Of the 23 players taking part in the PTC Grand Finals, 12 will also be at the Crucible.

For the rest – apart from Mark Davis and Gerard Greene, who have qualified for the China Open – Dublin represents a last chance saloon to rise up the rankings this season.

It’s that time of the snooker year again: if you’re still in the World Championship you are walking tall, the hat on the side of your head. If you’re not, you’re down in the dumps. The game’s biggest event is just around the corner and you’re not in it.

It makes a big difference in mindset. The season traditionally ends with the World Championship so if you’re already out the temptation, whether conscious or not, is just to go through the motions in any remaining event.

But the Grand Finals carries 3,000 points to the winner – plus the small matter of a £60,000 first prize – so the campaign could still end on a real high for one of the non-qualifiers.

Even so, the players with the momentum are those already booking their hotels for Sheffield.

One such is Matthew Stevens, who plays Greene tonight.

Stevens is the perfect example of how the increase in tournaments has helped players rediscover their touch.

The Welshman has always been a great talent but in previous seasons found it hard to get any confidence on board due to the stop/start nature of the schedule.

Like Stephen Lee, another former ranking event winner, he has found that playing more has seen his form return.

Now it seems he is playing all the time. Even if he wins the title on Sunday he will be at Crondon Park next Monday for a possible four days of Championship League, then straight on the plane to Beijing and, a fortnight after that finishes, the Crucible beckons.

Stevens will be full of confidence, all due to a single ball, the black he potted to beat Fergal O’Brien 10-9 in the final qualifying round.

After potting it he did something out of character: clenched his fist and screamed with delight.

That’s what it means to be Crucible bound, and that’s why the players headed there are likely to be the ones to watch over the next few days.


Betty Logan said...

The cut-off points have taken much of the heat out of the end of season ranking battles. You could scrape in now, be out by the Masters and back in for the next world championship. The first round at the Crucible was almost a tournament in its own right, when you factored in the guaranteed appearance money for the following season.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Matthew Stevens that pleased to qualify was absolutely delightful.

See the footage at prosnookerblog.com if you've missed it.

kildare cueman said...

A possible negative for the PTC finals in Dublin may be the unfortunate clash with the Cheltenham festival.

Racing is massive in Ireland and Cheltenham is dominating the media here at the moment.

It doesn't help that Doherty is out either. The main news carries coverage of his matches when he plays.

Those facts aside, I wouldn't even know the tournament was on if I wasn't a regular visitor to snooker websites. It doesn't seem to be that well promoted.

Betty Logan said...

What do you expect Kildare? No Ronnie, no world champion, no world number 1, no Jimmy, no Davis or Hendry, no partisan interest...I can't imagine anyone's getting too excited about the current line-up.

Sparky said...

Betty: There is ONE world no 1 present, namely the provisional world no 1...:)

wild said...


who cares players missing.

personally i couldn't give a stuff its good to mix it up. that where excitement comes from not the same players all the time.

jamie brannon said...

It is does add a bit of variety but I find it slightly strange this event sees the winner get £60,000 and many major ranking events don't get £40,000.

I understand some invitation events have even greater prestige than some ranking tournaments.

However, with what Dave said about the format and the distorted field, then this not more important than any of the major raning events, although is an argument for it to be graded as a major ranker, considering the points on offer?

Anonymous said...

I for one will be watching. Sure, it probably won't be like German Masters but I'm full of hope.