The first round of the UK Championship draws to a close on Thursday with those who are yet to play in the tournament doing so. This is the last day before the TV cameras come in amid the resumption of the event on Saturday when the profile of the tournament goes up a notch.
When Ding Junhui went out on the opening day there was a feeling that this could be another one of those tournaments where the shocks were regular but the big names survived on Wednesday and plenty more will be competing on Thursday hoping to do likewise.
The Northern Ireland Open champion Mark Williams gets play underway on one of the main tables. He takes on Paul Davison while on the other streamed offering Liang Wenbo will go up against Sanderson Lam.
The outside tables are full of matches in this session too. Andrew Higginson meets Sam Craigie in one of them while Mark Joyce takes on Thor Chuan Leong. Dave Gilbert faces Christopher Keogan with Graeme Dott facing Josh Boileau. Stuart Carrington plays Mitchell Mann and Fergal O’Brien takes on Akani Songsermsawad in the other two matches.
Neil Robertson is the big name on show in the afternoon session. He takes on Rod Lawler on one of the main tables while Ali Carter meets the Whirlwind of London Town, Jimmy White, on the other one.
Gary Wilson faces Ken Doherty on one of the outside tables with Alan McManus meeting Robin Hull on another of them. Chris Wakelin meets Lee Walker and Dominic Dale plays Adam Duffy. Two other matches in the session see Kurt Maflin playing Alexander Ursenbacher and Michael Holt going up against Niu Zhuang.
They have saved the best until last as the final session of the first round sees Ronnie O’Sullivan in action. He takes on the youngster Jackson Page on one of the main tables with Barry Hawkins facing up to Kurt Dunham on the other one.
On the outside tables there could be a lengthy battle between Li Hang and Gerard Greene while Robert Milkins plays Chen Zhe in what is expected to be a much quicker match. Alfie Burden plays Michael Georgiou in this session while Matthew Stevens plays Hammad Miah. There is an all-Chinese battle between Xiao Guodong and Chen Zifan with Tom Ford playing Eden Sharav in the one remaining match.
I’m going with two bets over the course of the day on Thursday. The first comes in the morning session where I think Sam Craigie is worth a go against Andrew Higginson. Craigie donned the bins for the first time last week and started playing out of his skin and if he can repeat that here he has every chance of seeing off a Higginson who has struggled for consistency throughout much of the season. At odds against Craigie’s talent is well worth following.
Later in the day Michael Georgiou looks a good bet when he faces Alfie Burden. Burden is really struggling for motivation at the minute and has been rumbling about retirement on Twitter after his latest defeat last week. Georgiou has had some good wins over the course of the campaign and if he can get off to a good start here he might find Burden easier to beat than he should be.
Back S.Craigie to beat A.Higginson for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Bet365
WON – Back M.Georgiou to beat A.Burden for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with William Hill