Wilson Primed for Strong Bolton Showing

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Kyren Wilson has shown solid recent form and he could be one to watch out for at The Champion of Champions

Kyren Wilson

The Champion of Champions heads to Bolton for the first time with 16 snooker stars out in force hoping to claim the winner’s share of £150,000.

The tournament consists primarily of winners from important events staged in the previous campaign, although the field is then topped up with the highest ranked players in the world.

The showpiece event carries no ranking points but a big purse ensures it is still taken seriously, with the list of previous winners including Mark Allen, Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins.

Defending champion Allen has withdrawn from the event so his place has been awarded to Ding Junhui.

Quirky Format Poses Different Test

The 16 players are split into four groups of four and one group is played on each day from Monday, November 15 until Thursday, November 18.

Each group consists of two semi-finals played over seven frames, followed by a final in the evening which is played over 11 frames.

The four group winners proceed to the best-of-11 semi-finals before a best-of-19-frame final is staged over two sessions on Sunday, November 21.

The quirky format offers some much-needed variety to the snooker calendar and gives all involved the opportunity to gain experience in the one table set-up.

Warrior Looks Up for the Fight

There are few players on tour that can match the consistency levels of Kyren Wilson and after last week’s run to the English Open quarter-final, the Warrior looks ready to mount a serious title challenge.

Wilson was runner-up to O’Sullivan in this event in 2018 and victory in the Championship League in April is what booked his place in Bolton.

The world number five failed to make the quarter-final stage in only three of the 12 ranking events staged last season – he was a World Championship semi-finalist – and a landmark success could soon see his game scale even greater heights.

The Warrior was unfortunate to bump into eventual champion Neil Robertson at the English Open last week. However, his 5-4 defeat in the quarter-final was a high-quality contest that could have gone either way as both players knocked in two centuries.

The 29-year-old should have few problems overcoming Jordan Brown in his opening game before a potential rematch with Robertson, who faces Mark Williams.

That said, Wilson should fancy his chances of exciting revenge on the Aussie ace and, at 13/8, makes plenty of appeal to top Group 4. The 10/1 for him to lift the silverware also looks too big to ignore.

Trump Has a Point to Prove

Judd Trump could be waiting for fierce rival Wilson in the semi-finals providing he overcomes David Lilley and then either Ryan Day or Stephen Maguire.

That should be a nice draw for Trump, who is the 2/1 tournament favourite, but the world number two looked ring rusty in Milton Keynes last week and was beaten 5-3 in the quarter-finals by Mark King.

Higgins May Have Rocket’s Measure

While it appears quite easy to pick holes in the top half of the draw, the bottom half looks super competitive and any of the eight players involved should fancy their chances.

Group 3 sees O’Sullivan take on Stuart Bingham while late replacement Ding opens up against last week’s English Open runner-up Higgins.

The Rocket is 5/4 to advance to the last four but the 15/8 about Higgins is far more tempting. The Scot defeated his old rival Ronnie 6-5 in the semi-finals of the English Open last week and has won three of their four meetings this year.

World champion Mark Selby is a warm order at 11/8 to win Group 2. The Jester from Leicester kickstarts his Champion of Champions campaign against Dave Gilbert and victory will see him lock horns with Shaun Murphy or Yan Bingtao.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Aaron is Mr Versatile – he covers all sports but with a particular passion for football, tennis and snooker.

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