Some interesting questions there PL and a good time to reflect on the first half of the season since the year is almost done.
Which player (or players) have impressed you most?
I'll go for the obvious choices here and say, firstly, Robbo and Ding. Robbo for the sheer amount of tons he's already had this season, his amazing consistency in all tournaments and by winning the Triple Crown of Snooker. Then Ding because he did something not been done since Hendry in 1990 which was of course win 3 rankers in a row. Ronnie too deserves a mention here, for the reason he won the CoC and the will he had there for the battle, so great to see when his heart and head is 100% focused on winning. Lastly, Bingham for reaching the Final of the CoC, and the way he performed at the UK Champs, knocking Ronnie out and coming back from 8-3 down in his semi, only to lose the decider. Forgot to mention Fu who in this 2013 year is having the year of his life, has reached 3 ranking finals, winning one of them.
Which player (or players) have disappointed you most?
I'll have to say Higgins first here, because I thought at the beggining of the season when the reached the final of the Wuxi and won a PTC he would have a great season, but no since then I don't think I've ever seen him play so badly, and his cue change is no excuse whatsoever for that. Trump too has disappointed, although I see some good signs from him in the upcoming 2nd half. Lisoswki, Michael White and Brecel for instance too have disappointed me, particularly Luca because he had a great chance of beating Mags at the UK Champs but some rash shots cost him the match.
Which player (or players) have surprised you most?
To start, Mehta for reaching the Indian Open final and making that home tourney a great one. Joel Walker too for his recent consistency, Kyren Wilson, and surprise surprise Ju Reti for winning the Asian PTC.
Have the changes to 128 flat draws worked?
I must admit I wasn't a big fan when all the fuss started at this UK Champs, but over a long term I do think it will work, its definately a fairer system providing equal opportunities for all the players, plus I think this venue in York shouldn't change because if we want a tourney like this and with this format to establish itself, constant venue changes won't help matters. A few things need to be reconsidered yes, but no system is perfect and this 128 flat draw is definately the way forward I think, like Tennis.
What do you predict for the remainder of the season?
I think Robbo and Ding may win another ranker, possibly 2, I'd like Ronnie to win the Masters and I think he has a great chance to do so, has to have a similar mindset to the one he had at the CoC and I see no reason for him not to win that one. Trump I think will rediscover his form and at least reach the semis of a ranker. The big ? is Higgins, I'm not sure he'll have that same form he had at the beggining of the season, but something tells me when we least expect it he may have another purple patch and possibly win a tournament. Selby too can win a ranker, but it remains to be seen how much that UK Final affected him. My guess is it didn't affect him that much, but may be on the back of his mind if he for instance reaches a ranker final and can't deal when the real pressure comes. You never know how a Final loss like that can have repercussions for a player.
Very long post, but it was worth to have an overall view of the 1st half of the season.