November 18, 2015

BBC Snooker: The Beginning of the End?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:26 am
Ozzy: Should be in charge.

Ozzy: Should be in charge.

With news today in the Telegraph about the various cuts that the BBC in the UK are being forced to make and news that the Red Button option is about to be phased out, the inevitable question of where these cuts will be made is being asked, with snooker very much in the rumour mill firing line.

As I tweeted these articles and was retweeted by a comedian called Mark who I profess to never having heard of but who has a hundred zillion followers so I guess he’s a big deal and then retweeted again by Mrs SB’s celebrity dreamboat and snooker fan Richard Osman, I figured it was time to break my recent self-imposed blog silence, as this is clearly an issue which arouses great passion amongst the anorak and thermos flask brigade, who I could almost feel shaking their train timetables in rage and disgust at these latest developments.

The first thing to say is that the coverage on the BBC, albeit probably without the Red Button, which let’s face it has not really served snooker well in recent years anyway, is safe for the next two years and the 2016 and 2017 World Championship coverage will not be affected. Beyond that, the future is still unclear.

Barry Hearn tends to think long term when it comes to TV contracts and it isn’t that long ago that he negotiated the extension that we are currently enjoying with the BBC. This leads me to believe that today’s news will probably prompt him to explore the options he has open to him.  After all, he has always maintained that the future of the World Championship at The Crucible, it’s spiritual home and 17 day residence of the Snooker Gods, rests on two things, those being the support of Sheffield Council and the BBC.

Without the BBC, what will become of snooker on TV? ITV would seem the obvious choice with whom to dangle the World Championship carrot given their recent renewed interest in the baize. But as excellent a job that they do covering novelty events like the Champion of Champions and that god-awful Shootout rubbish, it is a long way from getting involved at Sheffield, York and Ally Pally, both in terms of scope and budget.

Eurosport of course carry the baton of snooker all over Europe and are mostly responsible for it’s increased popularity further afield, so a move to Europe, most likely Germany, for snooker’s most precious possession would surely be up for debate if the BBC decide to pull the plug.

Sky seem to show no interest in snooker these days and for me it would be a dark day indeed if they were to grab the spoils. It’s bad enough they’ve nicked the Open Golf with their soiled used notes, but my guess is they see snooker as small-fry in the great scheme of things and I’d be very surprised if it ended up there.

I’d say the best option for the future of the sport in the UK is the status quo and I’d be sorry to see the BBC give up on something which, like Wimbledon and the Open, it has a long and proud association with.

Sure there are those who would like to see a lot change in terms of the coverage itself, personally I think at least one of the current commentators is now not so much past his sell-by date as languishing under the fruit stinking of ammonia.

I greatly dislike the way that the features often assume that their average viewer has just hatched, although they do have to look at the nerds who hang around the venues every day so you can see why they tend to reduce the syllable count now and again. But all in all, we’d miss it, you might not like to admit it to yourself but sometimes like that mouldy old pair of toasty winter socks you cling to for dear life, you just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

November 9, 2015

Who’s the COC of snooker? Champion of Champions Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:47 pm

COCIt’s that time of year again when everyone except the employees at World Snooker use the best hashtag in snooker to describe the Champion of Champions event in Coventry. Televised again this week by the excellent ITV4.

We’ve reached the point of the season where the snooker roadshow heads home to the UK after recent adventures in China and Mainland Europe. Not only with this event but just over a week after its conclusion to York for the UK Championship before the other side of new year sees The Masters played out in London. This is what winter’s all about.

The Champion of Champions is an event that I quite like, though I’d prefer the opening matches to be best of 9 with no interval. But at least from the Quarter Finals onwards it’s at least best of 11, so what’s not to like?

OK, it’s a bit of a daft novelty playing it in groups, when effectively it’s a 16 man knockout event in a very traditional format, but it’s probably a welcome change for players who will only need to be there for their group day and hopefully then back for the weekend when the group winners fight it out for the main prizes, rather than hanging around for days on end.

Mark Allen’s win in Sofia bumped Ding Junhui out of Group 2 and it is quite staggering really that Ding isn’t playing in this given that he has been such a prolific winner in the recent past. It’s a bit of a fall from grace for China’s finest and it might give him the wake up call he clearly needs to start competing in a few more events. He did win the recent Asian PTC of course but that wasn’t considered important enough to merit a place in this.

Another absentee, this time through choice rather than chance is the reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has never lost a match in this event. I like others was surprised that he didn’t want to defend his title in an event and venue that he has professed in the past to like a lot, even if he did call it the Champions Cup. He’s also of course ducking the UK and it remains to be seen if he’ll bother with the Masters. If he doesn’t, I’d suggest that his World Championship participation is in serious doubt.

But it’s more of a novelty these days if Ronnie does play so let’s just all move on to the post-Ronnie era and enjoy this event for what it is. It does seem odd that from 16 champions we also don’t see Ding or the bang-in-form MJW who might have got in by virtue of his Seniors win had the criteria been different but they are the rules and if your name’s not down as they say, you’re not coming in.  

Click here to view the draw and match times for the Champion of Champions. Click on the match below for the head to head stats courtesy of the exquisite Cue Tracker.

I’ve listed a few bets below but I have to say there isn’t a lot of value out there, my only punt as far as value is concerned is on Ali Carter, simply because if he beats John Higgins he’ll look outstanding value at 25/1, he’ll also come to this a bit fresher than Higgins which might help. 

Group Three – Tuesday 10th November 2015

Stuart Bingham (3) v Zhou Yuelong
Judd Trump (6) v Kyren Wilson

Predicted Finalists: Bingham and Trump. Predicted Group Winner: Trump.

Group One – Wednesday 11th November 2015

John Higgins (1) v Ali Carter
Joe Perry (8) v Michael White

Predicted Finalists: Carter and Perry. Predicted Group Winner: Carter.

Group Four – Thursday 12th November 2015

Neil Robertson (4) v Rory McLeod
Shaun Murphy (5) v Yan Bingtao

Predicted Finalists: Robertson and Murphy. Predicted Group Winner: Murphy.

Group Two – Friday 13th November 2015

Mark Selby (2) v Stephen Maguire
Barry Hawkins (7) v Mark Allen

Predicted Finalists: Selby and Allen. Predicted Group Winner: Selby.

Predicted Outright Winner: Shaun Murphy. 

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Murphy at 13/2. 1 point each way on Carter at 25/1. 2 point first round acca on Bingham, Trump, Perry, Selby and Allen pays just on 17/2 at Boyles.   

November 5, 2015

European Tour 4: The Bulgarian Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:09 am
The Dentist is seeded number 1 for Sofia.

The Dentist is seeded number 1 for Sofia.

The latest stop in the final year of the European Tour, or as Stephen Hendry likes to refer to it ‘The Tour That Nobody Gives A Shit About’ is already underway in Sofia but will start on Eurosport on Friday and run through to the conclusion on Sunday.

Whilst it has been confirmed that the Paul Hunter Classic and the European event in Riga will continue next season and with the addition of the three year contracted Gibraltar Open which gets under way in December, it is still unclear as to how the European events will be structured in the future.

Presumably they will still maintain the same format, relying on amateurs entering the early stages to make the entries sufficient enough to keep them afloat. But without the promise of professional places at the end of them, will it really be worth the amateur’s bothering? Will World Snooker announce an incentive other than a chance to get walloped on telly by a big name that will make them enter in their droves? It remains to be seen. Just to note that from the three EPTC events so far the amateurs combined have won less than £8000 in total, with only one, Hammad Miah winning over £1000.

You can find the latest EPTC Order of Merit here. It’s interesting to note that the top two on the list Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter, safe in the knowledge that they will be in the Grand Finals anyway, have chosen not to enter meaning that the unlikely Number 1 seed in this is Rory McLeod, who has a great chance of moving to the top of the list with a good show this weekend.

For now though it’s business as usual and sandwiched in between the International Championship and next week’s Champion of Champions is this event with just Gibraltar and the annual trip to Gdynia in Poland in February to go in the race for places at the EPTC Grand Finals, the venue for which is yet to be confirmed.

The first round matches are listed below and a couple of speculative bets are included at the foot of this post, remember if you are backing each way, boycott the bookies who only pay on the finalists and go for those who give you more value on the last four, namely Paddies, Hills and Boyles.

Rory McLeod v Sam Baird
Zhang Anda v Qualifier
Chris Wakelin v Chris Melling
Ian Burns v Paul Davison
Jimmy Robertson v Allan Taylor
Michael Leslie v Qualifier
Rod Lawler v Liam Highfield
Matt Selt v Hamza Akbar
Judd Trump v Qualifier
Gerard Greene v Gareth Allen
Rhys Clark v Qualifier
Andrew Higginson v Craig Steadman
Peter Ebdon v Qualifier
Fergal O’Brien v Michael Georgiou
Anthony McGill v Barry Pinches
Mark King v Qualifier
Alan McManus v Qualifier
Jack Lisowski v Qualifier
Mitchell Mann v Tony Drago
Dominic Dale v Qualifier
Mark Selby v Sydney Wilson
Alfie Burden v Anthony Hamilton
Jamie Cope v Eden Sharav
Luca Brecel v Lu Ning
Ryan Day v Qualifier
Joel Walker v Hatem Yassin
Kurt Maflin v Steven Hallworth
Kyren Wilson v Qualifier
Scott Donaldson v Mark Joyce
Martin O’Donnell v Qualifier
James Cahill v Zak Surety
Tom Ford v Michael Wasley

Tian Pengfei v Qualifier
Sanderson Lam v Nigel Bond
Stuart Bingham v Qualifier
Mark Allen v Ross Muir
Sean O’Sullivan v Joe Swail
Joe Perry v Qualifier
Martin Gould v Qualifier
Michael Holt v Qualifier
Mike Dunn v Qualifier
Aditya Mehta v Qualifier
Robert Milkins v Qualifier
Liang Wenbo v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Thor Chuan Leong v Qualifier
Gary Wilson v David Grace
Daniel Wells v Ian Glover
Ben Woollaston v Xiao Guodong
Mark Williams v Qualifier
Jamie Jones v Noppon Saengkham
Ken Doherty W/O Jimmy White
Oli Lines v Qualifier
Lee Walker v Qualifier
Lu Chenwei v Zhou Yuelong
John Higgins v Qualifier
David Gilbert W/O Jamie Burnett
Stuart Carrington v Qualifier
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Qualifier
Ricky Walden v Fraser Patrick
Michael White v Qualifier
Robbie Williams v Qualifier
Peter Lines v Darryl Hill
Jason Weston v Qualifier
Shaun Murphy v Qualifier

Recommended Outrights: 2 points win on Mark Selby at 13/2. 1 point each way (at bookies paying each-way 1234) on Anthony McGill at 66/1, Dave Gilbert at 80/1 and Ben Woollaston at 80/1.    

Recommended Match Acca: 2 points acca pays over 5/1 at Boyles on Ian Burns, Anthony McGill, Luca Brecel, Daniel Wells and Jamie Jones. 

November 2, 2015

SB Classic Glasgow: Davis Progresses to Grand Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:49 am

The Snookerbacker Classic made its Scottish debut on Sunday and the 16 man event saw the promising Marc Davis progress to Grand Finals Day in Gloucester on April 3rd.

Marc with prize

Marc becomes the first winner of a Scottish Qualifier

It’s great that the event enjoyed the support of the Scottish players and I have to say a huge thank you to Stevie Baillie who organised things at that end and also ensured that the upbeat spirit of the tournament was carried through by providing free refreshments for the players and officials on duty. Not quite Mrs SB cake standard but excellent nonetheless.

Marc now heads to Gloucester for the Grand Finals with a guaranteed £250 in the bag. He is just 4 wins away from the top prize of £3000. You can see all yesterday’s results here and you can find out more about this year’s tournament here. Next stop is Derby on 28th November and the draw for that will be made this week. 

October 30, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic 2016 – Scotland on Sunday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:37 am

The Snookerbacker Classic travels north of the border for the first time this weekend as the Lucky Break Club in Clydebank plays host to the second heat of this year’s tournament.

You can keep up with all the results as they happen here and the tournament will be run by my pal Stevie Baillie (another SB). I look forward to welcoming the winner to Gloucester for the Grand Finals in April next year, let battle commence.

October 29, 2015

International Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:31 pm

Semis and FinalIt’s the business end over in Daqing with contrasting line ups in each of the best of seventeen frame, one day semi finals. We start with the two unlikely lads doing battle in the shape of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Dave Gilbert, before Saturday sees Mark Selby taking on John Higgins in yet another world final repeat.

It’s great to have these long matches and I think this tournament has definitely captured the snooker community’s interest. It’s just a shame that those in charge are determined to dumb down the sport further to best of sevens next season.

If it meant not taking the EPTC back to the UK and staging events with longer formats further afield I’d be all for it, they are just better events, there is no getting away from it.

The big news of course concerns Ronnie O’Sullivan, who I’m sure you know by now has fulfilled his promise of not playing in the Champion of Champions or the UK Championship, despite being the holder of both of them. It remains to be seen if and when we’ll see him back in competitive action. Perhaps we just have to get used to this being the post-Ronnie era, there is no point in us all going on about him if his heart is clearly elsewhere.

The other big news concerns the betting for this tournament. Thepchaiya, or Theppy as I now affectionately know him, is now one win away from landing the recommended 100/1 each way outright bet having already landed the 18/1 Quarter winning recommendation.

Add to that that main pick Selby (3 points at 8/1) is still very much in the mix and it’s been more or less a dream tournament on the betting front. We even managed to flag up a 5/1 plus acca on the quarter finals for good luck so now it’s time to consider closing the satchel and hope for a final between Selby and Un-Nooh, which I actually think will happen.

I’ll put a bet up for anyone that hasn’t got a sweat on anyway, I’d fancy Un-Nooh to win around 9-6 tomorrow and Selby to win a 9-8 thriller on Saturday before going on to lift the trophy.

Recommended Bet: 3 point double pays best odds over 2/1 at Paddy Power on Un-Nooh to win and Higgins and Selby to play over 14.5 frames.

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  



October 28, 2015

International Championship Quarter Final

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:43 pm

Thursday sees the Quarter Finals of the International Championship before we move to the Best of 17 frame semi-finals on Friday and Saturday, another reason to love this championship.

Int qfs

While the draw still plays host to a host of big names and most people will be drawn to the saliva-inducing prospect of Robbo and Selby going at it hammer and tongs (ooerr missus), my interest lies elsewhere as a bit of a mini-story will develop if the top match goes against the seedings.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was recommended at 18/1 to win the top quarter and at 100/1 each way for the championship, to widespread ridicule from a few renowned shrewdies of varying degrees of tipping ability who should know better on Twitter. I’ll expect grovelling apologies aplenty should good old Theppy do the business tomorrow. If he does, he’ll also have a winnable semi-final, but at this stage it’s still an if, but should he win tomorrow you might want to unfollow a self-obsessed, gloating and incredibly annoying blogger for at least the next month on there.

For what it’s worth from the four matches I’d plump for Theppy, out of pure stubbornness, Marco Fu in a tight one, Selby to oust Robbo who I maintain is not yet near his best while Selby to me is starting to look pretty good again, also John Higgins, who made short work of Shaun Murphy and appears to have fully rediscovered his snooker mojo from somewhere, after some, including that annoying blogger had all but confined him to the snooker scrapheap about a year or so ago.

In terms of an interest bet, perhaps the handicaps/match lengths are again the best to look.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble pays over 5/1 at Hills on Fu v Gilbert (over 8.5 frames), Robertson v Selby (over 9.5 frames) and John Higgins (-1.5 frames)

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  




October 27, 2015

International Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:33 pm

IntRound 4Another day, another round to complete as the breakneck speed of the International Championship continues with Wednesday seeing the Last 16 round played to a conclusion in Daqing.

There is a healthy mix of top seeded players, local interest and a few lower down the ranks to continue to keep us interested. But Ding Junhui’s run ended earlier when he was thwarted in a decider, not for the first time, by Ryan Day.

Graeme Dott won the repeat of the 2006 World Championship final against Peter Ebdon to set up a repeat of another final, this time against 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson. There is another World Final re-run in this round too as Shaun Murphy takes on John Higgins. I’m sure there is a stat in there somewhere.

In terms of betting it was a great day in Round 3 for the match betting. Both the over 3/1 and the over 11/2 accumulators landed making a profit on the day of a huge 18 points. Despite the punts on Fergal and Ebdon in the outrights biting the dust we still have enough interest in that to keep us going, including some big prices about Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in both the quarter betting and the outrights.

In terms of this round, I’d advise the following.

Recommended Bet: 2 point acca at Hills pays over 4/1 on all these matches to have more than 8.5 frames: Murphy/Higgins, Perry/Woollaston, Allen/Pengfei, Gilbert/Day and Selby/White.  

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  



October 26, 2015

International Championship Round Three

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:43 pm

International Round 3All sixteen third round matches will be completed on Tuesday over in Daqing using the eight tables available at the venue. They’re certainly not wasting any time in whittling this one down to its Final on Sunday.

There have been a few high-seeded casualties already in the first two rounds with probably the most notable being the holder Ricky Walden and the World Champion Stuart Bingham.

There are a few people who are inferring over on social media that Ballrun is struggling with the pressure of being world champion, but despite a performance against Yu Delu which he himself described as poor, it’s still very early to judge as for me, after Shanghai, where he made the semi-finals incidentally, this is really only the second major tournament of the season. The season is just about to get going as the nights draw in at the home of snooker and we approach the festive season so give the poor fella a chance.

One thing that I find a bit of a negative in this tournament is that we don’t get to see more of the matches. For the casual snooker viewer who tunes in now and again for Eurosport events, they’d be forgiven for thinking that the tour only consisted of a few players, Robbo, Trump, Selby, Ding, Bingham, Higgins, Murphy and a few others who pop up on telly every now and again to play them. I do think a bit more thought should go into the televised matches personally and not just sticking with the same old faces over and over again.

But if the lunacy of taking them all kicking and screaming to venues in huge numbers is to remain, that’s the way it will be. I never have and never will understand why we have to have this system. By all means play the flat draws in qualifiers, by all means hold the odd match over, particularly when it makes commercial sense, but please just start the tournament proper from the last 32, it will all feel less of a rush and we can get to see more players playing for the big prize money, not a mismatch where the winner picks up a few hundred quid and the loser gets sod all, as happens with the PTC’s.

But at least these matches are long enough to make it worthwhile for the predominantly western-based tour to make the exhausting journey for, even if they do lose their first match. I’m just not convinced by this whole rushed feel for a tournament carrying so much prize money, it could be so much more, China’s World Championship even.

Anyway, in terms of the betting, Martin Gould let down the first round acca but main picks Selby and Murphy are still in the hunt, as are long odds each way pokes Fergal O’Brien and Peter Ebdon, who as we speak is munching on a celebratory organic carrot and raising a glass of turnip juice at the news from the World Health Organisation that red and processed meat causes cancer. Vegans 1 Carnivores 0.

Recommended Bets: 2 point acca pays just over 3/1 on Michael White, John Higgins, Ben Woollaston and Joe Perry. 2 point acca pays over 11/2 at Hills on all these matches being over 8.5 frames: Allen v Wilson, Pengfei v Wenbo, Lines v Gilbert, Hawkins v Robertson and Dott v Ebdon.  

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October 22, 2015

International Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:35 pm
Judd Who? Never heard of 'im guv'nor.

Judd Who? Never heard of ‘im guv’nor. Some last minute edits were required for the poster following wild events in Barnsley.

It’s a new city and venue which greets this year’s qualifiers for the financially lucrative International Championship in China, this time the players will be waiting for their cues and their gear to turn up late in Daqing.  

There were of course four matches held over to the venue from the first round, namely the ones involving the holder Ricky Walden, who as luck would have it drew a popular Chinese player in Tian Pengfei, the two ‘local’ lads Ding and Liang to ensure that someone actually turns up to watch and the World Champion Stuart Bingham, whose new found lofty status in the game means he can just play wherever and whenever he likes.

One player that won’t be getting his stick out this week however is Judd Trump, who was thumped 6-0 in the qualifying round by Michael Wild. His manager immediately took to Twitter to proclaim that arguably snooker’s second biggest draw wouldn’t be appearing at the venue, something which we’d all already twigged but which he wanted to ensure we were all aware of in terms of the earth-shattering gravity of the situation. I mean, they’d even put him on the poster for crying out loud.

Presumably this meant that Team Trump were left a bit sour that his match wasn’t carried over to China too. Well, a similar protest worked for Ding as when he got beat 6-0 by Oliver Brown last season World Snooker did the biggest U-Turn since Nigel Farage resigned as leader of UKIP and started carrying his matches over for all the Chinese events, so why not let Judd have a go at throwing his toys out of the pram too? Or perhaps a better strategy would just be to win the World Championship instead like Ballrun did?

As ever, the Chinese are insisting that the wildcard round still plays a part in the tournament and the four unlucky recipients this time are Noppon Saengkham, Daniel Wells, Ken Doherty and Aditya Mehta. Hopefully they will all come through unscathed against players that shouldn’t be there.

While I’ve been a bit busy with other things we missed a right old ding-dong on Twitter between Stephen Hendry and Chairman Bazza. Handbags at dusk flew as the red wine induced Wonderbairn proclaimed that nobody gave a shit about any of the events except the ones he commentates on for the BBC. Bazza retorted by calling him a yesterdays man and accusing him of turning his back on snooker and selling his soul for Chinese Pool, one of the few things that Bazza himself hasn’t sold his for yet.

Anyway, to us rubberneckers on the sidewalk it was all very entertaining and hopefully the start of an online catfight and a series of nasty and increasingly degenerative arguments between the pair of them to tide us over between events. More of it I say. It’s more interesting than Smurf and co banging on about slow play and shotclocks, that’s for damn sure as organic avocados.

Whether you agree with Stephen or not, I’m sure the players competing for the £657,000 prize money and top prize of £125,000 will be giving this one their all. It’s also pleasing that they have stuck with the longer frame match format at the new venue, this always makes it a lot more appealing from a betting perspective. So let’s take a look at the draw and see what we can find.

You can check what session everyone is playing in here. This tournament would be perfect if they’d only revert to UK time, but I suppose you can’t have everything.   

Joke Round

Noppon Saengkham v Wildcard who shouldn’t be in it

Daniel Wells v Wildcard who shouldn’t be in it

Ken Doherty v Wildcard who shouldn’t be in it

Aditya Mehta v Wildcard who shouldn’t be in it

Last 128 – Held over matches

Ricky Walden v Tian Pengfei

Liang Wenbo v Alex Taubman

Ding Junhui v Sam Craigie

Stuart Bingham v Steven Hallworth

Obviously on paper the only potential ‘upset’ amongst the held over matches would be the defending champion Walden against the very dangerous Pengfei. Ricky at time of writing is still involved in the semi-finals of Asian PTC so he’s clearly got over his poor no doubt nappy-induced early season form and is now ready to start challenging again. He’s scored three comfortable victories over Tian the last three times they have met so everything points to a successful start to his title defence. I’d really like to see my mate Alex Taubman give Wenbo a run for his money but a win for Taubs would be a major upset as would a Ding defeat to the decent Sam Craigie. With Ballrun Bingham a good thing against Steven Hallworth I’m not sure that any of those hoping to topple the higher seeds in this round will do so.

Predictions: Walden, Liang, Ding, Bingham.

Last 64 – Quarter 1

Walden/Pengfei v Cao Yupeng

Andrew Higginson v Wenbo/Taubman

Kyren Wilson v Jamie Cope

Joe Swail v Mark Allen

Mark Williams v Ian Burns

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Ross Muir

Martin Gould v Zhou Yuelong

Sanderson Lam v Michael Wild

A fairly open quarter this with some of the early season form players involved such as Shanghai Champion Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. There is a real chance for someone to make a name for themselves here and this quarter on the face of it looks extremely open. Mark Allen will be some people’s pick and he is beginning to play more like himself after a couple of unexpected early exits earlier on in the season. As well as the names mentioned above there are others such as Andrew Higginson, Martin Gould and Jamie Cope who will hope that some of their past form comes to the fore in a winnable section of the draw. Sanderson Lam from Leeds will have his sights set on a run and faces Judd’s conqueror Wild first up for a place in the Last 32. All in all it’s a bit of a lottery this quarter so I’m going to plump for a player that we know is in form who could defy the huge odds about him.

Predictions: Walden, Higginson, Wilson, Allen, Williams, Un-Nooh, Gould, Lam.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Recommended Bet: 1 point on Un-Nooh to win the Quarter at 18/1. 0.5 points each-way on Un-Nooh to win the International Championship at 100/1.  

Quarter 2

Barry Hawkins v Chris Wakelin

Jimmy Robertson v Darryl Hill

Ali Carter v Jack Lisowski

Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu

Saengkham/WC v Oliver Lines

David Gilbert v Xiao Guodong

Ryan Day v Mark Joyce

Craig Steadman v Ding/Craigie

Again there are some decent ties here straight off and the ones involving Ali Carter and Jack Lisowski and Matthew Stevens and Marco Fu immediately draw the eye. The draw could have been worse for Ding, who again at time of writing is still involved in the APTC after a quiet start to the season. But he’s been on the receiving end of Ryan Day on the big stage before and his other potential second round opponent Mark Joyce is the sort of player that you’d imagine could frustrate Ding, that’s if he gets past Craig Steadman first off. Jimmy Robertson is another who is flying in the APTC and the confidence this will give him may pay dividends here. With Guodong, Hawkins, Gilbert and Oliver Lines all in there too this doesn’t get any easier. In terms of first hand knowledge I know that Ali Carter is going into this in a good frame of mind and when he’s on his game he’s obviously a class act, I’ll plump for him in this quarter and hope that Ding doesn’t have one of his better weeks. I’d also keep an eye on Chris Wakelin who plays Hawkins as he’s one that could cause an upset at a decent price.

Predictions: Wakelin, Robertson, Carter, Fu, Saengkham, Guodong, Day, Ding.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Ali Carter.

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Ali Carter to win the International Championship at 40/1.    

My main pick for the title.

My main pick for the title.

Quarter 3

Mark Selby v Mike Dunn

Sean O’Sullivan v Anthony McGill

Lee Walker v Wells/WC

Dechawat Poomjaeng v Michael White

Graeme Dott v Jamie Burnett

Doherty/WC v Peter Ebdon

Fergal O’Brien v Tom Ford

Martin O’Donnell v Neil Robertson

Two of the big guns are in this section in Mark Selby and Neil Robertson and on paper it is set up for a Quarter Final clash between the two. But again, there are plenty of players in there who will be determined to stop them. Mike Dunn, Anthony McGill, Michael White, Graeme Dott and Fergal O’Brien have all shown enough recently to merit consideration. While the possible clash between former world champions Kendo and Ebbo could produce someone who fancies going deep and who has all the experience over the longer distance to do so. I’ll say now that I don’t fancy Robertson to win this week on his current form, to me he’s not yet firing and I don’t think his outright price as favourite is any value whatsoever, I’d much rather be taking the price on Selby or one of the others who are huge in the outright market than the Aussie, now watch him piss it.

Predictions: Selby, McGill, Walker, White, Dott, Ebdon, O’Brien, Robertson.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Mark Selby.

Recommended Bets: 3 points on Mark Selby to win the International Championship at 8/1. 0.5 points each way on Peter Ebdon at 150/1 and Fergal O’Brien at 250/1. 0.5 point on those two to win this quarter at 35/1 and 50/1 respectively. 

Quarter 4

Shaun Murphy v Luca Brecel

Kurt Maflin v Jamie Jones

Michael Holt v Rod Lawler

Zhao Xintong v John Higgins

Joe Perry v Mehta/WC

Dominic Dale v Matthew Selt

Ben Woollaston v Robbie Williams

Yu De Lu v Bingham/Hallworth

It doesn’t get any easier and the final quarter features the likes of Shaun Murphy, John Higgins, Joe Perry and World Champion Bingham and a lot of further players who are more than capable of causing an upset and ‘doing a Kyren’ this week. One feature I read today said that Murphy is struggling lately, I’m not sure where that’s all come from unless I’ve missed something and for me, as ever, he has a big chance to land the title given his draw. In fact I would go as far as to say that I’d be quite surprised if he didn’t make at least the Quarter Finals and from then on we know how dangerous he can be. It would be no surprise to see Higgins beaten first round by the new boy wonder Xintong and something tells me that he’s one to back with your shrapnel in all Chinese events as he seems the type that will eventually land some big odds. But looking at the draw, I think Murphy has to be backed along with Selby in the outrights. Again I’d say he is far better in the value stakes than the bookies favourite Robertson.

Predictions: Murphy, Jones, Holt, Xintong, Perry, Selt, Woollaston, Bingham.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Shaun Murphy.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Shaun Murphy to win the International Championship at 12/1. 0.5 point each way on Zhao Xintong at 250/1 and 0.5 on Xintong to win the quarter at 66/1.

MATCH BETTING ACCA: 3 point acca on Bingham & Wenbo (Last 128), Mark Williams, Graeme Dott, Martin Gould and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh pays best price over 4/1 at Marathonbet. Open an account and bet below by clicking the banner.  


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