The World Championship qualifying event continues on Friday and it does so with the second round of the competition carrying on as another 12 matches take place over three sessions of play with everything on the line for some of those involved.
The end game is qualifying for the Crucible but for some of those in action on Friday their tour survival is at stake. We saw a number of players lose their professional status on Thursday so we’re guaranteed drama on Friday.
Mark Davis is the highest ranked player on show in the morning session on Friday and he will get the TV table treatment as he bids to make it through to the third round. He will go up against James Cahill who is already sniffing out another return to the Crucible. Andrew Higginson is the next highest ranked player taking to the tables in this session. He takes on Daniel Wells knowing that if he loses he will be heading to Q-School to stay on the tour.
Cao Yupeng has no such tour survival issues because he is in the first year of his tour card so he’ll be able to relax when he takes to the table. He meets Sanderson Lam who could be on the verge of something special himself if he can win this match. The other match in this session sees Steven Hallworth playing for his tour status when he takes on Yuan Sijun. Anything but a win for Hallworth and he’ll be heading back to Q-School.
Matthew Stevens is a former finalist in this event but he’ll have to win three matches if he is going to compete in the main draw this season. The first of those comes against Gerard Greene in a match where if the Welshman doesn’t win he’ll be left sweating for his place on the tour. David Grace is the other leading light on show. He will meet Iulian Boiko who had a brilliant result in the opening round and will be looking to build on that.
Ashley Carty is another of the players on show in this afternoon session who will fall off the tour if he loses this match. He goes up against Jackson Page who had a good win over Sean O’Sullivan in the first round and will be looking to build on that. The other match sees two youngsters going at it when the Chinese player Gao Yang takes on the Welsh amateur Dylan Emery who looked good in walloping Mitchell Mann in the previous round.
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Elliot Slessor is the top rated player in the evening session and his second round opponent is his fellow northerner Ian Burns who had a very impressive win over Marco Fu to get his campaign underway. Slessor dropped out of the top 64 on the rankings on Thursday so needs to win here to get back in them again. Chris Wakelin has been to the Crucible before and he’ll begin his quest to get there again when he goes up against the speedster Jamie Wilson.
Oliver Lines has had a good first season back on the tour and he’ll look to crown that with a run in this qualifying competition. He’ll begin that against Peter Devlin who needs a miracle to remain on the tour but did have a confidence boosting win in the opening round. The other match might be one for the purists as Ken Doherty takes on Rory McLeod in a clash which would have been odds on to be hooked off early if it was in one of the first two sessions so it might be no bad thing that it is in the evening.
I’ll go with one bet on Friday and it comes in the afternoon session when I think Jackson Page can get the better of Ashley Carty who is under so much pressure in this match it is untrue. He isn’t just entering the tournament looking for three wins to qualify for the Crucible. He has to win here and probably the next two after it to stay on the tour. When you consider he has only won seven matches all season the size of that task looks pretty big.
Carty has lost his last three matches and the latest of those was in Gibraltar where he was beaten by Farakh Ajaib which isn’t going to do anything for his confidence. He hasn’t won a match for six weeks and so I’ve got to think that Page, under much less pressure in this match and with a win under his belt already this week, is the one to be on. He didn’t just beat Sean O’Sullivan earlier in the week but he smashed in a ton and three other decent breaks. If he can come out of the traps here he could make this a comfortable afternoon and as the player on the up I’ll take him to do just that.
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