The snooker tour returns to its helter-skelter, fast and frenetic best this week when 128 leading men and women head to the Watford Coliseum for the Snooker Shootout, and event which was meant to have added significance as part of the BetVictor Series, but Neil Robertson has already wrapped that up.
It was a significant week for Thepchaiya Un-Nooh last year as he raced to the title, his only ranking event success to date, and he is in the field this year looking to keep hold of it. A certain Ronnie O’Sullivan is among the players looking to snatch it off him though.
2019 – Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
2018 – Michael Georgiou
2017 – Anthony McGill
2016 – Robin Hull
2015 – Michael White
2014 – Dominic Dale
2013 – Martin Gould
2012 – Barry Hawkins
2011 – Nigel Bond
It is snooker but not quite as we know it this week. Each match is 10 minutes long with the first five minutes having a 15 second shot close which reduces to 10 seconds for the final five minutes. With every shot a ball must be potted or hit a cushion or else a foul will be called. All fouls in this tournament result in the other player having cue ball in hand. Players lag to see who breaks and whoever is ahead after the 10 minutes wins the match. If the scores are tied after 10 minutes a blue ball shootout decides the winner. There is a random draw for each round.
The one thing which is pretty easy to follow and assess this week is the format. Every match is one frame, or 10 minutes, whichever ends first. The 128 players in the field have been drawn out already with the winner taking £500 to their ranking. Each match a player wins their prize money doubles until the final where the champion will land £50,000 on Sunday evening. That is £50k for no more than 70 minutes work!
There are a number of different profiles who have won this tournament. You have the slower, under the radar players like Nigel Bond to the most recent winner who is the quickest player on the tour in Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. It is important to understand that the timings got quicker in 2016 so that probably takes out the men who don’t see the shot immediately, or puts them at a significant disadvantage at the very least.
Ultimately, however you approach betting on the outright market in this tournament you need a lot of luck. Luck with the draw and luck in each frame however there are a few factors I like to use to whittle down the first. I like players who cue smoothly and swiftly. This isn’t an event for the slower players. I also like players who can get in from distance and put 30 or 40 on the board from there. The other thing which is a must is we need a player who will take it as seriously as possible. There’s nothing worse than sticking our hard earned down on someone who’s had a few amber nectars too many and we’re done from the break off!
With all that in mind, I’ll take a couple of main bets this week. The first of those is Shaun Murphy, a man who takes every tournament seriously and I see no reason why he won’t do likewise here. We saw his long game is in wonderful order at the Welsh Open last week and we know when he is in he can score well. He mentioned after winning that Welsh Open title that his ambition is to become the number one in the world. He can gain 50,000 points on Judd Trump in that race should he win here and he’s defending absolutely nothing at the World Championship in April so could get even closer. Murphy hasn’t won this tournament yet but this could be his week.
Luca Brecel looks like he is coming back into some form and while Mark Williams could be a tough nut to crack in the first round, we know the Belgian can get himself in from distance and we know he can score well when he is in too. The shot clock isn’t going to mess with his game and having made the final before we know he can go deep in this competition. This should be an event Brecel is taking seriously after an indifferent campaign thus far and if it is there is no reason why he can’t give us a decent run for our money at 45/1.
This is a tournament that is worth throwing a few darts at and that is what I’ll do. The first of those is Michael Holt, the man who lost out in the final last year. I backed Holt in Austria recently so I’m pretty much compelled to back him here in a tournament where his record stands up to most in the competition. As well as making the final here last year he also made the semi-final of the event in 2013 and the quarter final two years later. I suspect a lot of that is because he’s quite crafty and knows his way around the table and that can be quite key. He can also score when the chance comes his way and has the right attitude for the crowd and things. He should give himself a chance here.
Martin Gould is a former winner of this tournament and he badly needs some cash from it this year as he is in severe danger of losing his Tour card. If he doesn’t pick up a nice cheque this week he only has Gibraltar and the World Championship to stay afloat on tour so this week might well have come at a good time for him. Gould is adept at getting in from range and scores heavily when he’s in the balls and we’ve seen throughout time in this competition that the clock doesn’t worry him. You don’t win this event if you don’t have the right approach for it so Gould ticks enough boxes despite his poor form to be a bet.
There are two I’ll take at huge prices as well. Dominic Dale is another man who has won this and he has the perfect attitude for it. We saw last week that he looks to be cueing the ball well too which is just as important. He can still score when the chance comes around and after a decent week last week he’ll fancy his chances of going well here at a three-figure price. Chang Bingyu is the other who catches my eye. He sits at 20 in the average shot time this season, so he is one of the quicker players on the circuit and he is averaging a 50 break in one of every three frames he plays this term, which puts him in the top quarter on tour in that regard too. When you factor in half a dozen of those above him haven’t entered, the Chinese player could be a sleeper.
Back S.Murphy to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 17.00 with William Hill (1/4 1-4)
Back him here:
Back L.Brecel to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 46.00 with Coral (1/4 1-4)
Back M.Gould to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Coral (1/4 1-4)
WON – Back M.Holt to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with BetVictor (1/4 1-4)
Back D.Dale to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betfair (1/4 1-4)
Back C.Bingyu to win Snooker Shootout (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Betfair (1/4 1-4)
Back them here: