SNOOKER analyst Ed Acteson (@EdActeson) runs the rule over the upcoming Shootout, picking out some big priced shouts.
Snooker Shootout | Thursday – Sunday
In gambling, class theoretically eventually tells; that is to say that the shorter the format of a match, the greater the chance of an upset.
This notion is well demonstrated by the enjoyable yet farcical Snooker Shootout which begins in its new home at the Watford Coliseum on Thursday, where 128 players will attempt to duke it out through seven rounds of single frame action to become champion.
In six Shootout finals so far we have seen 12 different finalists, only three of whom are currently ranked within the top 10 in the world.
Yet by contrast, during the same period the World Snooker Championship has churned out nine finalists, including seven who are in that top 10. The other two, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter, have both fallen down the rankings mainly due to inactivity.
Trying to apply too much logic to this tournament is a redundant task as it is so different to anything else on the tour. The crowds are drunk and raucous, the matches are 10 minutes long with a shot clock and the draw for each round is made just before it starts.
In truth, it is somewhat of a lottery and I believe our best chance of narrowing down the field comes by studying the profile of previous finalists.
The 12 finalists so far have an age range of 20 to 45. However, the average seems to be descending yearly and three of the last four have been in their 20s.
I would argue that it is the only incarnation of the sport where physical fitness plays a part, as the shot clock often results in players having to run round the table and quickly stretch across to awkward shots rather than wasting time obtaining the rest.
This is exemplified by a notable lack of obesity on that list of previous finalists.
As an added aside, as you might expect, the shot clock should also favour naturally quicker players. Finally, I believe there is a slight cultural element to consider, as nine of the 12 so far have been British.
To me this is significant due to the aforementioned boisterous and well oiled crowds who chant, sing and heckle the players throughout. It is closer to a darts atmosphere than snooker and I believe this is of huge advantage to fan favourites and players from Britain or culturally similar locations.
So, using the above guidelines, I have devised a list of four players who I believe stand a chance of progressing well in the tournament; Martin Gould (50/1), Luca Brecel, (50/1), Michael Holt (66/1) and Yan Bingtao (66/1).
Gould is a previous winner and somewhat of a specialist in short format events having also won the Championship League and German Masters. He ticks most of my boxes and has some encouraging recent results including a victory over Mark Selby.
Additionally he is a fan favourite at this event on account of his surname fitting well into Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’.
Luca Brecel is another with pedigree in the event having finished as runner-up last year. He is young, extremely talented and can pot quickly, but with alarming accuracy, when in form so I want to keep him onside here. He hails from a similarly beer soaked country (Belgium), so should be unperturbed by the crowd.
In Michael Holt we have a player who has enjoyed a huge resurgence this season since entering the tutelage of snooker legend Terry Griffiths who has improved his temperament immeasurably. In fact he has reached the quarter-final stage, or better, of five of the 15 tournaments he has entered.
To put that in perspective, he had previously only managed 13 in total since his career began in 1998. I genuinely believe he is a winner waiting to happen and with the crowd eager to support a man who wears his emotions proudly, there’s no reason he couldn’t progress well here if he finds momentum.
Finally, Yan Bingtao is my wildcard selection. Bingtao is only 17 and from China, so it is yet to be seen how he will react to the lairy British crowd.
However, he is being excitedly whispered about as the future of the sport and after a string of impressive recent results that belies his age, I couldn’t forgive myself for not backing him if he begins making light work of far less talented players.