The first snooker action of the New Year takes place at a unique tournament this week, Champions League Snooker.
Background to Championship League
What makes the tournament unique is that it is not played in front of a live audience, with matches taking place within the Crondon Park Golf club in Essex.
However, it is only open to the game’s elite players and the likes of Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy will be getting their first taste of snooker in 2014 this week.
And it’s ideal for punters with all matches being streamed live on the internet via the betting websites, details of which you can see below. This is ideal as you can check out the latest odds and bet whilst watching the match.
The competition is run over a succession of seven groups, which last two days each, taking place on certain weeks between now and the start of March. The top four players from each group go into a play-off with the winner of the semi-final and final securing their place in the winner’s group which takes place after the conclusion of all seven previous groups.
The three unsuccessful players from the play-off system, plus the player that finished fifth in the group table, are carried into the next group where they are joined by three new players. This continues until group seven, by which point the seven players which make up the winner’s group will have been found.
The winner’s group takes the same format, with the winner of the play-off stage being crowned the overall winner of Championship League, their reward being a place in the Champion of Champions event next season.
A little complicated maybe, but with money being awarded to each player for every frame and match won, it acts as well-paid match practice against other top players, which is especially important with the Masters just around the corner on Sunday.
Group One Contenders
Group One of Championship league begins on Monday afternoon from 12 noon with Judd Trump taking on Shaun Murphy whilst Stuart Bingham faces Ricky Walden. The other players to be involved in this group are Ali Carter, Mark Davis and Robert Milkins.
Judd Trump, the highest ranked player in the group at number four in the world, is currently the bookies’ favourite to win this first group with William Hill, amongst others, providing odds of 11/4.
Stuart Bingham has had a fairly strong season so far, most notably reaching the final of the Champion of Champions tournament in November as well as beating Ronnie O’Sullivan at the UK Championship a few weeks later.
If he can show the kind of form he was producing before Christmas he’ll have a good chance of taking the group. My BET OF THE DAY is on the Essex man doing that, with Bet 365 offering the best price of 4/1.
Boylesports offer the best price on world number eight Shaun Murphy winning the group at 11/2 whilst last year’s runner up Ali Carter is priced at 6/1 with Stan James.
The Championship League can be quite open with all matches only being played over best of five frames so it can sometimes pay off backing an outsider. With that in mind, a small bet on Robert Milkins at 10/1 with Bet 365 could pay off, with the Gloucester man having his best season of his career.
The play-offs for group one take place on Tuesday evening, with group two taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.
In the UK you can stream all of the matches live on the Bet 365, Betfair, Paddy Power, Stan James, Unibet and William Hill as long as you have an active account with any of these sites. Live coverage is also available on the liveworldsnooker.tv subscription service.
You can of course keep up to date with the latest odds from each match with BritBets by clicking HERE.
You can also claim free bets with Ladbrokes by clicking HERE.