The first round of the qualifying tournament for the World Championship continues at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on Friday with another bunch of players looking to make it to the Crucible beginning their quests.
We’ve seen some household names in action across the two days so far and there are more on show on the many tables that are in use on Friday. With two sessions of matches starting out there is a lot to enjoy.
It was an up and down day for us with Cao Yupeng being on the wrong end of a real surprise when Robin Hull dumped him out 10-7 but we managed to pick up one winner when Martin O’Donnell eventually took care of Anthony Hamilton deep into their third session such was how pedestrian that match was.
Elsewhere on the day there was a 147 break from Liang Wenbo and the Chinese star almost made another too but missed the final black for a piece of history. Jimmy White rolled back the years when he took out Sam Craigie to move within two wins of a return to the Crucible Theatre.
Once again we have all the tables allocated on Friday morning with one of the main tables containing what looks like it could be a real dogfight when Mark King hosts Gerard Greene in a pressure cooker match. The other match on our screens in this first and indeed the third session of the day sees Yan Bingtao taking on Jackson Page in a battle of the exciting youngsters.
On the outside tables Matthew Stevens goes up against the Australian amateur Ryan Thomerson while Fergal O’Brien will play Yuan Sijun. Ken Doherty meets Josh Boileau in an all-Irish battle. Kurt Maflin plays the popular Hamza Akbar while Chris Wakelin will be expecting to get past Xu Si. David Gilbert takes on Billy Joe Castle with Alfie Burden playing Jamie Curtis-Barrett. The last two matches see Gary Wilson playing Adam Stefanow and a good looking match between Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Alexander Ursenbacher.
Tom Ford is one of the main seeds given the honour of being on the streamed table in the afternoon session. He will hope to leave himself with not much to do on Saturday afternoon when he starts out against Leo Fernandez while on the other streamed table we have Jimmy Robertson playing the Maltese player Alex Borg.
Once again we have a full set of matches on the outside tables. Daniel Wells has the Australian player Kurt Dunham while Liam Highfield will hope to come past Chen Zhe. Sam Baird faces a potentially tricky test against Soheil Vahedi while John Astley meets the lesser known Marvin Lim Chun Kiat from Singapore. Michael White is surprisingly on the outside tables for his match against Niu Zhuang with Noppon Saengkham taking on Chen Zifan on another away from the spotlight. The last two matches have Hossein Vafaei facing Jamie Cope with Hammad Miah meeting Jordan Brown.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day. They start in the morning when Matthew Stevens takes on Ryan Thomerson. We’ve already seen some of these amateurs out of their depth this week and I fully expect Stevens to take care of the Australian with the minimum of fuss. It would probably be wrong to expect Stevens to win 10-0 or 10-1 but the handicaps mean that Thomerson has to win four frames to cover the 6.5 line. I don’t expect that to happen. Stevens often performs well over the extended distance and he can win this 10-3 or easier.
Noppon Saengkham has been showing a bit of form in recent times and it was only last year that he qualified for the main event from the first round position. It appears that he comes good at this time of the year and with that in mind I believe he will see off Chen Zifan and do it with a bit to spare. Zifan has only won one match since November and he didn’t win a huge amount before then anyway. Saengkham should have too much for him here.
Back M.Stevens (-6.5 frames) to beat R.Thomerson for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with NetBet
WON – Back N.Saengkham (-2.5 frames) to beat C.Zifan for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair
Back him here: