It has been argued in places that now we are down to two tables in the main arena,that this is where the tournament really starts and it is difficult to argue with that assessment.Whatever the arguments for or against the flat 128 draw,one of the things that will have to be looked at are the congested and down right confusing opening few days where it proved almost impossible to follow what was happening even for those of us who were actually making a real effort too.I can't imagine what the casual snooker follower made of it.
So that said,what of those big names we talked of?Well coming in the games current big four of Ronnie,Ding Robertson & Selby looked to be the favourites for this and each still remain in the hunt as we reach the business end of things.It's probably fair to say none of them have played up to the level we have gotten used to recently,but in truth they haven't needed too against opponents who haven't really pushed them.That will change from now on though as the opponents get tougher.
If the title doesn't go to one of these men,the next group .to look at are the other course and distance winners in the field and we also have four of them left with John Higgins,who has made his way quietly through to this stage away from the tv tables,Stephen Maguire who,despite his dislike of the format,has shown a real desire to stick around with a couple of good comebacks,Shawn Murphy who has started to find his game again after a poor season so far and Judd Trump who has possibly put in the best performance of anyone here this week in the last round against Xiao Guodong.indeed his match against Mark Allen looks to be the tie of the round.
In one of the rare sections of the draw that did open up following Marco Fu's shock exit in round one it is Irelands David Morris who has come through to continue what has been a really good season so far for the man who had to requalify through Q School having fallen off the main tour.His run in the Wuxi Classic during the summer proved what a talent this young man is and he is very much starting to establish himself as Irelands number 1.He faces a tough test in the next round though against Stuart Bingham,but I really don't think a result here is beyond him.
The first of the last 16 matches get underway tonight and by tomorrow evening we will be down to the final 8.By then things really will have started to get serious and the controversies of the opening few days will,at least temporarily,be put to one side as we wait to hail our champion on Sunday.