Right, I guess it’s obvious I love sports. You’ll find at least one TV with some form of sport on it in my house, nearly 24/7. If it isn’t live sport, it’s sports news, or a replay of something that happened while I was in bed. I could watch it all and, in reality, I have. I’ve watched everything from football, soccer, golf, powerboat racing, kabaddi (it’s a team sport that originated in India and it’s actually quite fun to watch once you understand the rules), right the way through to less physical things such as pool, darts and snooker. In fact, it’s been known for me to have several internet feeds on the go at once so I don’t miss anything not shown on TV. I’ll maybe have a German Bundesliga game going on while some darts is playing in another window and then some college basketball game is in another window while I’m writing something for you guys to read.
So, yeah, really love sports and this time of year is great. We’ve got the baseball season starting up, the Stanley Cup is gearing up, the NBA play-offs are starting, we’ve got the closing stages of the Champions League,, soccer leagues around Europe are coming to a climax and we have the World Snooker Championships.
I’m a sucker for any world championships, because it pits the best in the sport against each other in the space of a week or a couple of weeks and we find out who the best is at that sport in a short period of time compared to other competitions like the NBA, soccer, NHL. So, yeah, I’ll have feed of the World Snooker Championships running 24/7 and I’ll have my bets on for the next two weeks and I’ll love every minutes of it. I won’t watch every ball potted, but I’ll be sure I know the results.
There’s just something cool about snooker. I know what you’re thinking, “But it’s a boring British sport!” Well, British players have dominated, but that’s not to say other players haven’t had an impact on the game. Canadian Cliff Thorburn hit the first televised 147 from the World Championships and Canada has had other famous players such as Kirk Stevens (seen as the playboy of the ’80s), Alain Robidoux (who Ronnie O’Sullivan decided it would be fun to play with his weaker hand against) and Bill Werbeniuk (who had a drinking problem and would have to drink several pints of lager before and during a match just to calm his nerves). Players from the Far East like James Wattana, Macro Fu and Ding Junhui have made a huge impact over the years, with Ding actually second favorite for this year’s World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield (yes, it’s called the Crucible, I do think it’s cool). Australia has a great legacy in snooker, with Eddie Charlton being one of the most famous players of his time and Neil Robertson being on of the top players at the moment. There are also players from mainland Europe that have had some success over the years and, my personal favorite, Tony Drago from Malta. Seriously – Malta! Two things have come from Malta: a falcon and Tony Drago, who is, by the way, no relation to Ivan.
So, you know, it’s not just the Brits that can play the game, although, yeah, it is almost a monopoly they have over it. But you know what else is great about the World Snooker Championships? Well, you can bet on it and you can bet on oh so many things. There are 31 matches to be on, as well as various other markets. Now, I’ve got a lot of people into snooker over the years through betting on it, as I still think the bookies are a bit behind when it comes to pricing up their books and because the British public tend to have their favorites that they back blindly, the books get weighed wrongly in terms of players in form and out of form and there is no more important time to be in form than the World Championships, especially in snooker.
Steve Davis to beat Mark King:
I love Steve Davis in a strictly straight way. I met him a few years ago now and he was a nice guy to talk to, took his time with the people there and spent a bit of time talking about the Mosconi Cup with me. Yeah, anyone that’s ever watched 9-ball pool should recognize Steve Davis. But, the thing is, he’s a 6-time snooker world champion and even though he’s in his 50s, he’s still playing at a respectable level. Yeah, he’s not the same player he was 25 years ago, but that’s no surprise. The good thing is that he’s been handed one of the easier draws in the first round. In fact, he’s come out and admitted he liked this draw. There’s no accounting for experience when it comes to playing at the Crucible and his opponent, Mark King, can’t beat the 30 years that Davis has been appearing at the Crucible for. Add to that the fact that Davis will have the crowd on his side and his price at around 2.8 is incredible, when I would have him a lot shorter. I always back Davis in his first round matches if he gets drawn against one of the weaker players, as I know he’ll get some chances and it’s all down to him taking them. With it being the best of 19, he can afford to miss a few easy chances, which he will, be Mark King is also one of those players that will miss some easy chances, so it will balance things out hopefully. It won’t be a classic and if it’s your first time watching a snooker match, I’m sorry. It will get better, I promise! But, you’ll be watching a legend in action and you won’t have that chance for much longer.
Neil Robertson to win 1st Quarter:
Neil Robertson is one of those “foreign upstarts” I mentioned an he’s been touted as a possible world champion for a few years now. He dropped off the radar a bit of around 2008-2009, but he’s come back to some sort of form. Like I mentioned earlier, though, it’s more important not to be out of form, and the top players in his quarter of the draw are. John Higgins, the number one seed, has been shocking recently and isn’t playing anywhere near his best, while Robertson has been consistent. The rest of the players in that quarter aren’t any big threat to Robertson or Higgins and, with Higgins out of form, I believe Neil Robertson should go well at this world championships. The fact he wouldn’t meet Higgins until the quarter-finals, anyway, should they both progress that far, means it’s almost a trouble-free path until then and you’d expect a much shorter price than 3.25 on Robertson to beat Higgins in the semi-final, especially if Robertson finds the form that everyone knows he has. The more I look at it, the more I like this bet. I’m going to have to move on to my next bet because if I think about this any more, I’m going to have an even bigger bet…
Ryan Day to win 3rd Quarter:
Ryan Day’s quarter is not easy. Far from it. However, the top player in his quarter, number 3 seed Stephen Maguire is under a criminal investigation for match fixing and it’s a terrible time for it to be announced, just before the world championships, so you have to think his mind will be elsewhere over the next two weeks. So, with Maguire out of the equation, if leaves Mark Allen and Peter Ebdon as the main threats. I think Ebdon is on his way out in relation to his previous form. He can still grind out wins, but I wouldn’t be confident backing him against a lot of this field, now that the young players aren’t afraid to take shots on. Mark Allen? Well, a bit of inexperience on his side and although, on his day,he’s a top player, I don’t think he’s shown the form Ryan Day has in the past. Day is a quality player and the fact he’s the number 6 seed sums it up. You don’t become the number 6 seed at the World Snooker Championships without being a top player. The 6.0 on offer for Ryan Day to win his quarter is exceptional value, especially in the light of all the trouble that Stephen Maguire is going through at the moment.
Mark J Williams to win the World Snooker Championships:
This is more a bet to hopefully keep me interested in the whole tournament. I just look at the field and see a lot of players either out of form or far too experienced. Mark Williams has won the world championship at the Crucible before and just recently won the China Open, so we know he’s in form. He also beat Ding Junhui, who is being heavily backed at the moment, in the final in China. Williams was in the wilderness for a few years, but he’s refound his game and is playing to a standard that should take him far. The big question marks are over his rivals for the title: John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan, with both men being in absolutely shocking form. I think anything around 17.0 is outstanding value and I think this could be Mark Williams’ year again. He has a nice draw if he can overcome a potentially tricky second round match against Ronnie O’Sullivan and he’ll be up against players that have been out of form this season.
So, that’s my selections for the World Snooker Championships. As I say, I’ll have that streaming on my computer around the clock, keeping tabs on my bets and making sure I look for anymore outstanding value in the later matches. And if I do find any, I’ll keep you posted.