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The penultimate event before "The Big One" at Sheffield. This event has mixed feeling for the players, I would imagine. It has so much money involved that it cannot be ignored. But it can either make a player sharp or tire them out before the most important event. With that in mind, I think looking at the outright market would call for a different kind of approach.

In the early rounds of this event it's the first to 6. This rules out Selby in my opinion, so in the top half it's quite open. We also have to take into consideration players like Day and Gilbert who are fighting it out for World Championship spots. In the top half I am drawn to initially is Higgins but I just think he will use it as a warm up and not take it masively serious. Instead, I will look to the value of Hawkins and Maguire. Hawkins got to the final last year and despite having a very tricky match-up against Lu Ning, if he wins that he has a good chance. His price is purely based on the fact he faces Neil Robertson and potentially John Higgins but at 20/1 I think he has every chance. Maguire isn't really somebody I like to back no more as he is far too up and down but at such a big price he has a chance and has a decent record here, getting to the semi-finals a couple of times.

In the bottom half take your pick. Very open. I like Bingham as he is the kind of player who scraps for everything and will play every tournament 100%. I also like Dave Gilbert who will need a decent return here to make sure he has World Championship status. Other than those two, Sijun and Hoatian both look dangerous.

2pts B.Hawkins to win the China Open 20/1 Skybet
2pts S.Bingham to win the China Open 20/1 betvictor

1pt S.Maguire to win the China Open 50/1 betvictor
1pt D.Gilbert to win the China Open 66/1 bet365
0.5pts L.Haotian to win the China Open 200/1 ladbrokes
0.5pts Y.Sijun to win the China Open 125/1 ladbrokes


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This event gets underway in the early hours so the first matches begin at 1.30am being in China of course. Looking at the first round there isn't too much to get excited about in the early hours but abit later there are a few worth watching. One that starts in the morning at 6.30am is Ali Carter against Kurt Maflin and I think Maflin is overpriced. Ali beat Maflin 6-0 the last time they played but they have shared 2 wins each at the head-2-head. We don't really know of Ali's form at the moment because he withdrew from the Gibraltar tournament and was very poor against Williams in the Players prior to that. He beat Alann Taylor to qualify here 6-3. You couldn't say we have seen him in-form since the Grand Prix where he made the final.

Kurt Maflin is playing some decent stuff right now. He beat Hugill in the previous round here and Ashley played some great stuff including a 140 break. He had a good Gibraltar event where he got to the last 16 and lost to eventual champion, Bingham. Carter hasn't really performed in the China Open in the past couple of years and it just sways me on a possible upset here.

Also around this time, a battle of the Chinese commences as Li Hang takes on Yuelong. These two have never played eachother surprisingly, but I think Li Hang should be the favourite in my opinion. At 11/10 I will back him. He has had some nice results recently beating Robertson back in Ireland and pushing Higgins close not long ago. Mei Xiwen faces Marco Fu at 11.30am and I will be backing Xiewen. He is a very good up and coming prospect and he beat Fu 4-1 when they last played. The value is surely on Xiwen. 

Sam Baird is really hitting the ball well right now. His form is good and you'd have to say the form is better than Brecel's, who to me just seems like he is playing in his local pub every time I watch him. I will go with Baird on that one. I will also punt on Vafaei who is another player who looks to be the better of form against Milkins. 

2.5pts K.Maflin to beat A.Carter 2/1 bet365
2.5pts Li Hang to beat Z
. Yuelong 11/10 ladbrokes
2.5pts M.Williams (-4.5 frames) to beat H.Chandle 11/10 bet365
2.5pts M.Xiwen to beat M.Fu 21/10
4pts S.Baird to beat L.Brecel 15/8
5pts H.Vafaei to beat R.Milkins 6/5 coral


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Could have been such a good day. I'm kicking myself because I had Steadman to beat Selby planned to tip but I looked at Steadman's form and I thought I would wait for the round. 7/1 ugh

Anyway, a profitable day which would have been better if Maflin could win at 4-2 up and lost on a decider. Baird didn't turn and Williams should be embarrassed by that result. One to lay.

Going to take a look for tomorrow's matches. Outrights looking decent. Bingham winning 6-0. Gilbert through 6-4. Worried about Hawkins against Ning tomorrow. Think he has a game there.


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Lots of matches tomorrow then. Looking at the early hours first I'm going to avoid the Lu Ning Vs Hawkins match-up due to outright bets. I think Ebdon has a chance against Bingtao but then being in China maybe this is Bingtao's time to shine. Although we've said that quite a few times. So one I do like is Rod Lawler to beat Thor Leong. Thor beat Michael White 6-1 in the previous round here, but White at the moment just cannot stay focused. He loses a couple of frames and tanks. Prior to that match, I've not seen Thor win a "first to 6" match in years and last year he went out 6-5 to McGill too. Lawler beat Champions League winner Gould 6-0 somehow and has had some OK results. Maybe the Snooker shoot-out invigorated him. This is most definitely a winnable game for Rod.

Yuan Sijun kicks off same time in the early hours as that match and he faces Kyren Wilson. Despite having Sijun in the outright I have to dip my toe in and have a bet on Sijun here. Just too much value in my eyes. He beat him last time they played. Kyren is not on form and Sijun is in his home country. Next up abit later, but still in the morning, we have Ursenbacher against Mark King. Ursenbacher is a player I like to tip and I haven't been able to recently due to so many visa issues but here he faces an out-of-form Mark King this year. Ursenbacher, of course, beat Ronnie this year, but he's not a one trick pony. He has beaten the likes of Matthew Stevens in the last round here and Yan Bingtao. 

5pts R.Lawler to beat T.Leong 11/10 ladbrokes
2pts Y.Sijun to beat K.Wilson 2/1 bet365
2pts Ursenbacher to beat M.King 7/4 


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Into the Last 32 tomorrow then. There are 3 I like. The first is not too much of a surprise. Lu Ning takes on Mark King who gave Ursenbacher many, many chances. Unfortunately (i guess) on his time out Ursenbacher lost some form and showed far too much rust and gave it back every time. Lu Ning will not do that. These two played in 2015 in this event which King won 5-2 but we know Lu Ning is a better player now. Can we say Mark King is... 

Next up, with so many big names going (which is no shock at all) I am going to take Xiwen to beat Robertson. I want this to happen because I think Robertson needs it to happen. If he sticks his all into this event and wins it, he can say goodbye to winning Sheffield it's just too much snooker for him and he isn't going to do it. Xiwen is more than capable of winning the match anyhow, so he should compete either way.

Finally, I will try Sam Craigie to beat Ali Carter. Maflin should have already done it but nevertheless, if Sam pots well he should be thereabouts with Ali not on his A game. Craigie also beat Ali in there last meeting, which funny enough I also tipped :D 

5pts L.Ning to beat M.King 6/5 williamhill
4pts S.Craigie to beat A.Carter 13/8 paddypower
2pts M.Xiwen to beat N.Robertson 9/2 bet365

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Decent result profit wise for the day but Xiwen 3-1 up and loses 5 in a row. Also, Maguire was shocking and went out. Same with Gilbert who just doesn't look the same player of months gone by and will be lucky to make it into the Worlds without the need to qualify now. At least with Xiwen, he can say Robertson really turned it on. Robertson really looks up for this event which makes me think his main aim is to win it, to get out of the "half of death" at Sheffield. For those who don't know, it looks like Neil Robertson will be in the same half as Ronnie, Selby, and Judd Trump so him winning it would be a massive chance of him making a potential final.

Anyways, on to the Last 16. Outrights on this event we still have Bingham who likes the most likely of the bets. A nice 147 today against Ebdon although you wouldn't say Bingham played amazingly. Still, also have outsider Haotian in the mix.

Tomorrow's lineup :

L.Wenbo Vs S.Craigie
N.Robertson Vs L.Ning
L.Brecel Vs H.Vafaei
L.Haotian Vs B.Woollaston

A.McManus Vs A.McGill
L.Hang Vs J.Lisowski
S.Bingham Vs R.Lawler
S.Donaldson Vs R.Walden

 I won't be taking too much tomorrow. I don't think there is too much value really. One I like though is Alan McManus to beat Anthony McGill. McManus has been really good this week and although he hasn't played top class players he has only dropped 2 frames. I don't think McGill has had to be too great either this week. Beating Nigel Bond and a very out-of-sorts Maguire. I will side with the value in the match, McManus. 

Jack Lisowski has another good chance in this tournament but normally it's about this time he starts thinking about the finishing line and puts in a stinker and Li Hang is a very underrated player. A player which has beaten Lisowski in the past and I think he is a good pick.

Finally, I'm going to take on Ricky Walden and pick out Scott Donaldson for the win. Walden has a good record against Scott winning both their matches but only on a decider in the last and I think Donaldson looks the better of the two for form. Walden has beaten Ken Doherty and a Chinese qualifier, whereas Donaldson has seen off Joe Perry and David Gilbert.

4pts A.McManus to beat A.McGill 13/8 Bet365
2pts L.Hang to beat J.Lisowski 7/4 Paddypower
2.5pts S.Donaldson to beat R.Walden 11/10 Bet365

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So close to the full house. Hang was 4-2 up!! 

Not sure if I am going to be involved with the Quarter-finals. Doesn't look too appealing. If I find anything, I will put it up. Bingham still has a big chance but Lisowski has a decent record against him. If he beats Jack you'd expect him to make the final.

Edited by Fader
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