We're down to the final group in Milton Keynes. Paul Krishnamurty analyses the chances of the four finalists, one of whom was a 275-1 selection pre-tournament...
"Day came through the hardest group yesterday and has arguably been the best performer over the last ten days. It has been a welcome return to the career peak he showed during the 2018-19 campaign."
Following the lockdown break and given a new format of round robin groups and very short matches, the prospect of big upsets at the Championship League was widely mooted.
Bingham is the sole top-16 representative
And so it has transpired. None of snooker's 'big-three' have made today's four man final and of that quartet, only Masters champion Stuart Bingham is currently ranked in the top-16.
To be fair, Ryan Day and Luca Brecel were until recently. They have slipped to 36 and 37 in the world rankings but are ranking title winners. Ben Woollaston - only just behind at 38 - has reached a ranking final.
Little to choose between them in this format
I'm not sure how much store we should place in those ranking numbers anyway and certainly hope they don't reflect the result. Woollaston was one of my original outright picks, each-way at 275-1. An exciting position!
Trying to pick match and group winners has, in my view, got even harder as the tournament has progressed. During the first round, one could at least form an instant view about whether a player looked in decent nick after the break. Those with greater natural talent and cue actions seemed to thrive.
But having qualified for the semi-final stage, everyone had shown a certain level of form. Scoring is easy on these tables and big breaks a plenty. Besides Ronnie O'Sullivan - who not unpredictably hit the ground running - there has been very little to choose between them.
Plus the lack of crowd may have reduced the pressure factor. That must be a positive for Woollaston, who has never won an event. In fact were I not already on, the outsider might well have been recommended
Before getting to today's specific bets, a few words on that outright position. Because I always record profit and loss stats for outright bets, I'm not going to 'officially' recommend a saver and include in those figures. It wouldn't be fair to those who follow the bets from the start and might not see today's column.
However I will be looking to cover if he looks competitive for the win. It is hard to say precisely how, but I will look to lay Woollaston at below [3.0] for 20 units. Obviously that doesn't apply to anyone not holding the original bet.
Day gets the nod on this week's form
My tentative selection to win the event is Ryan Day. He came through the hardest group yesterday and has arguably been the best performer over the last ten days. It has been a transformation from the depressing form of this season and welcome return to the career peak he showed during the 2018-19 campaign.
Bingham is certainly feared, and correctly, prohibitively priced at 7/4. Brecel is the one I'd be fairly happy to swerve. He didn't overly convince yesterday, scraping through a relatively weak group in which the favourite didn't fire on all cylinders. Hope springs eternal regarding Woollaston, who has played really well in the matches I've seen.
With those comments in mind, try a double on Bingham and Day to both beat Brecel at 5/4 and 13/8 respectively.