Further to last week’s announcement detailing the opening matches of the top eight snooker stars competing in the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham, four more players have had their first round ties scheduled.
The world ranking event runs from February 4 to 10 at the Centaur arena, and it’s the first ever professional snooker event to be held at Cheltenham Racecourse.
First round matches have now been scheduled for the players currently ranked 9 to 12 on the one-year list: Stuart Bingham, Jimmy Robertson, Joe Perry and John Higgins.
The first round matches already in place are:
Monday February 4
Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan v opponent
2018 Masters champion Mark Allen v opponent
Former World Champion Stuart Bingham v opponent
Tuesday February 5
Current World Champion Mark Williams v opponent
Triple Crown winner Neil Robertson v opponent
European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson v opponent
New Masters champion Judd Trump v opponent
Cheltenham’s rising star Jack Lisowski v opponent
Former Players Championship winner Joe Perry v opponent
Wednesday February 6
World number one Mark Selby v opponent
World Open finalist David Gilbert v opponent
Four-time World Champion John Higgins v opponent
The leading 32 players on snooker’s one-year ranking list qualify for the event. The field is not yet confirmed as there is still one more counting event, the German Masters which finishes on February 3.
Other top stars currently in line to qualify include Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins and Ding Junhui. The full draw and format will be announced as soon as it is available.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “Last week we witnessed an incredible Masters tournament in London which showcased the golden generation of snooker stars. Now is the time to come and watch them live.
“And there is a growing sense of excitement about coming to Cheltenham for the first time as it will be a fabulous venue for live snooker. The opening night is a tremendous line up with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham among the eight players in action. But tickets must be booked in advance as certain sessions will sell out.”
Televised by ITV, the Coral World Grand Prix is the first in the Coral series, to be followed by the Coral Players Championship in Preston and new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Jack Lisowski is aiming to take his consistency levels up another notch as he steps up preparations for his home event, the Coral World Grand Prix, at the Cheltenham Racecourse.
The Gloucestershire cueman is already enjoying his most consistent season on the World Snooker Tour. Lisowski reached his maiden ranking final at the season opening Riga Masters back in July, where he fell just short against Neil Robertson. Further strong showings earned him a place at Alexandra Palace last week, where he made his Masters debut, losing out in the first round.
Lisowski’s close friend Judd Trump lifted the Paul Hunter Trophy on Sunday night at the Masters and received plaudits from analysts and experts for his safety play throughout the week. Now Lisowski, ranked as the second fastest player on the tour, believes he must emulate Trump’s improvements in the tactical department.
World number 16 Lisowski said: “Judd’s safety play was so strong last week. If you combine that with his scoring, it makes him very tough to beat. My scoring is normally there, but my safety play lets me down. You always need to score, but to become a more consistent player I need to get my safety sorted. I’m definitely working on my concentration at these big events. It is coming and I’m only 27, so hopefully it can all click soon. It is all about repetition when practising. I’ve been hitting lots of safety shots, which I have never really done before. I’m putting it into my routines every day. I think I’m getting better, but I guess we will see in the coming months.”
There are just under two weeks to go until the World Snooker Tour heads to Cheltenham and local star Lisowski is getting to grips with prospects of the additional pressures which come with playing in front of a home crowd.
“There have been more people than ever asking for tickets. That is understandable. It is my home town. There is going to be a lot of local support and I hope that can spur me on to try my best. I really hope I can have a good run,” said the 27-year-old. “I’ve seen the racecourse and it is such a classy venue. I’m really excited now.”
Lisowski is just coming off the back of a disappointing first trip to the Masters, where his first round defeat was a heavy one, losing out 6-1 against Ding Junhui. However, he is keen to take the positives and learn from the experience.
“I remember the first time I played at the Crucible in Sheffield and Barry Hawkins completely bashed me up. I felt like a fish out of water. That was a bit like how I felt the other day,” admitted Lisowski.
“The second time I played at the Crucible I was much more confident. I found everything a lot easier. I’m going to put that one down to being my first time at the Masters. The crowd were crazy and so passionate about snooker. It was the most people I’ve ever played in front. If I can get back there next year, I think I’d be a lot calmer.
“To just have qualified Masters was such a buzz for me. Now I need to work harder than ever to make sure I stay in that position. I want to continue to ride the rankings and become a top player. It is one step at a time. I’ve got in the top 16, I want to stay there now and keep going in the right direction.”
The World Grand Prix marks the first stage of the brand new Coral Series, which also encompasses the Players Championship and the Tour Championship. The 32-man field will be cut in half for each with the following events hosting 16 and eight players respectively. This is all based from this season’s one-year money list with each player starting the campaign with the same chance of qualification. Lisowski is relishing the opportunity to try and progress in the series.
“I’m currently in seventh place, so I have a realistic shot of getting into the Players Championship. Hopefully, if I can do well, then I can hold on for the top eight and reach the Tour Championship. As a player it gives you an incentive because the rewards are there. It just makes me want to work even harder. This is a great time to be a snooker player.
“I’m finding the tour so much more enjoyable now. Two years ago I was struggling. I was trying to qualify for the tournaments, but I wouldn’t even get in. As a result I often missed out on going to China and all of these cool places. You just don’t feel involved in the tour. However, I haven’t lost a qualifier for a long time. I’ve been in every tournament and I’m enjoying it so much more.”
I quite like Jack and hope he does well.
This is how things stand ahead of the German Masters 2019 (source snooker.org)
The reason why the draw can’t be made is because the line-up can still change. Gary Wilson in particular is vulnerable, with Zhou Yuelong and Robert Milkins capable of overtaking him if they reach the QF stage in Berlin. Shaun Murphy isn’t safe either and can’t afford an early exit at the Tempodrom.