The majority of the second round of the European Masters makes up the Wednesday card inside the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as a number of players go in search of more ranking points to help them in their various quests this term.
We lost the defending champion Mark Selby on Tuesday which means that we will get a different winner this year. Some big names will be looking to move themselves into a better position for it to be them over the course of Wednesday.
We are down to just the four main tables being used over the remainder of the tournament and on the two main ones on Wednesday morning we have a couple of competitive looking matches. When the draw was made for the qualifying for this earlier in the season Zhou Yuelong and Graeme Dott were 16 and 17 in the rankings. They meet on the main table with both having slid down the rankings since then so both will be eager to win this match. The other main table will see the former Shootout champion Ryan Day meeting Ashley Carty.
Two matches will take place further out in the arena and they include the man who will defend the Welsh Open title next week in Jordan Brown. The Northern Irish potter will look to follow up his win over Mark Selby on Tuesday when he meets Xiao Guodong. Brown is only one more decent week from possibly automatically qualifying for the Crucible so there is plenty on that for him. Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel meets Sunny Akani in the other match.
Two of the greats of the game will be the headline attractions on the two main tables on Wednesday afternoon when Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins are on show. They won’t meet each other until later in the week if both keep winning though. O’Sullivan will be on the TV table when he takes on Wu Yize 24 hours after another Chinese player Zhang Anda took him to a deciding match. Higgins has the much tougher challenge of Tom Ford.
There are a couple of household names in the other two matches as well. They will be on the streamed tables with the beaten finalist of last year, Martin Gould, who isn’t without a chance of making it through to the World Championship by right, taking on Fraser Patrick. Ali Carter is surprisingly down at 26 in the world in the provisional rankings but he can elevate that a little if he can get the better of Ashley Hugill who is having a decent event so far having taken care of Jack Lisowski earlier in the week.
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The evening session is loaded with talent with four members of the top 16 in the rankings all on show. Judd Trump will know he dodged a massive bullet in the first round on Tuesday evening when he came back from 4-2 down to beat Jak Jones and he will be on the main table again here when he meets Kurt Maflin while over on the other main table Kyren Wilson will bid to make it into the third round when he meets Fan Zhengyi.
Anthony McGill was in excellent form in dispatching Hossein Vafaei on Tuesday evening and his reward for that is to be back in action on one of the streamed tables. He meets Mitchell Mann, who like McGill came through without losing a frame on Tuesday. He beat Thepchaiya un-Nooh to set up this contest. The other match sees two ranking event winners going at it when the former Masters champion Yan Bingtao faces off against a Joe Perry who is showing signs of finding some form recently.
Judd Trump almost went out of the competition on Tuesday evening when Jak Jones looked to have him right under it and ready to finish him off but the Champion of Champions winner of earlier in the season came good at the right time. I expect him to face another test on Wednesday evening though against a Kurt Maflin who knows he has to win matches after embarking on a very light schedule this season so far, something which might not cost him from a tour place point of view this season but could in the next one if he doesn’t win a few matches between now and the end of the campaign.
I don’t know whether Maflin will take out Trump, he does tend to have a habit of falling just a little bit short against the bigger names as we saw in the German Masters last month when Shaun Murphy pipped him in a deciding frame, but he can certainly challenge them and with Trump nowhere near the dominant force he was this time last year, the Norwegian is certainly not without a chance in this match. If you use Bet365s Asian handicap market you can actually get half your stake back if Maflin loses 5-2, which should be the least someone of his class loses by, but if he can win three or more frames you win in full. I think that offers up decent value as Maflin would need to have a stinker to only win one frame. He appears to be scoring well so I’m happy he’ll get two frames and will risk half my stake that a third comes along for a nice reward.
Back K.Maflin (+2.75 frames AH) to beat J.Trump for a 3/10 stake at 1.90 with Bet365