This weekend sees the Tour heading back to Stromstad in Sweden for the 5th running of the Swedish Masters. Following the usual mid season break, we’re back into singles action with the 4th ranking event of the season. With players now looking to push on in the race for top SMPT honours, who will take the title in Scandinavia?
Here are our ones to watch!
This tournament will see an historic landmark for the 27 year old from Herentals, as he will become the first player to have played 200 matches on the Tour. Dimitri has enjoyed a solid first half of the season, making the Cup knockout in each of the ranking events so far. This has seen him cement his 2nd place in the World Rankings.
Dimitri looks certain to top Group 16 where he faces 2 Norwegians, 2 Swedes and an Englishman. He does however face a probable last 32 clash against World Cup winning Captain P.J Gallagher who may well thwart his attempt at bettering the bronze medal he won here 12 months ago.
This will be Peter‘s first venture outside of the U.K. on the Tour and he arrives in Stromstad on a high following a great showing at the British Isles Championships and his fantastic victory at the World Pairs Masters in December with Liam Smith. At just 21 years old, Peter looks to have a great future ahead of him and will be keen to better his quarter final appearance at last season’s World Masters.
Peter should make light work of qualifying from Group 18 but does have a tough match against fellow countryman John Lax which will feature on the Show Mat. A last 32 tie against another Englishman from either Group 15 or Group 13 looks likely.
It’s a welcome return to action for the 26 year old from Stromstad. Can Marcus emulate his success of twelve months ago and become the first player to defend a SMPT title? His impressive 85% win percentage from last season shows he has the calibre to mix it with the best!
Qualification into the Cup knockout looks a formality from Group 9 for Marcus where he faces a rematch of last season’s semi final against World No 3 Jonathan Payne. The winner of this Show Mat game is likely to top the group and Marcus could set up a last 32 tie against his uncle, Christer Almen.
Two time Order of Merit winner, Joel, is always a threat at any tournament and this will be no exception. It was at a hard floor venue similar to Stromstad where the ‘Machine’ secured his first ranking event title back in 2015, but if Joel is to secure his second title he will have to improve on his 61% win ratio this season.
A strong run is required to push up the OoM and break back into the World’s top 5 but as in Norway, Joel faces a tricky group. Matches against former Champion Morten Andre Coll & experienced Englishman Mitchell Young will be a test in Group 3 and winning the group should see an easier path through the knockout rounds.
We couldn’t not mention this fantastic young bowler who warmed the hearts of everyone who watched him in Norway back in October and reminds us why we push this sport forward. Seven year old Sander’s utter enthusiasm to succeed is infectious and whilst he might not trouble the big guns he’s got a bright future ahead of him.
Sander will get to play World No.1 Mark Beattie in Group 8 as well as fellow Norwegian Lisa Frantzen, Chris Terry from England, Bent Nielsen from Denmark and Benny Sjogren of Sweden. Check out how he reacts to getting a toucher here.
Just imagine how he’ll react if he wins a game!!
With earlier leaders Pauline Beattie & Victor Andersson both missing from this weekend’s action, there’s now plenty of opportunity for the chasing pack to take full advantage and close the gap in the race for the £250 top prize. Pauline‘s 30 point lead is under real threat and with just 57 points between her and Dimitri Payne in 8th place, that lead looks certain to change hands. Can the likes of Stephen Proctor, Christer Nordin & Dom Reed amongst others, forge ahead and gain an advantage heading into the final two ranking events.
And finally…… the big one, part two!
Mark Beattie v Dimitri Payne
With a 2nd victory over Dimitri and subsequent 4th ranking title win in Norway, Mark secured his place at the top of the World Rankings ahead of the Belgian star. Yet again however, Dimitri is top of the provisional rankings by a mere 2 points as Mark drops 33 more points heading into the Swedish Masters. With a probable quarter final meeting looking likely, can Dimitri finally overhaul his nemesis as the battle for the prestigious No.1 spot heats up!
As always you will be able to see all the results as they come in, you can view the constantly updated group tables and you can catch up on event highlights and see player interviews via the live feed on our website. Don’t forget we’ll have live, end by end updates of all Show Mat games too! We will also be bringing you matches live via our Facebook page throughout the weekend, so make sure you’ve ‘liked’ our page.’