April 7, 2013

World Championship Qualifiers Round 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:35 pm
I offer no excuse, it's shameless.

I offer no excuse, it’s shameless.

It’s time for the weekend winners to take on the players a rung up the rankings ladder in Round 2 in Sheffield now as we edge another round closer to deciding who lines up at the Crucible at the World Championship.

It’s already been a very edgy,nervy and tense start to the qualifiers and watching the live stream you can clearly see what these matches mean to the players involved.

Unfortunately we have had to say goodbye to Martin O’Donnell who succumbed to Tian Pengfei, indeed the Far Eastern contingent are having a decent time of things so far with the Chinese and the Thai players all doing well in general in Round 1. A sign of things to come perhaps?

I write this before the evening session is under way on Sunday so I can’t really give a proper update on the betting front, but I am hopeful that the main accumulator will land, we made a bit on Drago’s match which could have been a lot more had he not let the hapless Mohamed Khairy win a few more than he should have done with his trademark carelessness. A couple of early singles also have landed or at least look like landing too so it’s hopefully not a bad start at all, although Luca Brecel losing just now has put rather a dent in things and would have seen us well in profit rather than just a bit. But onwards and upwards as they say.

It’s now time to take a look at the next set of matches which decide who goes forward to face seeded players 33-48 and the likes of Jimmy White, Alan McManus and Rod Lawler enter the tournament at this point. Lawler or ‘Rod Almighty’ as I like to call him having done so well in the ranking events this season that even though he started the season on zero points having come from Q-School he has progressed to not starting the tournament from the beginning, which is some achievement if you understand the intricacies of the rankings system and testament to his hard work.

Here goes the next round, you may need to revisit a few times for updates as the bookies are way behind this particular blogger in pricing things up. Enjoy the snooker as this is one of the best weeks of the year in the calender, closely followed by the only two weeks that are definitely better.

Click on the matches below for the head to heads, where there is no link the players are meeting for the first time.

Monday 8th April 10am starts (conclude at 7.30pm)

Gerard Greene v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Cao Yupeng v Zhang Anda   

Mike Dunn v Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon

James Wattana v Michael Wasley    

Kurt Maflin v Craig Steadman

Jimmy White v Tian Pengfei

Flying in practice

Flying in practice

By all accounts Un-Nooh was the best player of a mediocre bunch on day one of the tournament and indeed 7 breaks over 50 including a best of 129 to beat Scott Donaldson seems to bear this out. He is a player that I have frequently been saying has been improving recently and he will fancy his chances against Gerard Greene who has had a very poor season. Regulars will know that Greene is one of those players that I frequently take on and this season that has proved to be a good move, I’m happy to do so again here with the Thai having a confidence boosting first round under his belt. Cao Yupeng did the Snooker Scene Q&A this month and said that he liked pretty girls but didn’t like fat people, so he seems like an all round good sort in my book and also likes to be called Eric on these shores for some reason. He reached the last 16 of this last season after a famous first round win over Mark Allen at the Crucible, he is a player I rate highly but his results lately have not been good with just one win in his last nine matches, that said he should have enough in his locker to take care of Zhang Anda who won a low quality first round match against Passakorn, there is nothing I can find to suggest he can make the step up here. Thanawat beat Mike Dunn in their only meeting to date 5-0 but Dunny hadn’t prepared for the match and this can possibly be discounted. However, this hasn’t deterred the bookies from making TT favourite for the match against a player who seems to be having a few issues with his cue at the minute, TT could be the bet here but his odds aren’t exactly attractive, in fact it’s crazy that he’s such a big favourite and the value is now Dunn so I will leave it alone. Another player in a poor run of form is Thailand veteran James Wattana, he faces Gloucester’s Micheal Wasley who managed to win his first match against Sean O’Sullivan with just one break over 50, a 69, his opponent not even getting to that with his only 50+. Michael is possibly the type of player that will improve as the week goes on and he’s had a very good first season on the main tour, but he’ll have to score much much better than that to trouble James. Kurt Maflin and Craig Steadman have met twice, once over this distance and once at Q-School, both times Stedz has won a decider yet Maflin starts a strong favourite here. Steadman has a deciding frame win over David Grace under his belt already and while he is undoubtedly not as bigger scorer as Maflin he is a very tough match player on his day so there is no reason why this won’t be close again. Finally, six times runner-up Jimmy White who unsurprisingly is buzzing/flying etc. in practice takes on Tian Pengfei to get a chance to take on another Chinese player Xiao Guodong in the next round. Jimmy of course has recently signed the Opal Vodka contract with Ronnie for the World Championship, but on this season’s form he’s more likely to be sat at home knocking it back than wearing it on his waistcoat at the Crucible. That said, he always tries his heart out in this and Tian wasn’t brilliant in Round 1 so I’d marginally side with the Whirlwind seeing as he is odds against, his reputation and experience in longer matches does tend to buy frames.

Selected Winners: Un-Nooh, Yupeng, Thanawat, Wattana, Maflin, White.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Steadman (+2.5 frames) at 4/5 with Apollobet. 2 points on Thanawat at 4/6 generally. 3 points on White at 6/4 with Stan James. 1 point Yankee (total stake 11 points) on Un-Nooh (5/6), Yupeng (8/13), Wattana (4/6) and White (11/8) at Bet Victor.    

Monday 8th April 2.30pm starts (conclude at 2.30pm Tuesday 9th April)

Andy Hicks v Tony Drago   

Alan McManus v Aditya Mehta   

Rod Lawler v Fraser Patrick   

Jimmy Robertson v Li Yan

Rod Almighty

Rod Almighty

In meaningful matches Tony Drago holds a big advantage over the higher seeded Andy Hicks, Hicks hasn’t beaten Drago since they first met back in 1994 and there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Hicks was last seen out at the Welsh Open when he lost to amateur Duane Jones and to be honest he has hardly set the world alight this season, he didn’t even enter all the PTC’s which may indicate he’s not all that bothered anymore after a long career. Despite his faults, of which there are many, the same cannot be said of Drago, he badgered Barry Hearn to let him back on the tour with a wildcard after dropping off last season and his daily protests to the chief led to his eventual surrender. He is still capable of bouts of brilliance but also the utter carelessness which has blighted his career, that said he showed enough in patches in his first mis-match to suggest he can win again, but I won’t be putting any more money his way. I was really pleased to see Aditya Mehta come through a battle yesterday and his reward is a right old tussle with Alan McManus. Angles recent form has been good, he is winning far more than he is losing and enjoyed a run to the Quarter Finals of the Welsh Open, suggesting that his game is in good shape. He also has bags of experience and I think he might be able to outfox Adi in that one. Another battle can be expected as Rod Lawler takes to the baize against the amateur Fraser Patrick who dismantled poor little Luca yesterday with solid safety and better scoring, he didn’t do a lot wrong and his nerve held together very well, it’s fairly obvious to me that he has spent some time in the company of John Higgins as he seems a very solid matchplayer. Rod for me has to be up there when talking about players of the season, a PTC winner and a surge up the rankings having been on the verge of quitting this time last year is truly a remarkable achievement for a player that’s been on the circuit so long. He has been finding ways of winning this season and something tells me he will do so again here, he might not be everyone’s cup of tea but whatever he is doing is working. Finally, Jimmy Robertson takes on Li Yan of China, there is no doubt who the heavier scorer of these two is, Jimmy is a regular century maker in competition and Li managed to win his first match with a best break of 52, on that form you would have to fancy the boy Robertson to progress given his recent results.

Predicted Winners: Drago, McManus, Lawler, Robertson.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on McManus, Lawler and Robertson pays over 11/4 at Sportingbet

Tuesday 9th April 10am starts (conclude at 7.30pm)

Liu Chuang v Dechawat Poomjaeng    

Adam Duffy v Joe Swail  

Yu Delu v Ian Burns

Barry Pinches v Liam Highfield    

Peter Lines v Sam Baird  

Alfie Burden v Paul Davison

The Scottish Liu Chuang

The Scottish Liu Chuang

Dechawat Poomjaeng did us a favour in Round 1 and his reward is a clash with Liu Chuang from China, who looks a bit like Stephen Hendry but is definitely not related to him in any way at all. Liu is like a lot of the Chinese players that make an impact early on and hasn’t quite kicked on as he should have done and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dechawat progressed again, but not with a bet. Joe Swail is the player I am rooting for in this session, he has lots of support behind him and takes on Adam Duffy who has beaten him easily on their only previous meeting. Joe has the feel of a player with a huge momentum at the moment and is relishing life back on the baize much in the way Rod Lawler has been doing, if these two were both at their best it’s fairly obvious who the better player of the two is in my opinion and Joe is the outsider for the match, he’s worth a bet too but I have the 66/1 on him to qualify (did I mention that?) so won’t be indulging. It will come as no surprise to regulars that I think Ian Burns will beat Yu Delu, Delu has only won 2 of his last nine matches and one of them was against an unknown (to me anyway) amateur player from Europe so I think the improving Burns is possibly a decent bet there at a half decent price with Stan James. You have to be impressed with the way Liam Highfield coped with being 4-0 down in his first match, it appears he gave himself a good talking to or perhaps a staring at in the mirror and then starting scoring and won 10-6, he faces Barry Pinches who has acres of experience but seems these days to beat similar players to himself more than more attacking players like Liam so again it’s the outsider of the two that appeals. Nine breaks over 50 from Sam Baird in his first round match tells me he could be getting a head of steam, my only doubt with Sam is his tendency to get a bit bogged down if the match isn’t going his way and Peter Lines is a master at exploiting that, but you know what? Again it is a punt on Baird that appeals as he’s a cracking player when he’s in the mood despite famously being my most wayward prediction 3 years ago in this very event. As well as Burns, the other favourite that I think will win in this session is Alfie Burden, he goes head to head with fellow ‘veteran’ (sorry AB) Paul Davison and while I think this might be a cagey one, Paul doesn’t beat many players ranked higher than he is regularly, Alfie is also the heavier scorer of the two which can be the key in the longer matches.

Selected Winners: Poomjaeng, Swail, Burns, Highfield, Baird, Burden.

Recommended Bets: 3 points on Burns at 10/11 with Stan James. 4 x 1point trebles and a 1 point acca on Burns (-1.5), Highfield (+2.5), Baird (+2.5) and Burden at Apollobet (acca pays over 5/1)

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