SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) previews the opening round of the 2018 UK Snooker Championship, picking out his favourite outright fancies.
Ding Junhui v Adam Stefanow | Tuesday 27th November 2018, 14:30 | BBC
The opening match features the former two-time UK champion Ding Junhui. Ding won here at York in 2005, then in Telford in 2009. Since it came back to the Barbican in 2011, Ding has just one quarter-final to show.
In fact, Ding has lost in the first round in three of the last six years. Last year he was 5-1 up to Leo Fernandez and lost 6-5 (Leo's only win of the season).
The Chinese star is not having a great time of it this season, to be honest. In three ranking events, he's yet to go past the Last 16 stage. He has a disinterested look about him and it's a good time for someone to take advantage.
That someone is Adam Stefanow, 24-years-old from Poland, who's having his first season on tour as pro. He's only won once from 10 matches but he's far from disgraced himself as he’s lost in three deciders – one was to former top 16 player, Stephen Maguire.
Stefanow has only been whitewashed once (4-0), which is a big positive that he can win frames at this level – 23 to be exact. He also recently compiled his first century on tour, a 130 total clearance, which is a monkey off his back.
I think the Pole is worth a little go at 18/1 (Bet365) to beat the Chinese number one. Ding is as short as 1/66 for this – he's so vulnerable at the moment, I just wouldn't touch that price in a month of Sundays.
My more confident price to advise in the contest is Stefanow with a +4.5 frames start, priced at 10/11 with Boylesports, where he only requires two frames for victory. He's won two frames in seven of his 10 matches this season (seven were best of seven matches).
Ding has played eight matches this season against players outside the top 64 (where Stefanow is homed). Here are his results: 5-4, 5-3, 5-3, 5-1, 4-5, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. So in only one did Ding cover the handicap successfully – losing the other seven, fairly comfortably.
Ding could blast him 6-0 if he's in the mood. That’s a big if, though, so Stefanow is worth chancing.
Dominic Dale v Gerard Greene | Tuesday 27th November 2018, 19:30 | BBC
Gerard Greene first faced Dominic Dale in 1996 – Greene won that and has since beaten Dale a further six times, leading the head-to-heads 7-4.
Dale only has two wins this season, one over Hammad Miah 5-4, and the other against what can only be described as a very poor amateur player from Brazil.
Sure, he’s been handed a few tough draws, losing to Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, Ricky Walden and Kyren Wilson but losing is becoming too common for ‘The Spaceman'. He's now been beaten in 14 of his last 20 on tour going back to the end of last year.
Greene is no world-beater either, but has at least won three more times than Dale this season.
I would price this match virtually 10/11 apiece – it’s very hard to split them – but Marathon are offering 4/3 on a Greene win and that doesn't make sense to me. Purely on season form, you would have to side with the Northern Irishman.
Dale is teetering on the edge of dropping out of the top 64, so this match holds massive importance to him. I think he's a better commentator than player nowadays and I take Greene to win narrowly, 6-4 or 6-5.
Marco Fu v Hammad Miah | Wednesday 28th November 2018, 09:30 | BBC
I like Hammad Miah at 5/1 (William Hill) to defeat out-of-sorts Marco Fu.
Since reinstating himself on tour via Q School, Miah hasn't pulled up any trees, but in 14 matches (won five) he has been beaten comfortably (4-0 or 4-1) only twice. He's won 39 frames in those 14 matches and also made a first ranking Last 16 in Furth at the Paul Hunter Classic.
Fu has been far from convincing since losing to Dave Gilbert in the quarter-finals in Yushan, mid-August. Five events have been and gone since – the best he's done is the Last 32 in Daqing. He had a shocking loss in his first match in Belfast to Chen Feilong (when 1/9) who hadn't won a match all season.
It looks a good time to play Marco, who remember is still on a comeback mission from his eye surgery. So 5/1 is far too big on Miah, in my opinion.
Akani Songsermsawad v Eden Sharav | Wednesday 28th November 2018, 14:30 | BBC
A similar price to Greene, is last week's Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist Eden Sharav. I'm a touch surprised to see him at 13/10 (Bet365) given his recent renaissance, when he faces Thailand's Sunny Akani on Wednesday afternoon.
It's been priced up on rankings with Sunny five places above Eden. On current form, Sharav would have to be favourite for this, though. He’s won 12 from 20 this season, making two Last 16 appearances, one quarter-final and one semi-final. In contrast, Sunny has made just one Last 16, winning seven from 15.
Last season here, unorthodox Akani nearly took out Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Last 16, losing 6-5. He hasn't really taken off since then, whereas Sharav, since having a new cue, certainly has in recent events.
Back Eden to win at 13/10 Bet365).
Martin Gould v Harvey Chandler | Wednesday 28th November 2018, 19:30 | BBC
On to two breaks bets now in the first round. I firstly like the 4/1 (Bet365) on Northamptonshire's Harvey Chandler to bag a ton against Martin Gould.
In 13 matches this season, Chandler has hit three tons. Two of his three have been in the shortest format of best of seven.
He's always the underdog, like he will be against Gould. He is very dedicated and practices as much as anyone. He's had 16 breaks over 50 in those 13 contests and I think 4/1 is value here on the current European amateur champion.
Gould plays an expansive game, which will suit Chandler's chances of a century.
Mark King v Elliot Slessor | Thursday 29th November 2018, 14:30 | BBC
Lastly, I'm liking Elliot Slessor to hit Over 0.5 Tons at 2/1 (Bet365) versus Mark King.
In 13 matches this season, Slessor has hit six centuries. Four of those six have been in best of sevens, so in this longer format of a best of 11, he's bound to get his opportunities. Furthermore, I can see this match with King being close, so I'm thinking it goes roughly nine to 10 frames long.
Take into account, Akani is 5/4 to hit Over 0.5 Tons against Sharav, and has posted the same amount of centuries as Slessor this season, in more matches, and then Robbie Williams is 2/1 to have Over 0.5 Tons versus Ian Burns – he's had one ton this season in 14 matches to Slessor's six.
Hence the 2/1 is well overpriced here.
Ding Junhui v Adam Stefanow – Adam Stefanow +4.5 handicap (10/11 Boylesports)
Ding Junhui v Adam Stefanow – Adam Stefanow to win (18/1 Bet365)
Dominic Dale v Gerard Greene – Gerard Greene to win (4/3 Marathon)
Marco Fu v Hammad Miah – Hammad Miah to win (5/1 William Hill)
Akani Songsermsawad v Eden Sharav – Eden Sharav to win (13/10 Bet365)
Martin Gould v Harvey Chandler – Harvey Chandler Over 0.5 Tons (4/1 Bet365)
Mark King v Elliot Slessor – Elliot Slessor Over 0.4 Tons (2/1 Bet365)