The top-eight players on the one-year ranking list clash at Celtic Manor for the Tour Championship this week.
There’s a high-class field in place and £150,00 on offer to the winner. There may only be eight players going to post but, as ever with snooker events, the draw is key and the Tour Championship is no different.
Judd Trump, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan are all housed in the top-half of the section and that would usually lead you to look in the bottom part of the draw.
However, that has been factored into the prices and perhaps it has been slightly overplayed given the format of the event.
It only takes three wins to lift the crown and there’s no doubt that Trump deserves to be favourite. However, The Ace was beaten early in last week’s Pro Series, lost in the first-round of the recent Players Championship and didn’t enjoy the best of runs in the Welsh Open.
Of course, there was a win in the Gibraltar Open sandwiched between those disappointing efforts but that was a low-key event and, looking at the draw and the
2/1 price, the Bristol Potter can be opposed.
Plenty of Juice in Hawkins Price
Barry Hawkins is Trump’s first-round opponent and the Hawk is an interesting contender.
The Kent cueman has bags of back class and there have certainly been signs of a return to form of late. The Hawk is housed in a section also containing top potters Higgins and O’Sullivan, but he only needs to beat one of those cuemen and it’s hard to see why Hawkins is the outsider of the field. The
33/1 on offer certainly looks far too big.
Of course, beating Trump and then either the Rocket or Higgins to reach the final is going to be a tough task, but the Hawk is a former World Championship runner-up and four-time semi-finalist so playing big names won’t intimidate him.
Hawkins has won ten of his 24 meetings with Judd Trump, which is a very decent record, given the dominance the Ace has shown in recent years. That’s not to say that Trump struggles against the Hawk, or that the Kent potter plays Trump in a certain way, but it does indicate that Hawkins has the ability to compete with the best players in the game.
It has been a quiet couple of seasons for Hawkins, but most snooker players go through lean times and you only have to look at someone like Mark Williams to see how quality operators can bounce back.
The Kent cuenman beat Zhou Yuelong and Stuart Bingham before narrowly losing out to O’Sullivan in the recent Gibraltar Open and he showed enough in those wins to suggest that he still has something to give.
That’s not to say that Trump won’t dispatch Hawkins in the first round, but there looks to be enough juice in the
33/1 on offer to back the Hawk to swoop.
Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski and Kyren Wilson make-up the bottom-half of the event and complete the field. That quartet of cuemen look to have been housed in the weaker section, but that may have been overplayed by the prices and they can be passed over on this occasion.
*All odds correct at time of writing