Snooker Shoot-Out: Outsiders can excel in unique competition

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SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) previews the outright market ahead of the 2019 Snooker Shoot-Out, picking out his favourite fancies at the Watford Colosseum.

Snooker Shoot-Out | 21st February – 24th February 2019 | Eurosport

The marmite tournament is back! The 20/20 of snooker – The ninth annual, Snooker Shoot-Out.

The shot clock in a ranking event – I’ve never heard such nonsense but it is a fun four days, especially for the neutral who might think snooker is boring. Plus calling out by the crowd is ‘allowed’, as is plenty of interaction with the audience (watch out for cheering when a yellow is potted!).

It’s like no other event on the calendar. Hence this shouldn’t be a ranking tournament where ranking points and indeed livelihoods, are on the line.

The rules of the event can be found following this link, if interested.

Picking the winner of this is as difficult as it gets. From 128 players, virtually any of the field could win it. No surprise we’ve had a different winner each year since 2011.

I’m going for six darts – four are 200/1 plus. I could pick 50 and not get the winner. If we get a run with one, I’ll be happy. They could all conceivably lose their first match, it’s that cut throat but wish me luck!

*SkyBet, Ladbrokes, BetVictor and Betway are going 1/4 odds four places so if the selection makes the semi-final, you will be guaranteed a pay out. All my selections are with these four bookies.

Joe Perry (40/1 Ladbrokes)

Joe Perry made the quarter-finals here last season and I think he’s definitely one who’s a tad overpriced at 40/1 (Ladbrokes). He opens with slow coach Rory McLeod (has a poor record in Shoot-Out, see his stats at the bottom) and that’s a decent draw for the Cambridge man.

One thing Joe possesses is real composure and he can play snooker at a lovely pace. He’s got a canny brain too, a sharp tool in the snooker box.

‘The Gentleman’ is having a consistent season too – he made the European Masters final in October. He will need ‘luck in running’ like them all but Perry is undoubtably a class act, and actually loves the event. He said this after losing to Mark Davis last season..

“It was great to play in because the crowd were cheering and it was exciting for them. It is great fun, but believe me I was right up for it on the Sunday and trying my hardest to win it, as I always do. Once you’ve got past the first few rounds, you’re into the last 16 and quarter-finals, there’s a trophy up for grabs and the money goes up nicely – I was giving it my all.”

He’s certainly in with a sniff this week in Watford. His best mate, Neil Robertson won in Cardiff at the weekend and hopefully another title will be heading to Cambridge – 40/1 underestimates his chance.

Sam Craigie (100/1 SkyBet)

Sam Craigie is one of my favourite players on tour. I rate him incredibly highly. I’ve fancied him to have a good run in a ‘normal’ ranking event for a while. As of yet, he’s not quite made that leap. But I don’t think he’s far away.

This event could be ‘food and drink’ to the highly talented Geordie. He’s a terrific break builder so that will stand up well here. He made the Last 32 in his only crack at this event in 2017.

Sam is a dangerous customer and I don’t think too many will be happy drawing this lad. An opener with Leicester’s Ben Woollaston is a top test for his tournament credentials. He shouldn’t be a three-figure price this week so snap up the 100/1 with SkyBet.

Alexander Ursenbacher (200/1 Betway)

A player who should be suited to this quick fire format is Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher – he looks worth a stab at 200/1. All bar two of his wins this season is in best of sevens, including beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Welsh Open this week just gone.

That might not help him in a one frame shoot-out, however it does prove he prefers the short format to the long and will obviously relish this. He has real belief in his ability too, becoming only the third person in nearly 15 months to defeat the Rocket in a best of seven.

He reminds me a little bit of last year's winner, Michael Georgiou. You have to be fearless in some matches and go for your shots. Georgiou got into a relentless rhythm last season on the way to victory, scored terrifically and Alexander is capable of the same. He opens up with experienced amateur Andy Hicks. Not an easy game at all, but you at least know Ursenbacher’s gander is up currently.

This could be a good time to catch the Swiss. He qualified for China Monday. He can shock a few this week.

Amateur players to monitor

This year's event has more amateur players than ever before (due to a fair amount of professionals pulling out). They include for the first time ever, two women players – 10-time world women’s champion Reanne Evans and European U21 champion, Emma Parker.

In the 2017 version, two amateur players made the quarter-finals and one made the semi-final; Steven Hallworth (QF) and the aforementioned, Andy Hicks (SF).

I’m going for three amateur players to cause a massive upset in Watford – James Cahill, Luke Simmonds and Brandon Sargeant.

In this event, where there is less pressure on the amateurs, (no ranking points for them) it could certainly relax them more than the pros. If they cope with the one table set up and the live TV (they probably aren’t used to) then there’s no reason why another amateur, like Hicks, can get to the final four or better. This won’t be the equivalent of a non-league side making the FA Cup semi-finals.

James Cahill is having a positive season on the main tour as an ‘amateur add-on’. Stephen Hendry’s ex nephew is very talented. He’s got a pool background and plays in money matches regularly which holds him in good stead on the snooker table. He was very cool under pressure in beating Mark Selby at the UK Championship 6-3. He’s won a further six matches on tour, which is very impressive for an amateur.

Blackpool-based Cahill has his sights set on a main tour place for the next two seasons at Q school in May in nearby Wigan but in the meantime, the form he’s been in this season, merits a live chance in Watford this week. He opened 400/1 with SkyBet which got trimmed. I still think there’s juice in his price of 250/1 (Betway).

I did love the price of ex-professional, Joel Walker who opened a 1000/1 shot with Betway, which was beyond crazy. No surprise it was snapped up. However, he’s now top price 300/1 which I think is no value, so we move on to two other top amateurs.

Ronnie O’Sullivan had good comments to make about his first round opponent at the UK Championship end of last year, Luke Simmonds. He won 6-1 against the factory worker but called amateur Simmonds ‘a top 32 class player’ if he played on the tour full time. Quite a compliment.

Luke has tremendous amateur pedigree, winning the World U21 title and World Amateur in the same year in 1998. It’s a mystery how he hasn’t made it, as I watched him at Q School in May last year and he’s absolutely rock solid. He pushed Mark Selby close earlier this season too. The bookies think he’s virtually a mug at 500/1 (BetVictor). The Rocket would laugh at those odds!

The last amateur I like the look of is Brandon Sargeant, who has already qualified for the main tour next season via the Challenge Tour (tour below the main tour) as he tops the rankings with one event to go.

The Stoke pro-to-be, is a practise partner of world number 63 Liam Highfield and said in an interview in June last year, “I often go to watch him (Liam) play and that allows me to familiarise myself with the environment on the circuit. I used to find it a little bit daunting looking at the TV cameras, but now I look forward to playing in front of them.”

That’s a good sign for this week that he’s likely to be relishing the conditions and not having sleepless nights. With his pro status guaranteed, I’m sure he’s up for proving himself against next season's adversaries.

His opponent this year is John Astley, who’s yet to lose a first match in the Shoot-Out, however with this being a ranking event, a win is important for Astley – the pressure is firmly on him, not on Sargeant.

Like Luke, Brandon is 500/1 with BetVictor. I don’t think the bookies know how good this lad actually is – one of the best amateurs in the country, bar none.

Players to oppose

I’m going to end on a few stats on various players in the draw that have poor records in the Shoot-Out, or poor recent records. It might help you win a few bets in the first couple of rounds.

  • Mark Joyce: two wins from nine matches
  • Adam Duffy: zero wins from four matches
  • Paul Davison: one win from five matches
  • Peter Ebdon: three wins from nine matches
  • Rory McLeod: four wins from 12 matches.
  • Mike Dunn: five 1st Round defeats in six Shoot-Outs
  • Ken Doherty: five 1st Round defeats in six Shoot-Outs
  • Alan McManus: four 1st Round defeats in a row
  • Kurt Maflin: four 1st Round defeats in a row.

Best Bets

Snooker Shoot-Out – Joe Perry to win outright (40/1 each-way Ladbrokes)

Snooker Shoot-Out – Sam Craigie to win outright (100/1 each-way SkyBet)

Snooker Shoot-Out – Alexander Ursenbacher to win outright (200/1 each-way Betway)

Snooker Shoot-Out – James Cahill to win outright (250/1 each-way Betway)

Snooker Shoot-Out – Luke Simmonds to win outright (500/1 each-way BetVictor)

Snooker Shoot-Out – Brandon Sargeant to win outright (500/1 each-way SkyBet)

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