As one qualifying event concludes another begins in the snooker world this week as the International Championship qualifiers get underway in Sheffield on Friday, with a host of players looking to win the one match which will get them on the plane to China later in the campaign.
Unlike the Riga Masters event earlier in the week, this is real proper snooker with the matches being the best-of-11 frames so there is more time for the story to unfold, which in turn should make for some much better action.
There are five matches in the first two sessions of the day with two of them streamed on the main tables and first up Mark Davis will be on show. He faces Bai Langning while Xiao Guodong takes on Eden Sharav on the other. The Shootout champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is on show on one of the outside tables when he faces Rod Lawler in a right clash of styles. Matt Selt meets Lee Walker in another match while Noppon Saengkham will face Louis Heathcote who had a fine win over Ryan Day in Riga Masters qualifying.
Alan McManus is one of the men given the honour of competing on the main tables. He faces Andy Hicks is something of a battle of the veterans while the other streamed match will see Ali Carter facing up against Mitchell Mann. Shaun Murphy will be a surprise competitor on the outside tables. He will look to get over his Riga Masters defeat when he takes on Riley Parsons while Peter Ebdon has a tricky assignment against Sohail Vahedi. The other match in this session sees Jimmy Robertson going up against Barry Pinches.
There is a real standout match among the four in the evening session on Friday night when Barry Hawkins takes on Jimmy White on one of the main tables. Mark Selby gets his season underway at the same time when he takes on Sam Baird while the other two matches sees Robert Milkins playing off against Alexander Ursenbacher and Ken Doherty meeting David Lilley in two good looking games which will be on the outside tables.
I’ll go with one bet over the course of the first day of this tournament and it is on an evening session match where Ken Doherty takes on David Lilley in a match which I think the recent Q-School graduate can win at odds against to earn his first victory as a professional.
Doherty never played in Riga Masters qualifying so he is immediately handicapped slightly in my eyes with Lilley having the pace of the tables and a fair bit of competitive juice in his cueing arm given that he has recently come through Q-School. It is hard to get up and running straight away after a couple of months away from serious action so while Doherty is finding his feet Lilley can make hay and set himself up for victory here.
Back D.Lilley to beat K.Doherty for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral