The next big occasion for the snooker season is the World Grand Prix which gets its start on February 19th. The event, hosted at the Guild Hall in Preston will be the fifteenth ranking event of the season and there will be no title defence from anyone this season as Barry Hawkins, the 2017 champion has failed to qualify for the event. With Ronnie O’Sullivan set for an appearance in Preston, it is the Rocket who is trading as the 10/3 outright favourite at Paddy Power.
Snooker World Grand Prix Reigning Champion
Barry Hawkins produced a win to collect the third ranking title of his career in last year’s edition. Hawkins beat out Welshman Ryan Day 10-7 in the final. However, he hasn’t done enough to get himself back into the competition this year.
The top 32 players on the order of merit are the ones who get to take their place at the, Snooker World Grand Prix. That is based on the one-year ranking from the 2017 Riga MAsters through to the recent 2018 Snooker Shoot out. Heading up the qualifiers is Ronnie O’Sullivan as the leader of the Order of Merit, with the last player to squeeze their way into the tournament being Robert Milkins.
1 Ronnie O’Sullivan
2 Mark Williams
3 Judd Trump
4 Luca Brecel
5 Shaun Murphy
6 Mark Selby
7 Ding Junhui
8 John Higgins
This is a straight knockout competition with the first two rounds being played over the best of seven frames. The quarter finals are the best of 9 frames, the semi finals the best of 11 frames and then the final is the best of 19 frames. The draw is simply organised by seeding. The top seed plays the lowest seed, second seed plays the 31st seed and so on until the middle where 16th plays 17th seed.
Breaking all that down it leaves top seed O’Sullivan in the top half of the draw along with 4th seed Luca Brecel, 5th seed Shaun Murphy and 8th seed John Higgins. Down in the bottom half of the draw, you have 2nd seed Mark Williams, 3rd seed Judd Trump’s, 6th seed Mark Selby and 7th seed Ding Junhui and all that makes the bottom half of the draw a much tougher path for players to try and grind their way through.
Snooker World Grand Prix Winner Odds*
Ronnie O’Sullivan 10/3, Mark Selby 9/2, Judd Trump 8/1, John Higgins 9/1, Mark Williams 12/1, Neil Robertson 14/1, Ding Junhui 14/1, Shaun Murphy 14/1, Mark Allen 20/1, 22/1 bar* (betting odd taken at 8:57 p.m. on January 16th, 2018).
Snooker World Grand Prix Contenders
O’Sullivan reached the final of the inaugural edition of the Word Grand Prix back in 2015 but was toppled there by Judd Trump. He fell in the second round last season in the tournament with Neil Robertson having gotten the better of him. Since his triumph at the UK Championship, O’Sullivan hasn’t been back in the winner’s circle and he was well below par in his quarter-final defeat against Mark Allen at The Masters. This is probably as good of a time as any to totally opposed the rocket, especially at those odds.
Mark Williams has found a nice bit of form for himself recently with a win at the Northern Ireland Open being followed up by a success recently at the German Masters. That should at least put him in contention in this one although he is in that tough bottom half of the draw and could have either Ding Junhui or Kyren Wilson to content with at the quarter final stage. Not a bad each way flutter given the current form though.
Murphy won the World Grand Prix title in 2016 but was stopped in the quarter finals of his title defence last season by Ryan Day. His big moment of this season really came at the Champion of Champions tournament in Coventry when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the non-ranking event. He did get himself all the way to the semi finals of the German Masters recently so that could put a bit of wind in his sails for another title assault
The Welshman was narrowly edged out in a decider in the German Masters quarter finals against Shaun Murphy recently and he was runner-up at the World Grand Prix last season. He is a big price to go and win this thing by at the end of the day a tidy 40/1 each way bet at Paddy Power* (betting odd taken at 8:57 p.m. on January 16th, 2018). He could have an early duel with Murphy though in the round of sixteen and the winner of that potential clash would look value to make a semi-final berth so he could be in this.
Trump makes our list of contenders in Preston. He bombed in the second round here last season, but with him going to the semi finals at the Masters and then against at the German Masters it looks as if he isn’t too far away from a title. Trump has one ranking title this season having won the European Masters out in Belgium. The one stumbling block would be that he is the tough bottom half of the draw and would have to get through Mark Selby or Neil Robertson on his way maybe even Mark Williams to get to the final. He will basically have to bring his A-game.
Snooker World Grand Prix Predictions
We like the look of Mark Williams and Judd Trump to come through the bottom half of the table. It’s so congested down there though that anything could happen. It is Trump and Williams of them all though who are carrying the better form. It is worth skipping over O’Sullivan at the moment which blows the top half of the draw open. The winner of the potential Ryan Day v Shaun Murphy clash would be worth considering going all the way in that top half.Pages: