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Scottish Open preview: Brecel facing tough defence

The second of the four Home Nations Series events takes us to Edinburgh for the Scottish Open, where Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel is the defending champion.

The UK Championship proved a good guide to this event last year, as Brecel went one better after finishing as runner-up to Zhao Xintong in York.

He held his form to win this tournament, which was held as a one-off in Llandudno, Wales.

Brecel defeated home favourite John Higgins to take the title last season, but he may struggle to defend his crown at 40/1 given the calibre of opposition.

Recent UK Championship winner Mark Allen is 12/1 to build on his excellent start to the season, with the betting dominated by familiar faces as Ronnie O’Sullivan is 5/1, Judd Trump 11/2 and Neil Robertson 11/2.

The first event of the quadruple mini-series was the Northern Ireland Open and that was also won by local hero Allen.

What: Scottish Open 2022
Where: Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh
When: Monday 28th November - Sunday 4th December 2022
How to watch: Eurosport and bet365 Sports Live Streaming
Odds: Ronnie O’Sullivan 5/1, Neil Robertson 11/2, Judd Trump 11/2, Mark Selby 11/1, Ding Junhui 11/1

In-form Ding could hit all the right notes

Matches involving the top 16 seeds have been held over to the venue at Meadowbank Sports Centre so there is some uncertainty surrounding the draw and where the seeds that come through will be placed.

That makes it tough and especially over the early best-of-seven format, which can throw up plenty of shocks.

With that in mind, it seems sensible to focus on in-form players and there is a lot to like about Ding Junhui's chances at 11/1.

It has been a while between drinks for Ding Junhui, who has not won a ranking event since claiming his 14th career title at the UK Championship in 2019.

However, the Chinese cueman roared back to form to finish runner-up at the UK Championship last week, losing 10-7 to Allen having once led 6-1.

That defeat may take some recovering from but he played excellently throughout that tournament, beating Barry Hawkins 6-3 and thrashing O'Sullivan 6-0 along the way.

That means Ding Junhui has now lost only four of his 16 matches this season and, being world number 19, he has already won his qualifying match.

The Chinese sensation opens up against Mark Joyce, which looks a very winnable contest and could settle him into the tournament nicely. 

The break-building prowess of Ding makes him a formidable opponent for anyone he plays and, if in the mood to perform, he has to be considered a serious title contender.

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Lisowski could highlight his improvement

Jack Lisowski is still searching for his first ranking title success having lost in all six final appearances, but his performance at the UK Championship highlighted that he was a player to follow in the coming months.

Lisowski is one of the most attacking players on the tour and he was unfortunate to lose to Allen at the York Barbican Centre, having once led that semi-final best-of-11 contest 5-3.

Prior to that, Lisowski had conceded just four frames in easing past Xu Si, Hossein Vafaei and Shaun Murphy.

Jackpot has since qualified for the German Masters with comfortable wins over Duane Jones and Jackson Page and in his current form he could have a big say on the competition.

It is also worth noting that the Cheltenham cueman finished runner-up in this event 2019 so clearly goes well at this time of year. At 22/1, he has to be of interest.

Magician overpriced to repeat the trick

Murphy was a beaten finalist in this event in 2018, losing out to Allen and the Magician looks too big of a price at 40/1 to repeat the trick.

The world number 12 has had a slow start to the season, but a run to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, where he defeated Dave Gilbert and Judd Trump, was way more like it.

A qualifier with talented teenager Lei Peifan is no easy task, but he is still fancied to come through that test and from there he would be a dangerous opponent.

Murphy is a 22-time ranking event finalist and his recent efforts in York suggests there is still plenty of fire in the belly of a player who made his third World Championship final only last year.

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