Worldsnooker has now published the format for the last 16 of the Players Championship 2017. Matches are best of 9, with an interval.
This is how it pans out, with my short preview for each match in the round:
Mark Selby (1) v Ryan Day (16) – Tuesday 1pm
Mark Selby has not been in the best of form since his UK Championship win last December. Ryan Day has got some excellent results lately: a final in the World Grand Prix, the final of the Winners Group in the Championship League Snooker and a semi-final yesterday in Gibraltar. He’s a cracking player when on form. Can he cause an upset? It is possible, but Mark Selby being Mark Selby I still expect the World Champion to win this one especially if it gets close.
Prediction: Mark Selby 5-4 Ryan Day.
Marco Fu (8) v Anthony McGill (9) – Tuesday 1pm
This one is very, very difficult to call. Marco Fu, when on form, is extremely dangerous and a month again I would have picked Marco as the winner without thinking twice. However when not on form he can be really poor, and since his semi-final in the World Grand Prix, he’s gone out of the Welsh Open early and failed to qualify for the China Open. On the other hand, Anthony McGill is in this draw mainly because he won the Shootout (no comments). Other than that he’s done nothing great recently either. So I will side with Marco.
Prediction: Marco Fu 5-3 Anthony McGill
Ding Junhui (5) v John Higgins (12) – Wednesday 1pm
This is a match between two players who’s forms have been up and down. Neither of them got great results recently although John Higgins won the Championship League Snooker just over a week ago. But this is a very peculiar tournament, behind closed doors, with a very short format. I wouldn’t read too much in it. So this is a big question mark for me: I have no clue.
Therefore I will go with the wishful prediction: Ding Junhui 5-3 John Higgins.
Stuart Bingham (4) v Anthony Hamilton (13) – Monday 7pm
Stuart Bingham has won the last ranking tournament he’s entered: the Welsh Open (no I’m NOT counting the Shootout!); he’s playing well. Anthony Hamilton has won his first ever ranking event in Berlin last month beating Stuart in the semi finals, and Ali Carter in the final; he’s playing well too. So? Well … I predict a decider and I’ll be bold.
Prediction: Anthony Hamilton 5-4 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (3) v Neil Robertson (14) – Tuesday 7pm
I can see only one winner here going by recent performances.
Prediction: Barry Hawkins 5-2 Neil Robertson.
Ali Carter (6) v Shaun Murphy (11) – Wednesday 1pm
Another one that’s difficult to predict. But … Shaun has just got a rather tiring week-end in Gibraltar and had to travel back only today. Ali Carter has the type of game that can cause Shaun problems: he’s a very sound all-rounder with a solid brain. He’s very capable in tempting the very attacking “Smurph” in taking a few too many.
Prediction: Ali Carter 5-3 Shaun Murphy.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (7) v Liang Wenbo (10) – Monday 7pm
A rematch of the Masters first round … with the same result? Possibly. It’s hard to predict Ronnie’s form. It’s not been great recently but he’s been playing a lot of best of 7 and I’m not sure it suits him best. He tends to do better in longer matches. Remember he was 4-1 down on Joe Perry in the Masters final… Liang can be unpredictable: a ferocious potter when on form but prone to the odd reckless shot under pressure. I expect it to be close, but I slightly favour Ronnie.
Prediction: Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 Liang Wenbo.
Judd Trump (2) v Mark King (15) – Tuesday 7pm
Now this one … I suppose most will favour Judd Trump here, but, I’m not so sure. Mark King is very good at winning in broken play, messing the table, no big breaks but picking the awkward balls. I don’t think this will suit Judd. Either Judd will be able to impose his game, and win most frames in one visit, or I can see Mark King winning this. Those who watched the final yesterday will know what I mean: Judd lost the frames that went scrappy.
Prediction: Mark King 5-4 Judd Trump OR Judd Trump 5-1 Mark King (you choose, I can’t)
With my apologies to all the ones I just jinxed (doh!)