The televised stages of the UK Championship begin inside the Barbican Centre in York on Saturday afternoon, as the second round of the tournament kicks off with a couple of sessions over what should be a great day of snooker.
We have the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in action from the get go and a whole host of big names supporting him on a decent looking card, so there is a lot to enjoy either on TV or on the streams.
It is Ronnie O’Sullivan who will be the centre of attention on the main TV table on Saturday afternoon. He takes on Tian Pengfei in a match which could be tighter than it looks if Ronnie has one of his careless afternoons. The other game on the main tables is a huge clash for a second round encounter as Kyren Wilson takes on a Marco Fu for whom there are one or two signs creeping in to suggest his form is coming back.
The outside tables are in full use in this session with Noppon Saengkham taking on Anthony McGill on one of them while there is an all-Chinese clash between Li Hang and Xiao Guodong on another. Ian Burns meets Michael Holt in another afternoon match with Stuart Bingham playing the out of form Martin Gould. The other two matches in this session sees Mark King taking on Lu Haotian while there is an all-Welsh battle when Matthew Stevens goes up against Ryan Day.
It is Neil Robertson and Mark Selby who headline the evening session as far as the TV tables are concerned. Both men are on them in matches that they should win but which could go wrong for them if they are not fully focused. Robertson meets Robbie Williams while Selby probably has the tougher of the two tasks when he takes on a Liam Highfield who has probably underachieved in his career to date.
There is a real cracker on one of the outside tables as the Shootout champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh meets Zhao Xintong in a match which won’t take too long even if it goes 6-5. Daniel Wells meets Eden Sharav, who will be looking to build on his win over Shaun Murphy in the first round. Anthony Hamilton will look to avoid being the latest scalp of James Cahill while Mark Allen will be aiming for a spot in the last 32 when he takes on Jak Jones. The other two matches have Scott Donaldson facing Ben Woollaston and Barry Hawkins taking on Alan McManus.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day with one in each session. In the afternoon I like Lu Haotian to come past Mark King. I think it is fair to say that neither of these have pulled up any trees this season but there was enough to like about Haotian in the opening round to merit taking him here. King had a fair win over Chang Bingyu but just on rankings Haotian is a step up on that. Haotian scored well in his first round win and I always say in the modern game I like the man who is the heavier scorer. King doesn’t have a bad record here but I’m concerned about his form. I’m with the man from China here.
In the evening session I’ll take Anthony Hamilton to beat James Cahill. Cahill is making a name for himself as a giant killer these days and added Dave Gilbert to his scalps in the first round here but he doesn’t go too far after a big win, which is pretty natural I guess. Hamilton won five frames on the spin to see off Sam Baird in the first round and he scored well in all of them. Generally in his career you can gauge the form of the Sheriff by how well he scores. He had a decent run in Northern Ireland and looks to have brought that form with him here. Cahill might not go quietly. He is ample times better than his world ranking suggests he is but at odds against Hamilton might have been written off too soon.
Back L.Haotian to beat M.King for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
Back him here:
WON – Back A.Hamilton to beat J.Cahill for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Betway