Snooker: Home starlet can shine in International Championship first round

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SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) shares his best bet from the opening round of the International Championship in China.

Anthony McGill v Zhao Jianbo | Sunday 4th August 2019, 02:30

Think of a quality sire in horse racing. Think of the quality horses that sire breeds, on a yearly basis. In snooker terms, the sire is China. They breed quality snooker players, year-in, year-out. It’s like a breadline.

The Chinese-staged ranking events always give the up-and-coming new lads a chance as wildcards. Ding Junhui, Yan Bingtao, and Zhao Xintong have all been there before to pit their wits against the pros, and one is certainly catching my eye in Daqing this year.

Fifteen-year-old Zhao Jianbo is likely to be on the main tour and be a household name in the coming years. He doesn’t turn 16 until the end of August yet has already caused a huge stir as a junior amateur.

In May this year, Zhao lifted the Asian U21 title. Then just three weeks ago, he won the World U21 championship. Just before the season started, he lost in the final of the Xi’an Open which contained every top Chinese pro bar Ding and Yan. A towering lad for just 15, it’s said a lot, and probably excessively about all the Chinese prospects, but he looks to have it all.

His opponent in the early hours of Sunday morning is Scotland’s Anthony McGill. The world number 23 had a wretched season last term, not making one ranking quarter-final, and just two Last-16s. He lost in eight first-round ties and there’s a chance another could come here (he started this season losing his first match in Riga qualifying).

McGill’s record as a professional in China is absolutely woeful. In this event alone, he’s had four first-round losses in six years. As a whole, when he has made the venue in China, in 20 appearances, he’s lost 15 times in his first match. Of the 15 he’s lost, I doubt he’s been as big a favourite in any as he is here.

McGill isn’t a player to rely on at the best of times, let alone at 1/20, in a country where it’s set in stone he struggles. It was common knowledge he overslept last season before his opening match at the China Open and was docked a frame. It begs the question, does the time difference affect Anthony over here?

I was surprised to see Jianbo an 8/1 (Bet365) shot – he even opened 21/2 with Marathon which went pretty sharply. Going by McGill’s past of first-round defeats, I’d much rather take a chance on a right in-form winner at 8/1 than a shy Scot at 1/20. I expect Jianbo will step up to the occasion and hopefully deliver a timely blow to McGill yet again in China.

Best Bets

Anthony McGill v Zhao Jianbo – Zhao Jianbo to win (8/1 Bet365)

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