UK Snooker Championship Betting: One player to back from each quarter

Snooker player Mark Selby
Mark Selby can return to majors contention

Snooker is back on the BBC with the first leg of this year's triple-crown and you can also follow the action on Betfair Live Video. Here's Paul Krishnamurty's preview...

"Selby's English Open win was impressive and he's been starting tournaments better, wasting less energy. Before his bad run, Selby was arguably the best in the world over best-of-11, and on the biggest stages."

Back Mark Selby 4u @ 12.011/1

Twelve months ago at the Barbican Centre in York, Ronnie O'Sullivan set a new record for snooker majors, landing his 19th and defending his UK Championship title in the process. Yet as he bids to become only the third player to win this first leg of snooker's triple crown three years on the spin, there is a weird sense that he may win no more, or at least not too many.

The reason for that is less his own vulnerabilities - we haven't seen much vintage, fully-focused Ronnie this season but he won the Shanghai Masters and played well enough in Northern Ireland last time. His problem, as that Belfast final illustrated, is that for the first time in 20 years, O'Sullivan isn't top dog.

Trump now the one to beat in majors

Even when others were more consistent or prolific, few would ever argue that Ronnie at his best beats all. I'd still say that but Judd Trump is giving him a run for his money.

Belfast was the third final between them in a row where the younger man came out on top. Having won the last two majors, Trump is bidding to become only the second player to win all three in the same calendar year. He has won 19 of his last 20 matches and the market is correct to install him as 3.613/5 favourite.

Back Liang Wenbo 0.5 units each-way @ 100/1

They are scheduled to meet in the final and, combined, take out 50% of the book. This is not, however, a two-horse race. Snooker is more competitive than that nowadays and both men are eminently beatable on a bad day, even by vastly lower-ranked players. I'm still shellshocked from O'Sullivan's defeat to Dominic Dale in Yushan.

It is hard to see where Ronnie comes a cropper before the semis, especially with Shaun Murphy already out. Kyren Wilson, potentially in the quarter-finals, is the only heavyweight alternative and tempting at 29.028/1 given his temperament and history of turning up at big events with his A-game.

However Kyren hasn't been at his very best this term and his next couple of matches will be tricky. Instead I'll go for a cheap each-way punt on 2015 runner-up Liang Wenbo. As that unlikely run proved, he's capable of top-class stuff and has been in better form lately. I expect Wenbo to reach the last-16 at least from this draw.

Robertson should fear nobody

Back Neil Robertson 6u @ 8.07/1

As good as the market leaders are, arguably the best snooker of the season was produced by Neil Robertson when winning the Champion of Champions. Seven 80-plus breaks were enough to down Trump in a classic final and the Aussie should fear nobody. His A-game is as good.

I like Robbo's draw too. Jack Lisowski and John Higgins could present tough obstacles in the last-16 and quarters, but neither is certain to get that far. The latter is nevertheless very much respected at attractive odds. 22.021/1 does not reflect Higgins' record in majors, or some resurgent form of late.

Selby a must-bet from this draw

Back Mark Selby 4u @ 12.011/1

Resurgent is also a word that could, perhaps, be applied to the Jester from Leicester. Selby has barely featured in my betting plans over the last couple of years but his English Open win was impressive and he's been starting tournaments better, wasting less energy.

Before his bad run, Selby was arguably the best in the world over best-of-11, and on the biggest stages. A place in the semi is there for the taking from this draw - Mark Williams in the quarters, should the unreliable Welshman make it that far, is the only really tough opponent.

Back Mark Allen 3u @ 17.016/1

So what to make of Trump at these short odds, chasing a bit of history? On 2019 form, it is hard to argue against and his relatively poor tournament record can be overlooked. However he isn't going to win every tournament, let alone every major. Plus there are hurdles to clear in this section.

Allen well capable of ending Trump's run

Second round opponent Mei Xiwen has beaten O'Sullivan this season. In the last-16, Judd will likely play either last year's conqueror Joe Perry or Gary Wilson, who gave him a real test in the Crucible semi.

Beat them and a tough quarter-final probably awaits against either Mark Allen or Barry Hawkins. This pair are very hard to split, both possessing excellent majors form. I'll opt for 'Pistol' to reach a third UK final. He's improved in majors and has an excellent record against the 'Juddernaut'.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty


2019/20: -52 units
2018/19: +154.5 units
2017/18: +106 units

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