The China Open (Starts Monday 27 March) has been a regular on the Professional World Snooker Tour since the 2004/5 season, and the 2016/17 season’s penultimate event is hosted by the Beijing University. Many of the world’s top players are using the tournament as a final warm-up before the World Championships which start on Saturday 15 April, though some have side-stepped it to prepare a home.
Three players have won the tournament twice, with Ronnie O’Sullivan winning the first two renewals, home hero Ding Junhui winning in 2005 and 2014, whilst Judd Trump is defending Champion after following his 2011 success with victory last year. World number-one Mark Selby has also lifted the trophy here in 2015, whilst he was runner-up in both 2011 and 2013.
Whilst we’ll be trying to pick the winner, those of you who like individual match-bets may be interested in the list of players who can use this tournament to wrestle the last automatic World Championship top-16 spot away from Ryan Day, who isn’t playing in China as he didn’t qualify for the event.
Joe Perry is in pole position to take the last spot, but he’ll need to at least reach the semi-finals, whilst Martin Gould could sneak the last spot if he reaches the semi-finals and Joe Perry doesn’t. Meanwhile, David Gilbert and Mark King could make the top-16 by reaching the final, but Ricky Walden, Michael Holt, Mark Williams, Alan McManus and Stephen Maguire must all win the event, if the ones above them fail to reach their goals.
China Open Outright Betting
Ronnie O’Sullivan 5/1, Mark Selby 5/1, Judd Trump 11/2, John Higgins 12/1, Ding Junhui 14/1, Sean Murphy 18/1, Stuart Bingham 20/1, 40/1 Bar.
Judd Trump is widely conceived to be playing the most consistent snooker in the world at present, and his recent win in the Players’ Championship will have filled him with confidence. He will draw further confidence from his two previous wins in the event, and he has also finished runner-up twice in the Shanghai Masters, making him an obvious pick for a semi-final spot.
John Higgins hasn’t performed at his best in recent tournaments, but his win in the Championship League suggests he may have just been taking things easy after a fine start to the season. He won in China in November, whilst he made it to the semi-finals here last year, suggesting he’ll be looking for a thorough warm-up before the World Championships. It’s a tough quarter with Sean Murphy and Ali Carter both enjoying plenty of recent success, but the Scot is fancied to book a semi-final with Trump.
Another tough-looking quarter with Ronnie O’Sullivan sure to be looking for some solid match practice, though he’s overlooked having not made a final here since 2000. Stuart Bingham is a player who has enjoyed plenty of success in this part of the world though, and has made two semi-finals and one final here this season, and his confidence will be high after his recent Welsh Open win. However, at the prices, Ding Junhui offers massive value, as his record on home soil includes two wins here, as well as several wins in the Shanghai Masters.
Mark Selby side-stepped defending this title last year, but comes here this year in search of some much-needed form before defending his World Championship Title. Whether he can find his best form is another matter, but he has a relatively soft quarter if he can.
2017 China Open Outrights
Selby and Higgins may make the semi-finals but, with neither at their best at the moment, the final could well be fought-out between Trump and Ding Junhui – and both look worth backing from opposite sides of the draw.
2017 China Open Snooker Tips
Judd Trump @ 11/2 (Betstars)
Ding Junhui @ 14/1 (Black Type)