2017 UK Snooker Championship Preview
The 2017 Betway UK Snooker Championship gets underway at the Barbican in York and runs from the 28th November through to 10th December. The first of the sports triple crown for the 2017/2018 season will be televised worldwide with the BBC possessing exclusive rights to show each and every match of the competition in the UK. Many bookmakers will also be streaming the matches which is the perfect way of following all of your bets throughout the tournament.
The 2016 event will be remembered for the mesmerising final in which Mark Selby edged out Ronnie O’Sullivan during a 10-7 thriller. It’s no surprise to see these two players dominate the betting for the 2017 staging of the event with O’Sullivan made narrow favourite by the likes of Betfair, 188Bet and NetBet. He can be backed at 4/1 with the jester from Leicester just a point bigger at 5s. Both have been given favourable draws in the 1st round with Ronnie taking on teenager Jackson Page (who was a late replacement for Rhys Clark) whilst Selby is unlikely to come up short against the Egyptian Basen Eltahhan. The total prize money has increased yet again and there is plenty of incentive to land the £170,000 which has been set aside for the winner of this major.
Ronnie has won this tournament five times but arrives here in mixed form. He’s been drawn in the fourth quarter with the biggest threat coming from Ding Junhui although Barry Hawkins and Anthony McGill also feature here. The Rocket hasn’t won this tournament since beating Judd Trump in the memorable 2014 final although he chose not to compete the following year. Some punters believe that Ronnie is perennially too short in the betting and should be opposed but at 4/1, he is likely to give you a good run for your money.
2016 was the first time O’Sullivan had lost in the final of the UK Championship and he will be desperate to make it six successes here which would move him above Stephen Hendry and level with Steve Davis. The popular and controversial figure was beaten in the Northern Ireland Open by Elliott Slessor. Despite a £1 million prizepot for winning all of the home nation events, Ronnie’s commitment was questionable as the world number 82 took the biggest scalp of his career. He is likely to be far more motivated for the UK Championship.
It’s been a complete mixed bag over the past couple of months with O’Sullivan putting in a spellbinding performance to ease past Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the Shanghai Masters before claiming it to be “one of my best ever victories”. It helped the 41 year old wrap up his 30th ranking title. He’d previously triumphed over Kyren Wilson at the final of the English Open which was staged in Barnsley.
Mark Selby lifted the trophy for the second time at last year’s tournament giving him a 66% win record in the final at the Barbican. He was the early favourite for this year’s competition but has recently been edged out by the aforementioned O’Sullivan who always attracts plenty of support in the betting markets. Unlike his rival, Selby opted to sit out of the Northern Ireland Open after looking a little jaded during previous events. He should be suitably refreshed for this.
He did manage to retain his International Championship crown earlier in the month after beating Mark Allen 10-7 in the final despite a late fightback from his opponent. The 16th frame was a little scrappy but he prevailed and that gave him the springboard to cement his success. He secured the £150,000 prize-pot to somewhat surprisingly land his first title of the season. He didn’t compete during the early stages of the campaign after sustaining a toe injury but following his recovery, he has slowly been gathering momentum and will fancy his chances of retaining his title in York. He will need to be much better than when crashing out of the Champion of Champions event to Belgium’s Luca Brecel.
Judd Trump comes into this tournament under a cloud after being eliminated from the Northern Ireland Open at the hands of Stuart Carrington. He threw his cue at the ball to concede the frame with 83 points remaining and will face a large fine as a result of his behaviour. He also refused to attend a news conference afterwards and that looks set to land him in hot water. Trump is third favourite for the UK Championship at 11/2 with 10Bet and begins his tournament against Matthew Bolton. He won the tournament back in 2011 but he hasn’t managed to reach the final in either of the last two staging of the event. He was also thumped by Ronnie O’Sullivan in Shanghai and will need serious improvement if he is to challenge here.
John Higgins starts the tournament as fourth favourite for the tournament and begins his campaign against Chris Totten. He is one of the most successful players in the history of this competition with three titles and the Scot will fancy his chances once again. He’s appeared in five finals but was easily beaten by Ronnie O’Sullivan when the pair met in Shanghai. Higgins will want to quickly erase that 6-0 whitewash and needs to up his game if meeting the Rocket again during the latter stages of this event.
Ding Junhui is once again amongst the favourites for this tournament and can be backed at a double figure price with the majority of bookmakers. He begins the competition against Leo Fernandez. Junhui made history when becoming the first player from outside the UK and Ireland to win the event as a fresh-faced teenager back in 2005. He repeated the trick four years later when beating John Higgins 10-8 in the showpiece event.
He’s had a spell on the sidelines and will be hoping to come back refreshed and rejuvenated ahead of this event. He had been priced up as the favourite for the Shanghai Masters but was forced to withdraw from the event. He has crashed out of the English Open and International Championship but is always a force to be reckoned with at this event.
Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Marco Fu are also in the betting and will fancy their chances of making it to the latter stages of the event. Yan Bingtao has made it into the top 32 following a superb run of form and the talented teen can be backed at 50/1 with Bet365.
It’s set to be another wonderful tournament with many twists and turns to come over the course of the two week event in York.