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Friday, 12 April 2013

World Championship Qualifiers,round up & final round preview

There was a time in the not so distant past,that if you wanted to get snooker scores for non televised events,you either went to ceefax or hoped the papers the next day might carry them.Times have certainly changed and this was never more evident then with this weeks qualifying rounds for the World Championship.Not only were we able to access live streaming of two tables during each session,but also via the live scores section on the world snooker website and a  small but dedicated group of tweeters we were treated to a frame by frame(and sometimes a ball by ball) account of the matches as they unfolded.

Thanks to this we were able to get a much clearer picture of the drama that is the qualifiers as 80 men battle it out to leave  the 16 who will make the trip to the spiritual home of snooker next weekend,The Crucible theatre.

Before we get to the final qualifying round this weekend lets briefly look at the week so far.

The first high profile casualty this week was Luca Brecel who couldn't repeat his heroics of last season,when he became the youngest player to reach the Crucible,losing here 10-6 to amateur Fraser Patrick.Luca really hasn't made the progress many were expecting this year and apart from his super run to the UKChampionship quarter finals he has struggled to make an impact on the circuit.It may be too early to be saying this as he is still only 18,but I think next season could really be a make or break one for the young man.

Also exiting early was Cao Yupeng who shocked Mark Allen in last years first round but went out here to Zhang Anda in round two.

The fairytale of the week was the run of Joe Swail who came through three pre qualifying rounds just to get to round one and enjoyed victories over Advani and Duffy before eventually going out to Mark Joyce.The word is that Swail will be rejoining the circuit proper next season and it will be great to have the likable Ulsterman the game,

There was to be no fairltale for  Steve Davis who was perhaps a little unfortunate to run into one of the seasons form players in Kurt Maflin.The difference in this one was the heavier scoring of Maflin and from 6-6 he played his best stuff of the match to win 10-7.It is looking increasingly likely that Davis's last hurrah,as far as the Crucible is concerned was that great victory over John Higgins in 2010 and if it is well I suppose there were worse ways to sign off..

For Maflin,he will again need to score heavy when he takes on 2002 champion Peter Ebdon.If he can do this he has a chance but if it becomes a dogfight you still have to favour Ebdon..

When Steve was going out on one table another veteran was keeping his Crucible dream alive on another as Jimmy White followed up his victory over Tian Pengfei with a win over Xiao Goudong and now faces Robert Milkins in the final qualifying round.The Whirlwind hasn't reached the Crucible since 2006 and I think few would begrudge him one last standing ovation in the arena he lit up for so long.That said he will have to be at his best to get past Milkins.

Jamie Jones enjoyed a run to the quarter finals at the championship last year but has had a  miserable season this year and it was to continue here as he went out 10-9 to Liam Highfield.This one had a typically tense finale but Highfield impressed earlier in forcing his way back into it and I wouldn't be surprised to see him beat Marcus Campbell and make his Crucible debut.

Irish interest again comes in the shape of the two men who carried to flag for Irish snooker over the last twenty years,Ken Doherty & Fergal O'Brien.Doherty has had a pretty successful season on the whole,qualifying for most events and it wouldn't be the biggest shock in the world to see him get by Matthew Selt here.

Fergal on the other hand  has a much trickier assignment against one of the games rising stars Jack Lisowski.Jack has shown some great form of late and followed up good showings in China and Galway with a comprehensive 10-4 victory over James Wattana here.His problem here will be coping with the pace Fergal plays at but I feel Jack is getting to a stage now where these types of matches are not a problem to him and expect him to progress to make his Crucible debut.

Another stand out clash see's Ryan Day take on Ben Woollaston.Twelve monthes ago Day caused a major shock beating Ding Junhui in the first round at the Crucible and followed up that by repeating the feat in the UK.Apart from that though,the man who once promised so much has not produced any consistent form and he may just be caught out here by someone,in Woollaston who is very much on the upgrade as a player.

These are some of the more intriguing clashes we'll have over the next two days but other matches that are worth checking out include Tom Ford taking on Alan McManus,,Alfie Burden playing Dominic Dale,Marco Fu taking on David Gilbert.and Mark Davis playing Liang Wenbo.

I think it's fair to say then we are in for a weekend of nerve jangling action as we wait to see who the 16 men will be who will join the games elite in the hat on Monday for the draw for the first round at The Crucible.As a wise man once said,"Lets get the boys on the baize"

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