The qualifying competition for the International Championship continues on Wednesday when another 10 players will exit Ponds Forge in Sheffield with their place booked in the main draw in China later in the season.
We are slowly beginning to see the bigger names arrive in Yorkshire for their match this week and we have a couple of standout names over the course of three sessions of play, which should competitive with the prize on show.
Stuart Bingham is one of the biggest names on show on Wednesday morning. This is a big match for him as he looks to regain his place in the top 16 because the riches on offer in the main draw are large. Xing Zihao also has plenty of motivation to get the better of him when they meet as he is looking to qualify for a home tournament. Two other Chinese players will be looking to qualify for an event in their homeland in the morning session. Xiao Guodong will be a warm favourite to see off Ishpreet Singh Chadha while Zhang Anda has a tougher test against Alexander Ursenbacher. Sam Craigie meets Thor Chuan Leong in the other game.
We have three matches to enjoy over the course of the afternoon session on Wednesday and it is the Thai star Noppon Saengkham who will be the highest ranked player on show. The form book would suggest he should cruise into the main draw when he meets Victor Sarkis. Jimmy Robertson is the next highest player on show. He is expected to have an equally as comfortable task when he faces Anton Kazakov for a spot in China. The other match might be more competitive when the former world champion Graeme Dott takes on the talented Liam Pullen.
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Hossein Vafaei is one of the highest ranked players on show all week and he will look to make it through in the evening session when he takes on the best woman to play the game in Reanne Evans. Gary Wilson is only a place behind Vafaei in the world rankings in what is becoming an intriguing race to The Masters. The Scottish Open champion will hope to make progress at the expense of Mohamed Ibrahim. Two veterans meet in a key encounter for both in the other game as Mark Davis takes on Rod Lawler.
There isn’t a huge amount to go at over the course of Wednesday but there is one bet which I like the look of and that comes in the morning session where Zhang Anda looks a good thing against Alexander Ursenbacher. Ursenbacher did well to go to Q-School and get his tour card back but he hasn’t really capitalised on that yet. Since getting his card back he has gone 1-5 on the main tour and looks like he isn’t really as competitive at the level as he would want to be.
What I like about Zhang Anda is that in just seven matches this season he has made seven centuries and a pair of 80s so half of the frames he has won this term have been won with an 80 break or above which is excellent scoring whoever you are. I always say a lot of the task in these qualifiers is to score and the Chinese player is certainly doing that right now. He carries plenty of motivation into this match with him with the main stages of the tournament being in his homeland and so I expect the Zhang form, which has already delivered a win over Ben Mertens and a draw with Barry Hawkins, to carry him to a fairly comfortable win here.
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