By Craig Edwards @EdwardsTips_
Tuesday 23 rd November to Sunday 5 th December
Barbican Centre, York
Snooker previews exclusive to BetWithUs
Snooker previews will be exclusive to BetWithUs readers in the coming season, and we start
by taking an early look to build our ante-post portfolio for the sport’s second most
prestigious event; The UK Championship that starts next month.
Yan Bingtao – each-way @ 34.00
The UK Championship format stands alone
In the modern snooker calendar post-Covid-19 an event like the UK Championship with a
best of 11 frames minimum to the final, is unheard of outside the triple crown status
meaning the majority of players outside the top 16 only get two longer format events in a
season. Pre the pandemic there was a couple of Chinese events giving the players more
match practice in the longer formats of the sport and to help prepare them to be future
World Champion. There is undoubtedly a gulf growing in the sport whereby the regular
ranking events are like a 100-metre sprint compared to the ‘Tour De France’ World
Championship meaning stamina is the major commodity needed to be a world champion
while brilliance under immediate pressure rules the shorter format events. The World
Championship and ranking events are no longer copacetic but perhaps the UK
Championship will find the players’ who have the perfect mix and balance between
brilliance, consistency, and stamina.
One such player who sticks out pre-tournament draw being made at the prices is Yan
Bingtao. His deadpan, ‘one ball at a time’ style of play appears perfectly suited to the longer
formats and grinding out wins irrespective of performance. His results indicate so with the
Masters win at the start of 2021 sticking out when he outstayed Neil Robertson and a
rejuvenated John Higgins to become Masters Champion at only twenty years of age. Ronnie
O’Sullivan was the youngest ever Masters Champion at nineteen, but Bingtao’s already
broke plenty of records in the sport and was the youngest ever World Amateur Champion in
2014 and the youngest ranking event finalist in 2017 at the Northern Ireland Open.
Only last week he looked set for making his second Northern Ireland Open final when he led
John Higgins 2-0 in their semi-final. Because of his deadpan exterior, it can be difficult to get
a read on how Yan Bingtao is feeling but it’s feasible to me he took John Higgins slightly easy
subconsciously having gotten the better of the Scot on several occasions. Either way, if he
wasn’t aware of how brilliant John Higgins could be from his small sample size, he sure is
Favourite Venue Theory
Despite a snooker table always being twelve foot by six, there are so many tales of players
liking or hating venues, there has to be some truth in the theory. A hand to eye
coordination sport means the biorhythms and endorphins benefit from being in tune and
therefore a dose of dopamine even when a player travels to an old haunt that holds positive
memories can be enough to kick start or enhance their form.
Firstly, let’s look at the flipside in the theory of a player disliking a certain venue, John
Higgins is the best example of that at the Barbican Centre where his best performance is
one semi-final appearance in fifteen appearances as far back as 2009. That record is too
bad not to be true for one of the sport’s greatest.
The last time the Barbican Centre hosted the UK Championship in 2019 saw two players
climbing out of slumps and back to their best form. Firstly, losing finalist Stephen Maguire
(200/1) was in a real slump in form prior but had long been quoted as saying how much he
enjoys the UK Championship at York, having won the 2004 renewal. The winner, Ding
Junhui (66/1) was in miserable form and mood prior but also had a strong affinity with the
event venue having won the following year in 2005. It’s fair to say, Yan Bingtao will be
looking forward to returning to the Barbican Centre having already created good memories
of his own when reaching the semi-final of the same event and funnily enough beating Neil
Robertson and John Higgins along the way. Take previously how Yan Bingtao broke through
at the Northern Ireland Open as a seventeen-year-old and consolidated that affinity last
week when reaching the semi-finals.
In a few weeks, Yan Bingtao can do the same at the Barbican Centre and I’m surprised that
there are still many quotes around 33/1 (34.00) and 28/1 (29.00).
*There will be updates closer to the UK Championship as we update our ante-post portfolio