Snookerbacker

May 29, 2014

Australian Open Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:06 am
A few players are skipping this one.

A few players are skipping this one.

The Australian Open qualifiers get under way on Friday in Gloucester and this sees a return to the old format of qualifiers rather than the flat structure on which Bazza is so keen.

It’s fair to say that this tournament continues to struggle. There are a handful of big names that have chosen not to enter, namely Ronnie (obviously, it’s more than a mile from his house), Ding Junhui (in a nark with World Snooker) and World Champion Mark Selby (burnt out), but the real issue seems to be lower down the pecking order.

With so many professionals not entering it has got to the point where the player in 48th position on the Q-School Order of Merit, Sanderson Lam, has been invited to play (he faces a fellow amateur in Round 1 while strangely there are all-pro match ups).

There were even amateur players who were offered the chance to pay the £150 entry fee for a chance to win £83 by winning their first match who strangely didn’t think that this was for them, this coupled with the fact that there is a clash with a big European amateur event with a pro-ticket still up for grabs in Bulgaria.

The first round of the qualifying draw is a real mix of professionals and amateurs and the format is such that to get to Bendigo, the first rounders will have to win four matches.

CLICK HERE for the updated qualifiers draw

CLICK HERE for the qualifiers format

CLICK HERE for the final stages draw

I’m going on holiday on Saturday with Mrs SB so I won’t be around to cover this. The betting on the Wuxi qualifiers produced a profit and but for Kyren Wilson losing a decider would have seen a 100% strike rate with the two decent prices Oli Lines and Fraser Patrick obliging.

Like I say, I’m not around for the next week so very much like a few of the players, I’m skipping this one….

You can check out the match prices at Oddschecker here.

The qualifying rounds of the Australian Goldfields Open run from Friday May 30 to Tuesday June 3 at the The Capital Venue at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, and tickets are on sale now. It’s a chance to see many of snooker’s leading players live in world ranking events and it’s great value for money at just £10 per day for an adult ticket (£5 for OAPs and juniors). There’s also a five-day pass available for the whole event at just £35 for adults or £17.50 for OAPs and juniors. You can book tickets now by CLICKING HERE

May 27, 2014

The Willies 2014 – Winners Announced

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:58 pm

The wait is finally over. Click here to see who are the winners and losers at this year’s annual Willie Awards.

May 23, 2014

Wuxi Classic Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:14 am
It seems like only yesterday...

It seems like only yesterday…

Just a few short weeks since the curtain fell at the Crucible and Mark Selby was crowned World Champion the new season is upon us. 

The qualifying rounds of the Wuxi Classic run from Saturday May 24 to Wednesday May 28, followed by the Australian Goldfields Open qualifiers from Friday May 30 to Tuesday June 3. Selby has opted to play in the Chinese event, but like quite a few others is giving Australia a miss, even Robbo ermm, ‘forgot’ to enter apparently and was squeezed in at the final hour kicking and screaming.

CLICK HERE FOR THE WUXI DRAW

CLICK HERE FOR THE WUXI FORMAT

All the action takes place at the The Capital Venue at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, tickets are available for just £10 per day for an adult ticket (£5 for OAPs and juniors). There’s also a five-day pass available at just £35 for adults or £17.50 for OAPs and juniors.

You can book tickets now by CLICKING HERE and it will be the last chance you will get to see the set up at the SWSA in a ranking event context before changes are made, this effectively being the final World Snooker event held there. 

Right, that’s the plugging done.

Just 24 hours before the Wuxi gets underway and the draw was still not complete, despite the fact that some of the unknown matches (involving Q-School top-up players) are taking place at 10am on Saturday.

UPDATE at 3.15pm on Friday: The completed draw has still not been confirmed by World Snooker.

UPDATE: Finally put up on website at 4pm.

Now we know that with the introduction of the money list and the bus passes that have been granted to the old geezers this season that draws are going to be made up by non-main-tour professionals for most, if not all, ranking events. But let’s hope that we don’t have to wait until a day before play for every tournament to actually find out who’s playing who and when. It’s far from ideal and possibly yet another indicator, if this were needed, that these events are at least a fortnight too early in the calendar.

As it goes, World Snooker have had to go down as low as 23rd on the Q-School Order of Merit list (Mark Owens who by sheer chance has drawn Robbie Williams) to fill this particular tournament, goodness knows how low they’ll be going to fill the gaps in the Australian Open that follows, they may have to rope in the window cleaner at the SWSA for that one.

Despite the blog being busier than ever, I am awaiting confirmation of a bookmaker deal for the season so I’m not going to be going too heavy on the betting preview for this event or for the Aussie qualifiers. The bets below are a punt at the start of a long season ahead. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed once a partnership deal is tied up.

Recommended Bets:

3 point acca on Michael Holt, Ali Carter, Anthony McGill, Joe Perry and Kyren Wilson pays over 9/4. (WITH ALI’S WITHDRAWAL THIS PAYS A SHADE OVER 2/1)

2 points on Oliver Lines to beat Dave Harold at 7/4. 2 points on Fraser Patrick to beat Jimmy White at 13/8. 2 points on Ratchayothin Yotharuck to beat Ken Doherty at 12/5. 1 point treble on these three pays over 22/1.

Find all prices at Oddschecker.

May 20, 2014

Q-School – The Best Way?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:14 am
The Fairest Way?

The Fairest Way?

Q-School draws to a close on Wednesday when we find out who the next four players to make the main tour will be. The first event saw three players immediately bounce back onto the tour and one returning professional qualifying.

Q-School has its critics and there is no doubt that it’s a real dogfight. Human nature dictates that it’s usually the players that lose who are the loudest voices of dissent, but Q-School has also drawn criticism from both professional players and fans alike, a lot believing that it’s simply a way for World Snooker to line the coffers further at the expense of amateur players given a slim chance of achieving their dream.

When Q-School was introduced in 2012, there was a fair deal of excitement in the amateur ranks and talk of winning as few as 4 matches to turn professional filled them with hope. There were 12 slots available and a realistic chance for all who were prepared to stump up the £1000 entry fee. This is now down to 8 with an entry fee of £600.

But I feel the tide has turned with many amateurs, who now think back fondly to what they deem were fairer systems in place a few years ago in the pre-Bazza revolution. A lot of them see the international invitational places awarded to undoubtedly inferior players in the name of globalisation and the award of wildcard places to players who’ve had their time in the limelight as unjust, while places available through Q-School and governing bodies are being squeezed, in some cases, out of existence.

So is there a fairer way? Well, you could argue and some do, that if you are good enough you will succeed, but to be honest I don’t really buy that theory. For every Mark Selby (who came through a more competitive amateur system) there will always be other hugely talented players with bags of potential who give up either through lack of opportunities to harness their skills in matches or more commonly in the modern game through lack of money to commit and enter the tournaments they need to in order to improve. I’m sure we can all name players that we know that this has happened to.

There is little doubt that the amateur game is not in the best shape, despite snooker being as popular as it has been for two decades both in terms of playing and viewing. Why? Well, it’s difficult to stage good quality amateur events if the incentives are being taken away by the professional body, who, whether this is deliberate or not, seem intent on running the whole show. I’ve pitched several times now for a tour place for the winner of my annual tournament, one which draws too many entries for limited places at great venues, even offering to pay for the privilege, but I might as well talk to a brick wall. In the meantime, we have a handful of professionals being nominated from countries fairly new to the snooker spectrum who don’t even bother entering or who, when they do, are clearly not up to the job.

National bodies in the UK have had professional tour places taken away from them leaving them running competitions for competition’s sake and extremely limited qualifying places for events that can allow players to make that step up into the professional game. Understandably, this has somewhat knocked the wind out of their sails and amateurs I speak to are usually not that complimentary about some of their tournaments. But are they really to blame? Even the keenest tournament director or national body needs a reason to keep going sometimes.

Then there are the PTC’s, professional tournaments which offer amateur players the chance to compete with professionals in tournament conditions, this year of course they are all in mainland Europe. In reality, these have proved a lucrative pot of money for the governing body of the professional, not amateur, sport. OK, three players out of the hundreds that paid thousands to enter have made the leap to professional status from the Amateur Cup, an event linked to the PTC’s, but my snouts tell me that this door might also be about to be slammed shut, though no official word on this yet.

My personal solution would be a series of amateur ranking events in each country which boasts a healthy snooker playing public and a total seperation of the professional and amateur sport, with the exception of independent pro-ams. It may be that more tour places are offered to countries who display a higher standard, the striking examples being China and the UK & Ireland, but that the long term aim would be to flatten these out as other countries begin to emerge as forces in the sport, competing with the traditionally stronger nations and levelling the playing field.

But I fear the governing body are now too used to the cash that these amateur players keep on giving them both at the PTC’s and Q-School, the gift that keeps on giving so to speak. If they are serious about growing the sport and not just growing the bank balance, this take needs to start involving a bit of give too. These guys don’t have bottomless pockets.

May 16, 2014

What Stephen Did Next……

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:22 am

It wasn’t entirely unexpected that news came yesterday of the failed appeal of Stephen Lee. The player remains banned from the sport for the 12 years imposed on him initially and it’s fair to say he’s not exactly happy about how things have been dealt with.

Now, I know I can go on a bit on Twitter, in fact only last week I upset a load of Russians with a misguided joke about their Eurovision Song Contest entry and as a result I am walking in fear of someone poking me in the leg with an umbrella. My point is that we all transgress at times, well most of us do, but sometimes that transgression is so big that it needs to be shared with the group.

So, in the spirit of openness and transparency, let’s have a look at Stephen’s measured and well thought out reaction to the news on Facebook. Firstly, he talks in depth about the legal intricacies and nuances of this complexed case…..

Lee Facebook 3 

Once he and Jesus had dealt with the boring procedural stuff it was time to answer questions from his fans. One asked him if he was watching the coverage of the case on the television, he answered the question and then decided to give us an insight into the world of the media.

Lee Facebook 2

Finally, Stephen let us all know that he plans a career in literature, with his talent for prose on display here for all to see it’s sure to be a real page turner I reckon. He plans to write a tale of men with brown noses, a promoter who goes my the name of Bent and has a number of players at his disposal. Oh, and there will be puppets! Perhaps it’s one of those dark children’s books like Roald Dahl use to write? To quote the author ‘Can’t wait!’

Lee Facebook

Now then, as reactions go, this is hardly understated and I’m not sure if any of this will land him in even more lumber than he’s already in, but I can’t imagine Bazza taking too kindly to it. Stevie is clearly not a happy chappy about all this and he doesn’t care who knows it.

This comes on the back of news that he’s also been charged with fraud over the sale of a hooky cue, word on the street is that he pocketed the bunce without delivering the merch, but I’m sure it’s just a simple misunderstanding like all this was.

Interestingly, despite an undertone in Stephen’s text that he’s been harshly treated, does anyone else detect from the above that what he is really upset about is the fact that he has been singled out instead of some other players? That’s hardly the protests of a wholly innocent man is it?

If this is correct, how many players still potting might be just a little bit twitchy about what he’s going to say next? Of course, this blog wouldn’t entertain such tittle-tattle should any of this go public.

Well, I could make an exception in this case I suppose, anything for my beloved readers.

Q-School Event 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

Following the qualification of Craig Steadman, Tian Pengfei, Zhang Anda and Chris Melling from the first event, today sees the beginning of the second chance for the remaining players at Q-School 2. 

Three of the four qualifiers so far are ‘bouncebacks’, professionals who have briefly slipped back to amateur status for a couple of weeks but who have now immediately returned to the main tour. Melling is a former professional but is better known for his exploits on the pool table. I’ll admit to knowing almost nothing about him but some shrewd observers obviously rated his chances and he justified support at the bookies.

Once again, Boylesports and Apollobet are pricing this up and as we broke even on the first event with Steadman qualifying at 13/2, narrowly missing a profit with Jamie Clarke’s final frame loss to Anda, it’s time to have another go on these.

Recommended Bets: 1 point on each John Sutton 8/1, Mitchell Mann 12/1, Martin O’Donnell 6/1, Michael Leslie 14/1. 0.5 points on Shane Castle 8/1 and Jamie Clarke 12/1.

The draw for Q-School 2 can be viewed here.

May 9, 2014

Enter the Pink Ribbon 2014

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:23 am

Pink PantherEvery year the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester opens its doors to professional and amateur players to play in the Pink Ribbon event and this year is no exception as this top drawer tournament enters it’s fifth year.

Over the past 4 years the event has raised over £40,000 which has been donated to various Cancer related charities. We all know someone who has experienced this horrific life-changing and at times life-taking disease and the cause remains very dear to owner Paul Mount’s heart, having lost his sister Kay to this terrible indiscriminate illness.

As well as feeling good that you are helping out sick people, it’s also a chance for anyone who fancies it to compete in world class facilities and possibly win through to play some of the best snooker players in the world.

Entry costs just £25 with amateur players also having the chance to enter twice given the tournament’s unique format.

Past winners of the tournament are Michael Holt, Mark Joyce, Stuart Bingham and Joe Perry so this is the level of professional it attracts (don’t worry, if you play them you get a start). 

Even if you don’t fancy playing why not go along to watch? I can think of worse ways to spend a day or two if you have some free time.

This year The Pink Ribbon runs from 4th-8th June and the closing date for entries is 19th May.

Click here to post your entry and read more about this great event.

May 8, 2014

Q-School Event 1 Preview: Who Will Qualify?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:52 am

Q-SCHOOL 2014The carnage begins on Saturday in Gloucester at the South West Snooker Academy / Capital Venue as goodness knows how many amateur players set about battling it out at this season’s two Q-School events in the hope of bagging one of the final eight main tour places for the coming season.

Originally, there were of course meant to be 3 events with 12 qualifiers, just like last year, but after issuing the details World Snooker decided to chop this back to 2 events with 8 making it onto the tour, also chopping the entry fee down from £1000 to £600. I’m still not sure why they did that or what happened to the four extra places (perhaps these are the legends wildcards announced last week that we’re not allowed to call wildcards?) but that’s where we’re at.

These events also mark the beginning of some changes at the Quedgeley venue. Following Q-School and some qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic and Australian Open, this will mark the end of World Snooker events in Gloucester for good, with the annual Pink Ribbon Pro-Am tournament marking the last big event to be staged there in its current set up.

Following these tournaments they will be moving the snooker side of the business to occupy the upstairs area. There will be some structural changes but the quality of the snooker facilities will remain and the message is very much ‘business as usual’ when it comes to snooker.

The eight Star tables will continue to be maintained to the highest standards and the venue will be concentrating more on holding their own tournaments and events, staging top amateur competitions like my own and supporting the community around with various activities. It will also remain as a top class practice facility.

These changes will be put in place not long after the end of the Pink Ribbon, a tournament which will remain, though perhaps with a slightly different format in future years. The Academy (which I’ll always really refer to it as by habit) will remain very much at the ‘high end’ of snooker facilities in the UK and will continue to support both professional and amateur players. I’m really looking forward to staging the SB Classic there again this season and will be announcing all the dates shortly.

Back to Q-School matters and there is plenty of representation here from the Snookerbacker Classic Grand Finalists this year as you might expect, including the runner-up Mitchell Mann and losing semi-finalists Jamie Clarke and Ben Harrison. They all return to a venue they play very well at to try and take that leap into the main tour, all are more than capable enough of doing so. Unfortunately, this year’s champion Ant Parsons had to make some tough choices recently and decided not to enter, a decision made with lots of other important considerations in mind and not made lightly.

The SB Classic link doesn’t stop there though as the finalists from the first ever Classic are also involved. Martin O’Donnell was narrowly relegated from the tour by just a single place but will be hoping for an immediate return and John Sutton from Ireland is back after a mini-retirement to try his hand at it too.

There are many familiar names competing in the form of other relegated professionals including Tian Pengfei, Zhang Anda, Jamie O’Neill, Liam Highfield, Craig Steadman, Daniel Wells, Paul Davison, Li Yan, Chen Zhe, Sean O’Sullivan and more. They all perhaps hold a slight advantage in that they’ve come straight from the professional ranks to compete.

There are amateurs who have made strides and gained experience as wildcards this season too such as Sanderson Lam, Duane Jones, Syd Wilson and Shane Castle, who will all hope their fleeting daliance with the professional game will help them cope with the intense pressure of this minefield of an event.

There are names which snooker anoraks will also recognise like Shokat Ali, Jeff Cundy, Leo Fernandez and Lee Walker alongside many others who have the experience of former professional status to help them through the event, including Mike ‘Has anyone got a rope’ Hallett, who’s also giving it another go and my ‘dark horse’ for this Anthony Harris, who can still play a bit.

MO'D - Been there. Done that.

MO’D – Been there. Done that.

There is betting available on Event One at both Apollobet and Boylesports, with prices up on which four players will qualify from the first tournament.  The draw for event one can be viewed here while event two can be viewed here.

So who might be worth a punt? Well at the risk of being accused of blatant favouritism I think O’Donnell has a really solid chance at the 8/1 on offer, he has a tough draw, who hasn’t? But he was playing his best stuff towards the end of the season and having spoken to him he’s been fully in the Q-School zone now for months, if he brings his A Game there aren’t many in this field that can beat him. He also has the advantage of having played and won through in this event at the first time of asking before.

In the top quarter my eyes are drawn to two players, one is Zhao Xintong, a player of immense promise and should he cope with the pressure he’ll be a tough one to stop, you can take a look at his recent results by clicking here. The other is SB Classic runner up Mitchell Mann, who is available at 20/1 to make it through this tournament. I rate Mitchell very highly indeed and I’ve seen at first hand just how good he is, he has a tough opener but if he can get his head down and play how he did on SB Classic Finals Day, he is definitely one to watch. (See comments – it seems Xintong is not playing in Q-School, I have therefore increased the stake on Mitchell)

In the second quarter, the man to beat is Paul Davison who has been priced up at 8/1 to qualify, Paul is a seasoned professional who has won through Q-School before. His experience will count for lots in this intense atmosphere and I think he’s going to be very hard to stop in Event One. Also in this section is Jamie Clarke, who finds himself right down there in Davison’s section and for me has been handed a tough test, but he plays his best in Gloucester and will be bang up for it should he end up playing the more experienced Yorkshireman. Of the bigger prices in this section and one who is in a seperate half to Davison, take a look at Michael Wild and Hossein Vafaei, both with a chance if Davison doesn’t do the business. UPDATE: Apparently Vafaei has again been refused a Visa, thanks to Monique for the information.

In section three I have already flagged O’Donnell so this leaves section four which sees Sanderson Lam attempt to make the push for professional, there are tough players in all sections but along with Ryan Causton, Sandi isn’t in the worst part of the draw. Eyes are drawn also to the names of Liam Highfield and Craig Steadman and down at the bottom of the section Zack Richardson will be quietly confident given his draw. The more you look the more potential qualifiers you see in this one but I’m going to stick with experience here and plump for the in-form Steadman.

It’s a really tough school this and many great players will leave disappointed for another year. But I can offer a slight silver lining as they’ll then all be fully eligible to enter the SB Classic again next season as well as compete in the PTC’s with the professionals. Further to this, it’s very likely that those who don’t qualify but perform the best will be making up the numbers in quite a few major professional events, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’d just like to wish all the best to everyone competing, but in particular those that I have got to know and class as good friends from my contact with the amateur game. If you are in the area why not pop down to the Academy to watch? It’s bound to produce some high drama. Let battle commence.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on O’Donnell at 8/1. 2 points on Davison at 8/1. 1 point on Steadman at 13/2. 1 point on Mitchell Mann at 20/1. 0.5 points on Jamie Clarke at 12/1, Sanderson Lam at 12/1 and Michael Wild at 20/1.

May 6, 2014

As One Season Ends…….

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:11 am
Richly Deserved

Richly Deserved

Mark Selby’s crowning as World Champion last night closed the door on a jam-packed snooker season which has seen more or less wall-to-wall snooker since it got started at the end of last May.

Selby’s win was well deserved, he was the best player over the duration of the 17 day marathon and did what he had to do to stop Ronnie from running away with another world title. His motivation for winning was the death of his dad and clearly welling-up he recounted that on winning. Nobody can begrudge him the win, he is every inch good enough to join the ranks of World Champions.

But no sooner has The Crucible closed its doors for another year as the new season is more or less upon us. I’m still not sure if Q-School, which begins in Gloucester on Saturday, is classed as the official end or start of the season, but either way, there are twelve days of intense action set for the Costa-Del-Quedgeley to find the final eight main tour professional players. It’s a very strong field which includes not only top amateurs, but also players who have been relegated from the tour this/last season.

There is betting available on qualification at Apollobet here and I might get a chance to preview it later this week after a well-earned short rest.

Just after Q-School finishes, Gloucester also plays host to the qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic and the Australian Open. It remains to be seen how many of the big names will compete in these, now that the money list dictates rankings my guess is that a few of these lesser events will suffer a much diminished attendance in terms of big names. I’m not sure whether this will go down too well with sponsors or the audience at large, but we have to trust that Bazza knows what he’s doing here and wait and see how it pans out.

In terms of the money list, there is obviously now a lot more scope for players to pick and choose the events they do and don’t want to enter. However, there is still the small matter of making sure you don’t slip out of the top 16 for Masters and World Championship qualification and also a little further down, remain in the top 32 for the new World Grand Prix event announced last week.

For players much further down the rankings, the fact that we’d expect some of the top players not to enter quite a few minor events gives more scope for them to start making a bit more money for themselves at long last. It will be very interesting to see how this all pans out as the season wears on.

To see the full 2014/15 provisional calendar please click here.

As for me, I’ve had a hugely enjoyable world championship this year. I think it’s been a much better tournament than the last two and I’d have said the same had Ronnie won. There were far more dramatic matches and memorable sessions and of course, the usual hapless antics of the BBC.

I described Dennis the other day as very much like an old pair of rotten socks that you just can’t part with no matter how much you know you should. Somehow, the great showpiece of the sport would not be the same without him and the rest of the BBC gang. Long may their bizarre coverage of snooker continue, though they should bring back Clive Everton for the serious bits that are left (I think there are still a few somewhere).

The blog will continue in some way, shape or form, but it’s highly likely that I’ll also be picking and choosing events to cover in the spirit of Bazza’s brave new dawn. For a start I won’t be bothering with the Aussie Open as we’re off on holiday that week. I’m also setting about giving some thought to this season’s Snookerbacker Classic over the next few weeks, I have a lot of thinking to do on that front.

Finally, thank you to everyone that continues to read and contribute in any way to this tripe. Visitors continue to grow from every corner of the globe for reasons totally unfathomable to me, but I hope that sometimes it’s worth clicking on to, if only to marvel at how I am still getting away with it.

Thanks as ever to Monique Limbos for the main image. You can view her extensive library of photographs on Facebook by clicking here.

May 4, 2014

World Championship Final: Can The Jester Topple The Rocket?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:42 am

FinalToday sees the start of this year’s World Championship Final and the culmination of what’s been a long long season sees Ronnie O’Sullivan taking on his old foe Mark Selby over 35 frames at the home of snooker.

It’s not a final that I expected to be honest. I have thought all along that Ronnie would make it three in a row but I more or less wrote off Selby from the start after what by his standards has been a largely disappointing season, but he’s been superb over the past fortnight and played his trademark tough, matchplay snooker and deserves a crack at the best player there is on the biggest stage of them all in his second final.

His 17-15 win over Neil Robertson last night was an example of how tough he is to beat when he’s at his best and Robbo praised him afterwards for his tenacity and winning mentality, claiming that he’d played really well himself but just couldn’t peg Selby back. Robbo said: “He played probably the best I’ve ever seen him play. With that many sessions, for him not have a period where he’s missing easy balls is every credit to him.”

Ronnie of course had the day off and apparently went for a 15 mile run and it’s certain that he will go into the final as the fresher of the two, though Selby, famed for his stamina claims that he isn’t a bit tired and is looking forward to the final: “I don’t feel tired at the moment. I’m sure when I get back I won’t sleep because of the adrenaline. Ronnie’s a genius – he doesn’t fear anyone. He’s played some great snooker in patches, but in other patches he’s missed balls and nobody’s punished him. I know I’m going to get my chances, it’s just a case of whether I take them or not. I’m a lot more confident now than I was in my first final in 2007. I was a qualifier then so any match I was winning was a bonus. But over the last few years, I’ve won a few tournaments and every time I go to one if I don’t win it I see it as a failure. I’m confident going into tomorrow and hopefully I can pull through over the two days.”

Just how crucial this extra day will be remains to be seen but it’s definitely a factor in my opinion. As Robbo pointed out after the semi-final, “so much depends on how much rest Mark can get, and how much he has left in his tank.”

The two last met in The Masters final, when Ronnie ‘did a job’ on Selby having lost in finals to him before. Selby however was not playing as well then as he is now and this might even be worth writing off when you look at how this match might pan out. After all, Selby has proved more than once in the past that he’s capable of upsetting Ronnie and really getting under his skin, he’s one of the few players that has done that and he has beaten a firing Rocket before, so why can’t he do so again?

But when push comes to shove, I think you have to still favour Ronnie to prevail, he is beginning to play very very well now and no matter how well Selby is playing, if Ronnie is in the mood he cannot be beaten by anyone. In terms of a scoreline I’d go for 18-12 to O’Sullivan (Best Price 11/1 at Corals), with him also making a few tons along the way. In fact, following the success of the maximum century bet in the Robbo/Selby semi-final, I think it’s time to double up on this one as I can see there being a fair few big breaks in what I hope is a superb final.

It all kicks off at 2pm this afternoon with the first eight frames of the match. So do whatever you have to do before then and settle down to watch two fierce rivals battle it out.

You can view the head to head statistics between these two old rivals by clicking here

Recommended Bet: 5 points on there being over 5.5 centuries at 11/10 with Apollobet. 

You can view the match odds at Apollobet by clicking here.

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 Photos used courtesy of Monique Limbos.

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