Snooker News

Welsh Open Preview

This week sees the Welsh Open take place in Newport.

The tournament is the third oldest ranking event on the calendar but it certainly doesn’t boast that high a reputation in terms of prestige.

In fact, many would argue that the event in Wales is possibly the least important of all the fully-fledged ranking competitions.

Since last season each round up until the quarter-finals is played under a best-of-seven format – likening it to the satellite PTC minor ranking series.

The Welsh Open crown used to be a highly regarded trophy, especially when it was staged in Cardiff from 1999 to 2004.

However, its return to Newport brought little reward and crowd numbers and prize funds have steadily dwindled as the years have gone by.

Welsh fans still love their snooker – it has always been a hotbed for the sport – but the whole aura surrounding the tournament is rather flat and it would be surprising to see it remain in existence unless major changes are made.

Even this year, with the introduction of the new qualifying system, there have been puzzling choices made – particularly with regard matches being held over from qualifying to the venue stage.

But anyway, it is what it is and the players just have to get on with it.

Some big names have already been knocked out in the preliminary stages held in the last few days, most notably last week’s German Masters champion Ali Carter who lost 4-2 to Gerard Greene.

For Carter to go from the elation of triumphing in front of 2500 adoring fans to the despair of being forced to compete in a cubicle in front of one man and his dog in the space of seven days is almost farcical.

Peter Ebdon, Mark Davis and Martin Gould have also gone by the wayside but most of the other higher ranked players have avoided becoming an early scalp.

Defending champion Ding Junhui, as well as Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins and Welshmen Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day and Dominic Dale all still technically have to qualify but have the luxury of playing their qualifying round at the venue tomorrow.

The last 32 proper gets under way on Tuesday with Irishmen Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien still in the mix.

The clash between Berlin’s beaten finalist Marco Fu and Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen is probably the pick of the ties.

But one name to look out for could be Englishman Ian Burns, who has performed brilliantly in his rookie season so far.

The 27 year-old takes on Neil Robertson and could be a dark horse with the shorter format.

For whatever reason, homegrown players have traditionally struggled in this event.

Williams is a two-time champion but he has not fared well in the last decade or so and none of the others have stepped up the mark either.

Perhaps a strong showing from the local contingent this year could reignite the event’s fortunes.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 


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