World Championship 2018 – Last 16 Preview

The last 16 round started yesterday of course, with two matches already underway, but I chose to wait until the conclusion of the last 32 before venturing into predictions. So here goes…

Joe Perry v Mark Allen

This is one of the matches that already started and it currently stands 5-3 to Allen. Really however it should have been 4-4 and I fully expect this match to be very, very close. Mark Allen is a big occasion player and I would normally make him favourite. But Joe Perry is playing very solid and should be under little pressure having already exceeded expectations by beating the Defending Champion and World n°1. I’ll sit on the fence here. Prediction: 13-11 either way.

Kyren Wilson v Jamie Jones

Everyone will remember Jamie Jones run to the QF in 2012. Can he repeat the same feat this year? Possibly. But Kyren Wilson is not nicknamed “the Warrior” for nothing and I believe that he will prevail. In fact I believe that he’s a serious contender to reach the Final. There is no doubt that he will want it, the question is about how he will be able to handle the Crucible pressure  and how the memories from the Masters defeat will affect him. Prediction: Kyren Wilson to win 13-9

John Higgins v Jack Lisowski

“Theppy” gave John Higgins a good run for his money. John branded Jack an “upgrade” on Theppy. In many ways is a great summary of why Jack might well cause an upset here. Just like Theppy, Jack is ridiculously talented and frighteningly attacking. However he’s shown in the first round that he also has a solid safety game and that he’s able to rein his attacking instincts in when necessary. On form he puts any opponent under huge pressure. I will be bold here. Prediction: Jack Lisowski to win 13-8 

Ricky Walden v Judd Trump

Ricky is on the mend but not at his best just yet, and his confidence is still fragile. Judd only just survived the last 32 and once again showed extreme vulnerability under pressure and a denial attitude afterwards. This could become a twitch fest if it goes to a third session. I really struggle to predict the outcome here. So I’ll go with what I’d like to see… Prediction: Ricky Walden to win 13-11

Ding Junhui v Anthony McGill

Anthony was realistic and totally honest yesterday evening: he will need to improve massively to stand any chance. Ding looks relaxed and happy as well. He seems to deal with the pressure of expectations much, much better than in the past. For all of Anthony’s fighting qualities, I think that Ding will prevail comfortably. Prediction: Ding Junhui to win 13-6

Barry Hawkins v Lyu HaoTian

Young Lyu HaoTian has already exceed expectations being the only debutant to reach the last 16. Yesterday evening he was 4-0 down at MSI, but finished the session only 5-3 down. Hopefully he will be able to enjoy the match and give a good account of himself. Can he win? I doubt it given Barry Hawkins record at the Crucible over the last years. There is nothing fancy nor fussy about Barry. Just rock solid. Prediction: Barry Hawkins to win by 13-9

Mark Williams v Robert Milkins

You can never be quite sure what you will get from Milkins. He can be extremely dangerous or he can miss all sorts. It’s largely on the day. Over three sessions I somehow doubt that he will maintain the consistency he would need to beat an old fox like Mark Williams, especially when said old fox seems to be back near his best and more hungry than ever. Prediction: Mark Williams to win 13-8

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Carter

Ali impressed me favourably in the first round. He played very well and there were no signs of impatience or surrendering to frustration at all. Ronnie came through, fighting hard  after a disastrous first session. This match should be close. The stats are massively in favour of Ronnie though. Prediction: Ronnie to win 13-10