Snooker’s English Open Should Fall To A ‘Name’ Player5 min read
The first leg of Snooker’s 2019/20 Home Nation Series, the English Open gets underway on Monday before the Eurosport TV cameras. The Home Nation Series consists of four events – the English Open, Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open and Welsh Open.
Last year Stuart Bingham beat Mark Davis (in the English Open), Judd Trump accounted for Ronnie O’Sullivan in Northern Ireland, Mark Allen beat Shaun Murphy in the Scottish Open and Neil Robertson mastered Stuart Bingham in the Welsh leg. Remarkably the score-line in all four finals was 9-7. So it is clear to see these tournaments, despite being a quick format (a ‘best of seven frame’ format for the first four rounds) and featuring 128 players, always go to a ‘name player’. Historically the only exception has been Liang Wenbo who won the 2016 English Open.
Magician to wave his wand?
Shaun Murphy has given this column a substantial points profit on the season and despite a quick format seemingly being against ‘The Magician’ it would be silly to desert him now. During the current campaign the 37-year-old has been a finalist in the Shanghai Masters and International Championship, he won the China Championship a fortnight ago and took his 2019/20 record to 18 wins from 21 matches played with a 5-1 victory over Rod Lawlor in a World Open qualifier last week.
Another player that’s at the top of his game and worthy of support is Barry Hawkins. He may be an infrequent winner and he achieved little when taking the non-ranking Paul Hunter Classic in August but he has been claiming some big scalps en-route to the latter stages of valuable Chinese events.
Furthermore Hawkins won six consecutive matches in the opening group of the 2019-20 Betvictor Championship League a few days ago, registering convincing victories over Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski and Mark Selby.
Melbourne Machine is best of the shorties
Amongst the 2019 English Open favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan hit the headlines when declaring his disdain for this week’s venue, the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley, and you never know how seriously he will take quick format competitions like this. I much prefer Judd Trump at 9/2 rather than O’Sullivan at 11/4 but, amongst the ‘shorties’, Neil Robertson could be the best option.
The Australian, 6/1 in BetVictor’s outright betting, landed six of his eight matches in the Betvictor Championship League Group 1 (including the final) last week and he won a Nations Cup tournament last season as well as one during the 2017/18 campaign. Robbo’s been in good form since February and he has a brand of consistency few other snooker players can boast.
Get 12/5 Crafty with Ken
BetVictor have several opening round matches priced-up and, despite some of them being the equivalent to a weekend kick-around in the Bostik League South East, I like these obscure matches. I believe there is a far better chance of odds compilers making a whoopsie.
And they might just have done that in Tuesday’s match between Ken Doherty and Marco Fu. Both players are a shadow of their former selves but the 1997 World Champion, Doherty, has won his way back on to the main tour and has pushed some big named players close this campaign (losing 4-5 to Ali Carter, 3-5 to Stuart Bingham). Fu has played just three times winning twice against lesser-lights Brandon Sargeant (5-3) and James Cahill (5-4). But it’s noteworthy he trailed in both matches by two frames.
Unquestionably, based on results/stats from the start of the 2018/19 season, Fu deserves to be favourite in this clash (lifetime the head-to-heads are 6-5 in favour of the Irishman) but he’s never a 3/10 poke and Doherty is surely over-priced at 12/5.
First quarter of the draw winner: Shaun Murphy
Outright competition winner: Shaun Murphy
Outright competition winner: Neil Robertson
To reach competition final: Barry Hawkins
Tuesday match bet:
Ken Doherty to beat Marco Fu