The Championship League Snooker tournament continues on Friday when two more first stage groups are played out inside the Morningside Arena as we move beyond the halfway point of this part of the event.
That all means that another eight players will get their new campaign up and running, each with the same aim – to finish top of their group and be back for the next stage of the competition later in the month.
Robert Milkins vs Alex Taubman
Dominic Dale vs Muhammad Asif
Robert Milkins vs Muhammad Asif
Dominic Dale vs Alex Taubman
Muhammad Asif vs Alex Taubman
Robert Milkins vs Dominic Dale
The action on Table One on Friday sees Group 8 being played out where one of the major players of last season will be the headline attraction in Robert Milkins. The Welsh Open champion has an elevated profile heading into this campaign and looks to have found a plum draw to make progress in this competition. Dominic Dale is the second seed in this group but he openly admits his best days are behind him, as is his consistency. Muhammad Asif is the third seed but he hasn’t really shown anything to suggest he will be competitive at this level while Alex Taubman is in as an amateur and probably has plenty to prove.
Fan Zhengyi vs Ahmed Elsayed
Sam Craigie vs Fergal O’Brien
Fan Zhengyi vs Fergal O’Brien
Sam Craigie vs Ahmed Elsayed
Fergal O’Brien vs Ahmed Elsayed
Fan Zhengyi vs Sam Craigie
Over on Table Two it will be Group 23 that will be played out where the former European Masters winner Fan Zhengyi will be the top seed and the man expected to make it through to the second stage. Unlike Milkins, he has come across a harder second seed in the form of Sam Craigie, who when he fancies the job can be a very tough nut to crack, although we don’t always know which version of him will turn up. Fergal O’Brien is very much a fading force but he will be out to show that there is life in the old dog yet while Ahmed Aly Elsayed is a rare American player on the tour and starts his professional career here.
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The action on Table One in Group 8 looks fairly straightforward to me on Friday. I fully expect Robert Milkins to be tough to beat over the course of the day but at 8/15 he is priced accordingly. I hope he wins the group anyway because he is one of my outright picks and he is a third of the way through the tournament if he wins the group. I wouldn’t really trust anyone to take him on with so I’m happy to leave this group alone and let the outright bet ride.
Over on Table Two the action might be more competitive. Fan Zhengyi is the top seed in the group but he hasn’t played this tournament for the last two years and didn’t come out of his group the one time he has played it so he feels vulnerable. Fergal O’Brien can still handle himself but I just don’t expect him to play well for the three matches while Ahmed Aly Elsayed will surely need to acclimatise to conditions playing at this level for the first time. That leaves Sam Craigie, who hasn’t actually come out of his first stage group in any of his three attempts but the crazy thing is that in the nine matches he has played in those sections, he has actually only lost one of them so he has been extremely unlucky. That tells me that Craigie knows how to get ready for this tournament but in the last two years he has run into a group with Barry Hawkins and Kyren Wilson as top seeds. He has nothing like that in this group so the 5/4 he gets the job done will do me.
As you have probably guessed if you have read all of the above there isn’t going to be much in the way of betting potential in the match betting. I certainly think the two higher seeds in the action over on the main table are unlikely to be beaten in their first matches and actually in truth that group is likely to come down to their match which is last in the group by which time someone will have the draw on their side so I don’t really want to get involved in that.
I’m not in any great rush to get involved in the other group from a match point of view either because although there might be an upset over the course of the day it might not come in the early games and I just don’t like betting on matches where the dynamic changes as the results of the day begin to filter through. With no real value or not much of a chance of an upset in those early games I’ll leave it with the group bet.
Back S.Craigie to win Group 23 for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with William Hill
Back him here: