Snookerbacker

May 1, 2016

The World Championship Final: Ding Junhui v Mark Selby

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:19 am
Let Battle Commence

Let Battle Commence

Another World Championship draws to a close and no doubt lots of snooker nuts will be a bit depressed on Tuesday morning when it’s all over for another year. But before then, there is the small matter of who will be our champion to decide. Will it be China’s glory year or can Leicester look to bag a champion’s double?

Depending on who you ask, Ding carries the hopes of between 100 million and a whole continent on his small shoulders over the next 48 hours, though he is slightly more realistic and accurate in estimating that it’s probably nearer 20 million. The interviews he did yesterday were very insightful and it’s clear that he prefers to be away from ‘the madness’ of the Chinese crowds and will not allow himself to get carried away until he has finished the job. Even then, you can’t really see him wanting to get pissed up and go trawling London’s nightlife, he’s just not that kinda guy really is he?

Ding has turned having to qualify into a positive thing and saw it as valuable match practice, he breezed through of course and for once wasn’t in the spotlight from day one, he clearly prefers this and you do wonder if he’d have been seeded would he be contesting the final today? My guess is probably not.

His game is razor sharp and Alan McManus can rightfully be very proud of his semi-final performance, he’d probably have beaten Selby or Fu had the draw fallen differently but it wasn’t to be. It’s fair to say however that he has played a major role in the championship this year and won an army of new fans, even at this stage in his career. I’ll just miss his walk-on music and little finger flick to the crowd.

JV - fucked up big time.

JV – fucked up big time.

Selby was at his torturing best yesterday and even had Willie and JV resorting to expletives in the commentary box. His ermm ‘mate’ and fellow Leicester man Willie describing his match as ‘pathetic’ while JV lamented that he wanted to watch the horse racing and Match of the Fucking Day. With friends like them two who needs enemies?

The hapless pair had hoped their intellectual musings wouldn’t be picked up on air, but of course they were and a wrap on the knuckles followed with JV sent back to his hotel for the evening session but apparently not the rest of the championship, to the disgust of many easily offended viewers from suburbia. We’ve had no word from Willie, even though arguably his one word analysis of the match showed a little more contempt for the fortunate position he found himself in, one which a lot of people would have given their right arm to be in. He really is a very silly Willie sometimes.

But let’s not dwell on that, who’s going to win? Well, the form clearly steers you towards Ding and even taking into account Selby’s Crucibility and torturability I just can’t see him sticking with China’s finest for a match of this duration. I think he has to be at his best from the off and he’s been far from that this whole tournament so far. If Ding starts well I think he’s going to be very hard for Selby to peg back even with his legendary brinkmanship.

I’d like it to be a classic of course but only the hardest hearted snooker fan, or perhaps one who is a racist, would begrudge Ding the win. It would be great for the sport but better still it would mean we’d all get to see his little smile light up The Crucible on Monday night, just as long as the talk of a Chinese Revolution is kept in perspective.

So for me it’s somewhere in the region of 18-10 to Ding. HEAD TO HEAD HERE. Below are some bets for anyone that way inclined.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Ding to be leading after 8 frames at 13/8. 2 points on Ding to win the first frame and win the match at 21/10. 4 points on Ding to make more than 2 centuries in the match at 5/6. 2 points on Ding -3.5 frames at 3/1. 1 point on each – Ding 18-9 at 33/1, 18-10 at 25/1 and 18-11 at 20/1.

Mark Selby and Marco Fu Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:30 am

A typically late finish last night at The Crucible saw Mark Selby make his way through to the final to face Ding Junhui, beating Marco Fu 17-15.

Here is what they had to say after the match. 

Mark Selby

Marco Fu

April 30, 2016

Ding Junhui and Alan McManus Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:24 pm

It’s the end of the road for Alan McManus who has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of this championship. He bows out gracefully to Ding, who produced a record breaking performance in what at times was a pulsating match.

Ding is into his first final where he will face either Mark Selby or Marco Fu, here is what the two had to say after the match.

Ding Junhui

Alan McManus

April 28, 2016

World Championship Semi-Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:45 am
Two becomes One today. Let's just hope they have picked the one on the left.

Two become One today. Let’s just hope they have picked the one on the left.

And then there were four…..two seeds are left in the bottom half, only one of whom was seeded to be there and two qualifiers from Ponds Forge will battle out the top half semi final, which starts this afternoon.

Once again, this great championship has thrown up some big surprises, imagine the odds at the start on the likes of Ronnie, Robbo, Judd, Allen, Murphy and Higgins all being dumped out before the semi-finals? But that is precisely what has happened after a breathtaking night of drama at The Crucible on Wednesday, proving once again why there is truly no better place on the planet for snooker.

The nostalgic amongst us, in that I of course include myself, will be rooting for Alan McManus, his press conferences (if you haven’t watched them yet, do yourself a favour), have endeared him to the press and public alike and his general sense of wonderment and reflection on his achievement already are somewhat reminiscent of Stuart Bingham last year and we all know what happened then.

Angles laughs off the fatigue argument and gave very good reasons for doing so after winning last night, even claiming that the best of 33 over 3 days feels less tiring to him than the best of 19 in the first round. His opponent, who carries the hopes and dreams of a nation should however be fresh as the proverbial daisy given that he actually lives in Sheffield so presumably with his day off has just done a bit of housework. After all, those dishes don’t clean themselves.

Ding of course would be a huge winner for the sport and it’s global ambitions, it would even be worth us having to endure the inaccurate talk of the Chinese Snooker Revolution just to see his smiling face when he won. He may not get a better chance than this and looks more relaxed this year than any other, what I will say however is that his last match for me was something of a false result, given the problems MJW had with his equipment, in MJW’s words, Ding played alright but he’d have lost that match to anybody.

The other semi-final sees the rather understated presence of the champion of two years ago Mark Selby, who has steadily made his way here without yet facing a seeded player, but having taken care of the very dangerous Kyren Wilson in typical workmanlike fashion in his last match. He’ll face Marco Fu who was very nearly the victim of the fightback of the century by Barry Hawkins, he held himself together admirably at the end but the manner in which he allowed Barry back into it will cause concern for his supporters and those who crave an all-Asian final.

So who will be contesting the final on Sunday and Monday? I’d love to see Angles there but equally wouldn’t mind if Ding made it and ultimately became the champion, I’d have more chance of getting my SB Classic £1000 World Champion Scholarship off Selby I reckon but that shouldn’t come into play. The likely final for me is Ding against Selby, it would be a great spectacle for the sport if it were to happen, though equally I’d like to see Angles there, but the head has to rule the nostalgic heart on that one.

Semi Finals (click on the match for the head to head)

Alan McManus v Ding Junhui (Starts at 1pm Thursday)

Marco Fu v Mark Selby (Starts at 7pm Thursday)

Recommended Bets: 3 point double on each match having over 3 centuries pays just under 5/2. 3 points on Selby to have over 2 centuries at 5/4.  

Wednesday Night Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:50 am

What can you say but, Oh what a night at The Crucible. Angles beats Higgins and Marco beats Barry. Sometimes written words are not needed, so I will leave you all with the spoken.

Alan McManus

John Higgins

Marco Fu

Barry Hawkins 

April 27, 2016

Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:46 pm

The 2014 champion Mark Selby is the next name into the semi-finals as he took care of business against Kyren Wilson by 13 frames to 8.

Some consolation for Kyren was his 143 break which is now the tournament’s highest, he can also reflect on a great championship and look forward surely to being here as a seeded player next season for the first time. The six frame start he gave Selby was always going to be nigh on impossible to peg back.

Mark Selby

Kyren Wilson 

Ding Junhui and Mark Williams Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:39 am

An absolute walloping was administered last night as Ding Junhui finished with a session to spare to send Mark Williams home. Williams was playing with a new tip on his cue which obviously affected his play and his mindset, but regardless of that, Ding marches on, can he do it for China?

Ding Junhui

Mark Williams 

April 26, 2016

World Championship Quarter Final Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:08 am
Camera

Click the pic to view my other Instagram Crucible photos

We are down to the final eight in Sheffield as the business end of the championship approaches. What we have left are five seeded players and three who came through the qualifiers, can a qualifier win this great championship for the first time since Shaun Murphy in 2005? Alan McManus, Ding Junhui and Kyren Wilson will be hoping so.

It is a shame that much of the first week has been ruined by the table used for the top half of the draw, it’s not often that I agree 100% with players going on about big bounces and kicks but even to an amateur eye like mine, table one has been totally ridiculous all week and has ruined the chances of a number of players.

It’s not too much to ask to have perfect tables for this and unfortunately, the Star tables, for whatever reason do not play with the consistency of the old Riley ones. Whether it’s the cloth, the balls or the tables themselves, you’d think World Snooker would be asking some very tough questions of their suppliers, no matter what it means to the financial bottom line as someone is clearly not delivering the right quality product.

There have been some highlights so far, Carter and Bingham gave us the annual Day 1 thriller, despite the table they were trying their best to play on, Judd’s first rounder against Wenbo as well as his later match with Ding helped things along, while the late night decider which saw Ronnie on his way home provided that extra spice. We’ve seen very strong performances from Sam Baird, Michael Holt and Kyren Wilson and also some of the old guard coming to the fore, just look at the last eight and once again it proves, if any further proof were needed, that snooker is very much a middle-aged man’s game these days predominantly. There is no substitute for experience.

So here is a look at the last eight who now battle it away to reach the ‘one table situation’, will it be a new champion or a familiar face at the end adding their name again to the famous old trophy? Time will tell….

CLICK ON THE MATCH FOR THE HEAD TO HEAD.  

Alan McManus v John Higgins 

Och aye the noo naa, it’s only an all Scottish Quarter Final. It’s over 20 years since these two old muckers first locked horns and they’ve been meeting regularly ever since. A look at the head to head sees John with a slender advantage, but it’s Angles that has won their last two encounters, including a first rounder here two seasons back. John however sounds in determined mood and it could be argued that the draw is falling into place for him to equal Ronnie’s five world titles. He’s a different player to the one who has been bereft of confidence for the past few seasons here and looks very much like his old self, which is bad news for the others, he is also now installed as the favourite to win the title. Alan has had a great run and I hope it continues, but the heart can’t overrule the head on this one and I’d expect John to win with a bit in hand although he does look a little tired, the bookies agree so there isn’t really any value out there.

Prediction: Higgins 13-6    

Ding Junhui v Mark Williams

Both look in fine fettle moving into this mouth-watering Quarter Final, Ding looks to be finding life a little easier than usual as a qualifier and looks a little more at home in a venue he has struggled with a lot in the past, many now think it’s his year. Williams on the other hand continues to play down his chances, claiming he has no chance of winning it and that the winner isn’t even in his half (though he said this when Ronnie was still in it). He is a law unto himself but I don’t think everyone is fooled by this and within lies a steely competitor who I am sure thinks he is still capable of adding to his world crown tally and he won’t get a better chance than this to do so. I think he’s in great form and if this comes down to a battle of temperament at the end I would always stake my last penny on Williams. He is the proven winner here and he’s playing as well if not better than Ding, I think the bookies have got this one wrong.

Prediction: Williams 13-9

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Williams at 9/4

Marco Fu v Barry Hawkins

Wasn’t this supposed to be Ronnie against Murphy? But against all odds we have Marco and Barry lining up to do battle after The Hawk’s heroics against Ronnie. Marco is as ever, the quiet man in all this, he’s made his way here with mixed performances, brilliant against Ebdon and a bit patchy against McGill, but he’s capable of scrapping when he has to. Barry is attempting to make it four consecutive years getting to the one table situation, which will have the anoraks reaching for the almanac to find out when this was last done (I’m guessing Hendry). Of course he is yet to win it but against Ronnie he showed that he has both the game and the bottle to go that extra step. I’d be surprised if he lost here, Marco has played well, but Barry at times, has been sublime and has to take so much confidence from his last match.

Prediction: Hawkins 13-8

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Hawkins (-2.5 frames) at 5/4 

Kyren Wilson v Mark Selby

Selby is coming through in typical style and doing just enough to win, which we now come to expect from him. He had a scare against Sam Baird and any repeat of that performance will obviously see him in a real dogfight again here. Kyren has been so impressive and approached his match against Mark Allen in ruthless style and perhaps more tellingly, in the style of a future champion, winning the match effectively in the first session. Who is to say he won’t do the same here? Selby to me doesn’t look to be playing as well as he was when he won it two years ago and the wind is in The Warrior’s sails, this is one of those matches where logic is thrown out of the window in return for a ‘funny feeling’, that is what I have about Kyren here, perhaps this is his time.

Prediction: Wilson 13-10

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Wilson at 9/4

Recommended Bet: 2 point double on Williams and Wilson pays almost 10/1. 2 points on Williams to win the Championship at 16/1. 2 points on Kyren Wilson to win the Championship at 12/1.

April 25, 2016

Barry Hawkins and Ronnie O’Sullivan Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:24 pm

Always an interesting watch. Ronnie is out, Barry is through.

Barry Hawkins

Ronnie O’Sullivan

John Higgins and Ricky Walden Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:26 pm

Lots of great insight here….

Bit of more from John

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