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Snooker
  • It’s that time again, everyone. A fortnight of chalky fingers, clattering balls and suppressed coughs.

    I’m going to be a bit busy with work stuff this year, unfortunately, but I’ll certainly do my best to keep you all abreast of major developments.

    Here’s the draw. First round games are Best Of 19, with the seeds on the left and the qualifiers on the right:

    • Ronnie O’Sullivan (10) V (4) Marcus Campbell
    • Ali Carter V Ben Woollaston
    • Stuart Bingham V Sam Baird
    • John Higgins (3) V (6) Mark Davis

    —————————————————

    • Shaun Murphy (10) V (5) Martin Gould
    • Graeme Dott (6) V (2) Peter Ebdon
    • Matthew Stevens V Marco Fu
    • Judd Trump V Dominic Dale

    —————————————————

    • Neil Robertson V Robert Milkins
    • Ricky Walden (10) V (1) Michael Holt
    • Mark Williams (6) V (10) Michael White
    • Stephen Maguire V Dechawat Poomjaeng

    —————————————————

    • Mark Allen V Mark King
    • Ding Junhui V Alan McManus
    • Barry Hawkins (10) V (3) Jack Lisowski
    • Mark Selby V Matt Selt

    It’s been a tumultuous couple of years in the world of snooker, and there’s still quite a bit of in-fighting between a few of the top players and the new top man, wheeler-dealer Chairman of Leyton Orient Football Club and all-round business impressario, Barry Hearn. The feeling had been that the sport was on its knees, with flagging public interest and something of a closed shop of a tour in which the top 16 players were cossetted and stale. Hearn has completely shaken things up, with 4 times as many tournaments now taking place, and with the top stars now required to travel around the world relentlessly and qualify for televised stages on merit rather than reputation. The result is a lot more younger, hungrier players coming through and some of the older players with families struggling to maintain their status. World champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew from the tour completely and the headline story for this year’s championships is his semi-shock announcement that he will play his first competetive match for 12 months and defend his title. He’s already coasted through his first round match, and my tenner is riding on him winning his fifth title (I got 6/1).

    These are the bookies’ odds, and a quick lowdown on a few of the main men:

    • 7/2 Ronnie O’Sullivan
    • 6/1 Neil Robertson
    • 13/2 Mark Selby
    • 13/2 Judd Trump
    • 12/1 Ding Junhui
    • 12/1 John Higgins
    • 12/1 Mark Allen
    • 14/1 Stephen Maguire
    • 16/1 Ali Carter
    • 40/1 bar

    Ronnie O’Sullivan

    ronnie

    Flawed genius, 4 time winner and defending world champion, The Rocket seems more at ease with himself after his sabbatical and I can only see his old foe, John ‘Cheating Weasel’ Higgins threatening his passage through the less hard top half of the draw. If it were anyone else who hadn’t played a competetive match all season, you’d give them no chance, but O’Sullivan is the most naturally gifted player of all time, and is always the man to beat.

    Footnote - Dad did a stretch for armed robbery

    Neil Robertson

    robertson

    2010 winner, the ‘Thunder From Down Under’ is trying to be the first overseas player ever to win the competition twice. With a combination of flair and gritty determination, he looks a good bet to make the semi-final, at least.

    Mark Selby

    selby

    The ‘Jester from Leicester’ is the form player coming into the tournament, and has already won the Masters and the UK, the two other big titles in snooker’s Triple Crown. He has a very tough quarter of the draw though, with the occasionally brilliant Ding Junhui, the dogged Mark Allen and the in-from Barry Hawkins all potential finalists.

    Judd Trump

    trump

    Came from nowhere in 2011 to reach the final aged 21 and has since won 3 ranking titles. His form this season hasn’t been fantastic though and he may struggle to live up to the hype.

    Ding Junhui

    ding

    An extremely disappointing year for the Chinese contingent as Liang Wenbo, Yu De Lu and a handful of others all got knocked out in last week’s qualifiers, leaving only Ding and Marco Fu flying the flag. Poor old Ding always seems to crack under the pressure. In China he’s a megastar and he for someone who once looked like being the natural heir to O’Sullivan’s throne, he never seems to thrive at Sheffield. I’d love to see him win it, but it feels unrealistic now.

  • People in Australia play snooker? I must be hanging out at the wrong TABs…

  • YES

    BEST THREAD EVER IS BACK

  • AWWW YEAAAAAH

  • Two more seeds, Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy, have swanned majestically through to the second round now, whilst 4-times World Cheating Weasel, John Higgins is excitingly 6-3 in arrears overnight to my fellow Sussexonian, Mark Davis, from just down the road in Hastings.

    But the big story is 21 year-old Welsh man-child, Michael White knocking out his fellow countryman and former potting machine, Mark ‘The Welsh Potting Machine’ Williams

    white

    Michael White

    Maguire, Carter and Allen all start their matches today, whilst Higgins V Davis and Ebdon V Dott play to a finish.

    Right, off to work.

  • Praise be! The giant-killings have continued today with the not-a-moment-too-soon elimination of once proud but now disgraced John Higgins, dumped out 10-6 by Mark Davis. Higgins can’t even blame his age as Davis, a long-time journeyman pro suddenly hitting the form of his life, is older.

    Davis joins a long line of snooker Davises with Crucible pedigree, including Joe Davis (1901-1978), the grandfather of the modern game, his brother Fred Davis, who was a finalist at the age of 64 and won 3 titles without even learning how to put side on the cue ball, and of course Steve Davis, a.k.a ‘The Nugget’, a.k. ‘The Golden Cueman’, a.k.a. (or at least, as my friend Giles’ nan used to call him) ‘The Ginger Cunt’.

    davis

    Mark Davis

    joefredcunt

    A Maximum Of Davises

    Elsewhere, Peter Ebdon has ground his way back to 6-8 against Graeme Dott in the battle of the grinders. They have to play an extra session as a result of slow play in the match everyone’s politely ignoring. The winner will go through to bore Shaun Murphy in the second round.

    Mark Allen is 5-5 with Mark King, while Dechawat Poomjaeng is off to a good start on his debut, leading Stephen Maguire 5-3

  • ‘The Ginger Cunt’

    Shame if there isn’t a seedy quayside pub by this name somewhere in Britain

    Great thread, as always!

  • Today’s Early Morning Eliminated Seed Bulletin brings the news that whinging Ulsterman Mark Allen has been despatched by the man who spent so long with his cue ball that he started to physically resemble it, Mark King. More news in as we get it.

    king

    Mark King

  • A bit of controversy today as Graeme Dott says snooker needs a rule change to stop deliberately slow play by the likes of Peter Ebdon. Dott has just beaten Ebdon, but they had to come back for an extra late night session.

    dott

    Graeme Dott

  • Enormous excitement meanwhile as unknown Thai ball-basher Dechawat Poomjaeng is on the brink of a massive upset, leading 9-8 against Scottish stubblemonger, Stephen Maguire!!

  • There it is - 10-9 in a deciding frame thriller. Another well-fancied player leaves the competition and one of Poomjaeng or the 21 year-old MIchael White will now make the quarter finals. Trump, Ding and Selby though, look like restoring a bit of normality as they lead their matches 6-3, 7-2 and 6-3 respectively.

    poom

    Dechawat Poomjaeng

  • Yes, sorry everyone, I’ve been too so busy with work (well, work and watching snooker) that I wasn’t able to keep this project up.

    Still, my heart will be supporting Hawkins in the final, while my betting slip will be supporting Rotten Ronnie.

  • This mixes two of my interests: Andy Zaltzmann giving a run-down of this year’s championships