The new snooker season begins on Tuesday when eight players head to the Morningside Arena to get another campaign f Championship League Snooker underway when the first two groups of the competition are played out.
Usually we would do an overall outright preview of this tournament but the draw has only been done for the first round and it stretches over six weeks and I don’t want to fall foul of withdrawals, Covid and everything else happening in the world so I’ll just stick to daily previews this year.
David Grace vs Ben Hancorn
Craig Steadman vs Aaron Hill
Craig Steadman vs Ben Hancorn
David Grace vs Aaron Hill
Aaron Hill vs Ben Hancorn
David Grace vs Craig Steadman
Table two has an open looking group on it on Tuesday with the highest ranked player being David Grace, a player who probably needs a decent season here after the struggles of last term. Craig Steadman is the second highest seed in this group which shows not just how open it is but how potentially weak it is as well. Aaron Hill won this place on the tour back at Q-School last month and he’ll be out to make immediate gains with his new card while Ben Hancorn lost his card last term but gets in here as a Q-School top up. He’ll want to make the most of his opportunity.
Robert Milkins vs Sanderson Lam
Andy Hicks vs Allan Taylor
Andy Hicks vs Sanderson Lam
Robert Milkins vs Allan Taylor
Allan Taylor vs Sanderson Lam
Robert Milkins vs Andy Hicks
The Gibraltar Open champion Robert Milkins headlines the action on Table One on Tuesday and he will be the overwhelming favourite to come through the group although he doesn’t tend to start seasons very well which will keep the other three players interested. Andy Hicks is the second seed in this group. His season fizzled out after his decent run in the UK Championship so he’ll be keen to start this campaign well, as will Allan Taylor. Sanderson Lam went to Q-School to regain his card and starts a new leg as a professional here.
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I’m not sure how much I’m going to do in terms of group betting over the course of this tournament but there is a price which has reeled me in on the opening day. That comes on Table One where I think Robert Milkins is there to be taken on. He traditionally doesn’t start seasons particularly well and when you consider his ranking is perfectly safe for a while after his win in Gibraltar so his motivation to start the campaign quickly might not be there. That isn’t the case for the other three in the group and the 15/2 on Andy Hicks winning the group is just a little too big for me. He made the quarter final of the UK Championship last season which shows that he can still perform at this level and if he plays to his best he might well have Allan Taylor and Sanderson Lam covered. He looks a big price.
In the other group there is a real open feel to proceedings but I’m not sure there is a way in. My hunch is that for the first week or so those who went to Q-School will have a bit of an advantage as they have played in the last month whereas those who lost out in World Championship qualifying will be picking up their competitive cue for the first time in near enough three months. That might mean Aaron Hill is the one to be on but the price doesn’t really reel me in too much.
I will take Aaron Hill in the match betting though and the match which interests me most is his clash with Craig Steadman which is the opening contest of the new season for both men. That means Steadman, who to be fair came through his group in this tournament last year, won’t have had time to get a competitive hit and build up some confidence, which must surely be lacking after he won just five proper matches after the Championship League throughout the whole of last season.
Hill won his place on the tour back at Q-School and he beat some good players in the two events he played there so that should have filled him with confidence. He looked a good player in his first season on the tour first time round, but like players often do he lost his way a touch in the second season. Buoyed by the confidence of performing when it mattered most at Q-School though I expect the Irishman to kick off this season in good order and the odds against that he wins his opener without the draw in play will do for me.
Back A.Hicks to win Group 24 for a 1/10 stake at 8.50 with Bet365
Back A.Hill to beat C.Steadman (DNB) for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back him here: