May 2, 2013

World Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:23 am
Go on, admit it. You weren't expecting to see him here where you?

Go on, admit it. You weren’t expecting to see him here where you?

The semi-finals kick off today and whilst the top half pits together the highest two seeded players from that section it’s fair to say that the bottom half has produced a semi-final which very few would have predicted without the help of time-machine and a crazy doctor with wild grey hair.

Before turning to the one that most people will consider to be the pick of the two ties let’s take a moment to congratulate Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden on their massive achievements so far. Hawkins has beaten hot prospect Jack Lisowski, World Number 1 Mark Selby and many people’s pick for the title Ding Junhui to get here, so nobody can say he doesn’t deserve his place in the one table situation.

Ricky has on paper had the easier path of the two but the three unseeded players Michael Holt, Robert Milkins and Michael White all needed beating and that’s exactly what the Chester cueman has done to earn his semi-final spot.

You can see what Barry and Ricky had to say about their latest wins and how the tournament is going by clicking on the World Snooker video section here. I hope they produce a Crucible classic, which if they are both a bit edgy might be exactly what this match could be.

There is another semi-final too in case it’s escaped your notice and the enigmatic champion O’Sullivan embarks on Round 4 of his title defence against the man who would be king, Judd Trump.

Judd came through a Crucible epic yesterday against Shaun Murphy in this year’s match of the tournament so far without a doubt. Much has been made of the poor standard of play this year and the culprit being burn-out, but for the spectator I’d argue that two players bashing them around, missing pressure balls and being generally careless can be just as exciting as two players on the top of their game.

Let’s face it, Judd had some real form towards the end of the match, little snicks and kisses here and there did have an effect on the outcome of some crucial frames, but ultimately he held himself together the better of the two and Shaun was left to rue his poor run of the ball as so many have done before when beaten by the naughty potter.

Murphy said “I just never thought it was going to be my day. I was playing good safety and nothing looked like it was going my way. He had some lucky kisses that got him in behind colours. I thought I did my job as well as I possibly could have done it.”

He will obviously be very disappointed to leave the Crucible and the season behind potless, given the number of winners of events this season it’s odd that Shaun hasn’t won anything given his status in the game. Too often this season he has looked like winning titles and somehow collapsed or found a way to lose at the business end and the longer that goes on and people like me keep mentioning it the more the pressure to win builds.

You can see what Judd had to say about the match and his forthcoming semi-final here.

Ronnie in the meantime wrapped up a cosy victory over Stuart Bingham and then started to display some of his trademark erratic tendencies after the match. Despite claiming on coming back that he missed snooker in his year off he claimed last night that he didn’t miss snooker in his year off and that this might be his last event because he wasn’t enjoying it. He also claimed to be short of cash, so much so that he hasn’t paid his kids school fees for a few months. He also said that despite earlier saying that this might be his last event that he’ll play in ten events next season that are on his doorstep like the ermm ‘Regal’ Welsh and that if Bazza comes up with any new initiatives that he fancies then ‘Ronsy’ might play in them.

To watch him witter on and talk about how he doesn’t want to be a celebrity and that he might buy a house and put a new kitchen in it or do a bit of punditry for the telly click on the World Snooker website video section here.

Utterly bonkers.

So now it’s time to look ahead to the semi-finals. Ronnie is a strong favourite to grab his fifth world title now (odds on everywhere) and the 9/1 recommended on him looks pretty decent now. I haven’t laid any off yet, I know I should but I can’t bring myself to do it as I think he’ll go on and win it.

Semi Finals – click on match for the head to heads

The Big One

The Big One


Ronnie O’Sullivan v Judd Trump

The first thing to say is that major event head to head history undoubtedly favours Judd. Before Ronnie beat him in the Welsh Open in 2012 and before he took the Crucible by storm last year Judd had walloped him in the Masters and beaten him in a decider on his way to winning the UK, a defeat which I think Ronnie took badly at the time having seen him afterwards. But you have to go on the form that both have been displaying so far in the tournament and for me Ronnie has been playing the better of the two by some distance. He has had 7 centuries which is more than any other player has had but Judd is only one behind on 6 so the obvious place to look for a bet first is the centuries market in a match between two players who will not crumble in the one-table situation and are very likely to want to put on a show in their first ever Crucible showdown. I have been impressed with Judd’s battling skills in this and he does increasingly seem to be acknowledging that he can’t pot them off the lampshades whenever the mood takes him, but I also think that he will have to substantially up his game to have any chance here as Ronnie doesn’t really seem in the mood to let errors off the hook at the moment and Judd is making plenty at times. I’ve looked at this match in almost every way and I can’t see Ronnie losing, I just think he’s playing on a different planet to the others and that’s why I’d be prepared to take a chance on the longer odds below in the various handicap markets that are available. The bookies are taking no chances with the centuries so there is no value there.

Selection: O’Sullivan 17-12

Recommended Bet: 3 points on O’Sullivan to win (-3.5 frames) at 6/4 with Ladbrokes 


Barry Hawkins v Ricky Walden

These two enter the biggest match of their lives with a pretty level head to head and one previous World Championship meeting behind them, in the qualifying rounds to the Embassy in 2005 which Walden won 10-9. Both are in unchartered territory here and it will be fascinating to see how they adapt to the different conditions and atmosphere that the bigger arena brings. One may thrive where the other may falter, both may thrive or both may falter and until we get to see how each adapts it makes this a tough call. Strangely, Barry has got here with a tournament high break of just 100, his only century, while Ricky has hit 3 with a highest of 140 on Day 1. In terms of the centuries market I would be pitching at the unders on this one as I expect it to be a bit edgy when frame winning chances present themselves early on. What often happens in matches like this is that the players tend to either drag each other down or both play to their best and either way this results in the match being close. On form I would take Ricky but if it goes to a decider I would probably favour Barry, I think it will go close and the bookies agree with both being favourite depending on where you look. The price below made me sit up and consider a fairly large bet  and it also means I don’t have to pick a player and can just enjoy it, so here goes.

Selection: Walden 17-15

Recommended Bet: 5 points on the winning margin being under 4.5 frames at 10/11 with Paddy Power 

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