April 25, 2013

World Championship Round Two Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:00 am
Round 2 includes a repeat of last year's final.

Round 2 includes a repeat of last year’s final.

The Last 16 gets underway on Thursday after a mixed first round for the seeded players. I don’t think many would have expected a Dechawat Poomjaeng v Michael White clash at this stage a few weeks back but that is the beauty of this great championship, you just never know what it will throw at you.

The big match of the round is undoubtedly the repeat of the final last year between the champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and the highly impressive Ali Carter who looked in fine fettle in Round 1. Their match being spread over three days from Saturday to Monday, something of a first for a defending champion.

Ronnie looked a bit patchy on his return to me despite the claims of a hapless hack at the venue who said that his performance was the best anyone had played all season! LOL!!!! Perhaps he was watching a re-run of last years final on the screens in front of him just yards away from the live action and didn’t realise? Who knows eh? Who am I to argue with the journalistic expertise on display at the Crucible anyway?

As well as the main event there are some other crackers taking place too as we move into the three session Best of 25 frame matches which form this round and the Quarter Finals.

At time of writing there are still a few matches that are not known due to the later round one starts but as soon as these match ups become clear and the bookies get their prices up the preview below will be updated.

In my view Round 2 is usually where the championship really begins to take shape and usually it is also the point where people start forming their opinions on a winner. There have been a number of strong first round performances already but that doesn’t necessarily mean this will be carried forward into the rest of the tournament, indeed often the slowest starters end up crowned champion after this 17 day marathon, I wonder if that will be the case this year?

Anyway, here goes the blurb on Round 2, there are plenty of markets out there to be explored so be sure to take a good look around and perhaps suggest some of your own in the comments section.

Regulars, note the points. It’s time to have a decent bet now.

ROUND TWO: Best of 25 Frames (8/8/9) – for head to head records please click on the match

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Carter (Starts Saturday)

Everyone will have an opinion on this one. Some will look at the first round performances to say that Ali is an absolute nailed-on certainty while others will look at the head to head record and sneer, using phrases like ‘Ronnie owns him’ and ‘Ron doesn’t lose to Ali #FACT’. Indeed, if you discount an incredibly mediocre match at Crondon Park in the Championship League with no crowd at a time when Ronnie didn’t want to be there, Ali has never beaten him in 13 times of asking over more than a decade. Read that again: Ali has never beaten him. They first met in the UK Championship in 2001 and since then in major events Ronnie has won every time including three times at the Crucible, twice of course in Finals which if I was Ali I would remain pretty miffed about as he’d possibly be a double World Champion if not. On the flip side of the argument, if we take Round 1 as an indicator of what will happen here, Ali is the winner in my opinion. But it is also my opinion that you would be foolish to the point of naivety to do so. O’Sullivan went back to Sheffield on Tuesday and is doing exactly what he did last year, he is soaking up an atmosphere that he has been missing and tuning up for a long run in this, I am sure he sees this (as his millions of adoring fans will) as his stiffest test to date and make no mistake he isn’t taking this challenge flippantly. Ali is a favourite with the blog and with me, he was the first of the top professionals to give this place the time of day and I now consider myself and Mrs SB as friends of his and firmly in the Team Carter camp, even if this only extends to friends that see him at snooker tournaments now and again in England and Germany for a glass of grape juice. I am delighted that this match is happening, from a betting point of view the outright book is sorted as far as this one is concerned (9/1 Ronnie, 25/1 Ali) and I truly believe that the winner of this match can go on and lift the trophy. OK, time to make the call, my heart says Carter, my head says O’Sullivan, but I reckon this time at least he’ll know he has been in a match. If Ronnie wins expect his price to plummet at the bookies as the half opens up, same with Ali to a lesser extent. As far as a match bet goes, I expect them both to be playing to the last ball in every frame, to be posturing and to be improving as the match goes on. Whatever happens, one of them will play very well to win so as far as I am concerned over this distance the bet below is a maximum bet. Enjoy it.

Selection: O’Sullivan 13-11.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Over 2.5 centuries in the match at 11/10 with Ladbrokes.



Stuart Bingham v Dark Mavis (Starts Sunday)

Expectedly, the head to head between these two gives us very few clues as to the result of a match between two seasoned campaigners who have emerged from the ranks of the journeymen to fully embrace and embody the changes made to snooker in the past two seasons by Bazza. They are reaping the rewards of ‘going to work’ and can be seen plying their trade in all corners of the globe and loving every minute of it. As Bingham was the most improved player of last season, Mavis has to be up there for the most improved of this. He put behind him the disappointment of not being seeded automatically in this to qualify and take it out on John Higgins in round one, while Stuart had a more comfortable opener. I am quite surprised that Apollobet are a stand out 7/4 on Mavis here in what I think is an incredibly difficult match to call, that’s value in my book. Overall though, this is a match that sees two determined players at the peak of their form and I can’t forsee this not going very close to the distance, so the bet below is the one to be on.

Selection: Bingham 13-12.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Over 21.5 frames in the match at 4/6 with Skybet. 

Shaun Murphy v Graeme Dott (Starts Thursday)

These two have had very different paths to this round with Shaun breezing through in style while Dotty had to contend with Ebbo. Shaun’s scoring and more importantly his game in general was superb against Martin Gould, an opponent that even Stephen Hendry said was one that he would have wanted to avoid when the draw came out. Murphy is a master at ‘bossing’ opponents, particularly those he meets in early rounds who he possibly considers inferior to him. His recent record over Dott is good and often with Murphy I sense that when he’s in form he only loses to players he considers his equal on the table, the likes of Mark Selby and John Higgins spring to mind, the type of player he will usually meet at the end of events. You can’t judge Graeme on his first round match, he says he’s sorted his game out since last year and only a fool would write him off at the Crucible. But when it comes to scoring these days, for me Murphy is streets ahead on a consistent basis and he also looks very focused. Another maximum bet, the brave will go for the big handicap odds.

Selection: Murphy 13-7.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Murphy at 1/2 with Paddy Power.   

Marco Fu v Judd Trump (Starts Friday)

Since Marco beat Judd back in 2007 on their first meeting Judd has had much the better of the head to heads. Both looked decent in spurts in Round 1, Marco did benefit from the wayward early play of his opponent Matthew Stevens and it has to be said that had Matthew taken his chances towards the end of the match the fading Marco could well have been caught and beaten. Tiredness has been a recurring theme when Marco has spoken to the press these last few weeks and it was again after this match. He has had a very good season but it seems to be taking its toll on him at the back end. Judd on the other hand looks as fresh as a daisy, he’s been working hard for this and preparing as well as he claims he ever has for any tournament. The limelight has shifted away from him somewhat and onto Ronnie and I think that will do him good, it’s strange to say it but he may just come in under the radar while everyone is looking elsewhere, I think he’ll win pretty cosily here.

Selection: Trump 13-6

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Trump to win -3.5 frames at 17/20 with Apollobet.      

Rob Milkins v Ricky Walden (Starts Sunday)

Ricky produced one of the performances of the first round in sweeping away Michael Holt 10-1 with a 140 break to boot and a repeat of that performance will make him very hard to beat here. He faces Rob Milkins who showed no sign of nerves whatsoever in dispensing with pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson and is another player enjoying a new lease of life under Bazza, both on and off the baize. The win over Holt for Ricky signalled his first ever victory at the Crucible and very often that can spur players on to greater things. There is no doubt that Walden has the game to compete at the very highest level and a slight dip in form in the past few months seems now to be behind him, in fact, the enforced rest this gave him in between tournaments seems to have done him some good. He won their only previous meeting on his way to winning the Wuxi Classic way back in June last year and for me he has the look of a player that might just be the dark horse in this. Rather than backing the straight win it’s worth grabbing the more attractive odds that he’ll win with more than a frame to spare.

Selection: Walden 13-9

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Walden to win (-1.5 frames) at 10/11 with Paddy Power  

The fan club.

The fan club.

Michael White v Dechawat Poomjaeng (Starts Thursday)

Last year, Ryan Day and Cao Yupeng were the unseeded players that caused the big upsets and met at the next stage, this year it’s Michael White and the new cult hero of the Crucible Dechawat Poomjaeng’s turn and somehow this one feels a little bit more exciting. I’ve spoken at length about Pooms as an overall spectacle but not about his snooker. His action is probably the strangest I have come across, he seems to approach the cue ball in a totally different order from anyone else, I swear he closed his eyes on the last shot he played against Mags as if somehow trusting that it would go in once he’d lined it up, which as a glasses wearer who used to get challenged without my specs on the baize I totally understand. It didn’t go in, but it didn’t matter. Michael was hugely impressive against MJW and on that performance has to start a huge favourite for this match which surprisingly for me he doesn’t (alert big punters). He is easily the heavier scorer of the two and I am not sure we will see a repeat of Poomy’s loveable antics in this match against a less high profile opponent. In a way I hope we don’t and that one moment in time is just locked away and brought out on special occasions to remember. Michael White is a big prospect, all snooker people know that. I hope he wins here and I think he will. But thank you Poomy, you made us all very happy.

Selection: White 13-10

Recommended Bets: 5 points on White to have the highest break of the match at 8/13 with Apollobet.

Mark King v Ding Junhui (Starts Saturday)

King v Ding. King v Ding. Shall we just get that out of the way straight away? Please? I am delighted for Mark King that he’s managed to win a big match on the big stage, he’s a lovely bloke when you meet him (he’s around my age and I have met him at both ends) and someone who has been there, done that, seen it again, done it again and come out the other side as a decent bloke. His win over Mark Allen proved what a scrappy and overall dangerous match player he can be when he’s on song and as he semi-rightly says, he is a match for anyone when he is in the mood. But this is Ding, this is the other side of the ‘semi’. In my opinion, Mark can’t contend over longer matches with some players, Ding might tie the first session or the second session, but I think he will win at least two if not three of them as he is simply the better player of the two and someone who only Selby or Robertson can beat in the bottom half. The centuries market is always worth a look when Ding is playing and before I saw what I think is a slight error of judgement at Stan James on this match I was nailed on the overs. But until it’s gone, the bet below is the one for me.

Selection: Ding 13-8

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Ding (-3.5 frames) at 4/5 with Stan James.   

Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby (Starts Friday) 

I was very impressed with Barry Hawkins in Round 1, he held himself together very well and showed that experience really matters when facing a player like Jack Lisowski, his experience of this great venue is growing and he looks stronger every year. Selby was rather one-paced in his opener and never challenged, some might say that is the way to go, in a way it was similar to the way Ronnie won, bitty, but never looked really like losing. The two met in the first round last year when Barry won 10-3, but this match can be discounted as Selby’s neck was not right and definitely affected the result. What can’t be discounted are the ranking event meetings since which stand at 2-1 to Selby. There have been a few shocks in this championship so far so logically you would think that there will probably be another one in this round. In my book this could be it, Hawkins looks sharper to me and if he can hold himself together I believe he could win, the handicap bet below in my view is mis-priced (Stan James again) – go and get them.

Selection: Hawkins 13-11 

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Hawkins (+4.5 frames) at 5/6 with Stan James 

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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 Thanks to an old pal called Hans, who also happens to know Pooms for the T-Shirt photo. You all love it and you are welcome to share with friends.

World Championship Day 6

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:34 am
Golden Boy.

Golden Boy.

Day six at the Crucible sees the last two first round matches play to a finish and the first two second round matches get underway. There is no play this morning so a chance for snooker devotees like myself to actually have what I believe is called ‘a life’, for the morning at least.

Only a brief post this morning as there is plenty for you to digest on the betting front in the second round preview here which will soon be updated with the matches involving Judd Trump and Mark Selby, who both came through yesterday in comfortable fashion to land an 11/4 recommended treble flagged up the other day.

Marco Fu also came through knocking out another seed Matthew Stevens who didn’t really produce anything like his best and leaves the Crucible disappointed not to have had a run like he did last year.

Neil Robertson leads Rob Milkins 5-4 and concludes this afternoon, in the process he staked his claim for the Bobby George Cash for Gold cue with a 143, bettering The Magpie Trump’s effort by one point. I think Robbo only wants it to go with his hair and waistcoat to complete ‘the look’ personally.

It’s interesting that this is one of just 13 centuries so far which is as small a tally as I can remember at this stage of the championship, very low indeed.

Ding Junhui also came through after early signs of a spirited fightback by Angles, but it wasn’t to be and Scotland now must rely on Graeme Dott to bring home the haggis and have them singing in the glens with their bagpipes and skirts come a week next Monday. Dott starts out today against Shaun Murphy in a battle of two former champions.

Stuart Bingham has more or less booked his place in Round 2 already after he won 8 of the 9 frames last night against Sam Baird and he comes back tonight to finish the job off.

We’re off to the Crucible tomorrow for the weekend but I have no idea if the place we are staying has any kind of internet facility but I’m sure I will find some way to keep everyone posted on what’s going on in and around the venue over the coming few days. There’s generally a lot to see and do when you get there even if you just sit and watch the weirdos that hang around there every year for two weeks but never go inside, or marvel at the homeless man who stands in the middle of Tudor Square shouting about some murder in Rotherham and cursing the BBC for ruining his view of the road with all their vans. It’s a real cosmopolitan treat.

Here’s today’s line up anyway, it’s the return of our new hero Dechawat later on but I think he may struggle to recreate his heroics of the other day against the brilliant Michael White, it would appear that these two will probably have the Crucible to themselves for most of their first eight frames tonight, barring an unlikely comeback by Baird. We shall see.


Shaun Murphy 6-2 Graeme Dott – end of session.
Neil Robertson 8-10 Robert Milkins*


Stuart Bingham 8-1 Sam Baird*
Michael White v Dechawat Poomjaeng

*Denotes Match Conclusion

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day five here.

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