Why Mark Allen heads the list of likely winners in this year’s NI Open Snooker
The worlds best embark upon Belfast next week for the 3rd running of the Northern Ireland Open Snooker, the 2nd of the 4 home events which will feature 128 players playing it out for the Alex Higgins Trophy.
It will be the third staging of the World ranking event, and this year it will be held at the Waterfront and with two left-handed previous winners in the form of Mark Williams and Mark King, whose to say a third left-hander and a third Mark can’t win it in the very form of our own Mark Allen?
Mark Allen heads into this years open in red-hot form having won in China and reached the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions as I type this, whose to say he won’t be on a hat-trick heading into Monday and in the past, Allen has self-admitted that he has played with too much pressure to appease his legion of fans, a more relaxed Allen who is in the form of his life and playing for the 1st time as a Major Winner and Masters Champion can’t have a very deep run. He rates a very serious contender.
The Rocket is always a worthy favourite but staggeringly he continues to get better and better. Always a worthy favourite wherever he plays and has openly spoken out about his love for Northern Ireland in the past and as a very good friend of Mark Allen he should give a bold showing. However, he is too short for me in a best of 7, 128 strong field at 3/1. Whilst a good man to have on your side, he’s way too short for me in these conditions.
I think Stuart Bingham rates a reasonable bet as he seems to have a pretty good chance of progressing deep from a form and draw perspective. He still rates as one of the Worlds best and his form has been very strong since the season resumption and I rate him as one of the more likelier winners.
FANCY A LONG SHOT?
With these events being best of 7 and 128 deep in participants, it can be worth playing some at big odds given the history of upsets and seeds crashing out early and I’m gonna suggest one at 150/1.
The young Chinese player is rapidly rising up the game after impressing in the World Championships and becoming one of the few players who reached the last 16 of the 3 Biggest ranking events. He has played this tournament once in the past and reached the semi-final which could show that he finds his best on the Baize of Belfast! The sky is the limit for this Chinese wonderkid and a repeat performance of 2017 effort could see him go one better and reward each-way backers at monstrous odds!
FIRST ROUND UPSETS?
ANTHONY HAMILTON TO BEAT MARK SELBY
The Sheriff of Nottingham sparked a career revival this time last year with a memorable run to the semis. He also has a 5-1 win record against Mark Selby! Quite remarkable really! The World Number 1 also excels in longer formats and this Best of 7 could find him out against a more than capable player who knows how to beat him and knows how to win at this venue!
Mark Allen To Win Outright 12/1
Stuart Bingham To Win Outright 22/1
Lyu Haotian To Win Outright 150/1
Anthony Hamilton to Beat Mark Selby 10/3