UK Championship Preview: Who Can Win? (1)
The early qualification rounds for the williamhill.com UK Championship kicked off this weekend and though it pitted players – many of whom won’t be expecting anything special in the tournament – against each other to work their way through the four qualifying rounds to ensure their names were on the fixture list for Saturday’s opening first round matches.
So with less than a week to go till the big boys open their cases and chalk their tips here is a look into just who has a realistic chance of winning and more importantly tips for the outright winner if you want to have a cheeky bet on the winner.
At this time it is important to say that all information is based on current world rankings and current odds with William Hill (other betting establishments are available). Naturally after the result of previous PTC, European and Premier League results the three favourites for the Championship are Neil Robertson, multiple time winner of this event John Higgins and defending UK Championship champion Judd Trump. Interestingly enough these three men are three out of four Premier League semi finalists from the weekend and with Trump at 7/2 and both Higgins and Robertson at 7/1 the bookies like the fans are stating that it is too close to call.
Out of the three Neil Robertson is the only man who hasn’t even featured in a UK Championship final, despite his victorious climb up to World Number 1 and winning the World Championships, the UK title has always avoided him. But the Australian won’t be deterred and he will be hoping that he can beat his best finish to a UK Championship which was in last years event where he was a beaten Semi Finalist. Robertson was beaten in the final of this years inaugural International Championship in China by the man who everyone is out to beat, Judd Trump.
Trump first burst onto the scene in the 2005/06 Welsh Open where he was knocked out in the first round. But immediately his potential was recognised and since then he was astonished and astounded crowds all across the world on his way to being World Number 1. A feat he completed by making it to the previously mentioned International Championship. Trump has also won the China Open in 2010, the Championship League Snooker event in 2008/09 and perhaps more importantly for the outcome of this years tournament, last years UK Championships. Trump will be the man everyone will think will take home the title for a second year in a row, and with his record over the last 3 or 4 years adding to that fact he is only 23 it is hard to bet against him, which is something I have done but more on that later in the week.
John Higgins currently sits at World Number 3, now everyone will have an opinion on Higgins based mainly on his previous demons with the match fixing scandal and subsequent ban from snooker. But Higgins is still a class act, a wonderful player who when the pressure is really put on him fights back and produces consistent and wonderful snooker. Higgins who last won this event back in 2010 will be eager to hit the ground running and dazzle his way to another Ranking Title in what has been a great career. Higgins is a 4 time world number 1, the longest reign lasting for two months short of 4 years, and has a whopping 25 major ranking titles to his name. And on form alone the Wizard of Wishaw is rightly amongst the favourites and will be a formidable opponent in the latter stages of the tournament.
To end the first of three parts spread out across the week is the man who last night took home the Premier League Snooker title, Stuart Bingham. Despite winning only one major ranking event in 2011 (Australian Goldfields Open) Bingham this year has shown good form throughout the season and will have the wind in his sails following his victory over Trump last night. His record at the UK Championships has improved near enough year in year out. He reached the Quarter Final stages where he was beaten by Mark Allen in 2010. That tournament run was a special one thanks to the two major wins along the way, beating veteran Marco Fu and dumping out Ronnie O’Sullivan to set up the tie with Allen. And despite for me being a serious contender to the title, Bingham is at 22/1 to take home the title he will be hoping to continue his momentum and cause a stir by doubling his number of ranking titles starting with his first round tie against 21 year old Jack Lisowski on Sunday 2nd December. Lisowski himself will be hoping to keep his own momentum up after scoring his first professional 147 during his third qualifying round tie.
Look out on Wednesday for part 2 of UK Championship Preview: Who Can Win? Where I discuss the best of the rest and rate their chances on whether they can stake a claim to take Judd Trump’s title.