UK Snooker Championship 2014: Who are the Favourites?
The 2014 Coral UK Championship takes place at the York Barbican from Tuesday, November 25 to Sunday, December 7 and will see 128 players competing for the £150,000 first prize and, of course, the prestigious championship title and trophy.
The BBC are televising the event as well as broadcasters in over 77 countries worldwide, attracting an estimated total audience of 100 million viewers.
Many of those will be watching from the Far East with at least two Asian players fancying their chances of success at York.
But… where’s your money going? Here are some snippets of food for thought to get the betting balls rolling.
Current World Champion, Mark Selby won the UK Championship in 2012, was runner-up last year and has had a good year in terms of his longevity in tournaments. He and twice winner of this tournament, the ever-backable Ding Junhui will be on most people’s shortlists.
They are in the sights of all the other players in this eagerly anticipated event. So, of course will be people’s and bookies’ favourite, Ronnie O’Sullivan as well as the defending champion, Aussie Neil Robertson.
But, if it gets down to the final days with the top seeds still in the frame, youngster Judd Trump knows he has the armoury to go all the way - and his star is still very much on the rise.
He actually has a slight edge against Robertson head to head, the most notable addition to that record coming in the summer with victory in the final of the prestigious 2014 Australian Goldfields Open.
And, for those thinking of backing Robertson, it’s worth noting that you have to go back as far as Stephen Hendrie in 1994/5/6 to find the last player to retain this particular trophy. Just a thought.
Winner of this in 2011, Trump has shown sequences of really good form this year. The Bristolian lost a match of the highest quality in the recent Champion of Champions event in Coventry, to a Ronnie O’Sullivan right at the top of his game.
It took a scintillating couple of sessions from The Rocket at the Ricoh Arena to maintain a very slim historical advantage between the two. Could the next year or two see that head-to-head record Trumped?
We all know O’Sullivan can blow hot and cold and, having peaked in sensational style at Coventry, will his eye be on the ball for what could be a gruelling few days at York?
Trump has shown flashes of sheer brilliance this year and if he can get over a couple of tricky early hurdles (and, fair enough, he doesn’t always!) he can be backed to take great heart from that and breeze his way to a major showing in the 2014 UK Championship.
One interesting prospect who has been knocking on the door at a few tournaments recently and could surprise a few here is Xiao Guodong. The former Asian Under-21 champion has progressed through a few rounds at 2014 ranking tournaments, has no fear of higher placed opposition and, like Trump, he’s another youngster whose fortunes and form are still on a generally upward curve.
He’s based in the UK these days and he’ll have learned a lot from his first ever major final – a defeat at the hands of compatriot Ding Junhui in the Shanghai Masters last year.
Since then he cemented his reputation early in 2014 by only bowing out to an impressive Jamie Day at the quarter final stage of the German Masters after beating Ali Carter and Jamie Burnett along the way. He followed that up by reaching the semis of the Australian Goldfields, losing to eventual winner, Judd Trump – a pretty encouraging showing.
Another who may be worth a look is this year’s Shanghai Masters winner, 38-year-old Stuart Bingham, and we like the confidence going into this tournament of a possibly resurgent Stephen Maguire now he seems to have rediscovered a more positive attitude to his play.
All three of these should give you a decent run and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see one go all the way.
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