The European Masters qualifying continues inside the Morningside Arena in Leicester on Wednesday when another dozen players will seal their spot in the main draw later in the season as the first straight knockout ranking event of the campaign starts to take shape.
We saw the odd big name on show on Tuesday and they continue to come along on Wednesday where we have another three sessions of action over the best of nine frames with everyone on show looking for the win that will get them on the plane to Germany.
As ever with these qualifying competitions the majority of the first session is taken up by matches involving Chinese players and one of those on show in the morning is Zhou Yuelong. He takes on Stuart Carrington who got his tour card back and will be looking to make headway. Cao Yupeng got all the way to the final day of the Championship League last week and he will be aiming to secure his spot at the European Masters at the expense of Andrew Higginson, who like Carrington secured his tour card at Q-School. Pang Junxu is the other Chinese player on show in the first session on Wednesday. He meets the former women’s world champion Mink Nutcharut. The other match sees Andres Petrov going up against Daniel Wells.
The Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins is another who made it to the final group stage of the Championship League last week and he will headline the afternoon session. He has a tricky looking assignment against Ben Woollaston to overcome. The World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui will also have plenty of eyes on him via the streams in this session. He meets the Shootout finalist Julien Leclercq is one of the better matches on the day. Also in this session Matthew Stevens will look to make it through to the main draw at the expense of Iulian Boiko while there is a good chance for one of Andrew Pagett and Jiang Jun to make it through to the main draw when they face off against each other.
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Anthony McGill is the headline draw in the evening session on Wednesday. He skipped the Championship League completely so he begins his campaign in this competition and will have to overcome the challenge of Dominic Dale if he is going to make it through. Ricky Walden is flirting with the top 16 and he will be looking to dispose of Lukas Kleckers, who himself will be hoping to qualify for his home event. Martin O’Donnell and Ashley Carty are both starting a two-year tour card and one of them will be in Germany as they meet in the evening session, as do two seniors when Ken Doherty takes on David Lilley.
One bet jumps out at me when I look at the Wednesday card and it comes in the afternoon session where Jiang Jun takes on Andrew Pagett in a clash I think the Chinese player should be the favourite in and where I am more than happy to take him as an outsider. Pagett opened the season with a poor day at the Championship League. He won just one frame in his three matches and was brushed aside with relative ease by Shaun Murphy and Tian Pengfei, which you would probably expect, but not so much Lukas Kleckers.
Jiang didn’t get through his opening group in the Championship League but he was still good enough to pick up a first win as a professional when he took care of HImanshu Jain. He also held Ryan Day to a creditable 2-2 draw so there was a lot more to like about the Chinese player in the first event of the campaign. I am always an advocate of the rising star over the fading force and the teenager fits that bill perfectly so at even money he is the bet for me.
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