With a bit of luck, you followed the Davis Cup prediction in our last instalment and got on the Czech Republic to win @ 9/4, and also backed them to win 3-2 to tie up a nice profit. Let’s see if we can continue in that vain for this week.
Tuesday sees the kick off of the 2nd most prestigious event on the snooker calendar, the UK Championships. Now in it’s 36 year, the UK Championship is the one that all the snooker players want to win in preparation for their attack on the World Championships in April.
It’s the 2nd longest tournament format (after the World Championships) which generally suits the better players, while giving the qualifiers and outsiders plenty of time to get their hands on the table, mix it with the top guys and pick up some well earned cash. To win this title, you need to be in good form and overcome some fierce competition and this year, it’s even tougher.
In previous years, the top 16 players in the world automatically received a bye into the last 32, with the other 16 spots being made up from everyone else fighting their way through numerous qualifying rounds to get their place in the televised stages and earn the chance to compete for the UK Championship crown.
This year, as part of Barry Hearn’s new revamp of Snooker, all the top 16 players will have to join in the first round proper, which is the last 128 players. They are usually sitting with their feet up at this stage with some guaranteed prize money for their last 32 appearance, but now there is a great possibility for some really early shocks as players find their feet.
With no money guaranteed for a 1st round knockout, they need to win at least 1 match to earn a £3,000 payday. Win 2 games and they can take home £9,000; £12,000 for a last 16 berth, and up to £150,000 if they can capture the illustrious crown.
The full draw can be found here http://www.snooker.org/res/index.asp?event=281
Certain tournaments suit certain players, and the UK Championships and Ronnie O Sullivan are a good match. Ronnie is in great form when he decides to play, but he will need to overcome a serious challenge from Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui if he is going to complete a hattrick of UK titles. Defending champion Mark Selby won’t be a pushover either but I can’t see anyone other than the big 4 going all the way over the coming 2 weeks.
Each of the players is in a different quarter of the draw, so they should all meet in the semi finals if things go according to plan. Their best priced odds on winning are;
Ronnie O Sullivan 5/1 Paddypower
Neil Robertson 7/1 Boylepoker
Ding Junhui 15/2 Betfred
Mark Selby 9/1 SkyBet
O’Sullivan and Robertson have by far the easiest quarter of the draw and are due to meet in the semi final. I think Robertson could upstage the rocket, and book the left handed Aussie a place in the final. In the top half of the draw, Junhui has all the tools to become a world champion at this game, and this could be his year.
He has a tricky draw and will have to overcome the flamboyant Judd Trump on his way to a possible semi final spot v Mark Selby for which I think he might have too much for the very likeable Englishman. My heart says Selby, but my head says Junhui.
The Bottom Line
I make Robertson slight favourite to win it, so I’m backing him @ 7/1
I’m also going to have a small punt on naming the finalists and take Robertson/Junhui @ 20/1 SkyBet and also O Sullivan/Selby @ 18/1 SkyBet just so we can jump sides if one of the semi finals doesn’t go our way! Think there’s enough options there to give us some lasting interest in the tournament and I wouldn’t expect us to be too far off with our bets.