The final week of the Championship League Snooker tournament begins on Monday when the opening two second stage groups are played out inside the Morningside Arena on a day where a quarter of the line up for the final day will be decided.
A number of big names have made it through to this final week and we get two of them on show on the first day of second round on Monday. The stakes start to get high in this competition now and te standard is likely to reflect that.
Mark Williams vs Aaron Hill
Stephen Maguire vs Lu Ning
Stephen Maguire vs Aaron Hill
Mark Williams vs Lu Ning
Lu Ning vs Aaron Hill
Mark Williams vs Stephen Maguire
The action on Table One looks to be of a high standard as three quality players take to the baize along with one of the more promising youngsters in the game. The biggest star in action on Monday is Mark Williams and he’ll be looking to move through to the final group and look to win the title to book his spot at the Champion of Champions at the first opportunity this term. Stephen Maguire was a surprise qualifier from the first stage when you consider he likes to build his way into a campaign so it might be significant that he came through. Lu Ning will be the third seed in this group while Aaron Hill will be looking to cause another shock.
Hossein Vafaei vs Michael Judge
Jimmy Robertson vs Lyu Haotian
Jimmy Robertson vs Michael Judge
Hossein Vafaei vs Lyu Haotian
Lyu Haotian vs Michael Judge
Hossein Vafaei vs Jimmy Robertson
The action over on Table Two doesn’t carry the stellar names that the main table does but it looks like it will be every bit as competitive as the Shootout champion Hossein Vafaei looks to continue his dominance in the shortest formats in the game. His biggest challenger on paper looks to be Jimmy Robertson who started last season well and will be looking to begin this campaign strongly too. Lyu Haotian had an up and down campaign last term and will be wanting a much more competitive season this time around. Michael Judge is the lowest ranked player on show here.
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The main table group looks to be dominated by Mark Williams but in this format you certainly wouldn’t say he is a certainty when you consider that everyone has played well to come through a group and make it through to this stage. Williams is a worthy favourite but I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone should Stephen Maguire come through here. I guess you could say the same about Lu Ning although the fact he was thrashed 5-0 by Robert Milkins in European Masters qualifying over the weekend puts me off him. Aaron Hill might be competitive but I don’t see him winning this group. I think Williams will come through here but there is no betting value on him.
Over on the other table though I do think there is value on Hossein Vafaei whose aggressive snooker should suit this tournament very nicely. He has started the season very well with a win in his Championship League group last week which followed up a convincing win in the European Masters qualifying where he made a maximum break. Jimmy Robertson won’t be easy and neither will Lyu Haotian but the fact Vafaei can work his way into the day by opening against Michael Judge, who looks considerably weaker than anything else in this group makes me think the Iranian is fair value here.
I’m not actually sure how much match betting I’ll do this week because the groups look tightly packed in terms of quality so finding value isn’t going to be easy. The other reason for bets maybe not presenting themselves is the fact that the lowest seed has played three matches now and so have the top seeds so nobody is going to catch anyone rusty so it will only be if there is a distinct wrong odds or a clear gulf somewhere with a bit of value.
That doesn’t really present itself on Monday it has to be said. I think both the second seeds are better than the third seeds and there is no doubt the lower seeds are comfortably behind the rest. I got burnt a couple of times in the first stage by betting on the last matches in the group so I’m reluctant to do that again too. I’ve looked at all the match odds and there isn’t anything that stands out too much here.
Back H.Vafaei to win Group F for a 3/10 stake at 2.88 with William Hill
Back him here: