Snooker News

Gibraltar Open: Preview and Draw

Next stop on the roadshow this season is the Gibraltar Open, which gets under way on the British Overseas Territory on Wednesday.

gibraltar-open-2017The Gibraltar Open is one of the three survivors from the old European Tour – or PTC era – alongside the Riga Masters and the Paul Hunter Classic.

This would understandably come as a bit of a surprise to many given the fact that the inaugural staging back in 2015 was a poorly attended tournament which offered far less than some of the other European satellite events of the time.

But a three-year contract, of which 2017 is the second, had already been penned, thus enforcing a long trek for many of the players hoping to pocket valuable ranking points at this crucial stage of the campaign.

There was a time not so long ago when there were many critics of the sprint best of seven frame format which encompassed all the European Tour events, but the Gibraltar Open arguably now represents a welcome middle-distanced ranker given the recent single-frame Shoot Out last weekend.

Four top 16 players, including Ronnie O’Sullivan and defending champion Marco Fu, have opted out of travelling south of Spain for this outing but the likes of Mark Selby, Judd Trump, and Neil Robertson help make up a highly competitive line-up.

With only four ranking events left in this hectic term, there is certainly a lot to play for with €25,000 on offer for the champion this Sunday.

Of immediate pressing concern is the qualification for the upcoming Players Championship in Llandudno, where the top 16 money-earners from this season gain a lucrative invite.

The first 15 names have already guaranteed their spots in Wales, with 16th runner Ryan Day the last man occupying one of the coveted positions.

Only Joe Perry and Mark Williams can prevent the Welshman, but the former requires at least a run to the final and Williams needs an outright victory to even have a sniff at dislodging the World Grand Prix runner-up.

The trio is also among a plethora of players who are fighting for the final few places in the top 16 in the overall world rankings, where automatic qualification for the World Championship is at stake.

Anthony McGill’s Shoot Out success helped the Scot leap into 15th in that provisional list with around ten competitors in total gunning for around three spots to avoid the dreaded qualifiers at Ponds Forge.

One of those is David Gilbert who, after suffering a controversial defeat in Watford which put an end to his Players Championship ambitions, launched a further attack on World Snooker for scheduling his first match in Gibraltar on Friday afternoon despite the fact he will be competing in the Championship League climax the evening before in Coventry.

Aside from all those talking points, down the other end of the spectrum will be the lower ranked players fighting for their careers as time starts to run out for tour survival.

The Gibraltar Open, like all prior European Tour events, is open to amateur players and the two preliminary rounds feature dozens of hopefuls who will hope to make their mark on the main draw over the next couple of days.

Among them is Irish trio Greg Casey, Charlie Sweeney, and Daniel O’Regan, who will be attempting to join countrymen Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien, and Josh Boileau in the last 128 – which begins on Friday.

Coverage of the tournament will be provided by Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw.

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