This week’s China Championship may not carry lots of ranking points like the International Championship did last week – but the 16 players who have been invited to play in it will be battling it out for a £650,000 prize-fund. The winner will pick up a cool £200,000, making it the biggest winner’s cheque for any tournament staged outside the UK.
The first two-rounds of matches are best of 11-frames, whilst the semi-finals are best of 17 frames, and the final best of 19. It’s an attractive format featuring most of the world’s best players (no Ronnie O’Sullivan) – just don’t get used to it as for the next 3-years it will be a ranking tournament that will be open to 128 players.
Betting: Judd Trump 5/1, Mark Selby 5/1, Neil Robertson 13/2, Ding Junhui 13/2, Shaun Murphy 11/1, Stuart Bingham 16/1, John Higgins 16/1, Mark Allen 22/1, Ali Carter 33/1, Ricky Walden 33/1, Liang Wenbo 40/1, Marco Fu 40/1, Mark Williams 45/1, Joe Perry 45/1, Anthony McGill 50/1, Michael Holden 66/1
Mark Selby v Anthony McGill
Mark Allen v Ricky Walden
John Higgins v Mark Williams
Judd Trump v Ali Carter
Mark Selby retained his number one status after his demolition of Ding Junhui in last week’s final, and there’s those 200,000 reasons why he might retain his motivation this week. He also looks to have the perfect opener against Anthony McGill, a player he has beaten all four-times they’ve met in best-of-11 or shorter matches. Allen or Walden will then stand in his way of a semi-final spot, but he’ll be a strong favourite to progress against either.
His most likely semi-final opponent is Judd Trump, who must first overcome Ali Carter. However, if he does that, he’ll be a firm favourite against the out-of-form pair of Higgins and Williams.
Shaun Murphy v Joe Perry
Ding Junhui v Marco Fu
Neil Robertson v Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham v Liang Wenbo
A partisan crowd may be able to motivate Ding Junhui after last week’s final anihliation, but it’s a tough ask for him to bounce back. Meanwhile, Murphy, Perry, Fu, Robertson and Holt don’t look in the sort of form to be winning. That leaves Stuart Bingham who will be pleased to be in the opposite half of the draw to Selby this week, and his toughest match may well be Liang Wenbo in the first round.
Selby would be fancied to beat Bingham in the final perhaps but, just in case Selby isn’t up for it this week, I’ll back them both.
Marky Selby @ 17/4 Black Type