October 22, 2013

International Championship Preview: Robbo or Ronnie?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:39 pm

Oi mate, get your head out the way will ya.

Sunday sees the start of a week of action from Chengdu in China as Judd Trump returns to defend the International Championship title he won this time last year. 

It’s a good tournament this and benefits greatly from longer matches with every round up to the semi-finals being the best of 11 frames, followed by an almost unheard of nowadays (even ridiculously in the UK Championship) two session best of 17 frame semi-final and a best of 19 frame final. So we should see plenty of the big names making a real effort to nab the £125,000 first prize on offer from the huge prize pool.

Winner £125,000
Runner-up £65,000
Semi-finals £30,000
Quarter-finals £17,500
Last 16 £12,000
Last 32 £7,000
Last 64 £3,000
Highest break (Finals) £1,000

Total £625,000

British and Continental Eurosport will be covering the event again and you can view the schedule for viewers in the UK by visiting their official listings page here. You foreigners can find it yourselves I’m sure and there will probably be more of it, not that I’m jealous at all.

The only player to have pulled out following the qualifiers which were held last month in Barnsley is long term blog buddy Ali Carter who is taking some time out to recover fully from his recent health problems, we wish him all the best.

This event is also something of a novelty in that it includes the World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is taking time out from tackling global financial terrorism on Twitter and blabbing on about running to give the day job a go for a change. Ronnie is currently on a Twitter embargo of all things snookery and has told everyone that he’s not going to talk about it again because he keeps getting into trouble. However, he did fail to divulge whether or not he’ll post another picture of his mate the self-nosher as I’m sure that’s perfectly ok with the governing body. In any case, it’s the first time in 18 months that Ronnie has played in China, assuming of course he gets to sit next to his mate (hopefully not the self-nosher for the sake of the other passengers) on the flight there.

The title holder Judd in the meantime tweeted early the other day that he was going to win this and make a 147, suggesting that he was either 100% confident that he’s back to his best or 100% deluded and still pissed from a night out on the tiles with the boi’s (I’ll wait for him to correct the spelling) the night before. He’s also had an online spat with Andrew Pagett about who has got the best fake/genuine/gay shoes, so he’s obviously bang up for this, all good manly fun is what I say.

All the big names are here and the recent form of Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen as well as the presence of the likes of Mark Selby, John Higgins, Mark Williams and co should ensure a cracking week of snooker. Hopefully, the very strong recent run of betting will continue too, we shall see.

You can view the whole draw on the now legendary World Snooker PDF by clicking here

Wildcard Round

Alan McManus v Zhou Yuelong
Jimmy White v Yuan SiJun
Steve Davis v Zhao Xintong
Kyren Wilson v Lin Shuai

Unfortunately, despite the move to longer matches and the fact that there are now Asian PTC’s, the Chinese organisers still see fit to stage this totally unnecessary wildcard round before the main event gets under way. I’m not even going to cover these now. If you want to look up the Chinese players who don’t deserve to be in the tournament then go to Cue Tracker here. I’m hoping that Snookerbacker Classic 2013 runner-up Kyren Wilson gets through unscathed, Angles beat his oppo 4-0 in the APTC. Good luck to all the main tour professionals.

Last 64 – click on the matches to view head to head where applicable courtesy of Cue Tracker

Quarter One

Judd Trump v Alan McManus/WC
Mike Dunn v Ryan Day
Ben Woollaston v Fergal O’Brien
Rod Lawler v Aditya Mehta
Mark Allen v Tian Pengfei
Dave Harold v Pankaj Advani
Joe Perry v Jamie Jones
Dave Gilbert v Shaun Murphy 

Well, if the tweet above is to be believed I might as well pack in the preview here and now.

But the reality is that this is the last major ranking title that Judd won and his best performance so far this season has been a quarter final showing in the last PTC. He may face Alan McManus in his opening match and that isn’t one that is likely to get him motoring so despite his obvious confidence, I’m going to pass on him until he starts talking on the table rather than on Twitter. For some, a much more interesting proposition in the outright market lies in recent Ruhr Open winner Mark Allen even though he followed this with a largely disinterested stint in India where he was beaten by Pankaj Advani. Advani and the Indian Open finalist Aditya Mehta are both also in this quarter and both face real grinders in Rod Lawler and Dave Harold, who is fresh from his Seniors semi-final at the weekend. It would be asking a lot of the Indian pair to kick on immediately despite the fact that Pankaj has decided to play in this rather than defend his World Billiards title this week in Leeds, a statement that now he’s going to concentrate on snooker. It’s a tough old section and I actually think it is the one that might throw up a surprise semi-finalist. Shaun Murphy, Dave Gilbert, Ryan Day, Fergal O’Brien, Joe Perry and Tian Pengfei who faces Allen are all players that can turn in good weeks here and there, Mike Dunn will be bouyed by his Indian Open exploits on a suitcase full of pot noodles if rumours are to be believed. All in all this is a very tough and open quarter, but the one I like in it is a player that is making strides up the rankings and for me is knocking on the door of making a real breakthrough in the game, he’s out in China playing in the APTC now so will be fully acclimatised, so for me a big price selection in this top section is Ben Woollaston.

Recommended Bet: 0.25 points Each Way on Ben Woollaston at 200/1 with Apollobet.    

Quarter Two

Barry Hawkins v Jimmy White/WC
Steve Davis/WC v Craig Steadman
Xiao Guodong v Alfie Burden
Adam Duffy v Marco Fu
Stuart Bingham v Robin Hull – EDIT: Hull withdraws, Bingham through to next round. 
Matthew Selt v Martin Gould
Mark King v Peter Lines
Jamie Burnett v Mark Selby 

Unfortunately this was one of Steve’s wind-ups, but they did pick the wrong Davis without a doubt (and definitely the wrong Murphy, sorry Shaun, nothing personal). World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins could have had a worse draw and his form in China is steadily improving but something tells me that he isn’t quite yet in top form and the winner of this event will need to be. Another who for some reason isn’t his usual self at the moment is Mark Selby, beaten by Pa Ruke in the APTC he’ll need a swift reversal of form to be lifting the trophy at the end of the week here, but in his favour he tends to tune in for the bigger events, well the ones that aren’t held in Sheffield anyway. The Chinese revolution brigade hit full throttle after Xiao Guodong made it to the final in Shanghai, propelling him into the media spotlight over there and making him an overnight star, it will be interesting to see how he handles it. A player with pedigree in this section is Stuart Bingham and I am expecting him to do well in this. He’s another that is over there now and clearly one who loves every minute of this travel happy tour, he’s yet to really produce this season but this is usually the time of the season that he starts making improvement and I’m happy to stick with him in this quarter to again arguably upset the odds. In the other mini-section it’s worth having a few quid on Xiao too at three figure odds. One point to note in this quarter is the head to head between Martin Gould and Matt Selt. Fans and students of history repeating itself will be rushing to back one of them after clicking that link, they might also be interested in Jamie Burnett’s head to head over Selby, but Burnett’s current form isn’t good. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see the winner of Peter Lines and Mark King (just back the decider) turn Selby over in my opinion, particularly if it’s not on a TV table.

Recommended Bets: 1 point Each Way on Stuart Bingham at 40/1 with 888sport and Unibet (33’s best elsewhere). 0.5 point Each Way on Xiao Guodong at 100/1 at Sportingbet.

Quarter Three

Neil Robertson v Alex Davies
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Zhang Anda
Peter Ebdon v Jack Lisowski
Mark Joyce W/O Ali Carter  
John Higgins v Joe Swail
Rory McLeod v Matthew Stevens
Gary Wilson v James Wattana  
Cao Yupeng v Ding Junhui 

It’s probably apparent from the previews of the first two quarters that I firmly believe that the winner of this tournament will come from the bottom half. Now it’s just a case of deciding who it is. This section holds three potential winners in Neil Robertson, John Higgins and the bang-in-form Ding Junhui. Is there really any alternative from a betting perspective as to who will make it out of this quarter victorious? Well, of the three the safest option has to be Robertson, he has the best draw of the three and it would be a big surprise if he wasn’t in the quarter finals to face one of the other two, for me that makes him the bet. However, there is one scenario which could put the cat amongst the pigeons if the all-Chinese clash between Ding and Cao Yupeng were to go the other way. For this to happen isn’t impossible and therefore it’s worth backing both Yupeng and one of the form players so far this season Gary Wilson at silly season prices, just in case that happens. Higgins is increasingly showing himself to be very beatable these days and I’m not sure whether he has it in him to get that steely edge and winning mentality back in his game, but it would be a significant win for Mr Swail if he were to prevail in Round 1 (click the head to head). For me, it’s Robertson or a surprise name in this ridiculously difficult quarter.

Recommended Bets: 4 points on Neil Robertson at 7/1 with Apollobet. 0.25 points Each Way on Cao Yupeng at 300/1 with Skybet and Gary Wilson at 200/1 with 888sport and Unibet.

Quarter Four

Stephen Maguire v Kyren Wilson/WC
Michael White v Graeme Dott
Mark Williams v Paul Davison
Kurt Maflin v Robert Milkins  
Dark Mavis v Oliver Brown
Michael Leslie v Stuart Carrington  
Li Yan v Liang Wenbo
Anthony McGill v Ronnie O’Sullivan 

Ronnie O’Sullivan (sponsored by the Money Shop and a Vodka Company….well, if you are in debt at least you can turn to hard drink eh?) returns to China as World Champion for the first time since 2008, having missed all their events since his Crucible triumph in 2012. Will he be up for it? You bet he will. £125k for the winner and a weeks work and a match more or less every day is enough to ensure that. I’d say this event is tailor made for Ronnie, the matches are longer but the event itself is not the 17 day drainer of the Crucible, there is a load of dosh at the end and he won’t get bored as he has a book to sell, which one would assume the publishers have had the hindsight to translate into Chinese. The last person to beat him here was Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals of the China Open in 2012 and there is every chance these two might lock horns again in the semi-finals. Ronnie has what looks like a very nice section of the draw but Ant McGill is capable of causing a shock if he’s on song and the Rocket is misfiring. These are all ifs and buts and if the marketing machine people get their way he’ll be beaten in the 2nd round by Liang Wenbo to sensationalist headlines about Chinese domination. But let’s be honest here, if he is going there to win it he probably will win it. Otherwise, the insurance policies for me are APTC winner Wenbo, Dark Mavis and Mark Williams. But my inkling is that Ronnie would quite like to turn up and breeze this, I wouldn’t feel the same if it were a less prestigious tournament but for me at the moment, he can just turn it on when he wants to so it’s silly to leave him out of your bets at the prices you can still get, maybe it’s time for Robbo to step up to the mantle.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Ronnie O’Sullivan at 9/2 with Skybet. 1 point Each Way on Mark Williams at 40/1 with Sportingbet. 0.5 points Each Way on Dark Mavis at 40/1 with Sportingbet.  


5 point acca on Fu, Bingham, Higgins, Mavis and Williams pays over 7/4 at Apollobet. Add Milkins and Perry for a 3 point Acca at over 5/1 with Apollobet. Add Gould and Day for a 2 point Acca at over 13/1 with Ladbrokes.

Handicap bets and one-off match bets will follow as the tournament progresses, but note the advice on Lines v King above #grinders and the bits and bobs on certain other encounters.

Check out all Apollobet’s outright and highest break prices by clicking here and their match prices can be found here.

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SB Classic Liverpool: The Lowdown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:00 pm

SB2014 A4 Updated Orange posterHere is the lowdown for the weekend at The George Scott Snooker Club, Liverpool. Please take the time to view the full terms and conditions to which all players agree on entering by clicking this link SNOOKERBACKER CLASSIC 2014 TERMS.

DRESS CODE: Polo or Collared Shirt, Trousers and Shoes. (NO JEANS OR TRAINERS)

ARRIVAL: Players should arrive 15 minutes before their match start time and be ready to continue in the tournament throughout the day after a short interval. All players still in the competition should remain on the premises at all times, unless agreeing to leave for a short time with the Tournament Director. Please check terms and conditions for the penalties and timings of late arrivals.

Saturday 26th October (Visit the Online Score Centre here)

First Round – Best of 7 frames – start time 10.30am

Billy Brown v Damian Wilks
Brian Robertson v Anthony Jeffers
Gaz Allen v Leon Hosking
John Whitty v Alex Taubman
John Welsh v Callum Lloyd
Chris Keogan v Joe Steele
Ryan Bailey v Jack Bradford
Mitchell Mann v Josh Mulholland

Matches will then be played on a roll on, roll off basis to one qualifier. The winner, if due to play on Sunday will be taken out of the following day’s draw.

Sunday 27th October (Visit the Online Score Centre here

First Round – Best of 7 frames – start time 10.00am (Please note earlier start time AND that the clocks go back on Saturday night)

Mitchell Mann v Chris Keogan
Alex Taubman v Damian Wilks
Ryan Bailey v Jack Bradford
Billy Brown v Callum Lloyd
Brian Robertson v Anthony Jeffers
Gaz Allen v Neal Jones
Anthony Harris v Joe Steele
Josh Mulholland v Andrew Clark

Matches will then be played on a roll on, roll off basis to one qualifier. Should Saturday’s winner be due to play Sunday, he may be replaced by a reserve player at short notice.

The Snookerbacker Order of Merit will continue for the duration of both events, current standings can be viewed here. Walkovers will count towards points totals.

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