The World Championship qualifiers get underway on Monday when 12 first round matches take place which means 12 players will move to within three wins of booking their spot at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
This is the last dance of the season for these players and on Monday we see the players ranked 80 and above joined by the invited players to attempt to make it into the second round where a higher ranked player awaits.
There is a bit of a Chinese invasion across the four matches in the morning session on Monday. Zhao Jianbo is the highest ranked among them and is actually the highest ranked player in this first round so he is likely to be on the TV table when he meets Michael Judge. All four tables are being streamed on the Eurosport App though so we don’t need to miss any of the action. On the outside tables Zhang Anda will take on Anton Kazakov, who could be forgiven for having other things on his mind this week, Zhang Jiankang faces John Astley in what might be the best match of the session and Xu Si takes on Michael Collumb.
Aaron Hill is the leading ranked player in the afternoon session which could see him on the TV table when he takes on the Welsh amateur Liam Davies although there are two other matches which could easily be in the spotlight. One of those sees Michael White taking on Fraser Patrick while the women’s world champion is in action as well when Nutcharut Wongharuthai takes on Duane Jones in a match the Welsh player will under all sorts of pressure in. The other match sees Alfie Burden looking to move into the second round when he takes on Robbie McGuigan.
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Jimmy White begins another World Championship campaign on Monday evening and he is sure to be on one of the main tables when he meets Andrew Pagett. I would imagine that would get the TV treatment even though it is Lukas Kleckers is the highest ranked player on show in this session. His opponent is Soheil Vahedi while the other two matches sees Hammad Miah taking on Chen Zifan and Louis Heathcote going up against Ben Mertens.
It is in that evening session where I like a bet and it comes in the match between Hammad Miah and Chen Zifan where I like the Englishman to make progress with a bit in hand. Miah had to go to Q-School at the beginning of the season to get his tour card back but having done that he has registered wins over Luca Brecel, Liang Wenbo and Yan Bingtao this season and has been unlucky with some of the other draws he has had. He hasn’t been unfortunate here though it has to be said.
That is because Chen Zifan hasn’t won a match since the British Open right at the start of the campaign. He has now lost his last 11 matches and can’t be carrying much confidence at all. Not only has he lost 11 on the spin but he hasn’t even gone to a deciding frame in any of them apart from the Shootout which is only one frame since losing in the British Open. Alfie Burden, Nigel Bond, Craig Steadman and Nigel Bond again are just some of the men who have beaten the Chinese player this season. I expect Miah to add his name to the list with at least two frames in hand when doing so.
Back H.Miah (-1.5 frames) to beat C.Zifan for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
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