Champion of Champions Snooker 2023 – Group 1 Tips and Betting Preview

Another group gets played out at the Champion of Champions tournament in Bolton on Wednesday with the focus turning to Group 1 of the competition as it gets completed over the course of two sessions of play.

This group was due to have the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in it but his late withdrawal means that John Higgins will be the headline act on a day where all four players on show will fancy their chances of progressing.

John Higgins vs Chris Wakelin

The first match of a good looking day of action on Wednesday sees the legend John Higgins looking to take advantage of his win in the Championship League to get into this tournament when he meets the Shootout winner Chris Wakelin for a place in the Group 1 final.

Higgins goes into this match as the favourite but he has had some trouble beating Wakelin in the past. Their last two meetings have gone the distance which will give Wakelin some belief that he can win this match but he is on debut in this event and hasn’t really featured in too many of these invitation tournaments so you would imagine there will be some nerves around him in this match. Both these men have had trouble converting leads this season so that isn’t ideal so I’m pretty happy to just watch this match rather than bet on it.

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Ding Junhui vs Zhang Anda

The second group semi-final is a battle of the last two men into the field. This match was due to include Ronnie O’Sullivan but his withdrawal means that it is the Six Red world champion Ding Junhui taking on the International Championship winner from last week in Zhang Anda.

These two actually met in the quarter final of that International Championship last week which obviously Zhang Anda won and you’ve got to think that he will have a bit of an advantage here with Ding still in China when he got the call up to play in the tournament on Tuesday morning. Not only is he going to have to scramble back but he is going to need to get himself ready to play just a few hours later, presumably off the back of not much in the way of practice and he just has to be underprepared. Ding might still be good enough to perform but whether he can beat a Zhang who is playing some brilliant snooker at the minute remains to be seen. Zhang made 10 centuries on his way to winning the International Championship last week and a whole host of other big breaks. This season he has played seven best of seven frame matches and won five of them and given all the complications Ding has to battle here I’ve got to think that Zhang will get the better of him for the second week in succession.

Group Betting

This felt like a competitive group when Ronnie O’Sullivan was due to be featuring in it and it feels even more the case now that he isn’t bizarrely. The one problem with betting on the group is we are guessing as to the status of the four players involved in it. Zhang Anda and Ding Junhui we know were still in China on Monday and Tuesday respectively and over two matches that can’t be a good thing so you would imagine the advantage sits very much with the winner of the other game.

Higgins was a loser in the last 16 of the International Championship which means he has had a week to get back home and get ready for this and Wakelin has a couple more days on top of that. If you think Wakelin is a chance of beating Higgins it might be worth taking him to win the group because he would be in a better physical condition than whoever he faces in the group final. I’m just not convinced enough that he does that so I’m happy to leave the group outright alone.


Back Z.Anda to beat D.Junhui for a 3/10 stake at 1.95 with Betway