The first round of the World Championship qualifying competition comes to an end on Saturday with those yet to begin their campaigns doing so along with the players who played on Friday afternoon completing their matches in the afternoon session.
At the end of what is another busy day of snooker, we will know the identity of the 64 men who will be two wins away from appearing at the Crucible Theatre in a week or so time as the main tournament gets underway.
It was an annoying day for us on Friday as Matthew Stevens looked set to cover the handicap when he led 8-1 at half time only to lose four on the bounce after the resumption. We will get that loss back on Saturday though as Noppon Saengkham leads Chen Zifan 9-0 and needs just one of the first eight frames to cover his handicap.
There was a little better news in the outright betting where Gerard Greene took care of the leading player in his group in Mark King in a deciding frame which was very much a positive. Elsewhere there were wins for Yan Bingtao, Ken Doherty, Dave Gilbert and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh among others.
Ryan Day is the leading seed in this competition and he finally makes his bow into this qualifying campaign. He will take on the Brazilian player Igor Figueiredo on one of the main tables with the other top ranked player Stephen Maguire playing his match on the other streamed showing. He will face Allan Taylor.
Once again the outside tables will be full in this session. Mitchell Mann takes on Peter Lines on one of them while Robbie Williams faces Jak Jones on another. Peter Ebdon and James Wattana are no strangers to the Crucible but only one of them will progress from their match while Yu Delu will take on Sean O’Sullivan. Jack Lisowski is a sleeper for this entire tournament and he meets Christopher Keogan while David Grace goes up against Wang Yuchen. Zhou Yuelong faces Ian Preece in a match which could be more competitive than the Chinese player would like. There is an all-Scottish clash between Alan McManus who simply must win given how much he is defending in this tournament and Rhys Clark. Oliver Lines faces Harvey Chandler in the other match.
We will be hoping Noppon Saengkham can ease home from his 9-0 advantage. Tom Ford is another with a big lead as he heads Leo Fernandez 8-1. Sam Baird holds a 7-2 lead on Soheil Vahdi with Jimmy Robertson the same score ahead of Alex Borg. John Astley leads Marvin Lim Chun Kiat 6-1.
There are some tighter matches not lead the one between Michael White and Niu Chuang which the Chinese player leads 5-4. Jamie Cope has the same lead on Hossein Vafaei while Hammad Miah is 6-3 up on Jordan Brown. That’s also the score Liam Highfield is ahead of Chen Zhe and Daniel Wells holds on Kurt Dunham.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of turnarounds in the afternoon but Michael White and Hossein Vafaei, the two most likely to do so, remain odds on to win their matches so I’ll focus on the morning matches for a bet.
The bet in question sees Jack Lisowski going up against Christopher Keogan and I am expecting a comfortable win for Lisowski who has been in excellent form this term. The same certainly can’t be said of Keogan who has only won two matches all season and one of them was in June. The penny looks to have dropped with Lisowski. Not only is he scoring sensationally as ever but he is creating his own chances too which makes him very dangerous. Lisowski has knocked off many better players than Keogan this season and I not only expect him to win but to do so no worse than 10-4.
WON – Back J.Lisowski (-5.5 frames) to beat C.Keogan for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Betfair
Back him here: