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International Championship preview: Trump favourite to make it four

The snooker season is starting to gather pace and the players are on the plane as they head to China for the International Championship, which returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019.

Judd Trump was crowned champion when this competition last took place four years ago and a remarkable start to the season will have the Ace In the Pack confident that he can retain his title at the Tianjin People's Stadium.

Despite only being in November, Trump has already claimed three ranking titles this season with a trio of successes at the English Open, Wuhan Open and the Northern Ireland Open meaning he is on a remarkable 20-match winning streak.

The Bristolonian is 7/2 to secure more silverware in China but there are a number of dangers to his supremacy including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Neil Robertson.

All the action from Tianjin can be watched via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming Service.

International Championship Information

  • Where is the International Championship? Tianjin People's Stadium, Tianjin, China 
  • When is the International Championship? 01:30, Sunday 5th November 
  • Where can I watch the International Championship? bet365 Sports Live Streaming, Eurosport & discovery+
  • What are the International Championship odds? Judd Trump 7/2, Ronnie O’Sullivan 4/1, Mark Selby 6/1, John Higgins 11/1, Neil Robertson 12/1

Trump unlikely to keep the winning run going

Winning three tournaments on the spin is a remarkable achievement by Trump, but he has been kept busy of late and his dominance won’t go on forever.

The percentages suggest it could be worth taking on the tournament favourite, who has landed in a tricky quarter of the draw with Stephen Maguire, Ryan Day and Hossein Vafaei all in attendance.

Not only that, but Trump could meet John Higgins or Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals and Mark Selby or Mark Allen in the semis, so he by no way has things easy.

Trump’s qualifier against Gong Chenzhi or Wang Xinzhong has been held over to the venue and he should come through that test unscathed while an opening-round clash with Michael White is unlikely to pose any problems.

But things get tougher from there on and it is likely that his hectic schedule soon catches up with him.

If opposing Trump with a player in the top half of the draw then Higgins could be the man to go to.

The Wizard of Wishaw made the semi-final of the English Open in October and he was beaten 6-5 by Trump on that occasion, highlighting his current form.

Higgins, who was also a quarter-finalist at the Shanghai Masters, is playing well and the draw looks a good one with a first-round clash against David Grace followed by a showdown with either Ben Woollaston and Dylan Emery.

Wilson could be lurking in the last 16 but Higgins has dominated their rivalry, winning 16 of their 20 meetings, so would be expected to come through that challenge.

Trump is a potential quarter-final opponent but that is no guarantee, so odds of 11/1 may underestimate his title prospects.

Brecel could bounce back to form

Luca Brecel sprung the surprise of all surprises when being crowned world champion last season and the Belgian Bullet has every chance of returning to the winner's enclosure in Tianjin.

Many expected Brecel to struggle with the tag of being world champion, but he has made a fairly solid start to the campaign, highlighted by his run to the Shanghai Masters final in September.

The Belgian was beaten 11-9 by O’Sullivan in the title decider but he had defeated Mark Williams, Robert Milkins and Neil Robertson to get there.

Brecel could only make the last 16 of the English Open, where he was beaten 4-3 by Ding Junhui, but the return to China for what is considered an illustrious event may see him rediscover his form.

The 28-year-old faces Daniel Womersley in his qualifier before a first-round clash with veteran Mark Davis.

From there, Brecel may renew his rivalry with Ding and then could face Williams or Murphy in the quarter-final.

However, if playing well, the Belgian should have little to fear from anybody and it is surprising to see him as big as 14/1 given the talent he possesses and the decent draw he is armed with.

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