With the 4th ranking event of the season rapidly approaching, we take a closer look at the impact of the draw for the 108 entrants who make up the 18 groups in the 2016 Swedish Masters.
The very first group provides us with the kind of interesting mix that only SMPT events can produce, with competitors from four nations, including the 2015 European Masters finalist Gary Moore (Ireland), former British Isles A Series Champion Mitchell Young (England), two combative Norwegians and the Swedish pairing of Annelie Wikström and Daniele Giorgini.
Group 2 will witness three seasoned England internationals, Peter Hore, Stephen Proctor and James Smith, pit their wits against each other – as they all contend for that elusive first SMPT ranking title.
Defending Champion Cecil Dillon’s toughest test in Group 4 looks like it will come from in form Englishman Paul Pomeroy whose confidence will be high after reaching the finals of both the UK Open and World Fours Masters.
World number three Jonathan Payne will start as the favourite to top Group 6, however, England’s Dom Reed, Bowls Norway’s number two Ole Berg and the popular Swede Robin Hansson will provide stern tests for the Belgian.
In Group 8, British Isles runner up Lawrence Moffatt (Scotland) comes up against the Swedish trio of Rosa Albrektsson, Fredrik Larsson and Victor Andersson, whose consistency on the domestic circuit has been rewarded with qualification for the forthcoming World Championships in March.
Reigning Irish Open Champion Dimitri Payne (Belgium) and World Cup Winner Jorgen Karlsson will have their sights firmly fixed on Cup qualification from Group 9, as will father and son, Joel and Jonas Hager from Group 10.
The world number one Mark Beattie (Ireland) comes up against twice SMPT medallist Bronagh Toleman in Group 11, as well as three Norwegians including the promising youngster Runar Helin.
In Group 13, England starlet Jack Pye renews his rivalry with current World Cup and 2-Bowl Masters Champion Dick Almen (Sweden). Bente Dahlgren, the highest placed lady in the Bowls Sweden rankings, will push them all the way if her previous performances on hard floor surfaces are anything to go by.
Singles specialist Neil Davidson (England) will be battling it out in Group 15 with Norwegian number one Lars-Rune Lauritzen and Stephen Gale (Isle of Man) whose recent form has seen him figure highly on the Order of Merit.
One of the home nation’s most improved players, Magnus Nordin, fresh from two national championship victories in 2015, will be hard to beat in Group 16. Other Swedish stars tipped for sustained runs in this event are Lars Hansen (from Group 14) and Tommy Dahlgren (Group 18). Meanwhile, in Group 12, Marcus Almen and Ingemar Dahlgren will have to see off the challenge of two times SMPT champion Michael Ivings, who will be keen to transfer his consistent team form to the singles discipline.
Following defeat in the knockout stages of the Cup to Irishmen in all 3 ranking events so far this season, England’s Lee Toleman will be wary of the threat posed by Irish outdoor champion Tony Bell and his countryman Uel Finlay who join him in Group 17.
Only one thing is certain, the 2016 Swedish Masters will be a hugely enjoyable and high quality event. As always, you can follow all the action as it happens with the SMPT’s unparalleled coverage via the live feed on our website.