April 22, 2017

Kyren Wilson and Stuart Bingham Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:58 am

Last night saw the first name through to the Quarter Finals as Kyren Wilson knocked out 2015 champion Stuart Bingham 13-10, here is what they both had to say afterwards.

April 20, 2017

World Championship Second Round Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:47 pm

So the first round banana skins have been either picked up and placed in the bin or slipped upon and now we get to the three session matches, this championship just gets better and better.

Rather than give the big preamble here I’ll save this for the daily morning posts, so let’s get straight into the eight matches in this round, obviously this post will be updated as and when first round matches finish.

As ever just click on the match in question to take you to the head to head record courtesy of Cue Tracker.

Mark Selby v Xiao Guodong

Selby was clinical rather than dazzling in the opening round, dispensing with his opening day opponent Fergal O’Brien with his usual ruthless precision. He didn’t really score that heavily in terms of centuries but sometimes he’s like that and Fergal isn’t the type of player that leaves things wide open so it’s very much a case on Mark’s side of ‘job done’. Guodong justified most people’s faith in him coming through against the seeded player Ryan Day but in the process of his 10-4 win only hit three breaks over 50 with a highest of 78, this against a player who does give you a few chances. That is something he will have to improve on vastly to win here and I’m not sure he’ll get the same level of scoring chances in this that he had against Day. Selby has beaten him on both previous meetings, not easily, but all things together to me this points to a comfortable win for the defending champion over the longer distance, I think he’ll probably win every session, my guess would be 6-2, 5-3 and 2-1.

Predicted: Selby 13-6.

Recommended Bet: Selby to make more than one century in the match at 5/6 with Bet 365. 

Neil Robertson v Marco Fu

They’ve locked horns quite a few times down the years these two but this will be their first Crucible meeting. Marco ensured his intro would have some reference to him being snooker’s new comeback king after his heroics against Luca Brecel in the first round but any repeat of his first session shenanigans here will surely see him on the first train out of Sheffield. Robbo was solid in his first round match against a nervous debutant with one ton and a further 5 breaks over 60, he was also back to his sharp talking best afterwards and you can tell he’s bang up for this after by his standards a pretty average season. Some might say that with Marco having dodged a (Belgian) bullet that his name is already being etched onto the trophy but for me he’s going to have to improve a lot here to win. I’m siding with Robbo as I don’t think he’s quite done with this whole Crucible caper just yet.

Predicted: Robertson 13-8.

Recommended Bet: Robertson (-3.5) at 7/4 with Bet 365.

Shaun Murphy v Ronnie O’Sullivan

It’s a pretty open secret in the snooker world that these two don’t really get on, in fact I’d go as far as to say they probably really dislike each other, which makes this a real mouth watering clash for us fans. Ronnie’s rage against the machine after round 1 grabbed the headlines of course but on the table he looked pretty sharp to me too. Murphy survived a frightener and but for a fluked final red ahead of a real pressure clearance could have been on his way home, but he survived. The last time they met here, a highly disciplined Rocket gave Shaun a massive walloping over this distance, it remains to be seen if he can recreate that again here given his seemingly rather different mental state but my guess is that this will be a bit closer than that one. Murphy did score his first meaningful win over Ronnie at the German Masters in 2015, their last meeting. They both seem to be needing a few chances to polish off frames at the moment and that makes for a close match usually, let’s hope they don’t let us down. Let the needle match commence.

Predicted: O’Sullivan 13-10

Recommended Bet: O’Sullivan (-2.5 frames) at 10/11. 

Liang Wenbo v Ding Junhui

All Chinese clashes at the Crucible are like buses, you wait years for another one to happen and then you get two within a week. Ding scored so heavily against Ghou in round one with three tons and a further 6 breaks of 50 or more and surely a repeat of this is all that’s required to win here. Liang did something that I’m not used to seeing him do to win his opener and that’s dig in and make a real match of things, he seems to be enjoying life in the top 16 and looks set to stay there for a while but he doesn’t have the scoring power of Ding on the big stage yet. In terms of the head to heads, they are all in minor events except for their meeting here back in 2009 when Ding won 10-8 in Round One. I can’t see anything other than a Ding win here and I’m definitely sensing that it’s going to be him and Selby going to battle in the semi-finals this time around.

Predicted: Ding 13-8

Recommended Bet: Over 2 centuries in the match at 4/5. 

Stuart Bingham v Kyren Wilson

Well the head to head between these two makes very interesting reading doesn’t it? Two matches in full ranking events and two comfortable wins for Kyren, plus two minor wins on top makes it 4-0 over the 2015 World Champion. Both rose to challenges in Round 1 and after the match Bingham admitted that he would need to improve in order to win this one, his defeated opponent Ebdon, who knows both of them well said he thought it would be a tight match, but that he fully expected Kyren to be World Champion in the next three years, a bold prediction which I assume means that he thinks he’s in with a chance this year. The record books favour Kyren then, but the bookies make Bingham favourite, I have to say before I saw the head to head I agreed with the bookies and think the odds are about right, for me this is a close final session affair with Bingham using his Crucible experience to his best advantage, but I could be wrong.

Predicted: Bingham 13-12.

Recommended Bet: Winning Margin to be Under 3.5 frames at 11/10. 

Mark Allen v John Higgins

Both players seemed keen to talk down their chances after the first round so here we will get to see which one of them was justified in doing so. Mark Allen claimed he was lucky to win against Jimmy Robertson and apologised to him at the end while Higgins more or less wrote off his chances of winning the title for a fifth time either this year or in any other, so confidence is not high on the list of either players attributes as things stand. This should be an open, attacking match and the head to head between the two is pretty close. Higgins has won all their long match encounters including a semi-final here back in 2009 and a semi-final earlier in the season in the middle of his big money run. I think now Higgins has got a decent win out of the way it might be just what he needs to have a good run in this, he’s been quiet in 2017 and sometimes that can work in a players favour. I fancy Higgins to do the job here.

Predicted: Higgins 13-10.

Recommended Bet: Match to be level at 4-4 after first session at 11/4. 

Barry Hawkins v Graeme Dott

This promises to be an entertaining, attacking affair with two players who don’t hang around going head to head over the best of 25. I watched every ball of Dotty’s win over Ali Carter and he’s still such a sharp player, his long potting is excellent and he is a maestro at picking out long range pots to nothing. He’s not a heavy scorer which is possibly his biggest weakness these days but under pressure there are few better than him. Barry, like Dotty, saves his best for Sheffield and I think this one could be a real classic if they both bring their Crucible games to the table. In terms of scoring, Barry wins but if like Ali, he lets Graeme front run, he’ll do well to catch the Scottish Terrier. The 4/1 available on Dott for this match is quite frankly too good to not back just for interest, for me he’s a 7/4 shot here. But I’ve backed Barry in the outrights and the way he dispensed of the potentially dangerous Tom Ford leads me to believe he’s bang up for this again. But, in a curious twist, despite thinking Hawkins will probably win I’m going to recommend backing Dott as those odds are just bonkers.

Predicted: Hawkins 13-9.

Recommended Interest Punt: Dott to win at 4/1 with the sponsors. 

Stephen Maguire v Rory McLeod

‘You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’ springs to mind when I think about Rory beating Judd. It was an unlikely result and I’m not sure that the focus on Judd’s injury was in the best possible taste as Rory definitely deserves a lot of credit for the way he handled the match and let’s face it, his impatient, over-confident, some might argue complacent opponent. What Rory did do, under the expert tutorage of Peter Ebdon, was get inside Judd’s head or to quote Alfred Burden ‘The Highlander doing Judd’s canister clean in’, something that players have been known in the past to do to his opponent here. Mags was superb in Round 1, 8 breaks of 50 or more and a strong all round tactical game to wallop McGill 10-2 followed by a few days back home sets him up nicely for this. During the McLeod/Trump match I availed myself of the 66/1 available on Maguire and that has to now look like decent value. Can lightning strike twice? Perhaps. But this time I think we’ll see Maguire bully from the off and not make the mistake that Judd did of letting Rory back into it, after all, he was keeping an open mind after his first match and hinted that he thought Rory might be his next opponent, so he’ll be ready for this.

Predicted: Maguire 13-9

Recommended Bet: Maguire to make more than one century in the match at 6/5 with Bet 365.

Recommended Multiple Bet: Bingham/Wilson over 22 frames, O’Sullivan (-1.5 frames), and Ding and Selby both to make more than one century in their matches pays over 17/2 at Bet 365.

If you fancy either of the bets above but don’t have a Bet 365 account just click the banner below to take advantage of free bet offer for new customers. 

Neil Robertson Press Conference

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:25 pm

Neil Robertson with some thoughts after his 10-4 victory over Noppon Saengkham, amongst his musings are preparation for the championship, his thoughts on the players left in it, his thoughts on Ronnie and Judd, including why Judd could learn a thing or two from Paul Hunter and why the top 32 players need to get together as a group to fight unfairness.

Also if anyone missed Neil talking about his addiction to video games and how it nearly destroyed his game, you can read that here.   

Rory McLeod BBC Interview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

Rory McLeod produced an upset at The Crucible last night in knocking out championship joint favourite Judd Trump 10-8. Judd wasn’t available to talk to the media after the match for which I assume he’ll be fined, if he did have a shoulder injury, it appears to have travelled all the way to his mouth. Painful. Here’s a delighted man of the moment Rory with John and Hazel and later with Ivan from World Snooker.

April 19, 2017

Graeme Dott and Ali Carter Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:14 pm

A hugely entertaining match earlier saw Graeme Dott at his terrier-like best beating Ali Carter 10-7. Understandably Ali was very disappointed at the end but philosophical, Graeme seems to thrive here and again he produced the goods when it mattered, it remains to be seen if this is the start of another run for him. Also, check out the Alex Higgins reference.


World Championship Day 5

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

Day 5 sees the final remaining Round 1 matches underway and the conclusions to three further first round matches before Thursday sees the beginning of the second round.

Yesterday was very much about China and both Ding and Liang came through to set up their second round clash.

However, the unlikely story of the day for the snooker statisticians came in the form of Grimsby’s Stuart Carrington who became the exclusive member of a club consisting of only John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson as the only players in Crucible history to hit 3 successive centuries. This assures him of forever being in the jackpot round that nobody ever wins at the local pub quiz for many years to come.

As well as this, John Higgins came through against Martin Gould to set up a second round tie with Mark Allen and two further round one matches got underway. Tournament joint-favourite Judd Trump looked to be on his way to a comfortable session cushion when taking a 4-0 lead on Rory McLeod only for Rory to somehow take the remaining five frames of the session to start this morning’s concluding session in front.

Rory definitely sped up and almost transformed before our very eyes from the one dimensional, negative plodder to a flowing, attacking predator. I think Judd will have to start treating Rory with a little more respect this morning or there is only one way he is heading come around 1pm and it ain’t into the second round.

Last night Ali Carter started out against Crucible specialist and former champion Graeme Dott. Dotty was at his typical terrier like self for much of the session though Ali did almost salvage 5-4 from being 4-0 down and struggling. At 6-3 to Dott you’d say he was now favourite, but having watched Ali at this place down the years I still have a feeling that one has some life left in it personally.

Today sees Ryan Day and Xiao Guodong play both their sessions and start outs for seeds Robbo and The Hawk against their respective opponents. They conclude tomorrow when the second round gets under way with amongst the starting ties the first session of Ronnie against Shaun Murphy. Remember there is no snooker tomorrow morning so you can safely leave the house/TV room/sofa/arsedent for the first time for an hour or so if you wish. You might even want to perhaps have a wash, after all, nature does tend to take its course even if you don’t particularly notice or care that you now live alone (if you don’t count the accumulating flies).

As for Ronnie, obviously fearing that it was at least 15 minutes since he’d last been talked about, he decided to release a statement last night to coincide as chance would have it with the start of transmission on BBC and Eurosport. The statement didn’t really say anything so I won’t bother repeating it on here. I’m sure you will find it if you are interested.

The start of the second round preview will be available later today. The big R1 acca is now in the balance after Judd’s meltdown yesterday. Only a win of 6-1 or better this morning for him will salvage it after it was looking in the bag.  

April 18, 2017

Ding Junhui Press Conference

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:42 pm

Ding Junhui completed the win earlier in the all-Chinese clash and he had this to say afterwards.

John Higgins and Martin Gould Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:00 pm

John Higgins survived a late surge from Martin Gould earlier to book his place in the second round where he’ll face Mark Allen. He wasn’t exactly bigging up his chances and also had some opinion on the Ronnie O’Sullivan matter.

World Championship Day 4

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:27 am

Another day of first round matches today with conclusions of two matches which, barring comebacks of Marco Fu proportions are expected to go to seeded players Ding Junhui and John Higgins.

There’s a Crucible first coming up for yours truly which is why this post might be a little brief as I’m off to the practice room to pick a few balls out for Ali Carter.

Obviously picking balls out is something I’m more than familiar with from my playing days but to do this for someone as good as Ali and at The Crucible is one I can tick off the old bucket list at least.

So below there is a visual rather than a written summary of yesterday which saw some huge drama, with the pressers from Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy, including a typically honest assessment of his form from Allen and Murphy’s views on why the UK and Europe need to up their game in order to compete with China in the future and prompted by the media (excuse me I’m just about to yawn), Ronnie O’Sullivan’s comments the previous day.

Marco Fu also gives his late night reaction to his comeback against Luca.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Press conferences from Day 3 

April 17, 2017

Stuart Bingham and Peter Ebdon Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:28 pm

It wasn’t to be for Peter Ebdon after his heroics late on yesterday and this morning former champion Stuart Bingham completed a 10-5 victory. Afterwards they faced the assembled press.

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