The closing action of the Championship League snooker marathon gets underway on Tuesday and it’s the final chance for some of the sport’s big-hitters to make the Winners Group.
Six groups of seven players have gone before and Neil Robertson, Kurt Maflin, Yan Bingtao, Joe Perry, Mark Williams, Dave Gilbert and Anthony McGill are the high-class potters in the last chance saloon.
Every player will play each other once in a best-of-five frame match, with the top-four performers progressing to the semi-finals and final, again over a first-to-three format.
The playoff conqueror joins Zhou Yuelong, Graeme Dott, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson and Ali Carter in Thursday’s Winners Group.
Pressure on Robertson
Neil Robertson looks the obvious place to start in terms of a Group Seven winner after his excellent performance when landing the Tour Championship last week.
However, it’s a quick turnaround for the Australian and the
13/2 on offer about the Aussie landing the Championship League crown looks short enough, given that he is yet to make the Winners Group and he is the house in a competitive section.
In fact, you could make a fair case for any of the Group Seven competitors going well in the Winners Group should they qualify for the final showdown, but the difficulty of that task looks to have been underplayed by the outright prices.
Tired Trump an Uncertain Favourite
Judd Trump once again heads the betting for Thursday’s Championship League crescendo, but the Ace’s early-season dominance seems to have passed and at
2/1 he appears to be making the market ripe for an each-way play.
One cueman that has already qualified for Thursday’s Winners Group is Zhou Yuelong and he can be supported to go well at a big price.
Zhou has been on the scene for some time, but the last two seasons have really seen the Chinese potter break-out into a top-level performer.
Value Looks to Be With Zhou
The Chengdu cueman made the final of the European Masters and Shoot-Out last season and he continued that positive form into this campaign when reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship.
Zhou beat the likes of Jack Lisowski and John Higgins in the UK, before he was stopped in his tracks by Neil Robertson, but that run to the last-four shows he can mix it with snooker’s top talent.
The 23-year-old has suffered early exits in the recent Players Championship and Gibraltar Open, but with so many tournaments on the calendar, it can pay to take a longer view approach rather than getting caught up in the most recent performance.
Yuelong’s first-round defeat in the Players Championship was a 6-5 loss to Barry Hawkins and that’s hardly a shocking performance.
The Jumping Dragon is yet to win a major event, but he is a former finalist in this competition and on the evidence of his efforts over the past 18-months a maiden victory may not be all that far away.
Clearly, it’s a competitive Winners Group field, with the potential of another high-class cueman being added later on Monday, but there’s enough in the
8/1 on offer in the outright to support Zhou to upset his shorter-priced rivals.
*All odds correct at time of writing.