Snooker: Championship League 4 preview
Leicester’s Morningside Arena hosts the concluding week of Stage One of snooker's Championship League.
This week's eight group winners will join the 24 players already qualified for the next stage, the field having been whittled down from the original entry of 124.
In a strong field, Ronnie O'Sullivan heads the outright betting at 33334.00. The current World Champion, world number one and all-round snooker legend won Group 1 of this event, while 33333334.00 second favourite Judd Trump has yet to earn his spot in Stage Two, but is a 1.16 chance to win Group 2, which takes place on Tuesday.
Defending champion Dave Gilbert is 4/7 to advance when Group 16 go into battle on Wednesday.
|What:||Championship League Snooker|
|Where:||Morningside Arena, Leicester|
|When:||From 12:00 Monday 18th July 2022|
|How to watch:|
Freesports & bet365's Sports Live Streaming
|Odds:||Group 11: Stuart Bingham 1.66, Cao Yupeng 2.75, Peter Lines 13.00, Peter Devlin 21.00|
How does the Championship League work?
This league-format tournament is a ranking event, which began on 28th June with the final taking place on 29th July, and a total of 128 players are taking part.
The tournament is broken down into three stages of round-robin groups of four players each. The opening round comprises 32 groups, playing a best-of-four frame format, with three points awarded for a victory and one for a draw.
The 32 group winners will advance to the group winners' stage, where eight more sections of four players bid to reach Stage Three. At the end of that, two players battle it out in a best-of-five frame final, with the winner being crowned Championship League champion.
What can we expect from Group 11?
Stuart Bingham - Masters champion as recently as 2020 - heads the betting for the first group in action this week at 1.66. Joining the world number 13 are Cao Yupeng, Peter Lines and Peter Devlin.
Bingham is proven in the format, having finished runner-up to John Higgins in the non-ranking, invitational version of the tournament in February.
The Basildon potter has lost his last two meetings with Yupeng, and the pair will meet in the final rubber of the group at 20:00, in what could well turn out to be a winner-takes-all encounter.
Chinese cueman Yupeng reached Stage Three of this tournament last year and is rated a 2.75 chance to make it into the winners group again.
World number 92 Lines and 94th-ranked Devlin appear to be up against it in this company.
The winner will go into Group C of the next stage of the tournament, joining Ben Woollaston, Jamie Jones, and whoever emerges from a competitive-looking Group 19 quartet on Wednesday.
How does Group 14 shape up?
This section looks like another two-horse race on paper, with Hossein Vafei and Tian Pengfei unlikely to be upset by On Yee Ng and Ryan Thomerson.
Like Bingham, Vafei was a victim of Judd Trump at the World Championship in his last appearance on the tour. The Iranian fell at the first hurdle in this tournament last year, failing to win a match in the group stage, but he has had a decent year in 2022 so far.
Vafei reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Open, again losing to Trump, and claimed his first ranking title in the Shoot Out in January, beating Mark Williams in the final. Ranked a career-high 17th in the world, Vafei is an 1.50 chance to win Group 14.
Pengfei looks the only credible danger and is a 2.75 shot to earn the spot in Stage Two. The Chinese potter has met Vafei just once before, more than six years ago in World Championship qualifying, with the Iranian coming out on top 10-7.
The Group 14 victor will join Michael Judge, Lyu Haotian and Jimmy Robertson in Group F in Stage 2.
Championship League 4 predictions
Bingham is perhaps the weaker of Monday's two group favourites, a run to the quarter-finals of the World Championship notwithstanding. It could be argued the Essex man would be better suited by a longer format, and Yupeng leads their head-to-head series 3-2, having won the last two meetings.
In the four-frame format a draw is possible, and assuming their 20:00 clash becomes a group decider, whichever player is ahead on frame difference could settle for a draw.
But it is far from impossible they could also be tied on frame difference given the quality of the other two players in the group, and backing Yupeng to win their match at 4.33 looks a decent bet.