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Snooker’s Champion of Champions tournament cues off next week at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, where 16 of the world’s best players will compete for the invitational event. Having been contested in 1978 and 1980, the tournament was canned and only revived in 2013 by Matchroom Sport. Ronnie O’Sullivan won the event in both of the last two years, but the Rocket has neglected to take up the invitation to defend his title this time around, which means we are guaranteed a new winner.
There’s a strong field for the event, with the likes of Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, and recent International Championship winner John Higgins all in attendance, but Judd Trump is the man who stands out the most, and last year’s losing finalist could be set to go one better in 2015.
The Champion of Champions is a non-ranking event which is made up of winners of previous events over the last 12 months, and topped up with players from the world rankings if necessary. The 16 players are split into four groups of four, with the first group games contested over the best of seven frames, and the winners of those matches playing each other in a best of eleven clash to determine the group winner. The four group winners then compete in the best of eleven semi-finals on Saturday 14th November, with the final played over two sessions and 19 frames on Sunday 15th.
The tournament prize pool amounts to £270,000, with the winner set to collect a cool £100,000.
Field and Draw
There’s a strong field for the event this year, as always, but the absence of Ronnie O’Sullivan has opened up the betting as far as the bookies are concerned. The top five in the world rankings are all present though, and it will be a fiercely contested week on the baize.
Trump set for a Good Season
Judd Trump stands out as the man to side with at +450 with Skybet
Trump fell at the final hurdle in this competition last year, losing a high quality final 10-7 to Ronnie O’Sullivan. The former World Champion looked to be cruising at one point in the game, leading 8-3, but Trump fought back to make a game of it to draw to within one frame at 8-7. Ronnie went on to win the match, but Trump came away with plenty of credit and turned the tables in March of this year when he beat the Rocket by the same scoreline to take the inaugural World Grand Prix. That provided a neat bookend to Trump’s season, with his win in the Australian Open in July 2014 at the start of the season, his only other major victory of the campaign.
He reached the final of the UK Championship where he was beaten by O’Sullivan again, this time by 10 frames to 9 in an epic final which Ronnie dubbed as “the hardest match I’ve ever played”. Trumps ability to push arguably the world’s greatest ever player so hard, and also to go on and beat him later in the World Grand Prix final, is a huge boost to the young player, and he will feel capable of beating anyone. At just 26 years of age Trump has a long career ahead of him and more titles are bound to follow if he continues playing his snooker in the same vein. He also reached the semi-finals of the Players Championship and the World Championship last season, and has reached the quarter-final of the Australian Open and the final of the Shanghai Masters this season already.
Trump inexplicably failed to qualify for the International Championship after losing 6-0 to Michael Wild in the qualifiers in Barnsley, but that could work in our favour from a punting perspective. While most of the other players were on duty in that tournament, Trump has been able to enjoy a small break in preparation for this one.
The beauty of snooker is that (among the top players) anyone can beat anyone. Even when the sport has seen periods of dominance by the likes of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, and more recently Ronnie O’Sullivan, those guys were always vulnerable to a defeat at any time. No-one is really there ‘to be shot at’ in this particular tournament, but the dangers to our selection are many.
Trump’s opening group match will be against Kyren Wilson – the man who beat him 10-9 to take the Shanghai Masters, so he will have to be at his best from the word go. If he emerges victorious he will face a group decider against either John Higgins or Zhou Yuelong. Potential semi-final opponents could be Mark Selby or Barry Hawkins.
Selby is still ranked world number one and he could present a real danger if he brings his best form to the competition. He won the German Masters and the China Open last season, and went close in the International Championship recently, going out at the semi-final stage to eventual winner John Higgins.
Meanwhile, the other half of the draw features Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, and Higgins. All of whom have to be respected. Higgins in particular has really sprung back to form in recent months, winning both the Australian Open and the International Championship, and the veteran player is rolling back the years.
He’s available at +1000 also with Skybet, and could well be worth a small each way punt alongside our main wager on Trump. The bookies will pay out at half the odds if Higgins reaches the final, and it also pays to have a ‘runner’ in each half of the draw.
Judd Trump to win the Champion of Champions tournament
10th – 15th November
John Higgins to win the Champion of Champions tournament – Each Way
10th – 15th November
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