The Championship League Snooker competition continues on Wednesday with the penultimate day of the second stage as eight men return to the Morningside Arena looking to win their group and secure a spot at finals day.
Half of the line up for Friday is already known and we will find out two more players who will make it through on Wednesday on a day where the action on the TV table looks red hot while play on the other table should be competitive.
Zhou Yuelong vs Michael Holt
Xiao Guodong vs Ben Woollaston
Zhou Yuelong vs Ben Woollaston
Xiao Guodong vs Michael Holt
Ben Woollaston vs Michael Holt
Zhou Yuelong vs Xiao Guodong
Group A will be based on Table Two on Wednesday and while I think it is fair to say the level might not be quite as high, the competitiveness of it certainly should be. Zhou Yuelong is the top seed in this group and he’ll be looking to move closer to a first ranking event title. Xiao Guodong has a good record in this tournament though and he’ll be looking to make it through as a second seed while Ben Woollaston played well in his opening group and will be aiming to back that up and reach the final day on Friday. Michael Holt is the last amateur remaining in the event but we all know he is much better than that status would suggest.
Shaun Murphy vs James Cahill
David Gilbert vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Shaun Murphy vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
David Gilbert vs James Cahill
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs James Cahill
Shaun Murphy vs David Gilbert
In any competition where there is a group phase format there is always the ‘Group of Death’ label thrown around and you can attach it to Group D in this round. This will be played out on the main table and includes the Players Championship and Tour Championship winner Shaun Murphy. He is the top seed but former champion Dave Gilbert is no mug as a second seed. The third seed is Thepchaiya Un-Nooh who was scoring like a dream in his opening group and then the giant-killer James Cahill rounds off what should be a fantastic section to watch.
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These are two very good groups. On the main table you could make a case for all four men. While the case of James Cahill could be made it is the weakest of the quartet but Shaun Murphy, Dave Gilbert and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh all have genuine cases. I think Murphy has to be the starting point in this group but it is hard to ignore how Gilbert and Un-Nooh played in the first group, particularly the latter. If he was a little more consistent I would back the Thai to come through but in truth this group could go any way and I like a little more security on my side when I bet so I’ll leave this alone.
Over in Group A on the other table things look every bit as competitive but there is no doubt that the pick of the quartet in the opening round was Xiao Guodong. Zhou Yuelong and Michael Holt both lost a match on their way to this stage while Guodong and Ben Woollaston had two wins and a draw in their opening group. Guodong had two centuries, a 90 and an 80 in the eight frames that he won and if he has that form with him here, and his record in the tournament which saw him get to the final day last year, makes me think the 2/1 on him to win this group is an acceptable price.
As with Tuesday, the match betting is a little more complicated on Wednesday, not least because there isn’t really a weak player in the competition but there is enough of a gulf between the top seeds and the bottom seeds to leave me having doubts over whether there can be an upset in those matches. I think Shaun Murphy will just about have enough to get the better of James Cahill while Zhou Yuelong looks too good for Michael Holt.
The second against third seeds look like better betting potential on the face of it but they also look like genuine 50:50 contests and the odds reflect that. In truth I couldn’t really pick a winner of the match between Dave Gilbert and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and while I would fancy Xiao Guodong to come out on top against Ben Woollaston I am already invested in that outcome having taken the Chinese player to win the group. That will be my only bet for the day.
Back X.Guodong to win Group A for a 2/10 stake at 3.00 with William Hill
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