The second day of action at the Champion of Champions tournament sees what many are describing the ‘Group of Death’ being played out as Group 2 is the centre of attention on what should be an excellent Tuesday of snooker in Bolton.
We have four standout players on show over the course of the day on Tuesday including the world champion Luca Brecel so however each match goes we are almost guaranteed top quality in the semi-finals and final.
Luca Brecel vs Barry Hawkins
The opening semi-final of Group 2 could well be the pick of the matches in the group stage of the competition as the world champion Luca Brecel goes up against the European Masters winner Barry Hawkins in a real standout clash.
I guess the racing term for Brecel this season is that he has been lightly raced and that might suit Hawkins, who along with winning the European Masters has also reached the last four of the Northern Ireland Open. Brecel has only played five tournaments this season but he has already made the final of the Shanghai Masters to remind everyone both of his talent and the fact that he can beat anyone when he puts his mind to it. He’ll need his mind on the job here though because Hawkins is going great guns this season, although there has been signs that he keeps losing his action in the last two tournaments which is a bit of a concern. That puts me off backing him but the relative inactivity of Brecel is stopping me from backing him too so this one is a simple one to ignore.
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Mark Williams vs Robert Milkins
The second group semi-final in Group 2 sees the British Open champion and legend of the game in Mark Williams taking on the man who powered his way to the Welsh Open title last year to book his place here in the shape of Robert Milkins.
Williams has looked in good form for a long time now and generally when he is beaten these days someone plays out of their boots to beat him. The problem the Welshman has is there are dozens of players who are capable of delivering that out of their boots performance against him. Milkins will hope that he is one of them, although there is an argument that since he won the Welsh Open back in February his form has been pretty ordinary. The one thing I have noticed about Milkins is he tends to do his best performing on centre stage and I just wonder if that will bring out the best in him here. The format might be right up his street too. The first four rounds of the Welsh Open that he won were the best of seven like this match is so that could also be pretty significant. If Milkins turns up here I think he’s entitled to give Williams a good game. Ultimately, Milkins needs to make four one visits to win and given that he made the final group of the Championship League and the quarter final of the Shanghai Masters I think there is enough to suggest that the best of Milkins could come out here. If it does then he’s overpriced at 19/10 particularly when you factor in that he hasn’t been to China and back over the last week like Williams has.
When the draw was made Group 2 looked the hardest one to call. One reason for that is because you can genuinely make a case for all four players to come through the group semi-finals, unlike on Monday where it was pretty obvious that Mark Allen had a more comfortable route to a group final than anyone else in the section. You could make two selections from the respective semi-finals and the other two players could make it through, such is the quality on show.
I certainly think there is a case to be made that Robert Milkins is value at 7/1 although I’m a little uneasy that he’ll turn what has been a poor season around to win two matches against top drawer opposition on the same day. The problem is I really can’t pick a winner of the other semi-final but the one thing which could be a factor here is the quality on show should lead to three close matches so it might be worth looking into the final going over 9.5 frames but I can’t really pick a winner.
Back R.Milkins to beat M.Williams for a 3/10 stake at 2.90 with Betfred