Snookerbacker

September 21, 2018

China Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

You wouldn’t know from the photo but Shaun actually lost.

It’s back to China we head again next week, this time for a ranking event and the China Championship in Guangzhou, which this year sees total prize money of £725,000 with the winner bagging £150,000 of that purse. Luca Brecel is back to defend the title he won in style here last year before he turned rubbish for the rest of the season. It’s the third year of this event and the second time it’s been a ranker. 

Shanghai Master Ronnie has decided to skip this to give the others a chance and there are a few players who would really benefit from getting their seasons up and running as we enter the busy winter months on the baize.

One of them is current world number one Mark Selby, who looks set to be knocked off his perch by Williams in the not too distant future. If he’s to finish the season yet again as the number one player these are the events that he needs to start winning, but as yet he’s not really looking in great shape and seems to be continuing where he left off at the back end of last season, namely badly.

Others who will be looking at this event to springboard their seasons will be the likes of Judd Trump, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham, while the recent form player so far this season Kyren Wilson will be looking to continue on the upward slope and climb up the rankings further EDIT – Kyren Wilson has withdrawn from the event since this preview was written.

Given O’Sullivan’s absence and the mediocre early form of some of the big players it’s wide open this one and this is reflected in the bookies going 11/2 on favourite Higgins, probably the first time for a while that Selby hasn’t gone off favourite in an event Ronnie isn’t in.

Looking at the draw however the 12/1 widely available on Ding Junhui could be a bit of value. I also raised an Roger Moore like eyebrow at the price on Bingham so that has to be backed.

Of the outsiders I think there is potential for the top quarter to throw up a semi-finalist at long odds so it’s worth having a punt on defending champion Brecel at 190/1 (Bet Boost) and Tom Ford at 200/1, either of whom are capable of making the last four if things go their way, Luca does look like he is returning to form and if you are a believer in horses for courses you’ll be positively salivating at that price. I’ll also throw in Graeme Dott at 190/1 (Bet Boost) from lower down in the tougher bottom half, so that’s my lot for this.

Recommended Outrights: Ding Junhui 12/1 (WIN), Stuart Bingham 45/1 (E/W), Luca Brecel 190/1 (E/W), Graeme Dott 190/1 (E/W), Tom Ford 200/1 (E/W).

Recommended Acca pays over 7/1 Joe Perry, Jamie Jones, Stuart Bingham, Dave Gilbert and Gary Wilson.    

You can view the full draw and even work out your predictions in this handy event planner here (and even enter the competition if you want to submit your predictions), view the match schedule here and view the Eurosport schedule here.

September 7, 2018

Shanghai Masters – All Change

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:30 am

Defending Champion Ronnie is amongst those competing for the big bucks here

I’ve been dipping in and out of the snooker so far this season and I plan to keep it that way for the most part, but now and again, as well as the big three UK based tournaments, I’ll awake from my semi-retirement slumber to focus on a decent event and this year, the newly formatted Shanghai Masters is one that I think might be a good watch.

The 2018 World Snooker Shanghai Masters will be held from 10th to 16th September at Shanghai Regal International East Asia Hotel and this year it becomes the richest ever invitational event in snooker’s history. 24 players, the top 16 from the current ranking list and 8 further Chinese players will battle it out for a total prize fund of £725,000.

Given that it’s always been referred to as a ‘Masters’ competition, it didn’t really make sense it being effectively a professional open event all these years and this fits far better with the remit.

Given the exclusive nature of this new format and the money at stake it now has a chance to cement itself in the calendar as the Chinese version of our own blue riband event at Alexandra Palace and it’s no surprise that all the big names will be there competing in what unanimously seems the Chinese city of choice amongst the players.

China is also keeping up its recent tradition of extending matches to a longer format, that’s one thing they do better than the UK. Matches here up to and including the quarter-finals will be played over the best of 11 frames, semi-finals best of 19 and the final a unique best of 21 frame encounter. 

Possibly the best way to work out your bets is by clicking away on the event prediction page at snooker.org as it seems the governing body still haven’t worked out how to get something resembling a readable, never mind interactive draw onto their spiders website, a website which is in dire need of some long overdue attention, it really is a mess.

It’s difficult to know how all of the top players are playing at the moment as they are mostly still feeling their way into the season, but early season winner Neil Robertson could face Ronnie early doors and recent (minor) ranking event winner in Germany Kyren Wilson could face Judd Trump. The whole draw just screams quality and I’d like to see all the players ranked 9-16 come through the first round to give this a real Masters feel. There is full coverage on Eurosport so this I reckon will really feel like the real start to the season as we look forward to some cracking ranking events around the corner, almost wall to wall until Christmas.

There is no such thing as a good draw in an event like this but you can look and see that a couple of the proven winners have potentially more comfortable paths to the semi-finals, after that of course it becomes coin-toss central. But looking at the draw I’d be prepared to risk a few quid on John Higgins. He tends to start winning stuff when he realises his holidays are done and dusted and he comes into this fresh having only played two competitive matches so far this season, winning both very easily. To me he looks a good bet to make it to the semis and there he could face O’Sullivan, who he has beaten 5-0 and 5-1 in their most recent meetings, over 2 sessions I’d be prepared to plump for the Scotsman again there.

In the other half, I’d say similarly World Champion and recent World Open winner Mark Williams looks to have a winnable path to the last four and I’d back him to be there before backing any of the players in the quarter of death above him. Mark Selby has won a minor event already this season but he admitted that he didn’t play that well to win it afterwards, but of course that’s what he does best and who would argue with him being able to do it again this week? 

So, in short I’d be backing the top 4 seeds to make the semi finals here, Higgins v Ronnie and Williams v Selby, but simply because I think he’ll have had the most comfortable route there and given his recent record against The Rocket, my only bet in the outrights here is Higgins. But you could of course try the quarter betting roll up too. I’ll post a first round acca here when all the wildcards have hopefully been dispatched.

RECOMMENDED BETS: John Higgins to win the Shanghai Masters @10/1 with Sportingbet. Acca pays over 17/1 boosted at Ladbrokes on Quarter winners being O’Sullivan, Higgins, Selby and Williams.   

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