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Snooker: European Masters preview

The snooker calendar has been pretty bare this season, with just the short-format Championship League available to fans of baize battles.

There are no events in China on this year's schedule and that has left a hole to fill. The European Masters was only staged in February and just six months later we get another renewal of the Fruth event to get stuck into.

Fan Zhengyi was a big-priced winner of the February competition, beating Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9 in the final, and the Chinese potter will be back to defend his crown.

However, the Rocket and Neil Robertson have declined to compete in the German event and that leaves Judd Trump as the 9/2 market leader.

It's the first-to-five frames in the Stadthalle Furth and that should give a better handle on form than the recent best-of-four-frame Championship League action.

What

European Masters

Where

Stadthalle Furth, Germany

When

10:00, Tuesday 16th August 2022

How to watch

Eurosport

Odds

Judd Trump 9/2, Mark Selby 17/2, Zhao Xintong 9/1, Mark Williams 9/1, Kyren Wilson 10/1, Yan Bingtao 11/1, Luca Brecel 14/1

From in short supply

There have been so few snooker events this year and that makes it difficult to gauge how players are performing.

When there is a packed calendar, you at least know that players are sharp and have had match practice, but it's tricky to know who has been putting in the hours to prepare for this event and which cue-men have been enjoying their summer holidays.

Luca Brecel picked up the recent Championship League crown in Leicester, but that was such a short-format event, it's difficult to take too much from the results. It may well serve as a confidence boost, and it was listed as a ranking tournament this season, but the form is still questionable.

Tried and tested performers may shine again

While there isn't much recent form going into this event, there is lots of data from seasons past.

The majority of the field taking their place in Germany have been on the Pro Tour for many years and it's pretty straightforward to gauge the level of their abilities.

The likes of Mark Williams, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Zhao Xintong could all take a hand this week, and although cue-men such as Stuart Bingham, Ryan Day, Anthony McGill and Barry Hawkins are less fancied in the betting, we know that all of those potters are capable of going deep in this event if they perform near to their best.

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Drawing conclusions

As always the draw is key. With the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Neil Robertson missing this event there are some weaker than usual looking quarters.

Mark Williams looks to have been handed a pretty kind section, with Jack Lisowski and Walden the only serious threat to the Welshman in the fourth-quarter of the draw.

O'Sullivan's withdrawal has in theory opened up the bottom-half of the draw for the likes of the three-time world champion.

The Welsh Potting Machine continues to perform at a high-level and Williams made the semi-finals of the World Championship last season.

Trump and Selby still have to navigate their held over qualifiers, but they big-hitting duo shouldn't have too many problems making it into the main draw. However, there could be tougher tests as they progress through the tournament.

The Jester from Leicester will head into a segment containing Ali Carter, Bingham and Brecel and it's unlikely to be straightforward.

The Ace, meanwhile, will be looking to recapture the form that saw him dominate the snooker tour a couple of seasons ago and the Bristol potter does look to have been handed a kinder section than market rival Selby.

Zhao Xintong was brilliant last season, but the Chinese potter may well clash with Trump in the quarter-finals and fellow Chinese sensation Yan Bingtao may have a date with Mark Williams.

Matthew Stevens, Hossein Vafaei and Shaun Murphy are other potters to keep an eye on in Germany this week.

The European Masters is an excellent event in its own right and it should also serve as the first good barometer for the new campaign.

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