Snooker’s Welsh Open was first staged in 1992, with the inaugural title won by Stephen Hendry, and it is the third longest-running tournament after the World Championships and UK Championships.
This year it will be hosted by the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff from the 13 to 19 February, where it was originally staged until 2003 before returning in 2015, and it is the 14th ranking event of season. The opening rounds are best of 7-frames up until the quarter-finals which are best of 9-frames. The semi-finals are then best of 11-frames, whilst the final is the best of 17-frames. There is a total prize-fund of £366,000 with the winner taking home £70,000.
Local hero Mark Williams remains the only Welsh player to take the title, which he achieved in both 1996 and 1999, though it is Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins who jointly hold the record for the most tournament wins with four. O’Sullivan took the title in 2004, 2005, 2014 and 2016, whilst Higgins won his four titles in 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2015.
The tournament is also the final of the four tournaments in the Home Nations Series, for which sponsors Coral were offering a big bonus to any player who could win all four titles. However, as The English Open, Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open have been won by 3 different players – Coral’s big bonus will remain safely in the Bookmaker’s pocket this season.
It’s interesting that both Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins have won at this venue before, though it’s Higgins who boasts two wins here having won here in 2000, and again in 2015 when the tournament first moved back here after a 12-year absence. Some may say a snooker table is a just a snooker table – however, the ambience of certain venues definitely brings out the best in some players. Therefore, Higgins looks well worth an each-way bet at 14/1. He was in great form just a few weeks ago and, if he returns to that sort of form, he can win a fifth title. He also has an obvious motivation to do so, as winning that fifth title will again make him the player who has won the most Welsh Open Titles after O’Sullivan drew level with him last year.
The other player who catches the eye on recent form in the event is Ding Junhui who, after winning in 2012 and finishing runner-up in 2014, also looks over-priced and worth an each-way bet at 14/1.
2017 Welsh Open Snooker Tips
Ding Junhui, 1 Point Each-Way : 14/1 Skybet, PaddyPower, Coral