The opening day of the World Championship qualifying competition delivered plenty of tension and dramatic snooker and as the first round continues in Sheffield on Tuesday we should expect much more of the same.
The way this competition is structured we tend to have to wait until the latter stages for the bigger names to come to the party but the way the world has been we have one returning star who stands out a mile on day two of the event.
We have a competitive looking morning session on Tuesday where the highest ranked player on show is Rory McLeod. He meets the former women’s world champion Ng On Yee for the right to take on Ken Doherty in the second round of the competition. That is likely to be the match which gets the TV attention. Yuan Sijun is the next highest ranked player on show in this session. He will open up his campaign against the Scottish amateur Ross Muir.
The other two matches might well turn into interesting encounters as Chang Bingyu looks to make up for what has been a pretty poor season by his standards when he takes on the former Welsh professional who will be looking to get back on the tour for next term in Daniel Wells. Barry Pinches can tend to pull out a big performance when he needs it and he will be hoping that trend continues when he faces another amateur player in the form of Lee Stephens.
Marco Fu would usually be coming into this tournament in the first round at the Crucible Theatre but a combination of eye issues and then travel problems with the pandemic has meant that he has plummeted down the world rankings. He plays his first match since Covid-19 became a thing when he takes on Ian Burns. Peter Lines is the other leading player on show in this session. His first round date is Sanderson Lam, who ran Judd Trump closer than the score suggested in Gibraltar last month.
Two of the quicker players in the game are also on show on Tuesday afternoon when Peter Devlin and Jamie Wilson look to make it into the second round. They both face amateur players so will be expected to win and win well. Devlin meets the Belgian player Yorrit Hoes while Wilson goes up against Jake Crofts. Both the professionals will know the pressure is on them to win but there shouldn’t be too much of a challenge up against them.
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Lee Walker is the highest ranked player in the evening session but it might well be his opponent who gets the majority of the attention as he will take on the former women’s world champion Reanne Evans. It might well be that the pick of the matches comes on one of the other tables though as Craig Steadman looks to secure a return to the Crucible Theatre. He will go up against the seniors world champion David Lilley in one of the better matches on the day.
Ben Hancorn had a good run to the quarter final of the Gibraltar Open last month which was clearly his best return on the tour and he’ll be looking to build on that when he takes on Dean Young, the Scot who hasn’t done a huge amount on the tour this term. The other match in the evening session will see James Cahill on show. He had the biggest day of his career when he qualified and took care of Ronnie O’Sullivan a few years ago and begins his quest to get back to the Crucible Theatre with a clash against Jamie O’Neill.
I’ll take one bet over the course of what feels like it could be a trappy day on Tuesday. That match sees Chang Bingyu going up against Daniel Wells. Wells has fallen off the tour ahead of this season and his Q-School performances were so bad that he hasn’t even gotten into any of the tournaments as a top up which says a lot. He has been playing the Q Tour but that isn’t the same thing as the main tour so Bingyu has a big advantage already.
Bingyu hasn’t had a lot of success since the turn of the year but at the same time he has had some wretched draws and that has to be taken into account. Since the UK Championship he has lost every match he has played but they have been to Matthew Selt, Dave Gilbert, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen and Ryan Day. That is a real tough run of first round draws but he is clearly up against a much inferior opponent than any of those in this match and I expect him to pick up his first win of 2022 as a result. Bingyu has probably been forgotten in among all the Chinese success stories but he is extremely talented in his own right and can come out on top here.
Back C.Bingyu to beat D.Wells for a 3/10 stake at 1.73 with William Hill
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