It’s been a lively start to the International Championship and barring a few upsets the big hitters are all still there, unfortunately accompanied by one of the wildcards, who I hope loses in the next round as he shouldn’t be in the tournament.
The crowds have been good and the evidence is clear to see that Ronnie O’Sullivan is absolutely integral to that. Ding of course always draws a home crowd and I’m sure Liang will also attract them in similar numbers following his recent ranking event win but Ronnie continues to put more bums on seats than anyone in the sport.
In fact he almost put a few bums on the floor earlier following his win over Xiao Guodong, the stampede towards The Rocket after the match as he clung to a marker pen for dear life was quite a sight. Even big Jan Verhaas, a man not known for shying away from a bit of the physicals, particularly when it involves moths, seemed to panic as hundreds of programme, T-Shirt and cue ball clutching Chinese fans raced towards the advertising hoarding with very little concern for their or their hero’s personal safety.
Ronnie continued to oblige but when the heavies from security were forced to step in to stop a full on riot even Ronnie knew that enough was enough and scarpered off with the pen, which presumably belonged to one of the fierce baying rabble just a few metres away. Chaotic scenes and proof it it were needed that the rumoured appearance fee that Ronnie is receiving for gracing them with his presence is indeed money well spent.
Ding in the meantime missed a brown on a 147 to the disappointment of the crowd, but he still managed to come through unscathed after his heroics in the first round when Mitchell Mann had him up against the ropes only for the home favourite to dig himself out by winning the last four frames of the match.
With Selby, Robbo, Judd and co still in there, you have to fancy this is going to be a decent week with a belting finale, thankfully played over something resembling a sensible match length.
In terms of the betting 3 out of the 4 odds against punts recommended in the last round all won our pal Ghou Yolonge at 5/2, the vastly improved Daniel Wells at 5/4 and thespian John Astley who continues to post decent results since his theatrical stint at The Crucible at 7/4. Let’s see if there is any value in Round 3.
Punts – John Astley @7/1, Daniel Wells @12/5, Graeme Dott @13/8
Worth a Decent Bet – Ghou Yolonge @Evens
Treble pays nearly 3/1 – Yolonge, Fu and Wenbo