The Grand finals are of course the culmination of the season long PTC tour which this year included Asian PTC's for the first time.Barry Hearn said recently in an interview that this was possibly his favourite event and its little wonder when you see the enthusiasm these events met with during the year in emerging markets like Bulgaria and Belguim.This can only be positive for the game as it looks to become a truly global sport.
On to the Grand Finals themselves and this third staging of the event looks to be the strongest renewal yet .albeit we are missing the two previous champions Shaun Murphy and Stephen Lee for vastly different reasons.
That said when you look at the draw and see the likes of Trump,Selby.Robertson,Higgins,Maguire and Allen in the line up to name but a few, you know that those lucky enough to be in attendance are in for a potentially super week.
As has been the case for many years,hopes of a home victory once again fall to veteran Ken Doherty who has enjoyed a bit of a revival this season and even recorded his first tournament 147 in one of the early season events,The fact the Ken is still capable of mixing it with the top players on his day after all these years is testaments to the way he has dedicated himself to the his profession and who is to say that he with a strong tailwind he might not go far here.If he doesn't it certainly wont be for lack of support.
This has been such a long and up and down season for everyone that trying to tip any tournament at the outset has become an almost impossible task ,but I just got the feeling in the recent World Open that the top players were just beginning to find some form again in preparation for a final push towards Sheffield.The fact that Mark Allen won that tournament makes him strong fancy here this week but I just have a feeling watching the last couple of events that Judd Trump was starting to find his early season form again and that together with a strong record in PTC events might just see him in the winner circle come Sunday.
That is only a very tentative selection though as really anything is possible with such a strong field.Whoever the winner is though I hope, despite the fact that this tournament is taking place in the middle of two of Irelands most loved festivals (St Patricks Day & Racing at Cheltenham) that as was the case last year that the crowds flock to The Bailey Allen Hall for a great weeks action on the baize.I'll be heading over there myself later in the week.