The penultimate day of the first week of the Championship League Snooker comes along on Thursday when another two groups are played out inside the Morningside Arena in Leicester, giving eight more players the chance to get their season underway.
We’ve already seen the six-time men’s world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan progress to the next stage this week and on Thursday it will be the turn of the 12-time ladies world champion Reanne Evans to see if she can follow in his footsteps.
Day 4 Recap
We had a favourite and an outsider progress through the groups on Wednesday. The favourite was a surprising one in Barry Hawkins who won his opening two matches and then picked up the draw he needed in his third match to come out on top of his group. Jordan Brown was the top seed in the other group on the day but he came unstuck when Stuart Carrington did enough to finish top of the table and make his way into the second stage.
That all added up to an annoying loss with Ben Woollaston to win the group that Barry Hawkins came out on top in. I say annoying because Woollaston would have won the group had he beaten Hawkins but they drew 2-2 however the second frame that Hawkins won, Woollaston was in first with a golden chance and coughed it up. That leaves us with a little bit of work to do in order to finish the week strongly.
Tom Ford vs Simon Blackwell
Simon Lichtenburg vs Reanne Evans
Simon Lichtenburg vs Simon Blackwell
Tom Ford vs Reanne Evans
Reanne Evans vs Simon Blackwell
Tom Ford vs Simon Lichtenburg
The action on Table One on Thursday comes from Group 3 where all eyes will be on Reanne Evans as she begins her two-year tour card which was rightly awarded to her at the beginning of the season. She’ll be competitive as the two years go on but Tom Ford will be hoping it isn’t here. Really and truly he should ease through this group when you consider the second seed is Simon Lichtenburg who is one of the lower ranked second seeds. The other player in the group is the amateur Simon Blackwell.
David Grace vs Farakh Ajaib
Ben Fortey vs Bai Langning
Ben Fortey vs Farakh Ajaib
David Grace vs Bai Langning
Ben Fortey vs Farakh Ajaib
Farakh Ajaib vs Bai Langning
When the draw came out one of the most open looking groups was Group 10 which will take place over on Table Two on Thursday. David Grace is the top seed in this group but you wouldn’t exactly say he is bulletproof even allowing for the fact that he isn’t exactly up against a stellar trio. Farakh Ajaib is actually the second highest seed in this group so this really is an open group. The other two players in it are both amateurs in the form of Ben Fortey and Bai Langning who surprisingly didn’t regain his card at Q-School.
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I was prepared to take David Grace on with Bai Langning in the group away from the TV cameras but at 6/5 there is absolutely no justification for getting involved at that price whatsoever so I’m going to leave the group betting alone. I still think the Chinese youngster may well come out of that group but he only won two of his five matches at Q-School which was a big surprise but highlights the inconsistencies in his game.
In the other group I wouldn’t want to take Tom Ford on even if there was someone to take him on with because he is my outright pick for this tournament. He has been in the arena doing commentary in the first few days of the event so he’s seen how conditions are playing and everything else and he is completely unopposable. The other three will just be hoping the heat or the pressure gets to him but I don’t see him not winning two of out of his three matches.
I’ll go with one bet in the matches on Thursday and that comes in the penultimate one on the main table when Reanne Evans goes up against Simon Blackwell. I actually think the 6/4 on Evans to win without the draw in play is a big price here. I say that because we’ve seen almost all the amateurs in this tournament so far completely struggle with the lightning speed of the table and they have all been found out as a result.
Blackwell has never been a professional so apart from the Shootout last year when he was given an invite to make up the numbers and scored one point in his frame, he won’t have played on anything like this. This will be his third match which might have helped him but he probably won’t see much table time against Ford so he still might be scratchy. Evans has played on these tables plenty of times with all the invites she’s had into events as well as world qualifiers and things. She’s got her tour card and even if winning this match only sees her finishing third that £1,000 will get her up and running. I think she can take down Blackwell here.
Back R.Evans to beat S.Blackwell (DNB) for a 2/10 stake at 2.50 with Coral