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British Open - Snooker: Preview

Mark Williams is bidding to make a successful defence of the British Open title that he won last year when play gets underway in Milton Keynes.

The Welsh Potting Machine got the better of Gary Wilson in the final last term and that was the first time that this tournament had been contested since way back in 2004.

Ronnie O'Sullivan, who first lifted this title in 1994 is back for another crack, as is 1995, 1998 and 2004 champion John Higgins.

What2022 British Open
WhereMarshall Arena, Milton Keynes
When26th September - 2nd October
How to watchITV4
OddsRonnie O'Sullivan 5/1, Mark Selby 16/1, Judd Trump 7/1

Form in short supply

Without the plethora of events held in china the snooker calendar has looked a little bare this season. The Championship League was beefed up to a ranking event, but that is extremely short-format action and the worth of that form isn't hard to question.

However, the recent European Masters was played over the best-of-nine-frame format and that does look a useful potting guide going into the British Open.

Kyren Wilson broke a two-year tournament winning drought when lifting the Furth crown earlier this month and runner-up Barry Hawkins also showed that his game is in a good place.

There was also an excellent run from defending British Open champion Mark Williams and fellow Welsh potter Jamie Jones reached the quarter-final with a solid win over Yan Bingtao.

Shaun Murphy has been struggling to find his best game for sometime, but the Magician looked to be gaining some ground in Germany, before he was stopped by the eventual champion Wilson at the last-16 stage.

What can we expect from snooker's stars

Ronnie O'Sullivan is the 5/1 British Open favorite and the reigning World Champion. The Rocket declined the invitation to play in the European Masters, and outside of the Championship League, we haven't seen a great deal from the Chigwell cueman this season.

However, O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mark Selby were all involved in last weekend's World Mixed Doubles competition, and while that was somewhat of a novelty event, it does at least serve as much-needed match practice.

Selby in particular looked in good nick and the Jester has been keeping himself busy on the pool table in recent weeks. Clearly, that's a different game, but perhaps it may just freshen the Leicester potter up and it certainly at least gets his arm moving.

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Qualifying considerations

There are plenty of held-over first-round matches at the Marshall Arena but there are some cuemen that have already qualified for the second-round.

Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day, Zhang Anda, Ding Junhui and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh all booked their spot in the tournament proper in impressive fashion, and with a competitive contest under their belt, that quintet could prove a handful for their second-round rivals.

The likes of Selby, Trump, Mark Allen, Jack Lisowski, Luca Brecel, Higgins, Williams, Wilson and O'Sullivan still have to get past a first-round opponent, but it would be unwise to expect too many of those baize stars to fail.

Draw conclusions

As ever the draw of a competition plays a major role in plotting a path to success and it looks likely to have an even bigger impact than normal on this year's British Open.

The tournament looks terribly top heavy, with the majority of the fancied runners all housed in the top-half of the draw.

Ding, Gilbert, Selby, Trump and Higgins will have to navigate that tricky section and that does lead you to look to the bottom-half for potential winners.

O'Sullivan has avoided that bottleneck and the Rocket looks to have a nice chance of claiming just his second British Open title.

There also looks to be a chance for some less prolific winners to shine in the bottom-half of the draw. Ben Woollaston, Stevens and Jimmy Robertson all look to have an opportunity to have a good run in the event and it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see a new name break from the crowd and lift the British Open crown.

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