So far Brazilian Igor Figueiredo seems to have hit the ground running which is very impressive since he was playing on 10x5ft tables until recently. He's definitely one to keep a close eye on, although at 32 years of age he's joining in at a very late stage, and would not have had the chance if the wildcard criteria of 12 months ago had been repeated.
Lui Chuang reached the Crucible at the age of 17 a couple of years ago before dropping off the tour. The only other players to have achieved this feat are Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump. So he's one I've been keeping an eye on and I expect him to flourish over the next couple of years.
Anda Zhang impressed many at the World Championship qualifiers earlier this year, and he gave Hendry the fright of his life at the Crucible, making him consider retirement before he pulled himself together and fell over the line. Zhang has the nickname "Mighty Mouse" because of his diminutive stature and he's living up to the Mighty part so far in the qualifiers.
And the one who so far is impressing me the most if you can be impressed without actually seeing someone play and basing your thoughts on scores, is Michael White. He was one of the names to look out for a couple of years ago, and I remember a youtube clip of him confidently knocking in a total clearance and he looked like he'd been playing for years. As I write this he is in play against Dominic Dale in the Shanghai Qualifiers with the winner to play Peter Ebdon who has already got his excuses in for losing!
So those are my 4 outside tips for the coming season. Looking higher up the rankings I think it's about time Judd Trump and Jamie Cope started to show what they were capable of on a more consistent basis, and I expect to finally see some big matches between Neil Robertson and Mark Selby who along with O'Sullivan and Higgins are the best players in the world at this moment in time.
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