The new snooker season gets underway on Sunday as the Championship League Snooker tournament starts up inside the behind closed doors bio-secure bubble at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
We have two groups to entertain us on Sunday which means that eight players begin their season here including the world number one Judd Trump, who will be expected to make it through to the second section of the event. Some other household names are on both his table and the other one.
The whole tour were invited into the tournament with it now getting ranking event status. The 128 man field have been split into 32 groups of four in the first round. Each group is a round robin with everyone playing everyone else over the best of four frames with two points for a win and one for a draw. The player who tops the group goes through to the second stage where the 32 remaining players are split into four more groups of four over the same format. Those eight winners then go into two more groups where the winner of each will battle it out in a best of five frame final for the title. Two groups will be played on each day until the final day when the Championship group and final is played. The initial stages of the tournament are live on Matchroom.live.
Judd Trump vs Fan Zhengyi
Alan McManus vs David Lilley
Alan McManus vs Fan Zhengyi
Judd Trump vs David Lilley
David Lilley vs Fan Zhengyi
Judd Trump vs Alan McManus
The world number one Judd Trump looks to have a fairly routine passage through to the second round of the competition, if one of those exists. He will be expected to dominate a group where Alan McManus is the second highest ranked player, but ‘Angles’ made it to the Crucible at the end of last season so shouldn’t be written off completely. David Lilley might be dangerous over this format as he has the potential to score nicely while Fan Zhengyi will be looking to show what he can do on what is a relatively big stage for the Chinese player.
Ryan Day vs Rod Lawler
Matthew Stevens vs Paul Davison
Matthew Stevens vs Rod Lawler
Ryan Day vs Paul Davison
Matthew Stevens vs Ryan Day
Rod Lawler vs Paul Davison
There is a real Welsh theme to proceedings on the other table when Ryan Day and Matthew Stevens headline the action. Day made it all the way to the final group of the last Championship League and has a pretty decent record in the tournament while it wasn’t too long ago that Stevens was showing some of his best stuff again so their match towards the end of the day could be the pivotal one here. The veterans Rod Lawler and Paul Davison will be out to deny the Welsh boys a group winner showdown later in the piece but you would have to say the most likely outcome is the winner of that Welsh battle will prevail here.
OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH 888SPORT AND BET £10 TO GET £30 IN FREE BETS PLUS A £10 CASINO BONUS! PERFECT OFFER TO USE ON THIS TOURNAMENT! CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO JOIN. USE CODE 30F. NEW ACCOUNTS ONLY. 18+ T&Cs apply (See image for significant terms). Gamble Aware.
There isn’t a huge amount that I fancy over the course of the two groups outright wise here. Trump is pretty hard to oppose but as a 1/4 shot he is equally hard to back while in the other group the two Welsh players are priced accordingly and I’m pretty sure that it will be one of those who comes through. I guess in Group 1 you could make a case for Alan McManus in that he is canny and might be able to tie Trump up but that isn’t guaranteed it has to be said.
Group 2 might change in its dynamic as the day progresses should either Ryan Day or Matthew Stevens slip up early but unless Rod Lawler is on a particularly good going day, or simply grinds one of them down, then I don’t see that happening. You can take your pick between the two Welsh players but you might be just as well to bet on the winner of their match at similar prices to what you get outright.
This isn’t the easiest tournament to bet on match wise because the matches are only the best of four frames so a lot of the bets I do have over the course of the event will be on draw no bet markets, although there is a lot of lower ranked players in the field so we might get some juicy prices on the other markets as we go along. As far as the opening day is concerned though there is just the one for me which comes fairly late in the piece.
That comes from Group 1 where I’m taking Fan Zhengyi to get the better of David Lilley without the draw in play. Lilley had a very disappointing first season on the tour last year. He only won three matches and one of those was against an amateur who was out of his depth. To be fair, he did beat Ding Junhui but that was nothing like the best version of Ding. Fan Zhengyi didn’t have a much better time of it, dropping off the tour, but to his credit he got straight back on at Q-School when he beat Michael White to regain his card so he is likely to be in better nick than someone who hasn’t played for a couple of months and who hasn’t been winning much when he has been playing. Lilley has struggled on the bigger stages and he feels there for the taking here.
WON – Back F.Zhengyi to beat D.Lilley (DNB) for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral