October 23, 2012

International Championship: Trump Can Blast Away Demons

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:02 pm

Hot under the collar in Shanghai and Sheffield

Sunday sees the start of the most financially prestigious tournament in Chinese snooker history as the International Championship gets underway from the Sichuan International Tennis Center in Chengdu. 

This is the richest world ranking event ever staged in Asia, with the winner to collect £125,000 from a total prize fund of £600,000. More amazingly to me is that it also sees a brand new format for a Chinese event and a break from the tired old routine of all the others.

Sadly, this doesn’t mean we have seen the back of my personal bugbear, the pointless and unfair wildcard round which will undoubtedly again claim a couple of scalps from players that have earned the right to be there competing for the big prizes.

They (The Chinese) have however at least attempted to appease me by making the matches longer, with best of 11 frame encounters right up to the two session best of 17 semi-finals (bliss) and the best of 19 frame final (should be a two day job and best of 25 covered on ITV finishing on a Sunday afternoon like the Mercantile Credit Classic, Jimmy v Cliff, those where the days), making this something of a mini-world championship. AND I MEAN MINI.

This is most welcome and makes the tournament, which is covered in full by Eurosport, something that we can really get our teeth into from a betting point of view and a nice pre-cursor to the UK and the Masters which are just around the corner. Think of this as Bazza’s early Christmas present to us loyal baize followers, or think more darkly like I do.

The event also sees the return to full-ranking action of Ronnie O’Sullivan who comes back from his rest and Legends gig with Jimmy to show us what he can do. It’s very difficult to assess whether he’ll continue where he left off in Sheffield here or resemble the frankly dreadful and blatantly un-arsed player we witnessed when he lost to Simon Bedford in a recent PTC on his only competitive match since lifting the Crucible crown so brilliantly. One assumes with the size of the purse up for grabs he will at least try this time.

One person that will not be lining up for a crack at the big money is Stephen Lee, as investigations continue into whether he’s already landed the big money in other ways following his recent match against John Higgins in the Premier League which was reported here and led to an immediate ban being imposed on the under-fire Trowbridge man. This means that our old friend and carrot cruncher Peter Ebdon will receive a bye into the last 16 which at least saves on the electricity bill for the table lights at the venue, though with all the carrots he is eating he probably doesn’t need them.

You can view the now traditionally awful World Snooker PDF of the draw here but for a more interactive guide to both plan your bets and to enter a competition click here and bang your selections in the ongoing season-long contest which I personally have donated 100 Euros to as a prize for the season winner, that’s real money folks.

Talking of prediction contests, this season’s blog partner Apollobet have again generously donated a £50 free bet for the winner of the traditional blog contest here. It’s a bit of a landmark this one as this now means that since starting the blog (not yet 3 years ago) free bet giveaways to contest winners total over £3000, hopefully some of you have put them to good use and not simply been careless with them.

Anyway, now to the matter in hand and the outright preview, the match betting one will follow on a daily basis starting on Saturday with my look at Sunday’s matches. It’s a big event this and make no mistake they will all want to win it, as well as the money this may well end up being the most prestigious tournament in Chinese snooker so who wouldn’t want to win it first?

Quarter One:

Ronnie will start out with a match against either the improving Welshman Michael White or Chinese infant and part-time chimney-sweep Lu Haotian who is one of the crop of youngsters heralded by many as the future of snooker (I’ll get mee coat). Despite this, you would expect the World Champion to come through safely enough there, though I would love to see the hugely improved Welshman White push him close. Waiting for O’Sullivan could be dogged Scot Graeme Dott and if Ronnie isn’t in tip top shape I fancy that Dotty is just the sort of player that might send him packing, they have played three times over best of 11 and Dott leads 2-1, it would not surprise me if the vastly experienced, hard-working and fearless Scot came through there as I expect him to beat Coventry born Welshman Dominic Dale in the first round. Seasoned traveller Neil Robertson is gradually getting a bit better in China though he got thumped 5-0 by Joe Perry in Shanghai and it remains to be seen if he sports his unlucky curly-haired look again, he is in form and will fancy his chances of making it through to the Quarter Finals unscathed, although Ryan Day may have something to say about that as might Matthew Stevens, who in truth is yet to find any form this season and may be one to watch as the season goes on. Overall Robbo’s record in China is too poor to back him with any confidence and I’d rather take the much bigger price about Dott that is on offer as he continues to be underestimated at the bookies (much to his annoyance if his book is anything to go by) and at least he is a proven winner in China, albeit a while back and we know he likes the longer format and is not in the inexplicably terrible form he was in at the Crucible, he also tends to play better on TV, where he will surely be if he faces Ronnie, who might of course just turn up and walk it…

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Dott to win the International Championship at 50/1 with Skybet.

What is wrong with the Sheffield man?

Quarter Two:

What is wrong with Ding Junhui on home turf lately? Nothing. He plays fine in the UK but he is worshipped in China and now seems to struggle to find his best form there. The national hero and still the best Chinese player ever to grace the game faces a wildcard first up and then either Shaun Murphy or Andrew Higginson, who will both take some beating. Personally however, I think the winner of this section will come from the bottom set of matches. Martin Gould is desperate for ranking points to get back into the top 16 and faces Marco Fu, who is showing some improved form lately, meanwhile the most successful player ever in China Mark Williams faces Dark Mavis first up but having beaten Mavis very easily in all their previous 3 main ranking tour meetings he’ll be confident of coming through that one I should think. On balance and given his proven pedigree over there, it has to be MJW, though I don’t think the eventual winner will come from this section (they will still give Ding a cup at the end though).

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Williams to win the International Championship at 16/1 generally. 

Quarter Three:

It doesn’t get any easier as Judd Trump, John Higgins and Mark Allen all compete in this section of the draw, along with perennial dark horse Stuart Bingham, who is also in decent form. The final in Shanghai between Trump and Higgins was fantastic, as was the semi-final Trump contested against MJW the day before, there are those that feel the loss to Higgins coupled with ‘that’ comeback by Ali Carter against Trump at the Crucible have brought him down a peg or two, but I’m not one of them. The match against Ali was as tense as can be and the Crucible does strange things to a player (trust me, it is as close to a Crucible match as I have ever been) but being there I always had the sense that Ali would win, to some extent the same feeling I think everyone had with Higgins when he started on the comeback trail. But I don’t think Judd is the type to dwell on such things and of the three main names mentioned he is the one that has the best chance of making the Quarter Final unscathed, where he will surely meet Antwerp winner Allen or Shanghai Master Higgins. It’s rare that a player wins two events on the bounce these days (Allen), it’s even rarer that a player wins two main rankers on the bounce (Higgins), so I’m going to side with Judd as my main fancy as I reckon it could be his turn this time in a country where he also produces some of his best snooker.

Recommended Bet: 3 points win on Trump to win the International Championship at 13/2 with Apollobet (back it here).  

Quarter Four:

Stephen Maguire has started the season very consistently and has a possible tussle against his (and mine, as he won me loads of dosh not long back) great pal Jamie Burnett first up for the right to face Peter Ebdon, this being something that Mags has done on his last two trips to China, the score being one each with Ebdon taking the marathon China Open Final in a decider in April and Mags gaining revenge in Shanghai over the shorter format 5-3. Also in the section is another ranking winner from this season Ricky Walden, who won the Wuxi Classic, Ricky faces the winner of arguably the tie of the first round Mark Selby v Ali Carter. They met in the Antwerp semi-final and Selby absolutely steamrollered Ali and that kind of beating will be hard for the Captain to forget. For me this section is a toss up between Maguire and Selby, with Mags at double the price of Selby and with the easier draw of the two and a fairly even head to head. I’m happy to side with him.

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Maguire to win the International Championship at 18/1 with Betfred.

To open an online account with Apollobet click the banner below and receive a free £20 matched bet, you can view their extensive prices on this event by clicking here, including comprehensive match betting and tournament highest break odds.  


International Championship Prediction Contest

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:34 am

Sunday sees the start of the lucrative International Championship in China and once again blog partners Apollobet have put up a £50 free bet as a Prediction Contest prize.

Have a look at the groups below and choose your team of 8 for next week.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Choose 2 Choose 2 Choose 2 Choose 2
(WC Round included)      
Michael White Mark Selby Stuart Bingham Ryan Day
Ken Doherty Shaun Murphy Ding Junhui Andrew Higginson
Aditya Mehta John Higgins Martin Gould Marco Fu
Cao Yupeng Stephen Maguire Ali Carter Peter Ebdon
Jamie Burnett Mark Williams Ricky Walden Dark Mavis
Fergal O’Brien Neil Robertson Matthew Stevens Rob Milkins
Barry Pinches Ronnie O’Sullivan Graeme Dott Dominic Dale
Lu Haotian Judd Trump Mark Allen Zhou Yuelong


Select two players from each group

For every frame your player wins you will score 1 point

If your player wins the tournament you score a further 10 points

If your player has a 147 break in the tournament you score a further 15 points

The usual rules apply regarding anonymous or multiple entries

To enter simply go to the comments section and enter your team together with your username and valid email address in the boxes provided (only I can see the email address)

Entries close when the first ball is struck on Sunday morning.  


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