Snookerbacker

November 27, 2017

UK Championship: Solid Selby can Reign Supreme

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:25 am

It’s that time of year again, the time when the BBC vans rock up to the snooker and declare that there’s not really been much happening on the baize since Hazel and the gang left us in Sheffield. Yes, it’s the first ‘major’ event of the season in York as this fantastic city opens it’s doors to the anoraks once again for the UK Championship.

It’s no secret that some snooker fans, myself included, would rather this be a bit more like it used to be, two session matches throughout, not as many players at the venue and a maximum of two tables in use. 

I’d say that from the purists point of view, what Bazza has done to this event represents one of his very few mistakes since assuming his dictatorship. It just doesn’t feel as prestigious as it used to, but it’s still a lot better than most of the other events on the calendar and the host city is fabulous so I’ll just leave my annual gripe parked there.

Mark Selby returns as defending champion, last year his victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final marks the last meeting between the pair, who can theoretically meet again at the business end if their form holds up, they start understandably as joint favourites to lift the trophy a week on Sunday.

This historic tournament usually sees the cream of the crop rise to the top and in the past decade it has only been won by 2 players, Judd Trump and Ding Junhui, who have not been world champions. In fact, since it was made a ranking event all the way back in 1984, there has only been 1 winner, Stephen Maguire, who has not contested a world championship final, so you’d suspect that the likelihood of a surprise name racing through the field this year is pretty slim. Basically, big names win this.

So other than Selby and Ronnie, who comes into this in fine fettle? Well, you’d have to give Shaun Murphy a chance after his performance in Coventry and in particular the way he dispensed with O’Sullivan in the final. I’m quite surprised to see him as long as 25/1 in places, that could be great value. Judd Trump, despite his show of petulance in Belfast in losing to Stuart Carrington, is in decent form and is overdue a major win, it’s also a big tournament for Neil Robertson, whose Masters chances depend on a decent run and other results going his way. John Higgins is also as dependable as ever and the longer matches we know will suit him.

Ding Junhui is an interesting proposition in this, he’s been having some serious problems with his eyes recently so it will be interesting to see if he is fully over this following a truly awful display in Coventry a couple of weeks ago, Northern Ireland winner Mark Williams has his own issues back home and it remains to be seen if he can retain his form and his focus in this, the man he beat in the final, 17 year old Yan Bingtao could theoretically break the pattern of an established player making off with the title as could Luca Brecel but you have to say that history is stacked against that happening. Other possible outsiders might include former finalist Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter, but you really have to fancy one of the big boys to land the spoils and this is of course reflected in the outright market, with the possible exception of that price on Murphy which really has to be taken even without looking at the draw.

Recommended Outrights: Mark Selby at 5/1. Each Way on Shaun Murphy at 25/1. Each Way on Ali Carter at 80/1. Each Way on Anthony McGill at 125/1.

Recommended Tuesday and Wednesday First Round Monster Acca: Ryan Day, Marco Fu, Kyren Wilson, Stephen Maguire, Ricky Walden, Luca Brecel, Anthony McGill, Hossein Vafaei, Jimmy Robertson, Shaun Murphy pays over 6/1 at Marathon Bet.           

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The BBC’s coverage of the event gets under way on Saturday.

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