Another season of snooker begins on Monday when eight players head to the Morningside Arena to begin the Championship League Snooker campaign with the aim for each of them to win their group and move into the next phase.
Two groups of four players will battle it out on each table over matches which are the best of four frames with the winner of each group progressing through to the second round of the competition next month.
Craig Steadman vs Ashley Carty
Sean McAllister vs Adam Duffy
Craig Steadman vs Adam Duffy
Sean McAliister vs Ashley Carty
Adam Duffy vs Ashley Carty
Craig Steadman vs Sean McAllister
The first group in action on the main table, unless it gets moved, has been blown wide open with the withdrawal of the two main seeds in it with Neil Robertson and Liam Highfield eventually deciding to give the tournament a miss. They have been replaced with amateurs in the form of Craig Steadman and Sean McAllister. Both will fancy their chances of making progress in this group given that they are left in with the third and fourth seed but Adam Duffy and Ashley Carty will certainly see an opening to make it out of this group and get their season up and running in winning fashion.
Graeme Dott vs Andrew Higginson
David Grace vs Daniel Wells
Graeme Dott vs Daniel Wells
David Grace vs Andrew Higginson
Daniel Wells vs Andrew Higginson
Graeme Dott vs David Grace
Unlike the other group on Monday, Group 30 which is due to be played out on Table Two, has not seen anyone withdraw ahead of the event and we are left with something of a competitive group to enjoy here. Graeme Dott is the highest ranked player in this section but he isn’t exactly progression or open to improvement to coin a racing term and looks vulnerable in a format which probably doesn’t suit him. Daniel Wells had such a good campaign as an amateur last season that he is back on the tour and will be looking to make a positive start while David Grace ended his season at the Crucible Theatre when he went down tamely to John Higgins. Andrew Higginson is the other man in this group. He had a good World Championship campaign and took that into Q-School where he won back his card and will be looking for a positive beginning to his new tour card.
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Group 3 looks very open now but with the two significant withdrawals being so late in the piece there aren’t many markets up for that group anymore so we won’t be able to bet in it. If we were then Ashley Carty has gone deep in the opening event of the season before and he probably would be my selection this time around too but that is irrelevant for the sake of this preview. That leaves us to concentrate on Group 30.
I actually like a bet in this group as well because Daniel Wells is a player I expect decent things of this season. He played as an amateur last season but he was only ever off the tour because he picked up Covid and it meant he had to miss some tournaments. He is the second favourite in the group with the bookmakers behind Graeme Dott but I don’t think that is the right way round. Andrew Higginson is a danger given how recently he played competitively and David Grace just loves the game but Wells has the most upside of this quartet and I think he’s worth a go at 11/4.
Whenever I have bet on the matches in this tournament since this format came to pass I have always looked for lively outsiders that we can back without the draw in play because I’m not interested in running into a bunch of 2-2 draws for the next month. I tend to keep my plays to early in the day because obviously the landscape changes with every result that takes place. That is going to be how I play this season as well and one pick stands out.
That is in the opening match in Group 30 where I think Graeme Dott is vulnerable. One thing I have noticed in this tournament in the last couple of seasons is that those who went to Q-School and won their cards tend to go well in this first phase. Whether that is the morale of getting on the tour or the fact they have played competitively more recently than the established players I don’t know but Andrew Higginson ended last season well enough to suggest he could challenge a fading Dott and when you add that he was successful at Q-School and motivated to start well I think the 5/4 on him to win without the draw in play looks a good bet to me. Dott failed to qualify for Sheffield so it is more than two months since he held his cue competitively and he is very much a fading force. Higginson showed there is still life in him when he got his card back and I’ll back him to further show that here.
Back D.Wells to win Group 30 for a 2/10 stake at 3.75 with BetVictor
Back A.Higginson to beat G.Dott (DNB) for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral