Champion of Champions free semi-finals betting preview and tips including Ronnie O'Sullivan

Can Mark Allen win his first title of the season?
Can Mark Allen win his first title of the season?

With Ronnie O'Sullivan closing in on yet another major title, Richard Mann previews each of the two Champion of Champions semi-finals in Coventry.

Recommended bets

2pts Mark Allen to beat Judd Trump at 13/8

1pt Mark Allen to win the Champion of Champions at 6/1


Having recently added the World Open to the International Championship victory he claimed earlier in the campaign, following on from the four titles his won last season, Judd Trump is now firmly established as the number one player in the sport and he will be widely expected to make his second final in as many weeks.

However, I think he's got a real task on his hands to get the better of 2015 finalist Mark Allen and quotes of 1/2 about the favourite look very skinny indeed.

The upside for Trump is obvious; the Masters and World Championship hero is now adding regular titles to his CV that his vast talents have long demanded and with a much-improved safety game, he is now very close to being the complete snooker player.

While the improvements Trump has made to the tactical side of his game mean he can now mix it with the best whichever way a frame goes, it's his focus on the practice table and renewed hunger to make the most of his time in the sport that have made such a him such a prolific winner.

However, he hasn't had things all his own way of late and confessed to being very tired having beaten Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in good style on Wednesday.

A few days to recover since should help to remedy that but as Lee Walker and Joe Perry have shown already this season, Trump still has the odd chink in his armour and he won't be allowed any breathing space against Allen, a wonderful all-round operator himself.

Allen arrived in Coventry having reached a couple of semi-finals already this season and although he has yet to get his hands on any silverware, he can count himself a shade unlucky not to have triumphed at the English Open having led eventual winner Mark Selby 5-3 in their epic semi-final before losing out.

I didn't think he enjoyed a great run of the ball when losing to David Gilbert at the World Open subsequently but he showed great character to beat Matthew Selt and then gain revenge on Selby here on Tuesday.

Allen is one of the few players on the tour capable of shutting out Selby tactically and that is just what he did, as he had for large parts of that aforementioned English Open contest, while he showed his break building to be in good shape with contributions of 70, 69, 65 and 51.

As was the case when finishing runner-up at UK Championship and winning the Scottish Open at this time last year, Allen looks to be working his way nicely into peak form just at the right time and crucially, conditions in Coventry appear ideal for the Northern Irishman.

A brilliant touch player whose cue-ball control in the balls is almost peerless, Allen can lack for cue power and as such, he has sometimes struggled on the heavier cloths in China.

That certainly hasn't been an issue at the Ricoh Arena, though, with the table playing remarkably fast all week and Allen going on record to describe conditions as 'beautiful' and the table being the best he has played on all season.

Snooker is one of those rare sports where conditions shouldn't change from tournament to tournament but that isn't always the case and those in Coventry are sure to suit Allen's game down to the ground.

With so much in Allen's favour, not least his superior head-to-head record with Trump (13-10), taking the 13/8 on offer about the former Masters champion is a must.

1400 GMT on 08/11/19.

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