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2023 World Snooker Championship Tips: The Rocket can do his talking where it matters

Round two of the World Championship gets underway at the Crucible Theatre on Thursday and the grudge match is on as we look at the last-16 match-ups.

Hossein Vafaei has made no secret of his ambivalence towards Ronnie O'Sullivan and the Rocket is well aware of the Iranian's comment, ensuring their rivalry has sparked plenty interest. 

Vafaei produced a fantastic second session display to crush Ding Junhui in the first-round, but he now faces a seven-time Crucible king. 

Provoking a 42-time ranking event winner may not have been the most astute cause of action from Vafaei, and with the Rocket at a peak of motivation, we may well see fireworks when the match gets underway on Friday afternoon. 

Anthony McGill was an excellent winner over Judd Trump in the first-round and that sets up a cracking last-16 tie against Jack Lisowski on Saturday. 

Elsewhere, three-time world champion Mark Williams is back after a resounding 10-5 first-round win over Jimmy Robertson when he takes on Luca Brecel on Thursday and Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham start their round-of-16-tie on Thursday evening. 

Best bets of Round 2

Our second round tips pay a rewarding 342/1 when combined as an accumulator:

Mark Williams -2.5 frames @ 10/11
Over 22.5 frames Allen v Bingham @ 1/1
Ronnie O’Sullivan to win 13-5 @ 11/1
Jack Lisowski exactly four centuries @ 13/2

Odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation

Ronnie O'Sullivan's cue should do his talking 

WhatRonnie O'Sullivan v Hossein Vafaei
WhereCrucible Theatre, Sheffield
When14:30 Friday, 14:30 Saturday, 10:00 Sunday
How to watchbet365 Live Streaming, BBC and Eurosport
OddsRonnie O'Sullivan 2/7, Hossein Vafaei 11/4

Ronnie O'Sullivan has won seven World Championships, seven UK Championships and is a seven-time Masters champion, but, in terms of words, rarely has the Rocket faced a bigger challenger than Hossein Vafaei.

The Iranian has made no secret of his dislike for the Chigwell cueist, and the Prince of Persia was an impressive 10-6 winner over Ding Junhui in the first-round, but this is a completely different test. 

Vafaei has won only one World Championship match in his short career and the 2022 Shootout crown is the only ranking title on his record. 

Of course, the 28-year-old has faced many issues that have prevented him from furthering his career, but firing up a brilliant performer like O'Sullivan, may see him face his biggest challenge so far on the baize.  

The Rocket may win this game with something to spare and backing an O'Sullivan 13-5 correct score at 11/1 could be a value play. 

Break building the key for Jack Lisowksi

WhatAnthony McGill v Jack Lisowski
WhereCrucible Theatre, Sheffield
When10:00 Saturday, 10:00 Sunday, 19:00 Monday
How to watchbet365 Live Streaming, BBC and Eurosport
OddsAnthony McGill 6/5,  Jack Lisowski 4/6

Anthony McGill furthered his reputation as a Crucible specialist with a 10-6 first-round victory over ante-post second-favourite Judd Trump and his reward is a last-16 tie with Jack Lisowski.

Jackpot kept his cool to see off a spirited Noppon Saengkham in the first-round and that 10-7 triumph was probably a little more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. 

Lisowski is a fantastic break-builder, but his tactical acumen is questionable at times. McGill has a more rounded game and the Scot is a proven Crucible performer. 

It's a fantastic match-up and break-building may just win the day. 

Lisowski is a six-time ranking event runner-up, Jackpot played extremely well when beating Matthew Stevens and Neil Robertson in Sheffield last year and the Gloucester potter is a match for anyone when finding his scoring rhythm. 

bet365 offer a market on how many centuries each player will make in the match and backing Lisowski to hit exactly four at 13/2 looks a value wager. 

Experience likely to tell as Mark Williams' eyes the quarters

WhatLuca Brecel v Mark Williams
WhereCrucible Theatre, Sheffield
When13:00 Thursday, 10:00 Friday & 19:00 Friday
How to watchbet365 Live Streaming, BBC and Eurosport
OddsLuca Brecel 6/4, Mark Williams 8/15

Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams is an 8/15 shot to make it into the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship and it’s easy to see why.

He was an excellent 10-5 winner over the capable Jimmy Robertson in round one and the Cwm cueman played beautiful snooker in the second session of that opening contest.

Williams had trailed Robertson 5-4 after the opening section of play, but the 48-year-old rattled off six straight frames, which included an impressive 118 break, to win the match without reply.

The 'Welsh Potting Machine' has an excellent recent record in this event, with his last five appearances reading winner, last-16, quarter-final, quarter-final, semi-final - and his work with coach Lee Walker in the build-up to this event seems to have served Williams well.

The preparation of the three-time world champion is in stark contrast to that of Brecel.

"I haven't really practiced for this tournament, I've been playing darts most of the time," Brecel told Eurosport, after his 10-9 win over Ricky Walden.

"I think I've maybe had only 15 minutes of practice in three weeks, I think I've done quite well to win this game."

The lack of table time was clear to see in the 28-year-old’s 10-9 win over Walden, where Brecel just about crawled over the line.

The Belgian Bullet failed to make a single century break in that match, he made only one knock of more than 50 in the final six frames and there is no doubt more will be needed to make it through to the quarter-finals, even if Brecel has finally won his first match at the Crucible.

Williams is by far the better performer of these two cuemen, he has produced far more consistent performances this season, the Welshman has a vastly superior Crucible record and his preparation for this event appears to have been considerably more measured.

Everything appears to be in the favour of the Welshman on Thursday and backing Williams at 4/11 giving Brecel a 1.5-frame start on the handicap looks the play.

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2023 World Snooker Championship: ‘The Welsh Potting Machine’, Mark Williams

2023 World Snooker Championship: ‘The Pistol’, Mark Allen

Mark Allen faces major Stuart Bingham hurdle

WhatMark Allen v Stuart Bingham
WhereCrucible Theatre, Sheffield
When19:00 Thursday, 14:30 Friday & 10:00 Saturday
How to watchbet365 Live Streaming, BBC and Eurosport
OddsMark Allen 4/7, Stuart Bingham 11/8

Mark Allen has won three ranking titles this season and 'The Pistol' will have designs on the World Championship trophy after an excellent season.

The Antrim Ace was a comfortable 10-5 winner over Fan Zhengyi in round one and, while it wasn’t a spectacular display of break-building, it was certainly a composed and impressive win.

Allen is 4/7 to beat 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham and it should be a cracking contest.

Bingham hasn't enjoyed a great season, but that has been the case for the last few years and that hasn't stopped the Basildon potter producing some excellent Sheffield snooker.

He made the quarter-finals at the Crucible last year, the semi-finals in 2021 and he was an extremely impressive 10-4 winner over David Gilbert in his opening contest this time around. 

Bingham is 11/8 to win this tie and that is of interest, but backing what is likely to be a closely-contested second-round match-up to go over 22.5 frames at 1/1 looks the best value bet.

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