Coming in from the cold
We all know the feeling, after spending a week roughing it in a tent it’s always nice to get back indoors and have a nice hot bath, well after the Belfast camping trip it’s time now to get back to the more theatrical surroundings of York’s Barbican for this season’s UK Championship which runs for the best part of a fortnight starting on Tuesday.
At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, it’s once more that point in the season where I start moaning about the format of this once great event. The reduction in match length which happened almost immediately after Bazza’s dictatorship started has taken away a big slice of what made this such a great event back in the day.
From a players point of view it’s all very much ‘us and them’ for the opening rounds as the lower ranked players get shoved in a quite inadequate sports hall to play their opening matches whilst those higher up the rankings or those considered more ‘box office’ are treated to the main arena from the off, meaning that in effect the higher ranked players have an advantage from the start. The 128 players at the venue is in my opinion one of Bazza’s least successful initiatives, save that for the Home Nations, not for this.
That isn’t to say that players from lower down the ranks can’t have a run as David Grace proved last year making the semi-finals but usually we find one of the ‘big guns’ getting their mits on the trophy at the end. Neil Robertson returns to defend the title this time around.
It usually feels like Christmas is just around the corner when this starts but after it we’ve still got German Masters qualifying and the Scottish Open to play before the potters can start writing their lists to Santa, such is the way of the snooker world these days.
As you’d expect it’s a full field of big names and these days it’s so difficult to predict tournament winners. Mark King winning in Belfast proved that and according to a poll I ran on Twitter came as more of a surprise than Brexit, President Trump and the deaths of Prince and Bowie put together. Whether the win will promote him to the main arena for his first round match against SB Classic Champ Sam Craigie remains to be seen, but World Snooker have a habit of bringing players down to earth with a bump so I wouldn’t be too hopeful if I was him.
I actually, rather boringly think Ronnie is the man to beat in this. He is clearly focusing on the big events now and said as much in Belfast, he played well enough there to suggest he isn’t far off top form and this type of event usually brings out the best in him so I’m happy to take the 4/1 floating around on him to win it.
In terms of match betting, there are so many going on I’ll be putting them up on here daily for the first few rounds until we get to the last 32. Eurosport Player or the bookie sites will be covering the streamed tables from the start and the BBC and Eurosport will be covering the main event from next Saturday.
RECOMMENDED OUTRIGHT BETS: Ronnie O’Sullivan at 4/1, Each Way Stuart Bingham at 28/1.
FIRST ROUND BIG ACCA: Pays over 2/1 at Marathon: Hawkins, Ding, Trump, Woollaston, Higgins, Dunn, Carter, MJW, McManus.