The Gibraltar Open – A Review

Sunday saw the culmination of the ManBetX Gibraltar Open and Ryan Day take his second ranking title of the season.

Day with the ManBetX Gibratar Open trophy
Day with the ManBetX Gibratar Open trophy -

Day won the Riga Masters in June 2017 and the win in Gibraltar has done his hopes of making the top 16, and so remove the need to qualify for the Crucible, no harm at all. Day isn’t in the China Open so needs a good run in the Players Championship in Llandudno to achieve that.

Many of the top professionals didn’t enter the Gibraltar event, and there were withdrawals for various reasons before it got underway. The withdrawals after the draw was done handed progression to amateurs, some very grateful as they were playing for points on the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA) Order of Merit and a place in the play-offs.

European Billiards & Snooker Association
European Billiards & Snooker Association

The EBSA Order of Merit is based on the two PTC look-alike tournaments, the other being the Paul Hunter Classic (PHC) in Germany last August, where amateur entries are accepted and the top 8 after the two events are rewarded with a place in the play-offs at the end of the season. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that the play-offs will take place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield after the World Championship Qualifiers. The two finalists will then be awarded the holy grail of two-years cards for the main tour starting next season. Last season Peter Lines and Gerard Greene took advantage of the system to get back on the tour

A lot has been said recently about new pros not being ready for the main tour when they qualify, as they haven’t had the experience of playing against top flight opposition. Although I don’t expect this route to continue next season, at least the chance to play against the pros in proper conditions is there.

The distribution of tour cards looks set to have a bit of a shake up next season with the advent of the Challenge Tour, the WSF Championships coming up and the IBSF route no longer available. Q School looks set to be very popular this year!

At the time of writing, the World Snooker EBSA Order of Merit page was awaiting updating, but the unofficial version, courtesy of Kin Dsa, can be seen here

It shows that Jamie Cope, Oliver Brown, Jamie Clarke, Andy Hicks, Joe O’Connor, Andy Simmons, George Pragnall and Brandon Sargeant are the top 8 with Barry Pinches just missing out.

There were some very creditable performances in the event and it maybe gives weight to the argument that there’s not that much of a gap from the top amateurs to the professional ranks.