Snooker: Championship League 3 preview
Mark Williams is the headline act on the opening day of action in week three of the Championship League.
The snooker calendar has been hit by the cancellation of many of the tournaments held in China and that has opened the door for a beefed up Championship League this season.
All of the top names are involved in this year's event, which is being held at Leicester's Morningside Arena and there are all-important ranking points on the line too.
|What||Championship League snooker|
|Where||Morningside Arena, Leicester|
|When||12:00pm, Monday 11th July 2022|
|How to watch|
Freesports & Premier Sports 2
|Odds||Outright - Mark Williams 333334.00, David Gilbert 3333334.00, Li Hang 333334.00|
How does the Championship League work?
The event runs from 28th June to 29th July and there will be a total of 128 players in action. The tournament is broken down into three rounds of round-robin groups consisting of four baize battlers.
The opening round is broken down into 32 groups, over a best-of-four frame format, with three points awarded for a victory and one for a draw.
The 32 group victors will progress to the group winners' stage, where eight more sections of four players bid to reach the final two groups. At the end of all of that two players will contest a best-of-five frame final and one will be crowned Championship League champion.
Dave Gilbert lifted the trophy last year and the defending champion and he goes to post in week four of this season's competition.
What can we expect from Group 5?
Williams, Li Hang, Rory McLeod and Andrew Pagett line up in Group 5 on Monday. Of course, the Welsh Potting Machine is the main attraction and favourite to progress to the next stage.
Williams is a superbly gifted cueman and the Cwm potter shows no signs of slowing down despite his advancing years. The Welshman is 47-years-of-age, but he looked as good as ever when making the semi-finals of the World Championship earlier this year.
There is no love lost between Williams and Pagett and you can expect a competitive clash when those two go head-to-head on Monday.
Hang is a capable performer and the Chinese potter is a former ranking event semi-finalist. The 31-year-old is the second-favourite to win Group 5, behind Williams, and he is likely to pose the biggest threat to the Welshman.
McLeod competes the lineup and the methodical Northamptonshire potter isn’t likely to be best suited by this quick-fire short-frame format.
How does Group 28 shape up?
This section look the more competitive of the two groups taking place on Sunday. Gary Wilson and Jak Jones are favourites to top the section, but on his best form Wilson would dominate this field.
The Tyneside Terror is a top-class break builder and he will be hard to keep tabs on if he finds his scoring form.
The Wallsend cueman is a two-time ranking event finalist and the latest of those came just last year.
Jones is on the upgrade and he produced the best performance of his career when reaching the last-four of the Gibraltar Open earlier this year.
The Welshman enjoyed a decent campaign last season and he looks Wilson's main rival in this section. Harvey Chandler also enjoyed a decent run in this year's Gibraltar Open, but last season was generally a disappointing campaign for the Northamptonshire potter.
Experience cueman Barry Pinches completes the line up and the veteran performer faces a tough task. The Norwich potter had made three appearances at the World Championship but Pinches is firmly in the twilight of his career.
Championship League 3 predictions
Williams is likely to win Group 5, but that's accurately reflected in the prices. The best bet of the section comes when the Welsh Potting Machine takes on Pagett.
Williams can be backed at 2.10 to beat his limited compatriot 3-0 in their best-of-four frame clash and that looks a nice price.
In section 28, Wilson looks a good-value favourite to top the section. None of the Tyneside Terror's group rivals will be able to get close to the Wallsend cueman, if he plays anythere near his best, and there looks to be a fair chance of that happening.
Wilson made the final of the British Open last year and 2.20 will look very big should he reproduce that level of performance.