December 6, 2017

UK Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:48 am

The final 16 players left in this year’s UK Championship will be battling it out for the next two days as the arena closes in and we’re now down to what is always referred to as the ‘two table situation’ where the atmosphere at The Barbican really intensifies.

John Higgins once again takes centre stage this afternoon against Mark King alongside the Battle of the Jocks as Graeme Dott locks horns with Stephen Maguire. The chasing pack are making things very awkward in terms of who will be at The Masters in January with Day, King, Maguire, Gould, Perry and Walden all still in it here. Just when Ryan Day, who plays this evening, shook off the challenge of Neil Robertson he now has that crowd breathing down his neck too. It’s still all up in the air and every match in this round bar the two evening ones tomorrow will have a bearing on the final Ally Pally line up with Liang Wenbo and Anthony McGill still uncertain of their starting places and needing results to go their way.

There are just 5 of the current top 16 left in the event which is a new record. The defeats for Barry Hawkins and Luca Brecel yesterday cemented the new age of the numpties and just Ronnie, Higgins, Murphy, Allen and Day are left there, though technically you could argue that Day is actually 17th given we are playing without Stuart Bingham, I’ll leave the official decision to the anoraks on that one.

Anyway, here’s the line up for the next 48 hours. Outright pick Murphy (25/1) is still in there grappling. In terms of fancies in matches they are all so hard to call but given that Dotty has struggled a little with consistency after big wins in the past I think Maguire could win their clash this afternoon. I’d hazard a guess that the increasingly impressive Lyu Haotian will beat Mark Joyce to the delight of Joyce’s mum and it will be interesting to see how Ronnie copes with the speed and tactics of his opponent, who whitewashed Hawkins last night. It’s all up for grabs.

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