The highlight of the penultimate PTC event to be held at Gloucester's South West Snooker Academy for the forseeable future is, in the minds of most snooker fans, the return of Ronnie O'Sullivan. As per usual, he successfully stole most of the headlines in major newspapers this season without even picking up a cue by refusing to sign the players' contract and probably threatening to retire a few times--or was that last year? The year before? I don't know, I've lost count.
|Yu Delu: Not Ronnie O'Sullivan.|
Photo by Monique Limbos
In any case, it's irrelevant--Ronnie is in the draw and presumably will show up (though nothing is promised) and power his way to the quarter-finals at least. He doesn't ever seem to suffer from a lack of match practice as Ding Junhui and John Higgins seem to have done this year. His draw is quite favourable compared to some other top-16 players and many might expect him to meet Neil Robertson in the Last 16--however, Robertson hasn't been particularly impressive in this season's PTC events as of yet.
Looking at the rest of the draw, I'm hoping to see Marco Fu make some noise if he can topple the current Order of Merit leader Stephen Maguire in a rough opening-round draw, but he's got some tough opponents in that quarter afterwards as well including Luca Brecel, Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day, Ricky Walden and Xiao Guodong--phew!
|Graeme Dott: Will win 2 or 3 matches this time, goddammit.|
Photo by Monique Limbos
Trump is likely to stroll through his section--who he will face in the Last 16 is a matter of speculation, but I'd be betting on Mark Davis to continue playing the best snooker of his life. Alfie Burden, who made a surprise run to the semi-finals at the last event in Gloucester, will square off against last year's Snookerbacker Classic winner Martin O'Donnell for the right to face (likely) John Higgins. Down in the seventh quarter, Mark Allen, who I haven't seen much of this year, looks to be probably facing Ken Doherty in the Last 64. With Ken fresh off his first maximum in Germany, I do hope he can bring home a victory for the Irish Republic.
Then, down at the bottom end, it looks like another straightforward handful of ranking points for Mark Selby, who doesn't really have any serious threats in the draw as he will look to continue piling on to the stranglehold lead he has at the world number one spot. Over seven frames, Dominic Dale might be able to topple Selby...but probably not.
Haphazard Quarterfinalist Predictions:
(NOTE: Predicted results are made with my head, not with my heart--but generally speaking, it doesn't make them any more accurate)
- Mark Williams
- Graeme Dott
- Barry Hawkins
- Judd Trump
- Stephen Lee
- Ronnie O'Sullivan
- Michael Holt
- Mark Selby
PREDICTED WINNER: Mark Selby
HOPE LEFT THAT GRAEME DOTT WILL WIN THIS EVENT: Trace amounts of hope--tough quarterfinals if it all goes the way I see it.