July 2, 2018

Riga Masters and World Open Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:48 am

The snooker season gets underway today in Preston with qualifiers for the Riga Masters and the World Open being played out this week. As regular readers will know, I’m not a fan of snooker in the sun and firmly believe that there should be at least a three month break between the end of the previous season and the start of the new one.

But for those of you that like your snooker alongside your Wimbledon strawberries and cream you can find all you need to know about what’s going on at the usual outlets, as for me, I’m happy to duck out of this one until the weather starts getting back to the usual British crapness.  

June 21, 2018

The New Season – Ones to Watch

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

A big season awaits

Amid all the hullabaloo of the World Cup, we might not notice that early July signals the beginning of the snooker season. The players head to Preston Guild Hall to play the Riga Masters and World Open qualifiers before another short break sees them launch into pretty much wall to wall snooker right up to Christmas. Before we know it the cold nights will have drawn in and we’ll be heading to freezing York for the UK Championship. Bliss.

It’s always exciting looking forward to what the new season will bring and looking at who the big movers and shakers will be. Last season was very much about the Class of ’92, O’Sullivan, Higgins and World Champion Mark Williams dominated the season and there was very little room for anyone else. There were only two breakthrough ranking winners in Ryan Day and Luca Brecel (I don’t count the Shootout, sorry Michael) as all the other events were captured by repeat ranking winners, so will this season see a different trend?

Well, the good news is I have found my crystal ball in a dusty old box in the attic and I’ve given it a polish to give you my players to watch this season, all for different reasons, maybe I think they will be holding trophies or maybe I think they will make giant strides in the rankings or just have a decent season without making the business end. Either way, here are my ones to watch, you can always list yours to me on Twitter if you have nothing better to do with your life.

The one I think will win trophies: Kyren Wilson

Kyren proved in Sheffield to any remaining doubters that he is the real deal. His run to the semi-finals was not unexpected and I’m happy to jump on board the standing-room only bandwagon that predict he is a future Crucible champion. My feeling is that it won’t be for at least a couple of years yet because he’ll have to get used to winning big events first and this is the season where I think that particular stage of his career can begin. He’s firmly lodged in the top 16 now and I see this as the year he goes top 6, I’d not be surprised to see him carry off a couple of the lesser ranking events this season and perhaps even push for the UK and The Masters, where I think he could well go one better than his runners-up spot last season.

The one I think needs to make that leap forward: Jack Lisowski

It seems like Jack has been around for donkey’s years, but in snooker terms he’s still very young. He’s always been a ferocious potter and by all accounts in practice you’ve got more chance of Elvis serving you your pie and chips behind the snooker club bar than seeing Jack miss. But he’s never quite fulfilled what everyone knows he is capable of and has also to some extent lived in the shadow of Judd Trump. Despite his crushing defeat at the hands of John Higgins at The Crucible he can take heart that he’s had his best professional season and that he is now not losing very often to players ranked below him. I hope he keeps his head down, continues to cut out the silly risks from his game (it works Jack!) and makes that big push. He’s as exciting a future prospect in terms of putting bums on seats that snooker has these days.

The dark horse who can have his breakthrough season: Chris Wakelin 

I have summed up here why I think Chris is one to watch this season, he’s a player that I think really has the temperament to make it into the top 16 in the next couple of seasons. He’s also probably won me more money betting on him in matches than 90% of the tour, not that this plays a part in my choice of course.  

The next big thing from China: Zhou Yuelong (aka Ghou Yolonge)

The vast majority of avid snooker watchers seem to believe that stablemate Yan Bingtao is the next Chinese sensation, but I’ve always thought Zhou was the more rounded player of the two and the one most likely to keep his nerve and his cue action when the pressure is on, something that I still think is the downfall of a lot of the Chinese players. His grounding in Sheffield with the other Chinese boys is obviously key to his success and the reason why I now think that we will see a challenge to Ding coming from someone other than Liang Wenbo. Whilst he is still young, he is already showing maturity in his game that I think can win him titles, I’d not be at all surprised if he won one of the lesser ranking events this season to a fanfare of ‘Chinese Revolution’ articles online and further afield.

Liam Highfield – improved a bit.

The lowly ranked improver: Liam Highfield

Liam caught my eye last season at the UK Championship when I was there and I thought immediately after seeing him close up how much he had improved since the last time I’d seen him play live the season before. His cue action was a lot more assured, his demeanour around the table was confident and he didn’t beat himself up when he threw in a careless one. He still thinks India is the size of Blackpool but you can’t have everything (little snooker in-joke there). His qualification to The Crucible will have given him added confidence going into the new season and I think he’ll be a player that makes his way quietly up the rankings and not looking over his shoulder like he has been for most of the last couple. He’s ranked 60th at the minute but I’d say he’s potentially top 32 so keep a close eye on him in match betting early on in the season as I reckon he won’t lose to many, if any, who are ranked below him and could easily shock a few who are higher up.

The second-chancer: Sam Craigie

Somehow, Sam managed to fall off the tour last season but immediately bounced back through Q-School to take his place back where he belongs straight away. For a player with his talent this should work as a wake up call to start really putting the graft in. I’m not exaggerating here when I say I really think he is a top 16 player in the making. His break building is solid, his shot selection is measured and his safety play is as good as anyone on the tour so one can only assume that the problems start and end upstairs in the department marked ‘Brain’. I hope the shock to the system that losing his place gave him will act as a positive, he’s got a second chance now and two years experience under his belt at this level, so now is the time to kick on.

The season begins on July 2nd in Preston with the qualifiers for the Riga Masters and World Open. Tickets are available on the day or through the Guild Hall website. 

June 1, 2018 to Sponsor Sean Maddocks

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:53 am

Sean with the Merseyside Open Trophy.

After all the hullaballo of a marathon Q-School I am delighted to announce that Challenge Tour qualifier Sean Maddocks from Liverpool who last year made a competitive 147 at the tender age of 15 to write himself into the snooker record books, will benefit from a sponsorship package put together by myself and a couple of investors.

Sean entered Q-School this year for the experience and was kindly sponsored through that by my mate Kev Ellis at Matchday Media. He came through it successfully to qualify to play the series of new events which start in Burton on Saturday June 2nd, resulting in our sponsorship deal kicking in.

There are further events planned in Riga (Latvia), Furth (Germany), Lommel (Belgium), Preston (bit cheaper, bus fare covered – off peak), Barnsley (ditto) as well as others to be confirmed (hopefully in the UK, otherwise we’re paying for swimming lessons for Sean) and it’s nice that we can go some way to covering the fees and expenses that this will incur for a player who is showing great promise and will surely benefit from playing these and other events next season.

I first met Sean and his dad Steve when he was just 12 (Sean that is, not his dad) and he received one of my Snookerbacker Scholarships which got him free entry into a couple of Snookerbacker Classic events, his coach at the time Neil Johnson has been a friend of mine for many years and alerted me quickly to the promise Sean was showing even then. Neil has remained by his side as he’s grown, both in age and more recently in height, with all the challenges that brings to technique, he’s been keeping me updated on Sean’s progress ever since.

Myself and the others involved are delighted to be helping a young player and giving him the chance to just play snooker and off-load any financial worries and constraints and concentrate on what he is good at. We are all hoping that this is the start of a longer term relationship as Sean’s career progresses over the next few years.

For his part, Sean’s coach Neil said ‘I am absolutely delighted that is sponsoring my student Sean at such an exciting point in his career. Having known SB for over 30 years now I have so much confidence in what can be achieved together, we can’t wait to get started’.

I’d just like to formally wish Sean the very best of luck for the coming season, hopefully this will help him reach the next level with Neil’s help and guidance and let’s see how it all goes from there, just you go off and do what you’re good at and we’ll look after the rest.

If anyone would like to enquire about a further logo deal for Sean, whose progress will be featured regularly on this website, please contact [email protected]

May 30, 2018

Rank and File

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:50 pm

Top Ranker

We’re not going to see a lot of action on the baize for a bit so I have been considering a decent bet on one of the season long markets that has appeared online recently. Ladbrokes have priced up players to win a ranking event this season and are allowing multiple bets on it, so I thought I’d do a bit of research and share my findings with the group.

Snooker obviously now has a lot more ranking events than it used to, which explains the fact that we now have to look quite far down the ranking list to spot someone that has never won one (currently Yan Bingtao at 23rd on the list). I’ve done some analysis of the last four years rankers, I have even taken the trouble to list all the finalists and the results for you on this page, now that’s what I call top drawer service.

Here are some of my conclusions following my painstaking investigation:

Firstly, over the past four seasons there have been 67 ranking tournaments, those 67 have produced a total of 26 different winners, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that for a lot of them we are seeing a familiar face and repeat winner get his hands on the trophy.

Over the past four seasons however there are only three players who have won a ranking event in every season and it may not be the three you would automatically think. The first as you would probably expect is World Number 1 Mark Selby. The Jester has won a total of 11 ranking events over the past four seasons, comfortably more than any other player on the tour, hence his number one tag and bulging wallet.

The second is Judd Trump, who has won 6 ranking events over this period and is just one behind Ronnie O’Sullivan who has won 7 but who failed to win one in season 2016/17, although he did win the Masters and was runner up in the UK to Selby, before returning to winning ranking form in style last season with 5 titles.

The third is Neil Robertson whose 4 ranking titles in this period have all come in different seasons. So these are the only three on the whole tour who can claim this level of consistency when it comes to winning rankers. You actually have to go back 11 seasons to the last time Robbo didn’t win at least one ranking event which is pretty impressive as well as amazingly consistent. 

As well as the three names above, plus O’Sullivan, there are only a further four players who have 3 or more ranking titles to their name in this period, those being John Higgins who has 5 and Ding Junhui, Stuart Bingham and Mark Williams, who all have 3 to their name, Williams’ all coming last season.

It may come as a surprise that Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen haven’t been mentioned yet, but they are both stuck on 2 ranking titles in the last four seasons, the same number as Ali Carter, Michael White, Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu, Ryan Day, who won both his last season and Anthony McGill, although one of his was that awful Shootout so he can only have one and a half. That actually completes the list of multiple ranking event winners in the last four seasons.

So what about this market? How easy do you think it is to predict that a player will definitely win a ranking event this season from the current calendar of 19? Selby you would assume will at some point get his hands on one, Ronnie will probably win one of the home nations ones and/or one of those other ITV ones he likes, Higgins shows no signs of letting up and Judd seems to develop a winning habit at some point in the season for a short spell. World Champion Williams will also be looking to carry over his winning streak and add to his recent run of successes. But apart from them who else? Can Robertson deliver again and keep his incredible ranking run going? Will Ding play in enough of them this time to be worthy of a bet or is he too risky to ermm risk? Will Kyren Wilson, still with just one ranking event to his name, kick on this season and add trophies to his collection given the promise he’s been showing?

I can’t believe that Murphy hasn’t won anything ranking-wise recently other than the lowly Gibraltar Open, he’s been in quite a lot of finals in this period and has lost in 7 of them and surely Masters Champion Allen is a prime contender to add something again this season? What about any new ranking winners? One of the new crop of Chinese players perhaps like Zhou Yuelong or Yan Bingtao? (though I’d not chance any dosh on Cao Yupeng for obvious reasons) or perhaps one of the recent improvers like Jack Lisowski? 

Maybe some of the old firm like Joe Perry, Dark Mavis, Stephen Maguire or Ricky Walden might get back to the winners enclosure? Can the likes of Carter, White, McGill, Fu, Gould or Wenbo add to their ranking stats? So many questions….

After much deliberation I’ve decided to have a go on this market for some long term interest and I’m going to go with a sixfold which brings in a mix of established winners and those I think are due another trophy, I’m in this one for the long haul, best of luck if you join in.

Recommended Bet: Pays 9.07/1 (with odds boost at Ladbrokes) Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson, Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham all to win a ranking event in the coming season.

Also recommended (later edit): Mark Selby to finish the season as World Number One at 13/2 with Black Type. 

May 25, 2018

Match Fixing: Cao Yupeng, Yu De Lu and David John Suspended

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:12 pm

Another one of ‘those days’ in snooker today as not one, not two, but three players have been suspended from the sport with immediate effect pending further investigation of match fixing, amongst other things.

In the case of Yu Delu, this relates to manipulating the outcome of five matches he was involved in since 2015, failing to report two approaches to fix a match, betting on snooker and failing to fully cooperate with the WPBSA enquiry. 

I think in poker terms that’s known as a full house. 

In the case of Cao Yupeng, this relates to manipulating the outcome of three matches in 2016 and failing to fully cooperate with the WPBSA enquiry.

I think that’s probably three aces.

In the case of David John, this relates to manipulating the outcome of matches he was involved in since 2016 and failing to fully cooperate with the WPBSA enquiry.

More of a two-pair.

You can read about the Chinese players here and about the Welsh player here. All have cases to answer and cannot compete until these are concluded, in one case at least you feel that the right to compete ever again has to be in doubt.

My understanding is that there are more investigations ongoing, so let’s hope we’re continuing to see this kind of thing eradicated from the sport. 

May 22, 2018

The World Seniors Tour – Open for Entries

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:42 am

A random selection of old people.

In amongst all the excitement at The Crucible last month I didn’t have a chance to report on the new structure for Seniors Snooker which has just gone up a notch following a successful few seasons under it’s founder Jason Francis, who has now joined forces with the WPBSA to make this a real addition to the snooker portfolio.

As well as formalising an already vibrant tour, the involvement of the WPBSA has also brought with it a lucrative increase in the prize money, with the winner of this year’s World Seniors Championship receiving a whopping £25,000, that’s a 150% increase on this year’s event which was won by Aaron Canavan.

It’s really encouraging that this is giving players who have possibly put their best days behind them a chance to really compete for meaningful prizes and a bit of glory in their older years. Details of all the main events are listed below, there are qualifying events all over the place to get to these main stages, so if you’re 40 or over and fancy a crack at it, here’s your chance.

Below are details of the tour and importantly a link where you can enter. At just £50 per entry it’s definitely worth your attention with this kind of dosh on offer.


There are currently 6 ranking events and additional ones may be added.

The winner of each qualifying event will earn at least £1000 (€1000 for European Open and Irish Masters) with the World Championship Qualifiers being a winner’s prize of £2500.


WSS European Open, 11-14 October 2018
Group runner-up:€2,500

WSS UK Seniors Championship, 23-25 October 2018
Group runner-up:£1,000

WSS Irish Masters, 4-6 January 2019

WSS World Seniors 6-Red Championship, 2-3 March 2019

WSS World Seniors Championship, 25-29 March 2019

WSS World Seniors Masters, 10-11 April 2019

Qualifiers Prize Money:  Winner’s prize money at all WSS Qualifying Events includes a consideration towards the expenses for the winner travelling to the final event destination. In the event the winner of a qualifier has already won a previous qualifier for the same event then 50% of the winner’s prize will be retained and awarded to the player who takes the place to assist with their travel costs.

May 8, 2018 Prediction Contest – Final Results

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

For anyone that has been following our first ever Players v Fans Prediction Contest it’s now time to reveal the final result, and I have to say it couldn’t really have been closer and the giraffe was only secured by the winning team in the final two frames of the pulsating final last night.

I can reveal that Team Baize Boys, despite being behind since the contest began, have John Higgins to thank for their victory. The fact he won 16 frames rather than 15 last night meant that they triumphed by a single frame, 1062 to 1061.

The final results from the team event are below and a hearty (if begrudging) congratulations from me to Team Captain Joe Perry, Mark Allen, Rob Milkins, Barry Hawkins, Michael Holt and Mike Dunn on their narrow victory.

In terms of the individual event however it was a very different story at the top of the table, with the top two places being occupied by two numpties, One Step and myself. We are now in discussions about some transfers next season as clearly our fellow numpties did not perform as we expected and the captain Alec Peace has already been given his marching orders from that role. Stern words are already being exchanged behind the scenes as we lick our collective wound.

It’s been a lot of fun doing this for the first time and maybe next year we’ll do something similar. A very big thank you to our sponsor who will be sending off the prize giraffes pictured below to their new homes.

Our kind sponsors are offering up a host of prizes and if you’d like to own something from them simply fill in the code ‘TEAMNUMPTY’ with any order at the checkout and receive a whopping 15% discount at their website.   

May 6, 2018

World Championship Final – Back to the Future

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:12 am

If ever there was an excuse to reference my favourite film of all time this is it. It’s 26 years since this pair turned professional and this Bank Holiday weekend sees them rev up the DeLorean to 88mph and step back in time to contest the World Championship Final. For once I’d argue that the phrase ‘Quite Amazing JV’ is actually bang on the money.

John Higgins was first world champion in 1998, Mark Williams in 2000. Higgins is after a fifth title to equal another graduate from the Class of 92 Ronnie O’Sullivan, whilst Williams is seeking a third to put him level with Mark Selby, arguably the only player since these three burst onto the scene to break into their sacred triangle.

I make no secret of the fact that I want Williams to win, both from a financial point of view and from a personal one. He’s easily my favourite player to watch, including O’Sullivan, and I’d argue that 2 world titles doesn’t do his talent justice. But unfortunately he’s had to put up with John and Ronnie throughout his career and in truth when it comes to the stats and the record books he’s stuck at number three.

So can he change this pattern and overturn Higgins, who it has to be said is playing as well as ever coming into this and starts as a worthy favourite (best price 8/13, Williams best price 13/8).

It’s a tough ask for Williams, the schedule means that Higgins is better rested but they both had energy sapping semi-finals, which again heightens the argument that there should really be some kind of gap between the semi-finals and final. Perhaps earlier starts to the final sessions might be considered, personally I have always thought the semi-finals should be three and not four session matches to allow a rest day before the final.

They have met at The Crucible three times and for once the record books show Williams ahead at 2-1, he also won their most recent encounter last year in China so if he needs a pick me up, there it is right there.

I just hope that these two great champions turn up with their best games, despite what has gone before. Higgins proclaimed to have ‘plenty left in the tank’ when he spoke emotionally to Hazel, also stressing that the energy levels don’t have to cope with Selby this year like they did last, whereas Williams said he was ‘knackered’. You can watch both press conferences below, including Mark reiterating that if he wins he will do his press conference stark naked, almost an excuse for me to start supporting Higgins.

So may battle commence, I am unashamedly biased and I really hope Williams wins, do I think he will? If someone had a gun to my head I’d say the bookies odds are spot on and Higgins will win with a few frames to spare, but I really hope I am wrong.

Here are the head to heads.



May 3, 2018

World Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:09 am

The stage is set

Three days until we know who will be contesting the final and I think I’m probably right in saying that this is the most open semi-final line up in years, no obvious winner from the four of them, all of whom are two wins away from getting their name on that famous trophy, either for a fifth time, a third time or for the first time depending on who wins.

It’s funny this year, usually by now I’m kind of starting to get a bit miserable thinking about the end and the inevitable post-Crucible blues, but this year, the longer it goes on the more I am enjoying it, and actually looking forward to a few snookerless months afterwards.

The one thing I have to mention here is how poor the coverage has been on TV this year, not just the BBC, but also Eurosport, who have decided without warning to stop showing both tables on their TV channels, which we have to subscribe to, but instead to have just one on telly and one on Eurosport Player, which we also have to subscribe to. A very greedy and grubby decision by the fat cats at the top.

The BBC, as we’ve come to expect, have been routinely not showing the second table on TV and instead point us to the various other means by which we can watch, all of which, with the exception of the bookies streams that they don’t point us in the direction of have a time delay.

I’m sorry but when Wimbledon is on you can choose between a whole multitide of courts on the Red Button and when the Olympics is on they have all sorts of obscure and dull as dishwater sports covered by this service, yet they can’t be arsed to have both tables covered on there for this. I know you can watch it online, but if you have one table on the TV you can hear what has happened on the other one about a minute before you see it online and that to me is next to useless.

Anyway, that’s my rant over with. In terms of betting, anyone who has religiously followed my outright bets will know what a strong position we are in. Each way bets on Williams at 40/1, Wilson at 40/1 and Hawkins at 28/1 are still going, meaning that we’ll have at least one finalist to collect from, if we can get Higgins beat, we might have two….

Click on the matches below for the head to heads.

Kyren Wilson v John Higgins

Thursday 1pm, Friday 10am and 7pm, Saturday 2.30pm

Higgins gave Kyren a good old pasting in the Quarter Finals on his way to the Final last year and comes into this on the back of a trademark quality performance and win over Judd Trump in a decider last night. Kyren on the other hand is coasting through, easy wins over Matthew Stevens and Jamie Jones before a surprisingly straightforward triumph over Mark Allen means he comes to this having dropped just 14 frames, far fewer than anyone else in the semi-finals. If Kyren doesn’t win it this year I’m pretty certain he will at some point, he has the look of a world champion, scoring heavily, great under pressure and sensible in his shot selection, a little like Mark Selby. I’ve made a lot about Higgins stamina, he’s now getting to the stage where he’s going to need the reserves in place mentally and physically to carry on and push for the line and his match with Judd will have taken it’s toll on him in my opinion, even having come through with a session to spare in his previous match. It’s a match that I have a vested interest in already and I’ll be cheering Kyren on for that reason and also because I like him and I want him to win, so the prediction below is probably best taken in that spirit.

Prediction: Wilson to win 17-13     

Barry Hawkins v Mark Williams

Thursday 7pm, Friday 2.30pm, Saturday 10am and 7pm

Two players who are familiar with the one table situation as Crucible specialist Hawkins takes on the revived and quite brilliant Mark Williams, who O’Sullivan apart, has been the Player of the Season this year. Hawkins surgical dismantling of Ding was ruthless, Barry is probably as nice a person as you could wish to meet, mild-mannered, loves dogs, very polite and the sort of boy that any girl’s mum would want to be waiting for them down the aisle. But put him on a snooker table in Sheffield and he seems to turn into a cutthroat killer. MJW is very similar, perhaps apart from the mother-in-law bit, almost sloth like in demeanour, but absolutely hard as nails on the table, which for me makes this the most intriguing of the two semi-finals. They have both been clinical so far at the business end of their matches when challenged and that says to me that this will be a blow for blow kind of match, one where there may never be more than 2 or 3 frames between them. I really fancy this one to go very very close and I’d even discount the fact that Barry has not beaten Mark in any of their meaningful meetings, he’s a completely different player here. I can’t really pick a winner, but gun to head, I’m sticking with my original tip on the main preview.

Prediction: Williams to win 17-15       

May 1, 2018

World Championship Quarter Finals Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:15 am

The One Table Situation beckons.

Mark Allen v Kyren Wilson

Tuesday 10am/7pm and Wednesday 2.30pm

It’s 9 years since Mark Allen last made an appearance in the semi-finals and the one table situation would be a completely new experience for Kyren so these two represent the least experienced World Championship semi-finalist whoever wins. Allen has played extremely well so far with wins over Liam Highfield and Joe Perry. His match against Joe was in my view the best so far in terms of all round quality and the final session, which Mark won 5-0 saw him up his scoring game too with his first and second century of the championship so he is clearly improving. Interestingly he said that his new coach, Chris Henry, has taught him some off table coping mechanisms, including ‘breathing techniques’, quite how that works I don’t know but it’s definitely doing the trick so far. Kyren has been untroubled in his previous two matches against Matthew Stevens and Jamie Jones, dropping just eight frames in total. He’s not scoring as prolifically as his opponent is but you could argue that this isn’t really his style and his match play tends to make up for it. The two of course fought out The Masters final in January which Allen won but they also met here over this distance two seasons ago when Kyren came out on top 13-9. Indeed their head to head could not be closer with 4 matches each and 43 frames each. At the start of the championship I thought Kyren would be the only player that could stop Selby from winning this quarter, but that hasn’t panned out and Allen’s form for me is too impressive to ignore. He doesn’t look like he’s ready for burn out and despite having backed Wilson in the outrights I just have to side with the Ulsterman, who for me now looks a likely finalist from this half.

Prediction: Allen to win 13-10    

John Higgins v Judd Trump

Tuesday 2.30pm and Wednesday 10am/7pm

Here’s an interesting stat. Judd Trump has never beaten John Higgins over anything longer than Best of 9 frames, he’s come close, particularly last time they met in the 2016 Scottish Open semi-finals when Higgins won 6-5, but a stat is a stat and facts can’t be skewed or altered, Judd has to do something here that he’s never done before if he’s to go any further. Let’s also face it, he’s lucky to have come through his first match against Chris Wakelin and he couldn’t have asked for a more careless final session from his last opponent Walden who from going 9-8 up decided to play like a man with no eyes. But you can only beat what is in front of you and Judd was impressive in closing that match out, riled by Ricky seemingly taking liberties against him and using this as a motivation to win. He hit four tons against Walden so as ever he’s reliable in the scoring department but can he cope with the master tactician here? Higgins is yet to be behind in any match here and his demolition job on Jack Lisowski bought him some relaxation time, something that I think he needs if he is to win this judging by his performance last year when he looked to all the world the champion before running out of puff on the final day. The head to heads favour Higgins and like Wilson he’s dropped just eight frames to get here while Judd has lost 18 frames already. Judd will have to seriously up his game in all departments to stand a chance here in my opinion.

Prediction: Higgins to win 13-9   

Ding Junhui v Barry Hawkins

Tuesday 10am/7pm and Wednesday 10am

With just seven frames dropped Ding comes into this as probably the best all round player of the championship so far. His first session performance against McGill was described by his opponent as faultless and when Ding is programmed to hoover mode there are few in the sport that can trouble him. The problem with Ding is always how he copes when it goes close and Hawkins record against him suggests that this is what will happen here. They met 5 years ago at this stage and Barry came out a 13-7 comfortable winner and he does hold a slight advantage on their head to heads so this is by no means another Ding procession in the making. Despite somewhat struggling over the line against Lyu Haotian, Barry made four centuries in that match as well as eight further breaks over 50 so he’s clearly looking at winning frames in one visit and to beat Ding that’s exactly what he needs to do again here. It’s a really tough one to predict this and in terms of a bet I would definitely be looking at a neutral one on the breaks as I can see this being a high scoring quality affair which could possibly go the distance and if it does I’d be tempted to side with Hawkins given his recent pedigree here. But there is obviously also a chance that Ding could establish a big lead early on so the first session to me holds the key to the match. If Barry is ahead or level I’d fancy him to win, but if Ding races to the front early, this could be very one-sided, I reckon the former is probably most likely.

Prediction: Hawkins to win 13-12    

Mark Williams v Ali Carter  

Tuesday 2.30pm and Wednesday 2.30pm/7pm

You really couldn’t get much more of a polar opposite in snooker in terms of temperament than these two. The laid back floating Welshman, without a care in the world against snooker’s newly christened Mr Angry, well, we were all getting a bit bored of ‘The Captain’ anyway weren’t we? This sounds far more appropriate and would make a great T-Shirt for Ali’s fans. Matches like this are what The Crucible is all about, two players looking to re-ignite their World Championship CV’s, MJW with a third title and Ali with a chance to win it now he’s bumped off the man who has stopped him twice. I’ve heard a few people say that Ali has already had his final, but they clearly don’t know him. If you think that he is happy with what he has done so far and that’s enough for him you’d be much mistaken. You could argue that Williams comes into this scoring more consistently than Carter, he’s not known for his prolific century making as in the past he’s just arsed about once the frame is won but this new model seems to be switched on these days to see the breaks out. It’s quite surprising given the length of their careers and their time spent in the top 16 that they have never met here, in fact they have only ever met once, ten years ago, in any match over one session. Williams holds the aces in the head to heads but not by much, but this is one where I don’t think previous really matters. Having backed Williams in the outrights at big prices I am going to keep faith with him but I’d not be surprised by any outcome in this one, I just hope it’s a clean fight and nobody gets hurt, with no punching below the belt.

Prediction: Williams to win 13-11


Mark Allen to be leading after 8 frames and to win the match at 7/4 with Bet 365.

John Higgins (-2.5 frames) at 6/5 with Bet 365.

Barry Hawkins to make more than 1 century at Evens with Bet 365.

Ali Carter to make more than 1 century at 10/11 with Bet 365.


Click here for an exclusive offer to blog readers on Taom Version 2.0 chalk. If you are in the UK you will not get this cheaper anywhere else. Be sure to go through this link or you will be charged the full price at the checkout.

Powered by WordPress

Website transfer complete