Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PTC3 - Gloucester's second-to-last hurrah

There's lots of places you can find the draw for the 2012 PTC3 Event, but this isn't one of them. To make sense of what I'm yammering about in this article, please consult Wikipedia herePlayers Tour Championships - Event 3

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
Because I follow the game a little more closely than the Daily Mail sports columnists, the exploits of the ever-mysterious O'Sullivan are a little drab for me and frustratingly repetitive when all I really want to see him do is play snooker. I liken them to the discussions in Canada surrounding the collective bargaining agreement amongst professional ice hockey players and team owners in the NHL. Locally, with the threat of hockey players being locked out at the start of the season looming, these kinds of stories dominate the sports coverage of most news outlets, despite having very little to do with sports. So, whether Ronnie plays or not is of no consequence to me--though I'd prefer it if he did, just as I would prefer to see the hockey season start on time. What the suits behind closed-doors do that lead up to these predilections isn't why I watch sports.

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
Graeme Dott has finally been awarded an easier start to this campaign than the downright ugly draws he was facing in earlier PTCs as he takes on Ian Burns for the right to face the winner of Andrew Higginson and Q School newbie Chen Zhe. Also in the second section, Jimmy White is going to have to stop Aditya Mehta's solid run of form to make any headway and Sam Baird, who it seems still hasn't recovered from nearly beating Mark Selby at the Welsh Open, may well be on a slide down the rankings as he faces Michael White. The third section features the likes of Barry Hawkins, who I'm sure will defeat Tony Drago and I actually expect him to beat Shaun Murphy as well. If so, I would expect him to meet Jamie Burnett, who has also had a solid start this season, in the Last 16. This would probably set up a quarterfinal with Judd Trump, whom Barry has beaten in deciding frames in their last two meetings. That would bode well for Dott--but I'm getting ahead of myself.

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 
HOPE LEFT THAT GRAEME DOTT WILL WIN THIS EVENT: Trace amounts of hope--tough quarterfinals if it all goes the way I see it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment