Higgins starts defence of China crown and O’Sullivan leads chase for International Championship
Lee Gormley | 24 October 2016
International Championship tips
Following plenty of drama at the inaugural Coral English Open in Manchester, the snooker season next switches focus to China, where the world’s best snooker stars will compete for a £125k winning prize fund at the International Championship.
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker1) October 21, 2016
It was Liang Wenbo that stormed to success in the last tournament as he clinched his maiden career ranking event by beating Judd Trump in the final. Both potters will be involved in the action in the Far East, as well as reigning world champion Mark Selby and event front runner Ronnie O’Sullivan.
So, ahead of the latest baize battles on Chinese soil, Coral cast our eyes over the upcoming tournament and outline International Championship tips for punters to enjoy for potentially epic event…
Ronnie O’Sullivan odds for victory in China
The International Championship has become the most prestigious world ranking event held outside of the UK since it’s introduction to the circuit in 2012, and also the richest tournament.
So it’s clear why the world’s best cueists embark upon China for the illustrious competition, including five-time Crucible king and 3/1 favourite for success here O’Sullivan. The Rocket suffered a shock early exit from the English Open and was narrowly outdone by Judd Trump in the European Masters before that.
With all roads leading towards Sheffield for the showcase World Championship next year, O’Sullivan will be aiming to put down an early marker with victory on this big stage in China and he is an overwhelming 1/7 price to topple home hope. Though, the latter is 9/2 to spring a surprise in front of his supporters.
The man who conquered the Rocket in Manchester, Chris Wakelin, finds himself up against Welshman Matthew Stevens in his opener and the Scot is 6/5 to add another high-profile victim to his recent hitlist. Meanwhile, Shaun Murphy, Graeme Dott and Michael White should come though their clashes with Robin Hull, Fergal O’Brien and Sam Baird respectively.
Former champions Higgins and Ding star
Bristol-born break-builder Trump won the first ever International Championship back in 2012, home favourite Ding Junhui won it in 2013 before Ricky Walden and John Higgins secured success in the subsequent seasons. All four former winners are set to be involved, with experienced Scot Higgins hoping to defend his crown.
The Wizard of Wishaw is 13/4 to overcome Sydney Wilson 6-2 in his opener, while enters the fray at 16/1 to successfully retain his title in China. Walden will need to get past a tasty match-up with Ireland’s 1997 world champion Ken Doherty, who is 3/1 to triumph, if he is to edge towards a second International trophy.
Inaugural champion Trump has been in fine form since his European Masters win over the Rocket and is 9/2 second-favourite to O’Sullivan once again on Chinese soil. Meanwhile, the nation’s biggest snooker superstar Ding is 8/1 for outright glory and 13/10 to lead opening opponent Mitchell Mann 3-1 after four frames.
English Open winner Wenbo flying high
Fresh off the back of claiming the English Open honours in Manchester, Liang Wenbo will be flying high on confidence and is a heavy 1/4 favourite to topple compatriot Mei Xiwen in his opener. Although, with that maiden ranking event triumph giving him a boost, Wenbo is a promising 50/1 for a second straight event win.
Australian talent Neil Robertson has an encounter with Oliver Lines to deal with first, with the latter being 11/2 to earn a victory over the Melbourne cueist, who has not been in the best of form of late.
The meeting between Luca Brecel and Dominic Dale provides an interesting battle of youth against experience, with 3/1 odds available on their being a deciding frame in what should be a close contest.
Current world champion Selby faces off with Paul Davison in his first match-up and the Jester from Leicester is 7/1 to go all the way in this event, while Stephen Maguire (1/4) v Rod Lawler (3/1), Ali Carter (1/4) v Robbie Williams (3/1) and Jamie Jones (13/8) v Michael Holt (8/15) are other intriguing opening games.
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