I got a bit emotional last night…
Not, as is usually the case, after watching something vaguely heartwarming while recovering from a serious hangover (see Jeremy, he told you he’d pass the lie detector!) but because over in Belfast something wonderful happened.
Mark King, a snooker professional of 25 years (and one of my favourite players) had, at the age of 42, finally won his first ever ranking title, claiming the Northern Ireland Open in a 9-8 thriller…
If you have some tissues at the ready you can watch his acceptance speech here.
More than anything, it was a result that gives hope to anybody who ploughs away at something year after year without necessarily getting the rewards their efforts deserve.
This is a betting e-letter however, so today I thought I’d focus on something else it shows – just how open the snooker world is to a shock result.
The year was 2015…
Although the pros and cons of this have been debated endlessly in the snooker world, one effect that is pretty much beyond doubt is that this has increased the chance of outsiders doing well in big events…
After all, they no longer have to go through qualifying just to make the main draw and the shorter match lengths mean that a player in form can knock out a more illustrious rival before they’ve found their feet.
And so it was that in the Northern Ireland Open, the last eight was contested by the world numbers 10, 11, 13, 16, 22, 24, 67 and 75 – and those are the rankings AFTER the event, so they’d have been lower, in some cases significantly so, beforehand.
That tournament was no outlier either – in this season’s ranking events we’ve had finals contested and won by the current world numbers 11, 12, 13, 18, 22, 23 and 35 and again, most if not all of those players were ranked lower than that before those runs.
All of which begs the question…
Why is Ronnie still favourite?
The same old name.
Yes, despite Ronnie O’Sullivan failing to win a ranking event since the Welsh Open in February (there have been 17 since) he’s a BEST price 9/2 this week…
I’m not saying he can’t win of course but that price is NOT value.
The question of who we should oppose the Rocket with is much more difficult of course but I tend to find that you can’t go too far wrong backing a bunch of overpriced players at big odds to small stakes and making hay with any of them who go far in the event.
Here are a few suggestions then for this week’s UK Championship:
Liang Wenbo (66/1) – World number 12, runner up in the UK last season and has won the English Open this.
Joe Perry (80/1) – World number nine, 80/1, need I say more?
Mark Williams (100/1) – Mark made the quarters of the Northern Ireland Open losing 5-4 and has excellent big tournament pedigree. He’s still number 16 in the world despite his advancing years.
Michael White (175/1) – A promising young player who’s made two quarter finals this season (including the Northern Ireland Open) and is ranked 24.
Alan McManus (300/1) – Always underrated, most likely due to his age, yet his age didn’t stop him making the semis of the World Championship.
Mark King (300/1) – Will go into this on a massive high.
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