The second snooker event of the season gets underway in Germany on Tuesday when a whole host of stars compete in the European Masters, the biggest competition of the campaign so far and one which is becoming a popular feature on the calendar.
It is certainly popular in the Kyren Wilson household after he won the title last year and ‘The Warrior’ will be back to attempt to defend his crown. A seriously good field have make it through to attempt to stop him.
2022 – Kyren Wilson
2021-22 – Fan Zhengyi
2020 – Mark Selby
2019 – Neil Robertson
2018 – Jimmy Robertson
2017 – Judd Trump
2016 – Judd Trump
The entire tour has been invited into this tournament so it is a 128 player field although we have had a qualifying round to whittle it down to 64 players plus those who had their qualifier held over to the main venue. The first round of the main event right the way through to the quarter final is the best of nine frames with the semi-finals being the best of 11. The final is the best of 17 frames on Sunday where the champion will be crowned. The event is live on Eurosport and the Discovery+ App throughout the week.
As the defending champion, Kyren Wilson is the number one seed this week and he is in the top quarter of the draw. Two top eight players in each quarter have had their qualifying match held over to the main venue. Wilson is one of those while the other is arguably the player of last season in Shaun Murphy. The other members of the top 16 in this section when the ranking list for this event was finalised are John Higgins and Hossein Vafaei and both are in the field this week.
The standard is so high on the tour these days that there are plenty of household names outside the top 16 and in the top quarter we have the World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui looking for his first tour title, as is his compatriot Zhou Yuelong. Joe Perry, Dominic Dale and Ken Doherty are among those looking to add to their collection with the two Welsh players Dylan Emery and Daniel Wells potentially ones to watch.
Mark Allen was the player of last season and he will be looking to pick up how he started the previous campaign. The Northern Ireland cueist will have been disappointed not to lift the world title but he is the top seed in this section. Judd Trump in contrast had a season to forget a year ago and he will be out to make up for that when he competes in this section. He is the other player to Allen to have his qualifying match held over to the main venue. Jack Lisowski and Robert Milkins were the other top 16 players in this quarter but the latter bit the dust in the qualifying section.
This is a quarter which is packed with talent with the Shootout champion Chris Wakelin here looking to be like a number of players to win that event and elevate themselves in the game. Michael White did that after winning that tournament and he is in this quarter while Joe O’Connor was a win away from a title of his own last season while Ricky Walden and Jordan Brown know what it is like to lift silverware. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Tom Ford and Jamie Jones are capable of winning this too.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan has entered this tournament and he is the number three seed this week which means that he is the headliner in the third quarter. He has had his qualifying match held over to the venue as has the World Championship finalist Mark Selby who is scheduled to meet O’Sullivan in the quarter final in this section. Ali Carter and Gary Wilson are the other top 16 players who started out in this quarter but the latter was knocked out in qualifying.
This is another loaded quarter with the likes of Stuart Bingham and Dave Gilbert more than capable of winning any event that they enter. They are both in this part of the draw, as is Anthony Hamilton who has started the season well, Lyu Haotian and Xiao Guodong. The leading female player of all time is also in this quarter with Reanne Evans having come through qualifying to be here while Louis Heathcote and Elliot Slessor are among those who will be out to cause a surprise.
We have the first sighting for the season of the newly crowned world champion Luca Brecel. He heads up the bottom quarter of the draw looking to win successive events having taken the crown at the Crucible. He won’t be playing many qualifying matches away from the main venue this term and his one for this event has been held over to here. Neil Robertson is the other player who has that luxury in this quarter. The Welsh pair of Mark Williams and Ryan Day started out as the other top 16 players in this section but the latter was knocked out in qualifying.
This is another decent part of the draw with Barry Hawkins the beaten finalist in this event a year ago looking for a big week which would get him back into the top 16. Jimmy Robertson is a former winner of this tournament and he’d love to get his hands on it again while the likes of Noppon Saengkham, Matthew Stevens and Jackson Page are exceptionally talented and can be dangerous when it all clicks Pang Junxu is one of the better Chinese players left on the tour.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the week with the first of them coming on Mark Williams, who dispelled the theory that he doesn’t care much for the opening part of the season when he made the final of the Championship League and then won through his qualifying competition for this tournament without dropping a frame. Williams is certainly no stranger to winning tournaments and with so many in the field this week still getting up to speed for the season his talent and his temperament are big things. There is a chance he’ll need to run through Ronnie O’Sullivan at some point and Neil Robertson too but neither of those have hit a ball in anger this season while Williams has the competitive juices going. I’ll pay to see how he goes here.
The other bet I like this week comes in the form of the Shootout champion Chris Wakelin. This tournament often throws up big priced winners and Wakelin has started the season well enough to suggest he could be another. He made the final day of the Championship League and has won his qualifier through to this event and the British Open and generally looked really good among the balls. He is showing signs of a player who is playing with the confidence of having previously won a title and with that freedom he could be a dangerous animal. He’s in a tough part of the draw but I’ll pay to see if he is good enough to come through it at 150/1.
Back M.Williams to win European Masters (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 21.00 with BetVictor (1/2 1-2)
Back C.Wakelin to win European Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with BetVictor (1/2 1-2)