Final Eight Set for Crucible Show Down
It has been a very interesting World Snooker Championships thus far with a number of shock results as top seeded players tumble.
Most notably, Mark Selby, the world number one, fell at the hands of Joe Perry. Other seeded players playing no further part after the first round were other former champions in Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson.
These elite players were joined by other seeds in Luca Brecel and Marco Fu leaving the tournament quite open.
The second round actually saw the seeded players bounce back with the only major chock being Ali Carters dismissal of Ronnie O'Sullivan. Ever the crowd favourite O'Sullivan was beaten 13-9 to give Carter his first ever ranking event win against the 5 times champion.
Into the Last 8
The final eight are now set.
Matches start at 10:00am UK time this morning with Mark Allen v Kyren Wilson and Ding Junhui v Barry Hawkins.
This is followed up in the afternoon session with John Higgins v Judd Trump and Mark Williams v Ali Carter.
Each player is ranked inside the top 16 and each player will be thinking this could well be a great opportunity to lift a world title.
John Higgins will be looking to lift his fifth World crown and Mark Williams his third.
Both of these players are now in their forties but are still continuing to win major ranking events and feature in the business ends of tournaments. Age seems to be just a number and experience really does count in this sport.
I have always said John Higgins is one of the best multi-session players we have ever had. He simply is never beaten and knows how to grind out a result.
Could it Be Their Year?
Two players that always get a mention when it comes to not quite having fulfilled their potential are Ding Junhui and Judd Trump.
Trump will play Higgins, as I mentioned above, and although in the eyes of the bookies Higgins starts as favourite maybe we should not write off the Bristolian.
He came through two tricky matches against Chris Wakelin and Ricky Walden to book his place in the quarters and was pushed quite close in both encounters.
That little bit of luck when maybe not playing at his best could be what is needed to win a world title.
Ding is by far the best export China has produced, he is a player of undoubted class.
He booked his place in the last eight having only dropped 7 frames and has looked in commanding form. For me I think Ding is now the favourite but it will be interesting to see whether he can hold his nerve.
Of the other four players both Carter and Hawkins have previously reached a World final. Carter in 2008 and 2012, where he lost to O'Sullivan on both occasions. Hawkins in 2013, where he also lost to The Rocket.
They both have bags of experience and Carter having beaten O'Sullivan in round two really does have that monkey off his back and will see it as a real opportunity to go one better.
Mark Allen won his first major this year having lifted The Masters crown and looked reasonably confident in beating Liam Highfield and Joe Perry.
Likewise, Kyren Wilson has had a decent year, two finals in ranking events and beaten by Allen at The Masters. Previously has never gone past the quarter finals and seems to be doing the business without much in the way of fanfare so could be a good shout for a semi-final spot.
My effort at predictions in round 1 was not brilliant, lets be honest, but I will have another go below:
Mark Allen 13 v 9 Kyren Wilson
John Higgins 10 v 13 Judd Trump
Ding Junhui 13 v 7 Barry Hawkins
Mark Williams 13 v 11 Ali Carter
Have your say...
As I said, I didn't make a great guru of predictions in round 1 and have halfheartedly had another pop here, have your say via email or in the comments. But be nice!