Snooker: European Masters snooker qualifying round

Former snooker professional Craig Edwards previews a couple of exciting
matches for BetWithUS

Chase Leisure Centre, Cannock

No Crowds means atmosphere, means misery for

Stephen Hendry 5/2 (3.50) v Li Hang 2/7 (1.29)

Saturday 30th October at 14:30

Li Hang made his second semi-final of a ranking event last year at the Scottish Open and the
thirty-one-year-old is a solid journeyman professional who completed a hundred
competitive century breaks last week.

We know what we are likely to get from Li Hang, so this is more about the seven times
World Champion Stephen Hendry. The Scot started his well-vaunted comeback last March
with a century break against his friend, Matt Selt. Except for a win at the British Open
against Chris Wakelin in front of a full house at the Leicester Morningside Arena, it’s been a
poor show with little encouragement that he’s going to be able to perform to an acceptable
level, let alone the level he understandably expects. The other factor is playing at Chase
Leisure Centre in Cannock where no crowds are allowed will only compound Hendry’s woes.
Unsurprisingly, his one win, this season was when he was in front of a crowd on prime-time
television which likely gave him a little inspiration with an atmosphere to feed off.

Sadly, that won’t be the case on Sunday when he has a serious problem if he doesn’t play
his best. In his pomp, Hendry was that good he never needed a tactical game but once
below his best he lacks the table craft we could expect from a player of his achievements.
We know Li Hang is better than average in the balls but unfortunately for Hendry, he’s
different gravy in the scrappy frames which means Hendry may have no way of being
effective on Saturday.

Hopefully, Stephen Hendry will improve in the coming weeks particularly when playing in
front of a crowd at the Barbican Centre for the UK Championship. He often jokes about his
miserable demeanour but for Saturday at Cannock Chase, I can only see torture for the
great champion and a facile victory for Li Hang. Take the handicaps on Li Hang, confidently
especially the -2.5 at odds against or the Asian -2.25.

European Masters Snooker Picks

Li Hang -2.5 frame handicap versus Stephen Hendry @ 11/10 (2.10)

How to Rob a price with Jimmy’s 7/4

David Gilbert 4/9 (1.45) v Jimmy Robertson 7/4 (2.75)

Saturday 30 th October at 14:30

This looks like the toughest match of the opening round of qualifying for the European
Masters. On current form, I have both players easily in the top 16 which is no surprise to
many about David Gilbert who’s been producing top quality snooker for the best part of
three full seasons except a slump in form last year. Winning his first ranking title, the
Championship League has done Gilbert’s fragile confidence no harm at all and he looks like
an outside contender for big titles in the coming months.

With the prospect of returning to Q-school if he lost, Jimmy Robertson came back from the
brink of defeat at last year’s World Championship qualifying against Zhao Jianbo. That
result displayed the mental toughness and class of a top player and his shock European
Masters win three years previous would indicate Jimmy Robertson has the game but more
importantly for this match a special affinity with the event. After walking the tightrope in
World Championship qualifying Jimmy Robertson has flown all season, reaching the semi-
finals of the British Open and consolidating with a deep run at the Northern Ireland Open.

They’ve played each other on five occasions with Gilbert winning four but they’ve all been
high standard matches full of breaks and attacking snooker.

When I priced the match up after the German Masters qualifying that both came through, I
made Jimmy Robertson an average biggest price of 27/20 (2.35) not the advertised 7/4
(2.75). If they were playing best of 11 or upwards Jimmy Robertson’s price would land on
the 2.75 at 11 phasing up to as high as (3.50) in 19 given Gilbert rating improves markedly in
the longer format.

I think we are guaranteed a top-quality opening match from two players chock full of
confidence. Their break building statistics are amongst the best for the current season,
hence David Gilbert’s total of 15 centuries is only behind Mark Allen’s 18, while Jimmy
Robertson’s total of seven is a very respectable one. There’s an old saying in snooker that ‘a
century break only wins one frame’ and it’s very true so for a more accurate barometric of a
player’s consistency use the 50+ break rate which Gilbert’s of 1.98 betters Judd Trump’s
2.14 from last season while Jimmy Robertson’s 2.46 is a top 16 standard.

My overall conclusion is David Gilbert’s uber aggressive style of play will suit Jimmy
Robertson who has a strong affinity with the European Masters and 7/4 is a better price

than expected, so to cover Gilbert winning a decider again, I’m going to split stakes into the
+1.5 handicap.

European Masters Snooker Picks

Jimmy Robertson to beat David Gilbert 7/4 (2.75)

Jimmy Robertson +1.5 frame handicap 21/20 (2.05)

Credit for the break stats to:
Florax, Ron, 2021: Cuetracker. Available [Online.] (Accessed October 2021)

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