As the quarter finals of the Northern Ireland Open begin today in Belfast, we take a look at the draw and what snooker matches to keep an eye on.
This is the first tournament in quite some time that doesn’t feature a top 8 player in the world. Many of the top players decided not to play this week in preparation for the UK championships which start this Tuesday. Other top players such as Ronnie O’Sullivan (who was most online sports gambling favourite), John Higgins, Liang Wenbo, Ding Junhui and Joe Perry have been knocked out in previous rounds. For that reason, the latter stages of this event make for a very interesting watch.
The World No.10 and highest ranking player left in the Northern Ireland trophy, Mark Allen is the overwhelming favourite to win this week. Not only is he the best ranked player left, but he has home advantage as this event is being played on his home soil in Belfast. Earlier in the week Allen was caught up in controversy in a match between Mark Joyce but he has put that behind him now.
Allen has admitted his performances to date have been poor. Last night he stumbled over the line against Gary Wilson 4-3 but to progress further he will need to find better form.
Later tonight Allen will take on Anthony Hamilton, who has played some decent snooker to get to this stage of the competition and it’s been some time since Hamilton found himself at this stage of an event.
Another interesting match today is between Mark Williams and Kyren Wilson. Williams sent John Higgins home yesterday after winning 4-1.
One of the best matches of the tournament so far was between Kyren Wilson and Ronnie O’Sullivan, where Wilson prevailed victorious after a deciding frame in a brilliant match to win 4-3. Wilson is determined to make a name for himself as one of the top snooker players in the sport.
Williams and Wilson have never met before in a snooker match. It will be another interesting watch as both players have very different styles of playing snooker. The odds are on Williams to win this match as he has far more experience, but don’t be surprised if Wilson causes another upset.
Barry Hawkins is one of the best snooker players in the world. He is often forgotten about in tournaments, but often found at the latter stages. This afternoon he will take on Michael White, who has had an up and down couple of years. White likes to go for his shots and make big breaks, while Hawkins has that bit more experience at the top level but hasn’t had a great season so far. If Hawkins comes out and plays well, it’s hard to see him losing but that’s a big ‘if.’ Online sports gambling sites such as PaddyPower have this at evens.
The other intriguing snooker match today is between Mark King and Hossein Vafaei Ayouri. Mark King has been on the circuit for a long time but little or nothing is known about Hossein. He comes from Iran and now plays out of the Royal Navan snooker club in Navan, Ireland and we’re told he’s a very good player. King should be the favourite in this match but most snooker fans will know that King has suffered from nerves in big matches like these. Online sports gambling websites are currently calling this one even with some slightly in favour of King.
Whoever wins the Northern Ireland Trophy will have battled hard. There has been few ‘easy draws.’ Obviously the favourite and the majority of the online sports gambling favourite for the week is Mark Allen being the highest ranked snooker player left and having the home advantage.