March 26, 2010

China Open Preview – On Your Marks, Get Set, Go.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:40 am

Mark and Mark to make their Mark

Monday sees the beginning of the penultimate ranking event of the season in Beijing. For some this is the last chance to climb up the rankings having been knocked out of the World Championship which begins on April 17th, not long now.

It’s always difficult to call this one as there are players that take to the very different conditions like a duck to water and those that can’t wait to get on the next plane home. But with so few chances to pick up ranking points these days this is an important event for those looking to secure a top 8, 16 or 32 place next season.

I am going to predict good tournaments for four players, three of them called Mark. My likely winner is Mark Selby, another I feel will be there towards the end is Mark Allen. In the bottom half I will predict a walk in the park to the semi-finals for Ronnie O’Sullivan and a good tournament for another former world champion Mark Williams.

The First Quarter

Ebbo - Won last year after dismal run

Peter Ebdon starts the defence of his unlikely win here last year with a match against Judd Trump. Ebdon looked to be hitting the ball well in the recent Championship League and I feel he will have too much for young Judd here who has consistently disappointed his followers this season with a string of bad results. Ebdon looks to be peaking at just the right time and is fighting to stay in the top 16, so the motivation isn’t a problem and this is the key ingredient of his game. He should then set up a match with Neil Robertson, who I believe will put the holder out of his misery and make it to the quarter finals. You would imagine a Ding v Selby showdown to decide who joins him and I’ll take Mark to overcome both Ding and the crowd and then go on to beat Robertson. Selby has been over to China a lot recently, he’s looking to get his ranking back up inside the top eight and I believe he will be bang up for this event. When he gets in the mood he’s as tough as anyone to stop.

Q1 Recommended Bets:

1 point win Mark Selby to win Q1 (9/4 Skybet )

2 points win Peter Ebdon to beat Judd Trump (10/11 Sportingbet)

The Second Quarter

I can’t see past Mark Allen winning this quarter. Stephen Maguire is the favourite but as detailed in an earlier post, he doesn’t really seem to like China and bombed out last year in the first round. I think Barry Hawkins may be worth a punt against him in the first round at the odds. Either way, I’d expect Allen to account for the winner after a potentially tricky opener against Graeme Dott. I’d expect Ryan Day and Hendry to take care of their first round qualifiers and Hendry to beat the Welshman to set up a Quarter Final with Allen, which I’d take the Irishman to win without hesitation.

Q2 Recommended Bets:

2 points win Mark Allen to win Q2 (7/2 Boylesports)

1 point win Barry Hawkins to beat Stephen Maguire (2/1 Paddy Power)

The Third Quarter

Oi Mate - You know what time the next bus to China is?

I think it would be seen as a really bad tournament for Ronnie O’Sullivan if he didn’t at least make the semi-finals here. He has played well in China in the past and this may provide a chance for him to close the gap on John Higgins for the coveted number one spot, though he is unlikely to catch Higgins barring big upsets in the final two events. The way I see it he will have to beat Mark Davis or Tian Pengfei, Mark King or James Watanna and then the man who has never beaten him in 5000 attempts Ali Carter (or even perhaps Tony Drago?). I can’t think of an easier path for the Rocket, but this is reflected in the price. I just have an inkling though that he won’t win the event.

Recommended Bet:

4 points win Ronnie O’Sullivan to win Quarter 3 (8/11 Paddy Power)

The Fourth Quarter

John Higgins will rightly start favourite for this quarter and is obviously the one to beat here. However, I think John will have one eye on practising for Sheffield and I wouldn’t back him with any confidence for this event. He’ll have a tough second match against either Jamie Cope or Mark Williams, I just fancy the Welshman to win that one and then perhaps spring a surprise against his old sparring partner Higgins. That would in all likelihood set up a match with Shaun Murphy, though he’d need to have overcome the not unsubstantial threat of Championship League Winner Marco Fu or Top Drawer favourite Rory McLeod to get there. I do think Williams has Murphy’s measure if he is on his game and Murphy is getting out of the habit of winning just lately and may even struggle to get this far. Either way, a speculative punt on yet another Mark to win the quarter is advised.

It must have been the crispy duck

Recommended Bet:

1 point win Mark Williams to win Q4 (11/2 Boylesports)

Outright Bets:

1 point win Mark Selby to win the China Open (17/2 Sportingbet)

0.5 point win Mark Allen to win the China Open (20/1 BetFred)

0.5 point win Mark Williams to win the China Open (20/1 Skybet)

(Now watch Mark King go and win it)

Total Points staked: 13 (I’m not superstitious)

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