As qualifying for one ranking event ends another begins on Friday when the World Open preliminaries are played out at the Guild Hall in Preston over the next four days.
Those who qualified for the tournament in Latvia got their season off to an excellent start while those who didn’t qualify or didn’t enter that event will be keen to win their match here and book their ticket to China for the first time in this campaign. We have three sessions of action on Friday and with matches over the best of nine frames we should see some better snooker.
There are five matches in the first session of play to get us going in this qualifying competition and on the streamed tables we have Mark King going up against Rod Lawler while Ricky Walden takes on Joe Swail in a couple of matches where experience is on show. Elsewhere they is an all-Chinese battle between Xu Si and Yuan Sijun while Robert Milkins goes up against Chen Zifan. Li Hang faces David Lilley in the other match in the session.
Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy are the two big names in the afternoon session and as you would expect they both feature on the main tables. Hawkins faces Alfie Burden who is looking for a second win of the season while Murphy takes on Mei Xi Wen. Elsewhere Matthew Stevens will be looking for his first frame of the campaign having lost 4-0 earlier in the week. He plays Allan Taylor while Andrew Higginson meets Luo Honghao. The last match sees Peter Ebdon facing Jamie Clarke.
The former world champion Stuart Bingham and current Masters champion Mark Allen form the bulk of the card on Friday evening. Bingham faces Zhang Anda while Allen meets Peter Lines, both on the streamed tables. The other matches sees Michael Holt facing John Astley, Akani Songsermsawad playing Fan Zhengyi and Dominic Dale meeting Hammad Miah.
I’ll go with a couple of bets across the course of the day and into the evening on Friday. The first bet I like is for David Lilley to beat Li Hang. Hang will be motivated for this match but he might have his work cut out to win it. Lilley goes into the contest having won his Riga Masters qualifier and bang in a couple of centuries which is outstanding form at this stage of the season. If he can repeat that he is going to be very tough to beat and even if he is a notch down from that it might be enough. I always think Hang is better over the longer distances and if he doesn’t start well here Lilley could dump him out at a very tasty price.
The other bet I like is for Dominic Dale to cover a 1.5 frame handicap against Hammad Miah. Miah hasn’t really ever shown much at this level and with Dale agonisingly missing out to Kyren Wilson in Riga Masters qualifying in the week he’ll be right up for this. Miah was beaten by Lilley in a match he was outplayed in and I’m expecting the same to happen to him here with the Spaceman set to book a trip to China by winning no worse than 5-3.
WON – Back D.Lilley to beat L.Hang for a 3/10 stake at 3.25 with BetVictor
Back D.Dale (-1.5 frames) to beat H.Miah for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with LeoVegas