|Stephen Maguire & Jack Lisowski: PTC1 Finalists|
Photo by Monique Limbos
For instance, I picked Mark Selby to win this first PTC event in the UK this season and obviously there's a good case to back that up. What really throws the best players under the bus in these events is the short format, though. At this level of professional competition, almost any result is feasible over a best-of-7 frames. So, while Selby had no trouble whitewashing Lucky Vatnani in the opening round and still managed to get through Rory McLeod 4-2, how could I have imagined that Dave Harold would be the hurdle Selby couldn't clear as he lost 4-2 in the last-32 round.
Dave Harold would then go on to lost 4-0 to Andrew Higginson, who always plays well in these events it seems, but again anything can happen. Many of my original picks for the quarterfinals progressed some distance through the tournament, but Xiao Guodong also fell to Thailand's Dechawat Poomjaeng in the last-32, as did Andy Hicks and Ryan Day.
|Luca Brecel: Flemishly disposing of the old guard.|
Photo by Monique Limbos
Now, I have consistently failed to give Jack Lisowski a lot of credit and following his relatively poor run of results last season, thought of him as being little more than Judd's baby-faced flatmate. To see him get through to his second PTC final in two years reminded me that there was a first. It wasn't easy though as his quarterfinal against Judd ended up going 4-3 (as did the other quarters) and Jack would also face deciding frames in the semifinal against Mark Williams and the final with Stephen Maguire.
Truly, he should've won that last decider as well--he was gifted a chance to clear up for victory after Maguire's slow-rolling straight black during a frame-winning chance didn't quite have the juice to drop into the pocket. Lisowski, having potted the last red and black, left himself a little long on the yellow and ended up rattling it in the jaws with all the colours on their spots. Maguire, needing all six, duly obliged to claim the title.
Given Jacks' level of experience on the tour and the possibility of winning a first ranking title hanging over his head, the miss wasn't too surprising, but he's won me over as a player capable and deserving of making it to the televised stages of the bigger events. Particularly the win over Mark Williams, whom I never would've predicted to lose to Lisowski before this tournament--even over a shorter format.
That'll teach me for writing him off early when I clearly don't know Jack.