12bet.com UK Championship Preview (part 3)

by Timmy Evans

In the final part of my preview, I profile the chances of all sixteen bottom half players in their bid for glory this December.

Ali Carter:
Quietly making his way to second in the rankings, Carter won the first mainstream ranker of the season and has been in consistently good form for over a year. Rarely spectacular, his results are quite impressive on paper, and he deserves more respect than what he is getting right now.

Mark Joyce should be little trouble for the captain over seventeen frames, but in spite of his commendable consistency, I feel a surprise second round exit on the cards.

Verdict: Second round

Mark Joyce:
Provisionally ranked a lowly 54th, Joyce, an unknown quantity of sorts, has already exceeded expectations in making the final stages. He did just that with a noteworthy 9-2 thrashing of Steve Davis.

I can’t see him taking out a man of such solid consistency in Ali Carter though, and in truth five frames would be seen as good return.

Verdict: First round

Jamie Cope:
The monkey is off his back. Cope has broken into the top sixteen, a task that has eluded him for so long, too long for a man of his undoubted potential.

Superb at his best and truly awful when off colour, Cope’s PTC form has been patchy, and he could be vulnerable against another young player with plenty to prove: Judd Trump. It should be a tight one, but I feel it could be early doors for the Shotgun.

Verdict: First round

Judd Trump:
Having won a PTC earlier this year, Trump has finally shown mild signs of building on his reputation as a potential top player.

He’s been disappointing in the early years of his career, and if I’m being truthful I feel he was overhyped to begin with, but he is seriously talented, great to watch and there’s little doubt he’s no slouch. A very positive run in Telford would be a great step in the right direction… and I think he can do just that.

Verdict: Quarter-finals

Stephen Hendry
Winner: 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996
Runner-up: 1988, 1993, 1997, 2006

A nine times UK Finalist, and a winner on five of those occasions, Hendry boasts the most impressive UK record of the 32 participants, but will be nowhere near the title this time out.

He’s a million miles from the player who trounced all comers in the nineties though, and the man who suffered most at his hands during that period lies in wait. There’s little to suggest that Hendry will make much of an impact on the tournament, although inside reports suggest he has been practicing hard, while White has shown signs of good form. Small consolation for all those losses could be on the way to White, who has done so a few times against his nemesis in recent years.

Verdict: First round

Jimmy White:
Winner: 1992
Runner-up: 1987, 1991

Jimmy White was an eternal bridesmaid to Stephen Hendry during the nineties, but the Whirlwind, undoubtedly one of the finest players to ever pick up a cue, may receive a small modicum of compensation in the latest chapter of their intriguing rivalry.

It goes without saying neither man will contend for major titles again, but this pairing still holds enough magic to be named tie of the round. White to take a famous win, as good as the title at this stage.

Verdict: Second-round

Mark Williams:
Winner: 1999, 2002
Runner-up: 2000

Firmly re-established as one of the top men again, the brilliant Welsh player is a serious contender for top honours this time out.

Twice a former champion, Williams should have too much power for Mark Davis, and he should go very deep from there. Can he win his first major since 2003? It’s a big possibility, but I feel a semi-final run is the most likely occurence.

Verdict: Semi-finals

Mark Davis:
After a fine 2009/10 term that brought a six-reds World title and a win at the Crucible against Ryan Day, Davis finds himself on the verge of the top sixteen, a testament to a good, hard working professional.

Another appearance in the final stages of one of the top events will do him no harm at all, but his draw has been very unkind. He’ll exit early, but expect a tough resistance from Davis.

Verdict: First round

Shaun Murphy:
Winner: 2008

A winner here two years ago, Murphy has shown strong PTC form, and a return to the longer formats that tend to suit him will be welcome for the 2005 World Champion.

A very adept performer in longer tournaments, Murphy is always going to be very tough to beat over seventeen frames and has the potential to pull off a surprise win to mirror his acheivements in 2008. That said, I feel Neil Robertson will more than likely win the quarter, with Murphy exiting at the last eight.

Verdict: Quarter-finals

Patrick Wallace:
His Cinderella run at the 2001 World Championship seems like a desperately long time ago, but it’s nice to see Wallace back in the final stages of a tournament.

He faces a tricky opener against a long-match specialist in Shaun Murphy, and his hopes of repeating that kind of magical run is obviously very unlikely. Early doors.

Verdict: First round

Mark King:
Spectacularly unspectacular, King continues to hang around the top sixteen while seeming to do very, very little.

He has been fortunate with the draw. Ryan Day has had a season to forget and forget again, and the fact that he has even made it to the final stages is a surprise in itself. King to go through, but, naturally, in unspectacular fashion.

Verdict: Second round

Ryan Day:
It’s been a horrible campaign to date for the Welshman. Just a handful of PTC wins to his name, his appearance at the UK Championship has taken me aback. That’s how far he has slipped since his fine performance in Glasgow two years ago.

He takes on Mark King, a solid if slightly dull campaigner, and I think Day would be doing well to take a win.

Verdict: First round

Peter Ebdon:
Winner: 2006

Back in the top sixteen after a barely significant absence, Ebdon has gone about his business quietly in securing a seeding for an event he won deservedly in 2006.

Drawn against a decent opponent in Andrew Higginson, I fancy Ebdon to make round two and push Neil Robertson (who traditionally struggles against Ebdon) close. A narrow second round exit beckons, but quarter-finals wouldn’t altogether surprise me.

Verdict: Second round

Andrew Higginson:
One of the nice guys of the tour, Higginson is also a very nice player. Not an easy man to take a win against, his run to the Welsh Open final has been backed up with a handful of decent displays since.

Solid throughout the PTCs, I’d be surprised if he beat Ebdon over seventeen frames, though a win is not beyond him.

Verdict: First round

Neil Robertson:
World Champion, World Open Champion, World Number One. It’s been an amazing year for the brilliant Australian both on and off the table. He has proven the doubters wrong time and time again, and he will be a serious contender at Telford for his second major title.

He faces off against Rory McLeod in round one, a man who may cause him problems but is unlikely to beat the Aussie, while a difficult assignment against Ebdon in round two could shake him a bit. Should he overcome that hurdle, Robertson is good enough to take the title, or at least go very close to doing so.

Verdict: Runner-up

Rory McLeod
Beating a disappointing Liang Wenbo in the qualifiers, McLeod is a tough, gritty player. Nobody will queue up to watch him play, but he is a man to be respected and is getting on well with his business.

He has taken the short straw in the shape of the World Champion, but McLeod is good enough to cause him a few scares. A win would be asking a little too much though.

Verdict: First round

Discuss this article..