There are three first round matches still to get going at the World Championship and they all start on what promises to be a sizzling day of action with no fewer than four Triple Crown event winners on show inside the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
In the main we have seen all of the big guns make it through to the second round and on Tuesday three more players will join them there on what is likely to be yet another dramatic day at this famous old tournament.
I’m sure everyone knows the format by now but for those who are unsure of it, it is long course snooker all the way over this 17 day marathon. The first round is the best-of-19 frames which goes up to the best-of-25 for the second round and the quarter finals. The semi-finals at the best-of-33 frames and then the four session final will see a champion crowned on the third Saturday and Sunday over the best-of-35 frames.
Three matches concluded inside the Crucible on Monday. The first one was the procession that it looked overnight for Ronnie O’Sullivan when he saw off Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in record time. It was meant to be that easy for Yan Bingtao but from 9-2 up he found that Elliot Slessor pulled himself back to 9-7 before Bingtao got over the line. The other match to finish went all the way when a stunning last blue earned Anthony McGill a deciding frame win over a game Jack Lisowski to bring out bet in and keep our outright alive. There are two matches at halfway overnight. Shaun Murphy trails Noppon Saengkham 6-3 in one and Mark Selby leads Jordan Brown 5-4 in the other.
In Play Betting
There are two matches in the balance heading into Tuesday but I’m not going to bet on them. I’ve got enough involvement in Shaun Murphy and need him to produce a big turnaround. That is possible and he’s decent odds to do it but I’m on him outright and need him to hit another ton in order to bring my match bet in so I’ll leave those as my interest in that one. I was hoping that Jordan Brown would win the final frame of the session against Mark Selby to lead 5-4 as that would have opened up some betting activity but with Selby winning it there is nothing I fancy because Selby surely can’t be that bad again.
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Mark Allen vs Jamie Clarke (Tuesday 10am & 7pm)
The one match which starts and finishes on Tuesday sees the former Masters champion and dark horse for many at this championship in Mark Allen taking on a man making his debut inside the Crucible Theatre in Jordan Brown for the right to face Anthony McGill in the second round.
Allen arrives here with plenty of experience under his belt and his run to the final of the Tour Championship confirms that we don’t have to worry about his form. He’ll be expected to win this and win it with a bit in hand but Clarke played very well in qualifying, seeing off Joe Perry among others, and if he can settle from the off he is entitled to be competitive. Hopefully Clarke is competitive and we can get involved at half time but there’s nothing I fancy prior to then.
Stephen Maguire vs Martin Gould (Tuesday 2.30pm & Wednesday 7pm)
One of the pick of the matches when the first round draw was made was the clash between the Tour Championship winner Stephen Maguire and a Martin Gould who looks to have found his mojo once again. This one gets underway in the afternoon session and concludes on Wednesday night.
Maguire is the favourite for this one after some savage scoring at the Tour Championship but his recent record here is mixed it has to be said. The winner of this one faces Kyren Wilson in the next round and he hasn’t had a hit for a couple of months so there is a real opportunity for one of these two to make it through to the quarter final and beyond here. That should ensure a real competitive match and one which has plenty of frames in it.
I’ve looked through all the markets for this match and I’m staggered the 50+ break line is 9.5 at odds against. That is worthy of full support and as such I’ll be having my biggest bet of any sport since lockdown on it. If you think that to the Tour Championship, Maguire made six centuries in one match so between these two 10 50s really isn’t asking a lot. Gould is a heavy scorer and scored well in the qualifiers. It is hard to see this one not having 15+ frames so there should be plenty of time to get the 10 50+ breaks needed here.
Barry Hawkins vs Alexander Ursenbacher (Tuesday 7pm & Wednesday 1pm)
The last two men to get their campaigns underway are Barry Hawkins and Alexander Ursenbacher and they do so in the evening session on Tuesday. This is a battle of experience vs youth with Hawkins a previous finalist in this event and Ursenbacher here for the first time.
You would think that experience will stand Hawkins in good stead in this match but he has had a shocking season by his standards, and with Ursenbacher having won three matches in qualifying he might be getting ‘The Hawk’ at the right time. You don’t see many debutants hit the ground running here, not least ones from overseas so that would be a concern for me in this one. I’m not massively keen on backing either here but I’ll have an interested eye on the match in case a bet materialises itself ahead of the second session.
WON – Back S.Maguire vs M.Gould – Over 9.5 50+ breaks for a 5/10 stake at 2.20 with 888sport