The televised stages of the UK Championship get underway on Saturday when the second round of the event begins inside the Barbican Centre in York and there is a feeling that the competition cranks up a notch now.
To grace the arrival of the TV cameras there are some big names on show over the two sessions of play so the quality of the snooker should be very high wherever we look at the venue. In total there are eight matches in each session so there is a lot to enjoy over the day.
Two of the very best grace the TV tables in the afternoon session as former winners Mark Selby and Neil Robertson are on show. Selby goes up against Scott Donaldson, who enjoyed his first win of the season in the first round, while Robertson takes on Ken Doherty for a place in the last 32.
The outside tables will be full in this session too with Peter Ebdon and Lu Haotian offering a clash of styles on one of them. Li Hang takes on Robert Milkins on another table in the closest match of the session ranking wise. Mark Williams is due to go up against Andrew Higginson while Ryan Day plays Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in what could be an entertaining match. Mark Joyce meets Dave Gilbert and Oliver Lines faces Mark Allen in the other matches.
It is the turn of another former champion to grace the main tables in the evening session when Judd Trump takes on Chris Wakelin on one of them. There is an all-Asian clash between Marco Fi and Zhao Xintong on the other one.
Two veterans meet on one of the outside tables when Graeme Dott faces Dominic Dale. Liang Wenbo takes on Mitchell Mann with Stephen Maguire facing Jak Jones. The match of the game could be the one between Jack Lisowski and Joe Perry while all eyes will beon the Whirlwind, Jimmy White, to see if he can build on his first round win over Ali Carter when he plays Kurt Maflin. Xu Si takes on Peter Lines in the other match.
There are quite a few I like on this first day of televised action although only one of them comes in the afternoon session. That sees Lu Haotian taking on Peter Ebdon. This is one of those age old battles I regularly talk about between a player on the rise and one who has stalled at best and who is probably on the decline. I always like the scorer in those kind of matches and that is the Chinese player and it just so happens he is in much the better form of the two as well. At odds against he looks a pretty natural bet.
Moving into the evening session and Graeme Dott is playing very nicely at the minute. He made a break of 68 or more in every frame he won in the first round and that is decent form indeed. To be fair Dominic Dale, his opponent on Saturday, more than matched that but the Welshman has struggled for consistency recently. Dott has spoken about how much he has been practicing recently and that looks to be having a big impact on his game. I think he can win this.
Jimmy White had a brilliant win in the first round but now he has to back that up and that won’t be easy against a Kurt Maflin who is in decent form himself. Maflin was a quarter finalist in the Shanghai Masters recently and had an excellent win in round one. While White saw off Carter it was a pretty low quality match until the last frame or two so I fancy the former winner will need more to see off Maflin. I like the Norwegian in this one and with a bit to spare.
Lastly it would be foolish to ignore the first round form of Xu Si. I appreciate this is a different day and all that but in Peter Lines he isn’t facing the toughest opponent he could be up against. Xu was a semi-finalist in the Indian Open earlier in the campaign and in his first round win he made five breaks of 60 and a century on top in beating a very competent opponent in Mark Davis. In contrast, while Lines had a good win over Zhou Yuelong he never made a single 50 break. Based on that Xu looks tidy at evens.
WON – Back L.Haotian to beat P.Ebdon for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Bwin
Back him here:
WON – Back G.Dott to beat D.Dale for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Betfred
Back him here:
WON – Back K.Maflin (-1.5 frames) to beat J.White for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
Back X.Si to beat P.Lines for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral