The new snooker season gets under way with the latest instalment, the second this year, of the Championship League and many of the top players have turned up for the biannual event.
Leicester’s Morningside Arena hosts the short-format with groups of four players competing in round-robin action over four-frame matches until the final, which rises to the best of five.
With the field set at 128, below we consider the chances of those players towards the head of the market.
|Championship League Snooker
|Morningside Arena, Leicester
|Monday 26th June to Friday 21st July
|How to watch
|bet365's Sports Live Streaming and Viaplay Sports
|Ronnie O'Sullivan 7/1, Judd Trump 8/1, Kyren Wilson 11/1, Shaun Murphy 12/1, Mark Williams 12/1, Stuart Bingham 20/1, Ali Carter 20/1, Barry Hawkins
It’s no great surprise to see installed as favourite to win the latest edition of the Championship League, but the Rocket has never lifted the trophy and made the final only once in his career, in 2016.
Seeing him taking part in this year’s midsummer event is something of a surprise, and while it’s possible that he may, aged 47, feel it necessary to try to win as many titles while he still can, the chances are he is competing in Leicester merely as a time-filler between holidays in the sun.
We know he’s good enough to win a title of this quality, but whether he has the desire to commit to a two-month-long effort is another story.
At 7/1, O’Sullivan can be overlooked in the title betting with many others making more appeal.
Trump has been a regular winner of Championship League titles down the years. He went all the way in 2009, 2014 and 2016, all of which were non-ranking events, and made the finals in 2012, 2020 and in the first of this year’s editions of the tournament.
His 2020 runner-up spot was in the first instalment of the competition to carry world-ranking points.
Trump’s only triumph last season came in the Masters, one of the game’s biggest tournaments, and he wouldn’t have to perform much better to win at least two titles in the coming campaign.
The Ace in the Pack, the 8/1 second favourite in the outright market, can definitely be considered in this year’s midsummer marathon.
Wilson won titles in the tournament in 2020, in a ranking event, and 2021 in a non-ranking bash.
But having been hammered by John Higgins in the World Championship at the Crucible in April, the Nuneaton cueman may feel he has a point to prove at the Morningside Arena.
Wilson has defeated Judd Trump and Mark Williams in those two Championship League finals and is good enough to cause problems for any opponent in this short format, so he can definitely enter punters’ considerations at 11/1.
He’s certainly capable of improving his quiet record in the competition, but Murphy may not be ready to give his all for a sustained period for one of snooker’s less important titles.
Title triumphs this year in the Players Championship and Tour Championship meant many fancied Murphy’s chance in the World Championship but he came up short in his first-round date with Si Jiahui, who went on to reach the Crucible semi-finals.
Time may be catching up on three-time world champion Williams and he too may not be ready to drain his energies for a prolonged period of time in Leicester.
Williams, runner-up to Judd Trump in the Masters last season, is capable of winning his quota of Morningside Arena matches but a few others are preferred in the outright market.