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.
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.
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.
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.
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.