China Championship Snooker Preview5 min read
Looking for in-form players in China’s Snooker Championship
Precisely two weeks after the elite small field Shanghai Masters began, the China Championship will get underway. The country is the same but the venue, Guangzhou, is geographically hundreds of miles away and the competition format is very different.
The third ranking event of the season – and there’s a plethora of ranking competitions in the coming months – the China Championship is for 64 players meaning the eventual victor will need to play and win six consecutive matches. The format is a ‘best of nine’ frames set-up until the semi-finals which will be a ‘best of 11’ frames and the decider is a long format ‘best of 19’ frame encounter.
Not all the slots in the draw have been filled yet with Mark Selby, Chen Feilong, Yan Bingtao, Mei Xiwen, Ding Junhui, Brandon Sargeant, Ken Doherty, Tom Ford, Judd Trump and James Wattana all playing a qualifier on their arrival in Guangzhou with the aim of making the ‘draw proper’.
Selby is the defending China Championship champion but he has been playing a long way below his best for the past 12 months. Other big name contenders include Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Mark Allen and Mark Williams. The big-name absentee is, of course, Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Hot Shaun can Weave his Magic
The most recent form is the best form in this game and so Judd Trump, whose march through the World Championship and International Championship before a quarter final loss in the Shanghai Masters put him on a sequence of 13 straight wins is the rightful 3/1 competition favourite.
But he’s not the only player at the top of his game, Shaun Murphy taking Ronnie O’Sullivan close in the final of the Shanghai Masters is another, and I have to suggest BetVictor’s odds compilers have made a whoopsie in offering up the resurgent 2005 World Champion up at 16/1 for this competition.
A move to Ireland and new practice partners has clearly done ‘The Magician’ no harm as he also made the final of the International Championship, another Chinese event, in August. Additionally, since mid-June, Murphy has taken 12 match victories, only losing in those two finals (to O’Sullivan and Trump). He has inflicted two heavy defeats on Mark Allen and beat class acts such as Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Graeme Dott and Mark Williams. In 84 winning frames he has registered ten 100+ breaks.
Find me a better 16/1 poke.
Wilson from the bottom bracket
With our 16/1 selection, who plays 19-year-old local lad Yuan Sijun in the opening round, housed in the top-half of the draw, we can afford ourselves a player from the bottom bracket. Here I’m sticking with the ‘in form player’ formula and opting for Kyren Wilson.
27-year-old Wilson simply annihilated O’Sullivan for six frames of their Shanghai Masters quarter-final before losing his head and five consecutive frames when ‘King Ronnie’ began showing glimpses of the brilliance we all know he has in his repertoire. He’s not the first to succumb to O’Sullivan in such a way and he will not be the last.
But Wilson is still one of the players sure to replace the ‘old guard’ in time. He was a finalist in last month’s Paul Hunter Classic, and this three-time ranking tournament winner should maintain his current ‘top-10 ranked’ status for many years to come. Wilson is in-form, housed amongst a handy part of the draw (the third bracket) and put simply 14/1 is too big a price in regards to his chances.
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