The World Championship qualifying tournament finishes on Tuesday and at the end of the day we will know the identity of the 32 men who will be competing in the main draw inside the Crucible Theatre for 17 days from Friday.
We saw some really dramatic snooker on Monday as the first eight qualifying spots were filled and there is no reason to expect anything less on a day where it is not underplaying it to say careers will be made and broken.
It is a 128 player event but this competition should be thought of as 16 eight player tournaments with each tournament winner progressing to take their place in the main draw. The first round sees those ranked 81-128 in the world and the 16 invited players battling it out. The 32 winners then progress to take on players ranked 49-80. Those winners go through to meet someone ranked 17-48 in the third round and the 32 winners from that round meet in the final round with the winners going into the main draw. The first three rounds of the tournament are the best of 11 frames with the final round the traditional best of 19.
There are two TV tables in operation over the course of these two-session matches with a former world champion and a man who has lost in a couple of world finals occupying them. On the main TV table it is the former winner of this tournament Graeme Dott who headlines the action. He meets a Martin Gould who seems to have found some of his best form just when it was needed and he’ll fancy his chances of a return to the Crucible. On the streamed table we have Matthew Stevens going up against Ricky Walden in a great looking encounter.
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The action on the outside tables sees two Thai players taking to the green baize looking to follow their countryman Noppon Saengkham in booking a place in the main draw. That sees Thepchaiya Un-Nooh taking on Liam Highfield while Sunny Akani has a meeting with Jamie Clarke. Anthony McGill will attempt to get back to the Crucible when he takes on Sam Baird, while Championship League eye catcher Ryan Day goes up against Jordan Brown. Stuart Carrington meets Tom Ford in a good looking game while the other match sees Mark King taking on Ian Burns.
I’ll go with a pair of bets from these eight matches although it is effectively three as I’m on Baird to beat McGill at 16/1 having backed him to qualify outright. The first of the two bets is over 16.5 frames in the match between Matthew Stevens and Ricky Walden. I’d marginally favour Stevens to come through here as he is renowned for enjoying the longer matches and the big events but Walden had a couple of centuries in the previous round so he’s clearly hitting the ball well and played well in the Championship League too to back that up. Both these men know how to play the long format matches and I doubt there will be much between them throughout this one. I expect this to end 10-7 or closer either way.
One match I don’t envisage being as close is the one between Tom Ford and Stuart Carrington, a match I expect a much improved mentality Tom Ford to come through with a fair bit in hand. Ford has had a good season with a couple of ranking event semi-finals and a couple of maximums to his name and it would be right if his campaign ends at the Crucible Theatre. Ford was in good touch in the previous round knocking in three centuries and I expect him to have too much for Carrington here. The Grimsby man hasn’t had a great season and while he was impressive enough against Luo Honghao in the previous round, he did give the man from China changes. Ford shouldn’t lack chances here and he can take enough of them to win no worse than 10-7 here.
Back M.Stevens vs R.Walden – Over 16.5 frames for a 3/10 stake at 1.95 with William Hill
Back it here:
Back T.Ford (-2.5 frames) to beat S.Carrington for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Boylesports
Back him here: