Championship League snooker: Free betting preview and tips

Snooker's elite are in action in Milton Keynes

Live snooker returned to our television screens on Monday with the Championship League, live on ITV4 - Richard Mann looks at every group.

Recommended bets

3pts Joe Perry to win Group Four at 5/6

2pts Luca Brecel to win Group Nine at 15/8

1pt Louis Heathcote to win Group Three at 15/2

Group 2

Monday June 1

Even allowing for the shortened format, Judd Trump looks banker material in Group Two. The reigning world champion and world number one was last seen winning the Gibraltar Open, in the process becoming the only player in the history of the sport to win six ranking titles in a single season, and he should have few worries here. Elliot Slessor has enjoyed enough success over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the past to suggest he might be the one to give Trump most to fear.

Group 9

Tuesday June 2

The theory that natural talent will prove more advantageous than ever before due to the recent shutdown and the restrictions that has imposed on players' practice regimes will really be put to the test here. If this proves to be the case, Group 9 certainly has the makings of a cracker with Jack Lisowski and Luca Brecel looking set dominate. Lisowski heads the betting but the 15/8 on offer for Brecel to win the group looks a touch of value given the form he has shown at times this season.

Recommended bet: 2pts Luca Brecel to win Group Nine at 15/8

Group 3

Tuesday June 2

Shoot Out hero Micheal Holt ought to be suited by this format and just heads the betting from the veteran Mark Davis, who has shown enough in patches this term to suggest he remains far from a spent force. I would still prefer Holt of the two but at a much bigger price, I'm keen to take a chance on Louis Heathcote. He is a good operator on the upgrade who has enjoyed a solid season with a number of impressive wins. A solid match-player, this format might not suit his game ideally but 15/2 for him to win the group is too big of a carrot to ignore.

Recommended bet: 1pt Louis Heathcote to win Group Three at 15/2

Group 12

Wednesday June 3

A dire season to date for Ryan Day will make Kyren Wilson many punters' idea of the banker of the week. Wilson is a 4/6 shot to win Group 12 after maintaining his resurgence with a run to the final of the last tournament before shutdown - the Gibraltar Open. A harsh critic of Wilson at times, I'm both pleased and convinced he turned a corner in his loss to Stuart Bingham at The Masters in January and fully expect him to prove a big threat at the World Championship. Nevertheless, Day is a real enigma who can match anyone when on song and I won't be playing here.

Group 4

Wednesday June 3

Sam Baird and Harvey Chandler are two young players whom terrestrial viewers won't have seen a great deal of. Baird is a capable player on his day while veteran Mark King, the former Northern Ireland Open champion, has the pedigree and experience to warrant plenty of respect. However, Joe Perry is in the midst of yet another excellent campaign and this rock-solid performer looks a strong bet to top Group 4 at 5/6.

Recommended bet: 3pts Joe Perry to win Group Four at 5/6

Group 5

Thursday June 4

Mark Selby is the obvious class act in Group 5 and despite his penchant for the longer-format matches, he has been fast enough out of the traps to win two Home Nations events this season. The forthcoming World Championship invariably coincides with Selby hitting peak form so he will be expected to progress, though the mercurial Liang Wenbo can give anyone a game when in the mood. Most interesting, perhaps, is a chance for terrestrial viewers to get a look at 2019 Welsh Open semi-finalist Joe O’Connor. A fine, young talent with a good temperament to boot, O’Connor could have a bright future and he gets three matches to show us what he has here.

Group 14

Thursday June 4

One of the weakest groups of the week and Matthew Stevens will be hopeful of continuing his solid season to date. The veteran has achieved most things in the sport and, following a spell in doldrums, has a strung together a good run in the last 18 months or so. Stevens and last season's World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson might have things between themselves in Group 14 and are hard to split. John J. Astley and Mitchell Mann make up the quartet.

Group 10

Friday June 5

Punters will have to wait until Friday to get their first look at Ronnie O'Sullivan. The Rocket has endured a largely frustrating campaign which followed a trophy-laden run in the previous season. Lockdown has seen O'Sullivan reaffirm his commitment to the sport after appearing disinterested at times this year - most notably when skipping The Masters back in January. Despite his advancing years, he is still performing at a high level - if just a little way below his absolute best - and a sixth World Championship victory in August cannot be discounted. Given his outstanding record in the shorter-format matches, expect O'Sullivan to show up well in Milton Keynes and the likes of Michael Georgiou and Chris Wakelin should have their work cut out in Group 10.

Group 15

Friday June 5

Tom Ford looks an uneasy favourite to win Group 15 but there is no doubting his talent and when in the groove; his scoring can match many of the biggest hitters in the sport. He ought to have too many guns for Robert Milkins, the latter short of his best so far this season but another dangerous operator on his day. Neither of the aforementioned pair look worth taking short odds about, though, and perhaps the gritty Ian Burns can outrun odds of 4/1 as he looks to maintain his steady progression.

Group 1

Saturday June 6

This season's Masters hero Stuart Bingham heads the betting to progress to the next stage from Group 1 and the former world champion will no doubt be keen to sharpen up his game with the Crucible in mind. However, with his Champion Of Champions spot for next year already secured, don't bank on him here at odds-on with the very capable Ricky Walden a dangerous foe in opposition. Walden has been plagued by back problems that have cruelly stunted his progress but he is capable of much better than we have seen from him in the last year or so.

Group 8

Saturday June 6

  • Please note: Ursenbacher replaced by Thor Chuan Leong

2018 European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson has been unable to scale such heady heights since that victory in Belgium and will be hoping for a good showing in Milton Keynes. He finds himself in one of most competitive groups of the week, one which lacks a standout performer but boasts four very capable players. Ben Woollaston has enough experience to make him a threat in this company while Liam Highfield is making good strides and could be one to follow next term. However, the gifted Alexander Ursenbacher is a real handful when in the mood and the outsider of four must be taken seriously with his aggressive approach having the potential to put his opponents on the back foot in a format where the first blow landed can often be match-winning.

Group 16

Sunday June 7

The current campaign has been another to savour for Neil Robertson and if anyone is to have benefited from the break the enforced shutdown has afforded players, it might be him. Robertson enjoyed a brilliant run of form early in the new year when reaching three finals in as many weeks - winning two - but those exertions did appear to take their toll on the Australian thereafter and he will have been happy to recharge the batteries in recent weeks. He finds himself in a tricky Group 16, though, with Ken Doherty still navigating his way round the table to good effect and Kurt Maflin showing what a capable operator he is with a good run at the UK Championship earlier this season. Expect Robertson to progress, but he looks short enough to do so at 3/10.

Group 7

Sunday June 7

Group 7, on paper at least, looks one of the more low-key with Barry Hawkins rightly preferred to Anthony McGill in the betting. Nevertheless, I'll be following the progress of both players closely this week with Hawkins, in particular, always worth noting when the World Championship is in sight and given the wretched season he has endured to date, he is certainly in need of a tonic. The same can be said of McGill; a former top 16 player who is sliding down the rankings at an alarming rate and who will be desperate for a good run here to build some confidence.

Group 11

Monday June 8

It is to his credit that Mark Allen has enjoyed another consistent season, particularly in the early part of it, given his recent admission that he has split from his wife and is currently in the process of getting a divorce. He ought to have too many guns for the likes of Martin O'Donnell and Nigel Bond given he can so often operate below his best and grind out results in a way a younger Allen would not have been able to do. O'Donnell and Bond are both highly capable, though, and the latter will relish returning to terrestrial television screens after his memorable run at the UK Championship in December.

Group 6

Monday June 8

It's rarely dull when Ali Carter and Matt Selt are drawn against each other so Group 6 has the potential to be more interesting than many would expect. Carter reached the final of The Masters as recently as January to confirm what a wonderful, all-round player he remains and he could well have too much class for his trio of opponents in this group. However, I've always had a soft spot for Sam Craigie and this format has the potential to suit a young player who lacks for nothing in the talent department. Craigie reached the quarter-finals of the China Open last year so can clearly operate at the highest level and sooner rather than later he ought to make an impact on a more consistent basis than he has done so far.


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