The draw for the first round of the 2014 World Snooker Championship has taken place, with the games beginning on Saturday. Upset tips here!
In the previous column we advised Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Ali Carter at prices between 9-1 and 50-1 each way in the other half of the draw to the tournament favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui.
Today the first round draw was made, with each qualifier being drawn against a top sixteen seed as follows:
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Robin Hull (April 19 10am and 7pm)
Joe Perry v Jamie Burnett (April 20 10am and April 21 10am)
Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope (April 19 2.30pm and April 20 7pm)
Marco Fu v Martin Gould (April 22 10am and April 23 2.30pm)
Barry Hawkins v Dave Gilbert (April 22 2.30pm and April 23 10am)
Ricky Walden v Kyren Wilson (April 21 7pm and April 22 7pm)
Mark Davis v Dominic Dale (April 23 7pm and April 24 1pm)
Ding Junhui v Michael Wasley (April 20 2.30pm and April 21 2.30pm)
Mark Selby v Michael White (April 21 10am and 7pm)
Ali Carter v Xiao Guodong (April 19 7pm and April 20 2.30pm)
John Higgins v Alan McManus (April 21 2.30pm and April 22 10am)
Stuart Bingham v Ken Doherty (April 19 10am and April 20 10am)
Judd Trump v Tom Ford (April 22 2.30pm and April 23 10am)
Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day (April 19 2.30pm and April 20 7pm)
Mark Allen v Michael Holt (April 22 7pm and April 23 7pm)
Neil Robertson v Robbie Williams (April 23 2.30pm and April 24 7pm)
Here I attempt to find qualifiers who are value to upset their seed, several of which results happen at this stage every year.
Some of the brightest of the qualifiers here have got very tough draws. Michael Wite for example reached the quarter-final last season but has to go through Mark Selby this time. Xiao Guodong, China’s “next great thing” will be a test for Ali Carter. The talented Tom Ford was unfortunate to draw Judd Trump.
Some of the qualifiers are both new to the crucible and got the toughest draws notably Michael Wasley and Robin Hull drawn against Ding and Ronnie O’Sullivan
Whittling the qualifiers down to a short-list, all odds against to beat a seed, I look at the following matches. All of these come from the top half of the draw which I consider to have weaker depth in the seeds.
Joe Perry (2/5) v Jamie Burnett (13/5 William Hill)
Burnett faces the number 16 seed, having won three qualifying matches including beating Ben Wolleaston 10-8 in the final round. A dangerous player, Burnett has had a stronger 2013-14 than the several seasons prior with a last 16 finish in the German Masters and a 6-4 loss to John Higgins in the last 32 of the UK. This should be a very close match and getting over 5/2 the underdog here is a more than fair price.
Shaun Murphy (1/4) v Jamie Cope (9/2 Coral)
Cope has long been considered a great natural talent, but never quite fulfilled that promise. He won three qualifying matches, beating last year’s top sixteen player Mark King 10-7 in the final match. He has an opportunity here because Murphy has been unhappy with his game much of the year, although he returned to some form winning the World Open in March though he was knocked out of the China Open by Ricky Walden in April when favourite to advance. Put simply, I don’t have Cope as a 9/2 shot here
Marco Fu (4/7) v Martin Gould (13/8 Ladbrokes)
Gould was, according to observers, the form of the qualifying tournament dropping only two frames in two matches before knocking out Liang Wenbo, the Chinese number 2 10-7 in the final round. Gould’s results this season include a final appearance, losing to Judd Trump, in the Championship League. Fu starts this tournament at a ranking high, but is the sort of seed vulnerable to a streaky opponent and should be a very close match
Mark Davis (8/13) v Dominic Dale (13/8 Ladbrokes)
Dominic Dale is eccentric and can be frustrating to back, but beneath the palaver is a player who has five top sixteens this season and has one of the winnable draws against a seed at the lower end of the top sixteen. Since Davis reached the Quarter final of the German Masters, he has not gone beyond the last 32 in the last five ranking tournaments. Should be a close game, and I couldn’t make either player the 8/13 shot that
Taking Ladbrokes prices, for an accumulator backing all four as follows in a Lucky 15 pays £367.49 to a £1 (£15 across 15 bets) stake