It’s been a fragmented start to the new snooker season and feels a little bit like being stuck in an airport waiting a month for your connecting flight. The Wuxi and Australian events, won by Neil Robertson and Judd Trump respectively were followed by the longest gap in snooker since the days of Sir Rodders, but with the first ever Latvian professional tournament, we now see the season kick off in earnest.
By the looks of the pictures of the arena I have seen, it looks like a cracking venue, the image above was taken by World Snooker Services who are setting it all up for the amateur rounds which kick off on Thursday. There seems to be plenty of space and viewing platforms with 11 tables to choose from, a veritable sweet shop of snooker for those baize hungry Latvians to suck on.
It’s great that snooker is now fully embracing the European market and I think the calendar now has much more of an even feel about it. It’s not too heavily weighted either in the UK or China, though they do still have all the more prestigious events, with a whole swathe of smaller events in Europe alongside the fantastic German Open in Berlin and of course the Aussie Open which continues to cling onto the tour for dear life by virtue of the obvious enthusiasm of the organisers down under, undoubtedly given a further boost by this season’s championship won by Judd. There’s also the Indian Open of course which this season moves to Mumbai and strong rumours of a new event in Dubai with lucrative prize money attached.
The gap in the calendar has, from what I’m hearing, been welcomed by all the players and I dare say some of the hard working people around the circuit who would also have needed to recharge their batteries and had a well-earned holiday. This may not have been by design and of course the second Asian PTC was cancelled seemingly because of some issues with the parties involved, but all in all it’s made the snooker community hungry again for a bit of action.
Winner: £20,883 – not bad for a few days work.
Runner Up: £10,000 – not to be sniffed at.
Losing SF’s: £5000 – got to be pleased with that, fair play.
Losing QF’s: £3333 – covers the trip comfortably and pays the mortgage for a month I suppose.
Losing L16: £1917 – well it’s not cost anything and I got a few days away, no dent in the bank balance.
Losing L32: £1000 – I might as well have stayed at home.
Losing L64 £583 – For fuck’s sake the Mrs is gonna kill me.
Everyone Else: A really expensive city break and the chance to contract a sexually transmitted disease while you wait for your flight home.
So who are the main contenders then? Well, the two winners so far this season Robbo and Judd are both involved, as well as World Champion Mark Selby and a host of other big names. The only real notable exceptions are Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui, Ding being amongst a whole host of Chinese players that cannot play in this, presumably because of visa restrictions.
It’s impossible to know who is going to hit the ground running after such a long break but it has to be said that Robertson’s draw is probably as good as anyone could hope for and he has to have a big chance of carrying off favouritism in the form he’s in, other than that, a punt on a few outsiders is all there is to be had at this stage for me. Note that if you are betting each way, most of the firms are betting only on the Finalists at half the odds, a more realistic punt would be to take the odds at somewhere betting on the final four at a quarter of the odds, there’s not always that much difference.
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Check out Monique’s photos from the venue in the comments section Facebook link.
Recommended Bets: 2 points on Neil Robertson at 6/1, 1 point each way on Joe Perry at 33/1, 0.5 point each way on Martin Gould at 50/1, 0.5 point each way on Robin Hull at 250/1.