Snookerbacker

November 25, 2019

Betway UK Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

Can anyone stop the big two?

It’s that time of year again, it’s time to head to York for the Christmas markets and the UK Championship, it’s also the week where the BBC come to town and pretend that this is the first tournament since The Crucible.

It’s always an exciting time for snooker fans, not only do we have this, but on the other side of the festive season we also have The Masters and a big part of proceedings here will involve players jostling for position and the right to make the top 16 for Ally Pally with only this and the Scottish Open left to go towards rankings.

But the main aim for the potters will be to add a major title to their CV. It’s usually a very familiar face who ends up taking home the trophy and to be honest for me it would be a big surprise if that weren’t to happen again with the big four players Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby all in great form coming into this, indeed each of the last 8 UK Championships have been won by one of those four and I’d say the odds on one of them winning it again would be very short.

There are many diehard snooker fans that bemoan the demise of this event, whether it be the 128 at the venue or the length of the matches, we do tend to hark back to the classic UK Championships in Preston. But I still think this one holds its own as a major, the venue and the city of York are fantastic and although I think they should reinstate the two session semi-finals, the matches are long enough to ensure that generally, the best players last until the end.

So is there anyone outside of the main four mentioned that might have a chance to break their stranglehold on this title? I suppose the first name that springs to mind now outside the top 4 is Mark Allen who is more than capable of raising his game at the highest level as he’s proved by winning The Masters, Shaun Murphy is coming back into form, John Higgins remains a danger but we’re yet to see much this season from the likes of Kyren Wilson or indeed the enigma that is Ding Junhui, who was last seen trying to hit a bulls arse with a shovel and missing, he currently lies 16th in the rankings, only £4000 ahead of Ali Carter so a poor show here will see him bumped out the Masters.

So, lets have a look at the quarters and see if there is anyone lurking within who might upset the odds.

Quarter 1

The defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan heads up the draw and I’d imagine he’s a man with a point to prove following his narrow defeat to Judd Trump in Belfast, meaning that with most bookies, Ronnie is now a firm second favourite. Looking at his draw it looks pretty straightforward up to the last 16 when I’d say he might have a test in the shape of Ali Carter or perhaps Ding Junhui who may end up having a Masters knockout match in the Last 32, but I’d say his main barrier to winning the quarter comes in the shape of Shaun Murphy. Murphy has been impressive since his season to forget last time with a narrow defeat to Ronnie in the Shanghai final and a title of his own at the China Championship, but on balance I think you have to side with Ronnie to at least make the semi-finals this year.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Quarter 2

This quarter contains the in-form Neil Robertson and John Higgins and they are seeded to meet in the quarter finals here, but there are a few players that may have something to say about that. Higgins has been posting some decent results as ever but for me he’s not quite as clinical as the Higgins of old and I think there are a couple of banana skins facing him here, not least Stuart Bingham who made his sixth career maximum in Belfast and to me looks to be playing very near his best lately. He can negotiate his opening three matches (though Thepchaiya Un-Nooh will prove a test) to set up a meeting with Higgins and if that happens I think he’ll progress further to a possible match up with Robertson in the quarter finals, at the odds on offer and considering he’s playing well I think Bingham is worth an each way bet in this.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Stuart Bingham

Quarter 3

Another wide open section this with the member of the fab four in this one being Mark ‘6 minutes and 13 seconds’ Selby. Other names that might fancy their chances in this section include Mark Williams, Dave Gilbert and Stephen Maguire and there are some fancy prices around in the quarter betting if you don’t fancy Selby to emerge, he’s arguably the most likely of the top four to perhaps slip up in the early stages with Ricky Walden, a player who likes it here, in his mini-section. Although he’s definitely playing better than he was last season, The Jester is still a little inconsistent and for me he’s not a player to be putting the mortgage on this week. If it wasn’t for the fact that he generally runs out of steam in long events I’d quite fancy a punt on Graeme Dott from what I think is a pretty decent section of the draw. Gilbert still seeks his maiden ranking title and what a week this would be to do that, he has to have a decent chance of making at least the semis and from there with his Masters debut surely already in the bag for after Christmas, who knows?

Predicted Quarter Winner: Dave Gilbert

Quarter 4

It’s only November and Judd Trump has already won £412,000 this season, with three ranking titles already won and the first talk in snooker for some time of potential domination of the sport, he’s definitely embraced his World Champion status and is sweeping all before him with some incredible snooker. It’s fair to say that his section of the draw right up to the Last 16 is extremely winnable, even if he isn’t on his A game so it would be a big shock not to see him at the business end of things again. The only threat I can really see to him making the last eight without coming out of first gear is Gary Wilson but you’d not expect Gary to reverse the Crucible semi-final result there. It’s all set up for a quarter final between him and Mark Allen who also has a fairly straightforward route to the last 16, try as I might I can’t see anything other than a Trump/Allen quarter final and I think if there is anyone this week that could possibly spring a surprise on Judd, it’s Allen.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Mark Allen.

Recommended Outright Bets: Mark Allen at 16/1, Stuart Bingham each way at 35/1, Dave Gilbert each way at 50/1, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh each way at 130/1. Allen at 9/2 and Bingham at 8/1 to win their quarter. Quarter 3 winner punts on Graeme Dott at 20/1, Ricky Walden at 25/1. 

You can view the draw here

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