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Thursday, 13 April 2017

World Championship Preview

So after the warm up act of a dramatic week of qualifiers at Ponds Forge,we now move onto the main event with what looks like possibly the most open event in many years.

Mark Selby v Fergal O'Brien
As is always tradiiton the tournament starts on Saturday morning with the defending champion getting his defence underway and Mark Selby here starts his campaign for a third world title against Fergal O'Brien.Considering the week he's had to get here,which included a 2.30 am finish to one match and a marathon two hour decider on Wednesday night,Fergal would probably have prefered a few more days rest,but he'll be just happy to be back at the Crucible again for a tenth time in his career.That said though I don't expect him to trouble Selby a whole lot and I see the Leicesterman running out a straight forward victor here, Selby 10-4

Ryan Day v Xiao Guodong
This is one of those really tough games to call here,with Day so often producing his best over the longer matches .Guodong on the other hand has been in sensational form all week in the qualifiers though and if he can keep the momentum going into the Crucible itself,I think he may just do enough
Guodong 10-7

Neil Robertson v Noppon Saengkham
Considering how high he normally features on the list of potential winners here every year,it seems odd that noone is mentioning Robertson as a real title contender this year,but its hardly surprising on the back of what ,by his standards has been a poor season.It is worth noting though that he gave the China Open a miss to fully concentrate his efforts on this tournament and that coupled with an opponent in Saengkham who is making his debut at the Crucible after a gruelling week in the qualifiers,I think we're looking at a comfortable win for the Aussie Robertson 10-5

Marco Fu v Luca Brecel
One of the ties of the round here with The Scottish Open winner Fu taking on one of the games real natural talents in Brecel. Brecel has been talked about for so long you tend to forget he is only 22,but there comes a time when a talent must be fulfilled and he has struggled to make the business end of tournaments.Fu has the much greater experience of these type of matches and I think that will give him the slight edge he needs Fu 10-8

Shaun Murphy v Yan Bingtao
Another intriguing match up here with the former champ taking on a debutant that many expect will be making the trip to the Crucible for many years to come.Bingtao has been a real revelation this season whereas Murphys form has been,by his usual standards ,most inconsistant.I think there could be a real story here with Yan Bingtao causing a major upset Bingtao 10-7

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Gary Wilson
Can anyone remember the last world championship where Ronnie didn't start as favourite for the title? That said though after a season where,despite claiming a seventh Masters title Ronnie has been losing to a lot of opponents that he really shouldn't be,the question is,Is the great mans powers finally on the wane?
Wilson on the other hand rode the crest of a wave,that included a 147 to reach his first Crucible at the age of 31 That said Ronnie should still be too strong and will get though Ronnie 10-3

Liang Wenbo v Stuart Carrington
This one pits the English Open winner from earlier in the season against the man who ended Williams hopes of making it to Sheffield again. Liang is nothing of not unpredictable,but should still win this one Liang 10-6

Ding Junhui v Zhou Yuelong
A fascinating clash of the generations here as the long established Chinese number one takes on a young man who will be hoping one day to take that mantle.Ding has shown flashes this season of a return to form and last years runner up will have enough experience here to see of the young debutant and keep his title dreams alive Ding 10-7

Stuart Bingham v Peter Ebdon
Stuart Bingham has had a pretty turbulant time of it since he won the title here two years ago,but victory in the recent Welsh Open will have given his confidence a much needed boost. Ebdon qualified for his 24th Crucible campaign with the type of dogged display of pressure ball potting that has marked his career over the last quarter century.Stuart will know ,that nothing in this one will be handed to him,but I think he will still have enough to go through Bingham 10-7

Kyren Wilson v David Grace
Going by what had gone before this has been a disappointing season for Wilson who hasn't really kicked on the way many would have expected. Grace on the other hand is making a belated Crucible debut and will be buzzing ahead of this one.Tough one to call this with any scoreline possible,but I think Wilson will edge it Wilson 10-8

Mark Allen v Jimmy Robertson
Another potential shock could be on the cards here after a season where Allen has talked a good fight,but has yet to really show it on the table. That makes him vulnerable here to an opponent like Robertson and I think he may well be heading for an early exit here again J Robertson 10-6

John Higgins v Martin Gould
The question here is,can Higgins rediscover that early season form that saw him lift trophies in China & Coventry? If he can,then not only will he win this match,but a serious run at a fifth world crown may well be on the cards.If he can't then Gould could well nab him here.I'm going to wager Higgins can rally again though and in the slightly easier half of the draw could go deep into week two.Higgins 10-6

Barry Hawkins v Tom Ford
Few have better records in the big tournaments in recent years than Barry Hawkins,and the "Hawk" may well represent the value bet for the crown here this year.I certainly expect him to win this one comfortably Hawkins 10-5

Ali Carter v Graeme Dott
A real tough one to call here between two players who one their day can beat anyone.Both seem to thrive in this long matches as well and I expect this to possibly need the full 19 frames. Carter may just have enough in the bank though to see out the victory Carter 10-9

Anthony McGill v Stephen Maguire
Of all the players coming through the qualifiers Stephen Maguire was the man all the seeds wanted to avoid,but McGill was the unlucky one to draw the angry Scot.I suppose technically if Maguire wins,its a shock as the unseeded player,but few will see it that way and I think he may win this with a bit in hand Maguire 10-5

Judd Trump v Rory McLeod
I have to admit to being among those who thought by now that Judd Trump would be the dominant player in the game,but after a season where he has been at the business end of a lot of tournaments,he comes here as one of the favourites.If you are to go all the way to the title,the one thing, you need is to get through the early rounds with the minimum of fuss & expect Trump to do that here Trump 10-4       

Recommended bets
Ding to win his quarter 5/2
Higgins to win his quarter 2/1
Higgins to win title 16/1 ew
Hawkins to win title 18/1 ew
First Round outsider treble Bingtao (12/5), J Robertson (7/2) Guodong (13/8)

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