The second round of the World Championship qualifiers get underway at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield on Sunday when 21 of the 32 matches in this stage of the competition set out on their journey.
Whoever comes through this round will know they are just one win from booking their place at the Crucible Theatre next weekend so the stakes are getting higher than the tension and drama is only likely to increase from here on in.
Day 4 Recap
The first round concluded without any major shocks although Stuart Carrington was defeated by a Chinese amateur but there were comfortable wins on the day for the likes of Ali Carter, Ryan Day, Graeme Dott and Kurt Maflin while Ken Doherty, Scott Donaldson and Ben Woollaston all come through tight matches.
It was a perfect betting day for us with Ali Carter covering his handicap from the held over bet from Friday and Matthew Stevens and John Astley both doing the business for us as well. That ensured we ended the first round in profit and we’ll be looking to build on that between now and the end of the qualifying series.
There is an Asian feel to the streamed offerings in the first session of the day as Mei Xi Wen takes on Yan Bingtao on one of the tables available for us all to watch. The other one sees the exciting, if a little unpredictable, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in action. He goes up against a Mark Joyce who isn’t the force he once was but who will be out to showcase that he can still be a danger if given the opportunity.
The outside tables are full once again in this session. Xiao Guodong is the highest player on them in terms of world ranking. He takes on Michael Judge while the European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson faces Joe O’Connor on another of them. Elsewhere the Indian Open winner Matt Selt goes up against Anthony Hamilton with Michael Holt facing James Cahill. Former Shootout winner Michael Georgiou plays Peter Ebdon with Gerard Greene meeting Martin Gould. Daniel Wells faces Hossein Vafaei and in the other two matches Liang Wenbo plays David Grace and Dominic Dale goes up against Gary Wilson
Sam Craigie had a good win in the first round of qualifying and his reward is a match on one of the streamed tables against Tom Ford in the match that starts on Sunday afternoon and goes on through to Monday afternoon. Anthony McGill is on the other streamed table. He goes up against the German Masters semi-finalist Duane Jones for a place in the final qualifying round.
There are numerous more matches on the outside tables here. They see Robbie Williams facing Luo Honghao, Sunny Akani meeting Robert Milkins, Ricky Walden taking on Eden Sharav, Zhou Yuelong facing Lian Highfield and Fergal O’Brien playing Mark Davis. The other three matches are Jordan Brown against Lu Haotian, Zhao Xintong versus Noppon Saengkham and Alan McManus against Martin O’Donnell.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day. The first comes in the morning session where although Joe O’Connor and Jimmy Robertson both enjoyed comfortable wins in the first round, I expect them to have their work cut out a little more here with both playing so well. O’Connor has come alive over the last couple of months with a win over Kyren Wilson and two wins against John Higgins to his name. Jimmy Robertson is a past master at coming through this qualifying tournament so I like this to be pretty tight. Over 16.5 frames is even money and that looks decent enough to me.
In the afternoon session I like the look of Martin O’Donnell to cover a 1.5 frame handicap against Alan McManus. I expected big things from the Scot this week but he was pony in the first round and almost made incredibly hard work of beating Ng On Yee, the women’s world champion. To be fair it took O’Donnell an age to hit his straps against Adam Duffy but when he did he won the last four frames with decent breaks and if he can take that form into this one he could be able to come past McManus with a bit in hand, unless ‘Angles’ was just so bad because of the psychological pressure of playing a female.
WON – Back J.O’Connor vs J.Robertson – Over 16.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with William Hill
Back him here:
WON – Back M.O’Donnell (-1.5 frames) to beat A.McManus for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfair
Back him here: