Snookerbacker

November 18, 2013

Champion of Champions Preview: Selby can be Snooker’s CoC

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:40 pm
Locals are so excited about this tournament they are even vandalising in it's name.

Locals are so excited about this tournament they are even vandalising in it’s name.

Tuesday sees the beginning of what will hopefully become a permanent fixture on the calendar as the Champion of Champions or #COC gets underway at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry under the watchful eye of a great cast of presenters and pundits on ITV4, including the welcome tones of the great Sir Clive of Everton.  

If anyone has any doubt as to the quality of ITV4’s coverage, all you would need to do is click here to marvel at it (very funny).

The tournament sees a mix of frame durations, with the group semi-finals (effectively the last 16) being played over the best of 7 frames presumably at the request of the broadcaster, before going up to best of 11′s for the group finals (the quarter finals) in the evening and the semi-finals on Saturday. Then we have a two-session best of 19 frames final on Sunday, happy days. I really hope this works as for me it’s a most welcome replacement for the Premier League, which was binned by Sky this season, I was never a fan of it, being a bluff old traditionalist when it comes to snooker.

In terms of the line-up of players, the concept is that the tournament sees event winners invited to battle it out to find out who the COC is. Well, that is the case for 14 of them at least, Ding has played so well that he managed to qualify for this three times so that meant that there were an extra couple of places on offer through the updated ranking list. These were nabbed by Dark Mavis, who has at least won a couple of minor tournaments including the World 6-reds this season and Shaun Murphy who has won naff all for ages. They were given a wildcard place by virtue of their ranking which was within the rules apparently but suffice to say that it’s not exactly a Champion of Champions if it’s won by someone that isn’t actually a champion of anything in the first place really is it?

I’ve detailed the schedule below with a short summary of how it might go, but in truth this is a real tester in terms of betting with a lot of players in great form. It’s interesting that Group 2 kicks this off, logically followed in sequence by Group 3 and then Group 4, with Group 1 which includes Ronnie, conveniently playing on Friday. Who says the schedules are tailored towards one player?

Anyway, let’s hope for a great tournament, personally I like invitational events and at least it’s a change from the PTC format which to me is already becoming a little bit tired, but they’re over for another season soon so we can look forward to some different formats over the coming months right up to the World Championship which starts in just 5 months time. I’m quite looking forward to this one to be honest.

The race to find snooker’s biggest COC begins, for general smuttiness, innuendo and childish attempts at humour my Twitter account might take some beating this week.

Click on the matches for the head to head statistics.

Tuesday 19th of November

Group 2

1pm
Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy

NB 2.30pm
John Higgins v Stephen Maguire

7pm
Group 2 Final

Shaun Murphy can count himself a lucky chap to be in this event, but that’s where his luck stops as he’s been handed one of the worst draws he could have had in Mark Selby, fresh from his Belgian triumph. Shaun has not been in good form now for quite some time and looks to me like someone who is a little low on confidence and the last thing you need when that’s happening is a match like this to kick off a new event. Selby was nothing short of magnificent in the final on Sunday against O’Sullivan and while there must remain a question as to how prepared he’ll be getting back on the baize just over 24 hours later you have to fancy him to come through that one. John Higgins is a little patchy at the moment too and for me is possibly beginning the decline that inevitably awaits great winners of the past, he’s superb still in spells but the errors are beginning to creep in, as they did with the only other Scot to have bettered his career record. I’d not be surprised to see Stephen Maguire, who pulled out of Antwerp, come through that one to face Selby in the evening’s final, but I have to side with the Jester to make the semi-finals. I think the bookies may have been asleep when compiling the outright market and at 9/1 Selby is a must for the book, this is the time of year that he begins to play his best stuff and the signs are there.

Prediction: Selby beats Maguire.

Recommended Bets: 4 points on Selby to be COC at 9/1 with Skybet and a few others. 2 points on Maguire to beat Higgins at 5/4 with Bet Victor. 

Wednesday 20th of November

Group 3

1pm
Judd Trump v Marco Fu

NB 2.30pm
Ricky Walden v Stuart Bingham

7pm
Group 3 Final

Another wide open group this with Judd fresh from his first competitive 147 opening up with a tie against one of the top players so far this season Marco Fu. Judd has a very good record against Marco and is in form so I suspect we’ll see him wallop his way into the evening’s final. The other match is as evenly matched as you can get really as Ricky Walden takes on Ballrun Bingham. Their last meeting was Ricky’s Wuxi Classic final win, a convincing 10-4, but on current form you’d have to make Stuart favourite, he was basically one shot away from beating Ronnie at the weekend and but for a sublime clearance would have done, I’d marginally favour the Essex man and I think the format will suit him so will also take him to progress to the weekend over Judd.

Prediction: Bingham beats Trump

Thursday 21st of November

Group 4

1pm
Neil Robertson v Martin Gould

NB 2.30pm
Mark Allen v Ali Carter

7pm
Group 4 Final

Another great group this with two bang-in-form players in Robbo and Mark Allen taking on Martin Gould and Ali Carter. Robbo ducked out of the Antwerp Open, presumably to give this his full attention and his record over Gould (including of course THAT match) suggests the draw could have been crueler to him, it would be a surprise to see him go out in Round 1 but in best of 7’s anything can happen at this level. Allen’s recent form has been strong and Ali has had a bit of time off but is one that always saves his best for the bigger occasions. It’s a tight call but Allen’s dominance in the head to heads sways me marginally to him, however, I think Robbo will probably progress in what should be a cracking evening session whoever gets there.

Prediction: Robertson beats Allen.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Robertson to be COC at 6/1 with Apollobet.

Friday 22nd of November

Group 1

1pm
Ding Junhui v Barry Hawkins

NB 2.30pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Dark Mavis

7pm
Group Final

The final group, with all due respect to World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins and Dark Lord Mavis, has the potential to throw together a match that most snooker fans will want to see in front of hopefully a sell out crowd. Barry does however have a good record over Ding, most recently beating him in the QF at the Crucible on his remarkable run to the final, but I like most have detected a big change in Ding in recent months, for the first time I feel he is ready to be snooker’s man to beat and this would be a fine stage to prove it on, I’d be surprised if he didn’t make the final. Then comes the enigmatic World Champion who would like everyone to think he wasn’t bothered about losing to Selby on Sunday, claiming it was merely a bit of practice for this. This is either bravado or he’s got something special planned, either way, before he can even turn his attention to Selby he’s going to have to contend with arguably snooker’s new man to beat. I have a feeling that Ding might just grab his chance here, for me his form lately is better than Ronnie’s, but either way, what a match we could have in store.

Prediction: Ding beats O’Sullivan.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ding to be COC at 7/1 with Apollobet

Other Recommended Bets: 2 points on there being a 147 in the tournament at 12/5 with Apollobet. 2 point acca pays almost 7/1 at Corals on Selby, Bingham, Robertson, Ding and Ronnie all to win their first match.  

Saturday and Sunday – Semi-Finals and Final

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