China’s biggest snooker tournament, the International Championship, kicked off yesterday, and players such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Allen are all through to the second round.
The tournament runs all week, with the final taking place next Sunday, with the winner taking a cool £125,000, snooker’s third biggest pay date behind the World Championship and the Masters.
Ding Junhui – The Man to Beat
Ding Junhui comes into this tournament searching for his third consecutive ranking event title in a row, having won back to back titles in Shanghai and two weeks ago, the inaugural Indian Open, where he beat world number one Neil Robertson and Higgins en route to the final.
The Shanghai Masters triumph was a particular monkey off Ding’s back as it was his first professional tournament win on home soil since his maiden win as a 16-year-old wildcard at the 2005 China Open.
He’d always struggled to live up to expectations with the intense pressure of his home fans but the Shanghai victory may have marked a new start in his career and means he’s a real threat this week.
Paddy Power provide the best odds on Ding winning the tournament at 15/2.
Other title Contenders
This is Ronnie O’Sullivan’s first major tournament since his dramatic World Championship triumph after taking almost a year out of the sport.
The Rocket has kept himself warm by playing in a number of the smaller European Tour events, with his best performance coming at the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth, Germany, where he beat Gerard Greene in the final to lift the trophy.
He’s currently the bookies’ favourite to win the International Championship with Paddy Power providing the best odds of 7/2.
Following his excellent start to the season, Neil Robertson has only managed Quarter-Final finishes at the last two major ranking events, although he was beaten by excellent performances by Ding in both.
He’ll be a major player this week, and Totesport offer the best price on him taking the title at 13/2.
Judd Trump is the defending champion after defeating Robertson 10-8 in the final last year. He’s had a poor start to the season but last week tweeted: “Gonna defend my title and make a max in China next week.”
In all honesty, it would be a bit out of the blue if he were to win the tournament again this year, but if you fancy backing him, Stan James provide the best odds of 10/1.
Mark Selby is another player who hasn’t particularly inspired so far this campaign is world number two Mark Selby. He faces Jamie Burnett in the first round on Monday, and a number of outlets, including Betfred, are offering odds of 10/1 on him winning the title.
Two players already through to the last 32 and could pose a threat this week are Mark Allen and John Higgins. Boylesports are one of a number of sites offering odds of 10/1 on Allen winning the tournament, whilst Sportingbet provide the best price on a Higgins tournament win at 12/1.
You can watch all the action from Chegdu with Eurosport, who are covering the afternoon and evening sessions from 6:30am and 11:30am every day.
Keep an eye on the latest odds on this week’s matches with BritBets, by clicking HERE.
You can also claim free bets Totesport by clicking HERE.