Zhang Anda / Pagett to play Poomjaeng
Steadman / Jak Jones to play Steve Davis
winner to play Ken Doherty
This draw has the look of a set up because Steve Davis draws crowds and needs to stay on tour. How romantic if he wins a first round in which he is clear favourite, has a Saturday crowd pull in Poomjaeng in what will surely be a 10-9 qualifier classic with the winner to face Ken Doherty? Imagine that, Steve Davis having just secured his card for next year in his 10-9 Poomjaeng win, to play Ken Doherty for a place at the Crucible! Well that's the one they want. I bet Jason Francis is loving this section. And yes it would be great.
Poomjaeng to qualify
Highfield / Khaled Belaid Abumdas to play Jimmy Robertson
TT / Sandi Lam to play Anthony McGill
winner to play David Gilbert
I'm looking forward to seeing Lybian player Khaled Belaid Abumdas because he's not made a break of 20 since turning pro. That's the impression I get anyway but he can't be that bad ffs so tomorrow I'll find out if he really is.
Highfield hasn't fared too well since pulling out of the Indian after being scared by the weather hundreds of miles from his destination and refusing to fly. So much so that he's going to drop off the tour barring a remarkable run at the Crucible. On current form I don't expect either to get past Jimmy Robertson.
I think Anthony McGill could well come of age in this qualifying event. Last time he made a remarkable comeback against Rod Lawler and very nearly pipped him in the decider. I think Rod won it with a high break of 9 if memory serves. He played very well to beat Kyren in the UK and although Dave Gilbert is a high quality opponent, McGill has the quality to beat both him and little Robbo. He'll face the winner of Thirapongpaiboon and Sanderson Lam first though which you'd expect to be TT, but TT has been quiet of late so it remains to be seen how his form is at the moment. Not good enough to trouble Ants I would think.
McGill to quality
Pinches / Miah to play Burden
Kyren Wilson / Norbury to play Rod Lawler
winner to play Dotty
I'd like to see Hammad Miah go on a run because he's a player with potential who came through Q School last season and who looks capable of good things in the future. I think he'll give Barry Pinches a good work out, although he'll need to maintain his concentration to come through one of the tours battlers.
If he does then a match against Alfie looks very enticing although I'd have Alfie favourite to face Lawler or Kyren. On that one heart says Kyren but Rod is not Kyren's favourite type of player so it depends if he can stamp his authority on the match early doors and shake him off like Judd did in the German Masters semi-final. It's hard not to dismiss some players when doing a summary such as this, but I expect Kyren to beat Norbury. There is one problem for all though:
Dott to qualify
Martin O'Donnell / Shane Castle to play Higginson
Wells / Ryan Clark to play Kurt Maflin
winner to play Dominic Dale
It's a shame The MOD has drawn an amateur player who is very capable and has no pressure in terms of a tour place which Martin of course does. I hope he can come through this match, Castle will have plenty more chances in the future. If he does then he can beat Higginson but it depends on his tour status at the time of the match and form in beating Castle.
I think Ryan Clark will beat Daniel Wells, I've always referred to Clark as being very like Selby in his approach, he's very smart with his shots and he's got bottle. All things aside though, this is Maflin's best chance yet to get to the Crucible.
Maflin to qualify
O'Neill / Cao Xin Long to play Peter Lines
Paul Davison / Chris Wakelin to play McManus
winner to play Mark Williams
I have to admit I don't know who Cao Xin Long is so I reserve judgement on that section because he could spring a surprise, but I think Lines will win his opener. Snowy has a very tough draw in Wakelin and living in York our local hope is always Snowy so it would be great for him to have a run but I can't see it. I'm not sure Wakelin is ready to beat McManus yet but that's because I've seen how well McManus has been playing recently, he's on an Indian summer. He could give Mark Williams a problem, but Wakelin could give them all a problem.
Williams to qualify
Leslie / Keogan to play Mehta
Joel Walker / Allan Taylor to play Jamie Jones
winner to play Michael Holt
I'm looking forward to Walker v Taylor in this section, I think that could be a cracking game. In fact Joel could end up winning the group. However this group is stacked because he could have to beat Jamie Jones, Adi Mehta and Michael Holt to reach the venue and I think that's just a touch too hard in successive matches for him.
I would like to see Mehta at the Crucible, and much as he's a character on twitter and would be a popular qualifier, Holty has a tendency to enter meltdown in high pressure situations, none more so than at last year's qualifier he nearly blew a massive lead and then carried that form to the Crucible. Aditya on the other hand is very cool under pressure. It could be a qualifier classic.
Mehta to qualify
Wattana / Borg to play Campbell
Baird / Astley to play Cope
winner to play Mark King
I really hope Wattana has a run and regains his tour card. We could be witnessing the end of a legend if he drops off as there are so many good players in Q School I wouldn't fancy his chances of getting back on. Wattana is still mesmeric around the table and his bottle is always evident, it's just the natural decline and ability to sustain it at the moment for him. Still capable of great snooker on his day.
Sam Baird reached the Crucible last year and looked like a lost child under the lights. I'm sure he'd love to get back and have another go now he knows what to expect, and will want to do himself justice. He's got a great chance this time around if his natural scoring game is as good as it was this time last year.
And what has happened to Jamie Cope? When was the last time he featured in any match you watched on tv? He was on the path to genuine stardom, he should by early promise now be one of the tournament favourites, yet since developing a tremor in his cueing arm he's never been the same. It's almost cruel to have to write him off but it seems until he can resolve his problems and be playing at 100% his natural game that's all you can do.
Marcus Campbell will also fancy his chances of qualifying but will know he'll have to be at his best to beat Mark King who won't let anyone past him without a fight for that Crucible spot. I'm going to stick my neck out and back Sam to find his form in this event. If he doesn't, King qualifies.
Baird to qualify
Gary Wilson / Cahill to play Ford
Luca Brecel / Lee Page to play De Lu
winner to play Matthew Stevens
Gary Wilson is a dark horse for this section given his form this season. Luca also appears to be coming into form and a clash with Yu De Lu is definitely not one to be missed. Stevens will have his work cut out with either. Tom Ford is also a dangerous player for anyone to face, and could well beat Stevens himself. On current form though
De Lu to qualify
Chen Zhe / Ant Parsons to play Mark Joyce
Wasley / Syd Wilson to play McLeod
winner to play Milkins
It's good to see Snookerbacker Classic winner Ant Parsons get his chance in the biggest event and if he can get past sleepy he will have a chance against Mark Joyce. Wasley / Wilson is of interest to me because they were both amateurs in the Pink Ribbon I played in 3 years ago so to see them playing in the world championships is great, and Syd has been getting lots of good results recently so it will be a good game. I think the experience Wasley has gained since joining the tour will see him come through that one though. The winner has the honour of facing Rory the dentist, who will likely crush them slowly and painfully to death. The real interesting one is the likely group final, when the dentist faces the speed of Milkins. Slow v fast is always entertaining.
Milkins to qualify
Robbie Williams / Lyu Haotian to play Chuang
Hang / Yotharuck to play Advani
winner to play Fergal O'Brien
This group is loaded with some of the best Asian players in the draw. It will likely throw up some good matches. Liu Chuang hasn't lived up to his early promise but he's still very young in snooker terms and if on his game could be the danger man for the others. I want Pankaj to win it though, sod impartiality I'm using the heart ruling head card. Come on Pankaj.
Advani to qualify
Drago / Hull to play Pengfei
Burns / Patrick to play Jimmy White
winner to play Ebdon
Jimmy White could do with a win or two to retain his card. Oh look, he could be favourite to win his first match, and then guess what, he could play Tony Drago! How good would that be? And to round it off, a tough match against a former World Champion in one which is sure to draw the crowds. Genius random drawage.
Ebdon to qualify
Sean O'Sullivan / Mitchell Travis to play Martin Gould
Duffy / Igor Figueiredo to play Greene
winner to play Wenbo
Sean O'Sullivan has to overcome the Bradford amateur Mitchell Travis who made a name for himself by beating Marco Fu in the UK in York back in December. As an amateur he will have different pressure to Sean who is fighting for his tour card so in the same way as with MOD and Castle, I hope Sean sets up a clash with his mate, Gouldyballs. How strange they should be in the same section. Anyway, as far as Gould is concerned it seems his game has gone walkabout recently to drop a couple of ranking brackets. His class will shine through eventually, and this is the event to do it in, but with Gerard Greene in the section fresh from his PTC grand final fun and no doubt full of confidence, that would be a tough test if they meet. Gould v Wenbo could be a classic. Please happen.
Wenbo to qualify
Noppon / Vinnie to play Burnett
Donaldson / Ahmed Saif to play Yupeng
winner to play Woollaston
Noppon v Vinnie will be a good close match and the winner sure to test Jamie Burnett. Cao Yupeng hasn't done a great deal since his exploits at the Crucible last year but you would think him good enough to set up a clash with Ben Woollaston. If so then that could be a great match.
Woollaston to qualify
Carrington / Norman to play Lisowski
Grace / Muir to play Bond
winner to play Day
Carrington impressed me a lot when he won the English Amateur last year so he's a danger man. Lisowski has gone off the boil quite a lot recently, although he can still look very very good in patches. If he gets it together this week he's every chance of qualify. Dave Grace and Ross Muir will be a long match, both good match players and it just has the feel of a late finish about it. I have a hunch the winner will get past Bond. Lisowski v Day has a certain inevitability about it though.
Day to qualify
Dunn / Rhys Clark to play Selt
Morris / Ursenbacher to play Un-Nooh
winner to play Michael White
It would be great to see Dunn at the Crucible after his run to the semis in China and now with no pressure to retain his card. It's a tough group though, will he ride on the confidence of his recent triumph or will he suffer the after effects and jet lag?
I'm looking forward to watching the young Swiss Ursenbacher because he really is a genuine talent and one day could explode onto the scene winning a tv event from seemingly out of nowhere. I think he's 2-3 years off that but the kid has seriously got something. But then so has Un-Nooh who is the most Ronnie like player of all the players on tour when he's on it, the speed of thought and how easy he gets to 70+ in under 4 minutes can put the frighteners up anyone. Selt another capable of reaching the Crucible although Michael White is the favourite to progress.
White to qualify
Alex Davies / Swail to play Hamilton
Li Yan / Slessor to play Harold
winner to play Xiao Guodong
Swail v Hamilton winner to play Harold reads like a section of any qualifier for the last 20 years. That's the most likely scenario although Slessor will have a say of sorts at some point I'm sure. Hard to back against Xiao on current form and it would be great to see him at the Crucible. I'm sure the Crucible crowd will take to him.
Guodong to qualify
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