The first stage of the Championship League Snooker competition draws to a close on Friday when the last two groups are played out inside the Morningside Arena in Leicester as the eight players yet to hit a ball in the event take to the baize.
There are just two spots remaining in the second phase of the tournament next week and the eight players will battle it out for the top spot in their respective group to make sure they are the one coming back to compete.
Gary Wilson vs Hai Long Ma
John Astley vs Nutcharut Wongharuthai
Gary Wilson vs Nutcharut Wongharuthai
John Astley vs Hai Long Ma
Nutcharut Wongharuthai vs Hai Long Ma
Gary Wilson vs John Astley
The action on Table One comes in the form of Group 9 on Friday when the Scottish Open champion Gary Wilson gets back onto the baize after a summer of competing in nine-ball pool tournaments. It will be interesting to see how he makes the transition from that game to this one but if he makes it easily enough he looks to have a nice draw. John Astley isn’t one of the higher ranked second seeds in the tournament which might offer up the chance for one of the lower seeds to pick up valuable ranking points and a few quid. Mink Nutcharut is the third seed in this group while Ma Hailong begins his professional career as the fourth seed in this section.
Ricky Walden vs Hongyu Liu
David Lilley vs Yisong Peng
Ricky Walden vs Yisong Peng
David Lilley vs Hongyu Liu
Yisong Peng vs Hongyu Liu
Ricky Walden vs David Lilley
With some big names not entering this tournament Group 14 is one of those where the top seed is not a member of the top 16 in the world rankings but Ricky Walden will know that if he can have a good season he could easily make his way back into the elite. He looks to have a favourable group from which to make progress because the second seed in it is the incredibly inconsistent former World Seniors champion David Lilley, who isn’t one of the better second seeds on paper. As with the other section that will give the third and fourth seeds belief that they can do some damage here. The third seed is Peng Yisong who will be wanting a good second season on tour. The fourth seed is the Chinese teenager Liu Hongyu, who starts life as a professional here.
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We have a pair of odds on favourites in the two groups on Friday. In Group 9 on the main table it is Gary Wilson who is the favourite. I wanted to take him on when I saw him in the nine-ball events earlier in the summer but to be fair to him he did commentary on Thursday and it was mentioned that he was going to the practice table in between stints. That might be no bad thing for us to be honest because there isn’t anyone obvious to take him on with and actually if he has prepared right he should cruise that group.
In many ways the same can be said of Ricky Walden over on the other table albeit he might have a bit more of a challenge over the course of the day. I still think he will win the group because I don’t see a consistent challenger over three matches but there is a chance he won’t have it completely his own way. The second and third seeds have a lot to prove though so it is hard to take Walden on which means I’ll leave the group betting alone on Friday.
That means we are off to the matches for a bet on Friday where once again I’m looking to take on a vulnerable seed earlier in the day before the results begin to change the landscape of how each group is being played out. I have to say though I don’t see either of the top two seeds in the group on the main table losing first up. Ma Hailong might need the first match to acclimatise to conditions and even if he doesn’t Gary Wilson might be too good for him and while Mink has been one of the more successful women on tour it is a big ask for her to beat John Astley.
Over in the other group we have another tour debutant in action in Liu Hongyu who might need the opening match to come to terms with everything so I wouldn’t want to oppose Ricky Walden there but the other match could offer up something as David Lilley faces Peng Yisong. The Chinese player didn’t have the best opening season on the tour but he did hold Judd Trump in this competition last year and beat Mark Selby in German Masters qualifying. Lilley had a few more wins last season but nothing which really stands out so if Yisong has come on a bit over the summer there is no reason why he can’t start his season with a win.
Back P.Yisong to beat D.Lilley (DNB) for a 2/10 stake at 3.00 with Coral