Snookerbacker

July 3, 2015

Australian Open Finals Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:29 pm
Back at the Business End

Back at the Business End

The final weekend of the tournament doesn’t feature any of the world’s top 8 players, with John Higgins and Stephen Maguire from Scotland, Martin Gould from England and Jamie Jones from Wales contesting the semi finals.

It’s great to see the likes of Jones and Gould still in the mix and it would be a hard-hearted soul who would begrudge either of them their first ranking event win, Gould in particular has been knocking on the door for ages and after a slight dip in form he now seems to be back in the groove again and challenging at the business end of things.

You’d have to fancy the all Scottish final as the World Cup partners go into both their matches as favourites, but personally I’ll be cheering on the two underdogs in the good old fashioned British way, who likes proven winners anyway? That’s what the Yanks are there for.

After this comes a large gap in the snooker calender with the next event being the first European Tour jolly to Riga in Latvia which starts on the 29th, this being the final year of the EPTC events.

The shake up next year will see the welcome return of more snooker to UK shores with the new English, Irish and Scottish Opens joining the existing Welsh Open to make a kind of UK grand slam of events and one European Open replacing the current EPTC set up in the country that bids the most dosh for it, sorry I mean, is most suitable for it.

Hopefully they will see fit to carry on the Paul Hunter Classic in some way, shape or form, perhaps even naming this more prestigious European Open after one of snooker’s most-missed stars. It would be sad to see this just scrapped from the excellent venue in Fürth, which I know is very popular with players and fans alike.

Here is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday in Bendigo, the semi finals are the best of eleven frames and Sunday’s final is the best of seventeen. Click on the matches for the head to head record.

4am
Jamie Jones v John Higgins

10am
Stephen Maguire v Martin Gould

Sunday

4am
Final 1st session (8 frames)

10am
Final 2nd session (max 9 frames)

July 2, 2015

Australian Open Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:20 pm
Favourite to retain his title.

Favourite to retain his title.

They are down to the final eight now in Bendigo as the Australian Open continues down under with the last eight consisting solely of players from England, Scotland and Wales.

At the risk of upsetting the Aussies again and adding them to the list of other nations I have offended in the past including Russia, China, Scotland and Thailand, I’m not that impressed with the crowds this week and it’s a shame it’s not been better supported.

The time difference obviously has an impact on the audience abroad and in particular in the UK the clash with Wimbledon is never a great idea, so it’s given the event the feel of a bit of a nothing competition really, which again is a shame as the bits and bobs I have seen, Robbo and Selt, Carter and Murphy and Carter and White have all been very entertaining matches, though all poorly attended, possibly because of the location of the venue.

Anyway, of the players left in it, Judd Trump is looking the most likely winner given his performances so far, but with the greatest respect to Jack Lisowski and Ian Burns, he hasn’t really had to come out of first gear yet so Maguire tomorrow should prove a bigger test for him.

The schedule for Friday is detailed below, all times are UK time. You can watch on the betting sites and keep up with live scoring here.

4am start

Jamie Jones v Michael White

John Higgins v Joe Perry

10am start

Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

Martin Gould v Matt Selt

June 30, 2015

The Australian Open Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:05 pm
Came a Cropper.

Came a Cropper.

As the UK begins to enter what we are told is a heatwave, the potters are all down under continuing in Bendigo while most of us are in bed.

We can’t do anything about the time difference obviously and it’s good that the Aussies have their own event, but not being able to see the majority of the matches does affect the interest levels somewhat.

A few players will wonder why they bothered travelling to the other side of the globe only to be roundly dumped out first round, amongst them Ben Woollaston who came a cropper to wildcard Ridley, Mark Allen who lost to Mark Joyce, Jack Lisowski who managed a highest break of 23 while being walloped by an impressive Judd Trump and of course the World Champion Stuart Bingham, who started his world champions season with a defeat at the hands of Fergal O’Brien.

Joining the list of early casualties was home hope Neil Robertson, who despite a comeback for 4-0 down to Marmite Matt Selt ended up losing in a tense decider and again leaves his homeland potless and wondering whether he’ll ever capture the title he so wants.

The schedule for Wednesday and Thursday is detailed below, all times are UK time. You can watch on the betting sites and keep up with live scoring here.

Wednesday 

2.30am
Marco Fu v Martin Gould
Michael White v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri

Followed by
Dark Mavis v Jamie Jones
Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter

NB 10am (Last 16)
Judd Trump v Ian Burns
Stephen Maguire v Ricky Walden

Thursday

2.30am
Mark Selby v Jamie Jones
Joe Perry v Rob Milkins

Followed by
Martin Gould v Michael Holt
John Higgins v Fergal O’Brien

NB 10am
Mark Joyce v Matt Selt
Michael White v Ali Carter

June 26, 2015

Australian Goldfields Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:49 am
Judd's back to defend his title.

Judd’s back to defend his title.

Before the potters get the best part of a month off in July, there is the small matter of the Australian Goldfields Open to play in Bendigo, this is usually an enjoyable tournament and ideal for insomniacs who like their snooker when the rest of Europe is asleep.

It all starts on Monday at midnight UK time with two matches involving the wildcards. The two who have been chosen this time are probably the best of a quite poor bunch with one being an ex-pro and another being a half decent amateur, but thankfully they aren’t, on paper anyway, the handful that some of the Chinese ones can prove. They still shouldn’t be in it though.

The coverage for this on the betting sites is usually entertaining, the commentary of Robby Foldvari alone is worth switching on for, his velvety, dulcet, relaxed style and tone of voice will probably have you nodding off in seconds, much like anyone who ever saw him play snooker used to. The studio coverage is usually good too and sometimes they get some of the players in to add their analysis, which is also a plus.

Of course the downside for viewers this side of the globe is the time difference and it’s only really the 10am starts that get the attention of most, though early risers like myself usually tune in for the session beforehand. It’s fair to say it’s not a tournament for people who don’t like mornings and also prefer an early night.

A lot has been made of the absentees, with one website even claiming it devalued the tournament. But who have we actually lost? Ronnie never plays in this, Ding isn’t playing very well anyway and is hardly missed at the moment, who else? MJW, Barry Hawkins…..but look who IS in it…World Number 1 Selby, World Champion Bingham, Home Favourite Robbo, Fans Favourites Judd, Allen, Smurf, The Captain…established winners like Higgins and Maguire as well as exciting players like Jack Lisowski who faces Judd in the first round, Michael White and Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri.

Devalued? Nonsense. This will take a hell of a lot of winning. More devalued was the field last week, with some of the names competing in the World Cup completely unheard of, when four man teams from more established snooker nations would have been a lot more interesting and brought in a lot more competent players.

The draw can be viewed below along with a brief look at what might happen and a few recommended bets. If you’re getting involved you can watch on said betting sites or on Eurosport at selected times.

You can view the Eurosport schedule for the week here. You can view the Order of Play at Snooker Island here.

CLICK ON THE MATCH FOR HEAD TO HEADS.

Wild Card Round

Matt Selt v Ben Judge 
Ben Woollaston v Adrian Ridley 

These two matches should be little more than practice sessions for the two main tour players Selt and Woollaston. Judge is a former professional but he’s never really made a mark and his only significant wins have really come in the 6-Red format, Selt, assuming he’s not spent every waking hour since qualifying on the golf course should take care of business comfortably. Ridley has never been professional and this is probably his biggest match to date, again other than 6-Reds where he’s actually beaten John Higgins. He had a decent run in Q-School a few years back when Martin O’Donnell beat him in the final match to make pro, but I don’t think he’ll trouble the tenacious Woollaston.   

Recommended Bet: 2 points on both to win (-2.5 frames) pays over 7/4 at Bet 365. 0.5 point on them both to win 5-0 pays 44/1. 

Quarter 1

Judd Trump v Jack Lisowski
Xiao Guodong v Ian Burns
Stephen Maguire v Joel Walker
Ricky Walden v Andrew Higginson

The obvious match that the eyes are drawn to is the encounter between Judd and Jack, once flatmates but now in different stables having had different fortunes the past couple of years. Jack, now being coached by Terry Griffiths holds the upper hand in the head to heads and I wouldn’t rule out a shock there. Joel Walker is another capable of causing an upset but with Maguire making the trip following his week in China, perhaps he’ll give this his best shot. Ricky Walden usually starts the season fairly well so he might be worth an interest in the outrights, but it’s very hard to know how any of the players that have not hit a competitive ball since The Crucible have prepared for this, Walden, who lost first round, being one of them.

Predicted Match Winners: Lisowski, Guodong, Maguire, Walden.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Ricky Walden.

Quarter 2

Marco Fu v Martin Gould
Michael Holt v Gerald Greene
Mark Allen v Mark Joyce
Neil Robertson v Matt Selt/Ben Judge

Marco Fu, who won this two seasons ago and then surprisingly chose not to defend it last year, returns to face Martin Gould. Presumably Marco, like Maguire, chose to enter because he was in the World Cup last week. Michael Holt is another who is now being coached by Griffiths, perhaps that might help him achieve more than he has to date, Terry seems to wave a magic wand at times and Holt is a player that undoubtedly has the game but perhaps lacks confidence at times, Griffiths is by all accounts a master at bringing the best out of players with these problems. Mark Allen and Mark Joyce tend to have close ones and Joyce is probably the kind of player Allen hates playing, meanwhile the expected match between close pals Selt and Robertson is an early test for the home hero who is attempting to land a title on home soil for the first time.

Predicted Match Winners: Fu, Holt, Allen, Robertson.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Neil Robertson.

Quarter 3

Mark Selby v Mark King
Dark Mavis v Jamie Jones
Michael White v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter

Mark Selby has comfortably beaten Mark King on their last 5 meetings and there is little to suggest that he won’t do so again having had the warm up, albeit cut short surprisingly early, last week in China. Mavis is yet another in the Griffiths stable and this feels like the sort of tournament that he could make a breakthrough in, I’d say he’s a dark horse in this. Ayouri qualified in style and there are a lot of people in the know who rate the Iranian very highly, his cue action is very solid and it will be interesting to watch his progress this season. Ali Carter has been working hard over the summer and needs a strong season to climb back up the rankings, he has a tough opener against the World Championship runner up Murphy, but holds the advantage in the head to heads between the two.

Predicted Match Winners: Selby, Mavis, White, Carter.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Dark Mavis.

Quarter 4

Joe Perry v Jamie Burnett
Rob Milkins v Ben Woollaston/Adrian Ridley
John Higgins v Michael Georgiou
Stuart Bingham v Fergal O’Brien

The World Champion Stuart Bingham returns to the tournament that arguably started him on the road to riches a few seasons ago. A former champion here, he’ll go into this I’m sure feeling that he can now win anything, but a tough opener against The Ferginator awaits. He’s in a tough section and John Higgins, Rob Milkins and Joe Perry are all players that could emerge from the week with a trophy going through customs. It’s really hard to know who has been busy on the practice table and who will go into this a little rusty, for that reason I think this week might see a few unexpected results and possibly even a lower ranked winner, I’d look at someone like Perry to have a run in this personally.

Predicted Match Winners: Perry, Milkins, Higgins, Bingham.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Joe Perry.

Recommended Bets: 3 point acca pays almost 3/1 on Selt and Woollaston (W/C round), Selby, Mavis, Perry and Higgins. 1 point on Lisowski at 7/2. 1 point on Carter at 23/10.

Recommended Outrights: 3 points on Robertson at 9/2. 1 point each way on Perry at 28/1, Walden at 33/1, Mavis at 80/1.

June 24, 2015

The Olympic Kibosh, Stuttering Starts and Seasonal Snooker

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:40 am
We're off to Oz next week.

We’re off to Oz next week.

News filtered through earlier in the week that snooker, or more precisely cue sports, will not be given Olympic status at Tokyo in 2020. Despite a lot of running around on a year long global schmoozing tour by Jason Ferguson, alas, his efforts at least for now have been in vain and we will not see potters on the podiums just yet.

It’s a shame that it hasn’t been elevated to the status that I think it probably deserves given the numbers that play and watch it globally.

Once you rid the world of those who believe snooker, pool, billiards or any other manifestations of someone knocking balls around a table with a stick isn’t a sport, there isn’t really any reason I can think of not to include it over some of the rubbish you have to sit through every four years.

Other ‘sports’ that rightly got the knock-back include Bridge. Yes, BRIDGE. A game which round our way is played only by people with blue hair and dead husbands whose other hobbies include making jam and voting UKIP. Now that my friends, is not a sport, end of story.

As many of you will know from my rants on here and Twitter, I am not usually a fan of summer (well, UK summer) snooker but for the Olympics I would have made an exception, I’m good like that.

On that very subject, the stuttering start to the season continues next week as the Australian Open in Bendigo enters its fourth year. This follows the World Cup last week which I didn’t watch and is then followed by a barren month on the snooker calendar before the season really begins to get going, albeit with the tedious best of seven format taking the lead. So is this gap in the calendar a good thing? I say yes.

I quite enjoy the Aussie event and somehow it seems to a traditionalist anorak such as I, quite fitting that the only decent tournament in these sunny months is down under, which us pommes generally associate with surfing, barbecues, sunkist beaches and beer-soaked, overly-macho, belching men.

'They'll never remember'

Was only joking about 24/7 snooker

But I also like the balanced feel we get from the downtime in the calendar and although Barry Hearn seems to think we’ve all forgotten his promise of a snooker tournament somewhere in the world for 364 days of the year, presumably the other day being his birthday, to me the balance this season is near perfect and enough to make me look forward to the real season which begins around November and goes right through winter to early spring and the Crucible.

This view is often challenged and disagreed with by other snooker fans, mostly I’d say those from Europe and sometimes further afield, who feel the more there is the better, they are usually younger than me too so what do they know?

I suppose it depends on your outlook but I’m not a fan of over-exposure in sport and never have been as it inevitably leads to saturation point, look at what it’s done to football? You can’t avoid it no matter how hard you try and believe me I do. The endless banal natter and ‘analysis’, not to mention the laddish, tribal, passive aggressive ‘banter’ about it is enough to drive me to drink, and it frequently does. Who would want this for snooker? Not me. The ‘Go On Ronnie’ gang are quite enough already.

I see snooker as a seasonal sport and a break from the baize for both players and fans alike can only mean more interest when things get going again. So enjoy the Aussie Open and then enjoy some time off, watch the tennis, watch the golf, go for walks and enjoy the outdoors, that’s my advice.

The Aussie Open preview will follow shortly.

June 14, 2015

Bingo Calling: The World Champion’s Blog

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:59 am

Bingo Calling

Following his epic Crucible triumph, Stuart Bingham has agreed to tell us all about his year as World Champion on here. Our first chat was obviously very focused on the past couple of months and how this is all panning out for him. 

So Ballrun, has it all sunk in yet?

Yes and no SB, I’ve been taking the trophy everywhere with me, doing lots of interviews that I’d never have done before, getting recognised in the street a lot more which is all a bit surreal. I think it will really sink in when I get to venues and get introduced as World Champion.

I saw you on the Clare Balding Show say that you were watching it back every day, are you still doing that?

Well I would be SB but my Sky Plus has packed up hasn’t it? I’ve only gone and lost all the things I taped.

Oh come on Ballrun, with all that cash you’ve got now you can get that sorted surely?

I dunno SB, my mum and dad have got it all taped and they’ve put it on a disk for me, there’s always You Tube too.

A bit careless Ballrun?

Probably SB yes.

So come on, tell me, did you ever expect to be World Champion?

Well, I wouldn’t say expect, but when you turn professional you dream of being world champion and world number one. But when you look at the names on the trophy, the likes of O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams you sometimes think ‘it’s just too hard’, but I suppose I kept the faith, got a bit of confidence from other wins and just said to myself that all I had to do was play well for two weeks and I could win it and that is kind of what happened really.

So how have things changed for you? I know you keep saying you won’t change but surely your life has changed a bit?

I haven’t spent any of the money yet. I’m going to see what happens over the next 6 months to a year and see what comes in from sponsorship deals and things like that so I suppose then things will change a bit but right now I’m down at the club with The MO’D (Martin O’Donnell) putting in a few hours getting ready for the World Cup, so no change there really.

So what’s the nicest thing about being World Champion then?

I’ll tell you what SB, I’ve had a few decent freebies.

Freebies? I love all that Ballrun, come on then spill the beans.

Well I’ve had a few invites to golf things from Barry Hearn up in Loch Lomond, really enjoyed those.

You’ve joined the Dark Side Ballrun? Part of the Bazza mafia?

No no, SB, just part of the fun. I’ve been invited to Wimbledon by Martina Navratilova.

Blimey, you are mixing with the stars Ballrun. Anything that might connect with us lesser mortals?

I took the Mrs’ car in to the local Vauxhall garage to get fixed and the bloke said he’d do it for nothing as a congratulations.

Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

Money goes to money Ballrun, that’s what my mum always says….

And, I got free fish and chips from the local chip shop.

How the other half live eh? And you say your life hasn’t changed? Are you having me on or what?

I know I know, but that’s all history now SB, I’ve just joined the gym to lose a bit of weight so the free fish and chips are a thing of the past. Sadly.

I believe you Ballrun, thousands wouldn’t. Now then, I have to mention the C-Word.

I thought this was a clean blog SB?

No not that one. I mean The Curse. Are you the man to break this legendary snooker law?

Well, I hope so. It’s just an honour to have the chance to do it. I’m just going to see how the season pans out and try not to upset the snooker gods too much to give myself a fighting chance.

So have you got any goals for the season then?

I just hope I can win a couple of tournaments. I remember when I won in Australia the year after wasn’t great for me because I expected too much of myself. But now I’m a little bit older and wiser I hope I’ll deal with it better. I know that sometimes new world champions have poor following seasons so I just hope I don’t follow that path. I’ll continue to practice hard. My dream goal if you like is to capitalise on winning the World and get to Number 1 in the rankings, but I’ll just take things as they come and try not to worry too much about it and enjoy the year ahead.

Right, a couple of questions from the land of Twitter. Andy wants to know if you’ve got any tips for coping with all the travel? The tour is quite demanding these days and you seem to cope well with it playing in everything.

I’ve tried everything really SB, keeping to UK time, reverting to Chinese time and all that. But I think the best thing to do is just sleep when you feel you need to and not worry about what time it is. Sometimes I’ve played matches after around 3 hours sleep and played my best snooker because I’m so tired that’s all I focus on. Then other times, especially in China the way the crowd move around and their phones going off all the time, you get a bit irritable with them and lose your focus.

You feel like decking them you mean?

In a nutshell SB, yeah.

Ron wants to know if you think it’s fair people comparing your Crucible win with Joe Johnson?

All I’ll say is that Joe didn’t beat the likes of Graeme Dott, Ronnie, Judd and Shaun to win his. I think he was 150/1 to win and I was about 50/1, so there’s not a lot similar there really to me.

Say Cheese

Say Cheese

Yes, I agree there. Nobody would have backed Joe with a free bet but your win wasn’t as unexpected as that to those who know the game. Someone wants to know what your favourite cheese is, I think this is where the conversation takes a turn for the worse.

When you say cheese to have a photo done with a big silver trophy with ribbons on it and a massive cheque in your pocket.

There is another question from someone called Mark in Cwm who says he knows you but I’m not going to ask you that one.

Probably wise SB.

So, you’re off to the World Cup this week, looking forward to it?

Yes, it should be a good event as it’s a bit different from normal. The format is a bit of a lottery with one frame here and there and Scotch doubles, I think I’ll be putting Selby in a few positions he’s not used to so we’ll see what happens.

Do you two get on then? It would be a bit of a problem if you didn’t wouldn’t it?

Yeah it would, but luckily we do get on and so do our wives so it’s all good.

Well good luck with that, at least you’ll have a good time. Thanks for your time and if you ever need to offload any of that dosh I’d be happy to take some off your hands no problem.

I’ll let you know on that SB, see you next time.

Bingo Calling returns next month.

June 5, 2015

Aussie Open Final Qualifying Round

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:19 am

Crossed fingersIt’s the final day of qualifying in Crawley to see who will board the flight to Bendigo to join the 16 seeded players at the venue. This sees the successful crop from the week take on the higher ranked players playing for the first time.

Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but the way the betting has gone in this I can’t resist giving a small French Horn type toot given that every recommended bet this week has landed. If today’s does the same then this will be the first ever 100% tournament in the blog’s 5 year betting history. Even if it doesn’t, I hope everyone who follows this often turgid corner of the internet has made enough to have a jolly good weekend and more besides.

There are some mouthwatering ties for the connoisseur today and the big question will be how rusty some of those coming in on the final day will be compared to those who have been improving all week and are match sharp.

There are, in the words of one totally idiotic American politician, a lot of ‘known unknowns’ today, or should that be ‘unknown knowns’? Or even ‘unknown unknowns’? Anyway, it’s not a ‘known known’ kind of day that’s for damn sure as apples and no mistakin’.

The streamed matches are pretty good too, this morning we have Jack Lisowski playing Jimmy Robertson and Martin Gould against Michael Leslie. This afternoon we’ve got Marmite Matt Selt against Zhang Anda and Jamie Jones against the increasingly dangerous Chris Wakelin and then tonight The Captain Ali Carter takes on Kyren Wilson alongside the leprechauns ‘must watch’ of The Ferginator against The Outlaw, O’Brien v Swail. So it’s a good day of viewing ahead for us anoraks.

After this decent start to the season it all starts going downhill, for next week sees an event in which I have next to no interest; the understatedly named World Cup, which sees ‘teams’ of just two players competing as a proud nation over in China to become World Champions. Though to me it’s just a doubles tournament with really short matches so I won’t be getting involved in it at all and I’ll probably give it a miss unless I become hospitalised or paralysed from the neck down in the next week and have bugger all else to do.

So back to business, can the bet below make this an historic week for the blog? Only time will tell…..

You can take a look at the running order today here and keep up with the live scores as they happen here.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on Jimmy Robertson, Mark Joyce and Matt Selt pays over 5/1.

June 4, 2015

Aussie Open Qualifiers Day 4

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:17 am
Kept the run going.

Mitchell Mann: Late night potting kept up the good run.

The action continues today in Crawley as the penultimate qualifying round is played out over three sessions. 

This round is where the players who have won at least one match this week already and in some cases two, play to decide who battles it out tomorrow against one of the seeded players ranked 17-32 in the tournament.

This means that tomorrow will see the likes of Ali Carter, Martin Gould, Peter Ebdon and Ben Woollaston joining in against players who you’d assume are a little more match sharp than their higher ranked opponents.

Another player who presumably will be joining in tomorrow is Mark King, I say presumably because on Monday when I was happily tweeting away about the opening day’s play he replied to one of my inane ramblings with a four word question: ‘What comp is this?’. When I revealed this to him he disappeared for a bit, presumably checking his diary and hurriedly re-scheduling the family outing he had planned to Alton Towers for Friday (he needn’t have bothered as it turned out). A little careless on the part of the K-Dog to say the least.

Another who enters the fray tomorrow wanting to book a ticket to Bendigo is our old friend Matt Selt. Now our Matt might be about as popular with some as a ginger stepson, but you can’t deny that his improvement of late has seen him climbing the rankings and making venues on a regular basis. He’s making so much dosh these days that he’s even bought himself a posh watch, now all he needs to do is learn to tell the time and he’s laughing. Only joking Matt, you know I love you really (I don’t).

As for those who are in action today, 2014 SB Classic Runner-Up Mitchell Mann had a real marathon last night, eventually seeing off David Grace 5-4 in the small hours while I was tucked up in the Land of Nod dreaming of containing safeties, dump shots and a return to the Best of 125 first rounders and two month-long finals. So to awake this morning to see that the 100% recommended bet success rate remained in tact was a nice little start to the morning, let’s see if we can keep it going today with the slightly more ambitious bet below.

It’s also great to see my pal Allan Taylor still in there after a fine win yesterday over Stuart Carrington. The Assassin now faces Li Hang who played in fancy dress yesterday for reasons known only to him. This dress code rule needs tightening up if they are going to allow that to happen in my opinion.

You can take a look at the running order for the week here and keep up with the live scores as they happen here.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on Jack Lisowski, Chris Wakelin and Hossein Vafaei Ayouri pays over 9/2.

June 3, 2015

Aussie Open Qualifiers Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:22 am
Have you caught the worm?

Have you caught the worm?

It’s Day 3 of the qualifiers in Crawley to decide who will be boarding the plane to Bendigo at the end of the month to join the 16 top seeded players at the venue.

As we all know, this tournament is not one that not all the top players bother with, but if you take a look this year at the ones who have chosen to enter it’s still a really strong field with the World Champion Stuart Bingham resuming his duties and in turn becoming the first ever current world champion to play in Bendigo, a venue which arguably set him on the road to his greatest achievement a few years ago.

As well as Ballrun, last year’s winner Judd returns to defend his title, world number one Selby is there and of course homeboy Robbo is also attempting to win this for the first time, so it’s a tournament that’s worth looking forward to and is in fact probably one of my favourite events on the calendar these days. There’s only really Ronnie and Ding who are notable absentees, Ding obviously not learning the lessons of last season when he clearly played shit because he didn’t play much.

That’s chiefly the reason why I’ve decided to cover the qualifiers too, the obvious plus on the betting side is the fact that they are all best of nine frames instead of seven and you can expect me to not be giving this kind of coverage, or any in some cases, on here for those events that follow this tedious format. Did I mention I don’t like best of sevens in professional main ranking events? Thought not.

Anyway, in terms of betting, we’ve had a 100% strike rate over the first two days with a 5/2+ fourfold on day one, an 11/4 fivefold and an 11/2+ double on day two all landing, proving that when it comes to the snooker season, this is most definitely the early bird catching the worm territory. I hope a few of you have taken advantage of the dawn pickings.

As the rounds go on however it does get more difficult, as the gap in ability narrows and it becomes harder to find those stand out winners, but we’ll go in again today with a mildly confident, though not over-confident fourfold to try and keep up the faultless record for the week.

You can take a look at the running order for the week here and keep up with the live scores as they happen here.

Recommended Fourfold: 2 points on Li Hang, Kyren Wilson, Oliver Lines and Mitchell Mann pays over 3/1.

June 2, 2015

Australian Open Qualifiers Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:43 am
Thumbs Up: Syd started with a win.

Thumbs Up: Syd started with a win.

The Australian Open continues today in Crawley as we see the last batch of first round matches followed by the next tier of players joining in the action for Round 2.

This tournament of course, along with the Shanghai Masters is still operating the old qualifying format, meaning that when each round commences, the higher seeded players join in. This is because the contracts for these events say so and when they come up for renegotiation, Bazza will be wanting them both to adopt the flat structure he so loves.

Personally, I quite like the fact that this is a bit different and although there will be those who will bang on about fairness and how much better the flat structure is, at least here the lower ranked players actually get a chance to play some competitive snooker rather than being pitched against a high ranked player straight off and getting hammered, leaving with nothing but crumbling confidence and an ever increasing overdraft.

Of course, the downside to this is the fact that the lowest ranked have to win 4 matches instead of 1 to get any sniff at decent money and a place at the venue, if you don’t count the incentive of the lucrative £45 (minus tax) prize for the Highest Break in the qualifiers that is, which one lucky potter will be cashing in come Friday evening. But as the season gets underway, I think it’s healthier for them in the long run to know what winning and competing feels like. For example, take the newly qualified Q-School graduates, wouldn’t they rather win a couple of matches to keep their confidence high than get drawn against a top 16 player and getting walloped, bringing them back down to earth with a bump?

So I say vive la différence and if those who sign the contracts want to keep this as it is, let them. Wait until we get to the mainstay of the season with the best of seven flat structure tedium and you’ll be crying out for events like this one if you’re anything like me. Which I appreciate you are probably not.

Yesterday saw said Q-School graduates Syd Wilson, Eden Sharav, Rhys Clark and Duane Jones all win on their tour debuts, while Dan Wells and Paul Davison also made a successful return with wins. However, it wasn’t a happy return to the tour for Jason Weston who came a cropper, with the final Q-Schooler Gaz Allen playing this morning. Sandi Lam also made a successful tour debut having qualified through the EPTC route earlier in the year.

The fourfold recommended yesterday landed so that’s a nice start to the new season. It’s worth getting involved in these best of nine framers, they are much safer to bet on than the shorter formats which unfortunately are becoming increasingly the norm these days, much to the delight no doubt of the bookies, who are also the sponsor of choice for almost all events, funny that, you’d almost think they are the ones really running the show as they watch the mugs do their conkers on the short matches.

You can take a look at the running order for the week here and keep up with the live scores as they happen here.

Recommended Tuesday Fivefold: 2 points on David Grace, Gareth Allen, Steven Hallworth, Sean O’Sullivan and Robbie Williams pays 11/4 at Boyles. 1 point double on Joel Walker and Zhao Xintong pays over 11/2 at Ladbrokes. 

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