European Masters 2016 – Day 1

It was a busy day in Globul Circui in Bucharest as 10 matches were played, 8 last 32 and the two held over last 64. All matches were either streamed or on television, which is excellent.

Those who watched on television might be under the impression that nobody was there watching live: this is not the case. The first rows were reserved for VIP tickets holders and that early in the tournament not many of those turned up, especially during daytime on a working day. But there were people higher up, and no, the clapping weren’t a “recording” as someone jokingly suggested. The audience did build up as the day progressed and by the time the last match got underway – Ronnie O’Sullivan v Daniel Wells – the arena was half full, which means there were as many viewers there than at the Crucible roughly. This is a big arena!

I’m extremely grateful to the promoters, Thiess-McCann, for giving me the opportunity to watch every match in this great tournament, I can’t thank them enough. So the least I can do is report on it faithfully! 

As there is only one of me, when there were two matches in progress, I had to choose, and I stayed in the main arena. I must say that the view on the table is excellent, much better than in the Crucible actually (unless you are sitting in the front rows). If you are someone my size, at the Crucible you might well end-up watching the matches on the screens because the best part of the table is obscured by the heads and shoulders of the tall guy in front of you. Not here, the shape of the arena is such that you have a good view from every seat.

Now about the matches I watched …

Last 32 – Anthony McGill beat Ali Carter by 4-3

This was a very tactical match, very interesting, and very different from the exhibitions the Romanian audience had the opportunity to watch in this arena before. It was a high quality match as well, the last frame was the only frame without a 50+ break, and Anthony was the heavier scorer: he had a 96 and a 107. He was also the more patient: Ali banged the table quite hard on a couple of occasions in frustration. And maybe this was a key factor actually.

Last 32 – John Higgins beat Michael Holt by 4-0

I had high expectations about this match but it wasn’t quite to be. John Higgins is playing well, no doubt, he had twi centuries too, but, in fairness Michael Holt never put him under any pressure whatsoever. Michael had occasions in every frame, yet only he scored 31 points in the whole match. Also I can’t remember him getting even one ball from distance. Was this really the same guy who beat Ronnie in Shanghai? Well, of course, every player has bad days and clearly it was one of those for Michael. It happens. Just a pity for the audience: I’m sure many like me anticipated a good battle.

Last 32 – Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott by 4-2

This was a rematch of the 2010 World final, and it yielded the same winner. It was in fact a close and very entertaining match, with both players playing positively at a good pace. I never understood why so many think that “Dotty” is slow and boring, he’s anything but! There were 8 breaks over 50 in 6 frames mind you, including a 112 by Neil in the last. This says it all!

Last 64 – Mark Selby beat Fergal O’Brien by 4-0

This was as one-sided as one-sided can be! Fergal never got going, and Mark had 4 breaks over 50, in 4 frames. He finished with a 109. Quick and clean. The World Champion is a man on form!

Last 64 – Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Daniel Wells by 4-0

You can read all about this one here.

Regarding the matches on the second table, I can’t say anything, having seen none of them. I am surprised though by the 4-0 defeat of Marco Fu at the hands of Andrew Higginson, not that Andrew isn’t a good enough player, he certainly can beat anyone on his day, but the scoreline is quite severe! Now Marco is known for being a bit inconsistent at times and when he has a bad day, it usually is a very bad day.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as always.

Official match photography from the European Masters in Bucharest. All photos by Lewis Ward

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