IN THE COMMENTS WHICH WILL KICK IN AFTER THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN – SO GET YOUR LIST IN WITH A CHANCE TO BE THIS SEASON’S ‘KING OF THE ANORAKS’.

June 17, 2014

Yixing Open – All 8 Tables Live Streamed

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:55 pm

YIXINGIn a bit of an unlikely turn up for the books this morning, The Yixing Open over in China has upped the game on the live streaming front and has every table streamed live in what I would say is pretty good quality from first impressions.

Simply click on this link and select the table you would like to watch. Each match also has scoring, although this is in Chinese, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out who’s who if you watch for a bit.

Hopefully this is the dawn of the search for a new provider of live streaming for the qualifiers held in the UK and the European PTC events. Perform, the current providers, are clearly not for whatever reason, providing a service quite as good as this.

At least that is my initial impression.

It would be interesting to hear your comments on this development and the quality of it as the tournament goes on, is this something you’d like to see more widely adopted in European events?

Of course we are not to know how ‘live’ the coverage is, particularly as the live scoring on World Snooker isn’t working again, so I wouldn’t advocate throwing a load of dosh at any in-play betting that might surface.

An early season treat for snooker addicts? World Snooker could have let us know about it at least…..the fact they didn’t would lead me to believe that this is very much a one-off initiative on the part of the Chinese organisers.

But we can dream….

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