The stakes are high for four men heading into the latest snooker event of the season on Friday which is the Gibraltar Open. One spot is up for grabs in the Players Championship later in the month but in order for one of Joe Perry, Li Hang, Cao Yupeng or Jack Lisowski to be there they need to win this tournament.
They are not the only ones who will be looking to get involved in the deep end of this tournament as there are a host of star names who head for the rock looking to land a ranking event title. Admittedly most of the big names have passed on the tournament which could lead to a surprise winner.
2015 – Marco Fu
2017 – Shaun Murphy
The tournament retains the same format that was used in the old PTC events in that every match in the competition from first round to final being the best of seven frames. 128 players enter and one half of the draw is played down to the last 16 on Friday with the other half played to the last 16 on Saturday. The event ends on Sunday with the last 16 down to the final.
Despite all the withdrawals and big names who didn’t enter this quarter is loaded with top players with Ding Junhui, Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham all in this part of the draw and looking to go deep in the event. Cao Yupeng knows he needs to win the tournament to make it to Llandudno and he’ll attempt to do so from here.
Elsewhere in the section Mark King, Tom Ford, Yu Delu and the returning to form Matthew Stevens will look to have big weekends which won’t help them for Llandudno qualification but will do their ranking no harm heading towards the World Championship cut off.
Unlike the first quarter this one is devoid of the truly big names which will open the section up for a lesser light to have a decent run in the tournament. Anthony McGill is probably the headline attacking in the quarter although Liang Wenbo and Kyren Wilson will dispute that I would imagine.
Jimmy Robertson and Mark Joyce continue their bids to win a first major title from this quarter while Li Hang will look to follow up his run to the quarter final last week. Jamie Jones and Ben Woollaston have the potential to be dangerous from this quarter as well.
With Ali Carter and Yan Bingtao withdrawing having secured their passages into the next tournament this section really has opened up, to the potential benefit of Ricky Walden if the rankings are anything to go by. Peter Ebdon and the Shootout champion Michael Georgiou are others looking to prosper.
There are some other dangerous players in this part of the draw not least Thepchaiya Un-Nooh while Zhao Xintong is as talented as they come as well. Liam Highfield and Scott Donaldson are other players who will be looking to show what they can do here.
This is a competition section but again it lacks the truly big names. Luca Brecel is hid away in this part of the draw as are Joe Perry and Jack Lisowski who both need big weeks. Ryan Day is having a good season and will want a decent run here if he can get one.
Zhou Yuelong, Mark Davis, Michael White and Michael Holt are the other players who are capable of winning tournaments from this part of the draw in what looks like a very competitive section where actually a number of players could be considered.
Those who follow me in this event will know I like to take a player from each quarter in the hope of getting a couple through to Sunday when the tournament pretty much opens up to anyone who is left in at that stage.
In the top quarter it is Cao Yupeng I’m going to take a chance with. He came so close to winning a similar tournament to this in Scotland earlier in the season and he has shown throughout the campaign that he is very competent in these best-of-seven frame matches. He has the trickiest of the quarters but he is playing well and if he starts off quickly he could go the distance.
Matt Selt is the man I like in the second quarter. It is more of a gut feeling than anything substantial with him but he has had a couple of nightmare draws in recent times and has struggled accordingly but there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. He has an easier draw here and with his life appearing to be settled off the table we might see the results the talented is capable of on it.
The third quarter should be all about Ricky Walden with the big names coming out of it and my money is with him too. Walden has definitely shown an upturn in his form once again and a tournament like this might just have come at the right time, especially with the draw he has now been given. Walden is scoring much stronger these days with his injury worries behind him and he should go well here.
Finally in the bottom quarter I will go with Joe Perry. Perry needs a big weekend if he is to force his way into the Players Championship and I fancy he might just get it. This is a competitive section with a lot of players around the same number in the rankings in it but there is nothing fearsome in it. I think knowing he’ll have to play well will suit Perry and with him certainly not lacking in motivation he’s my final bet this weekend.
Back J.Perry to win Gibraltar Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with BetVictor (1/2 1-2)
PLACED – Back C.Yupeng to win Gibraltar Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Unibet (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back M.Selt to win Gibraltar Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with William Hill (1/2 1-2)
Back R.Walden to win Gibraltar Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Bet365 (1/2 1-2)