Snooker: Bolton ready for Champions event
The snooker stars head to Bolton on Monday to showcase their talents in the Champion of Champions and a 16-strong field will have their eyes firmly set on a winner’s prize of £150,000.
It promises to be as competitive as ever with the event featuring tournament winners from the previous campaign and topped up by the world's best, but some players boast stronger title claims than others.
Since returning to the calendar in 2013, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson have recorded multiple wins in the event while John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen, who has withdrawn from his title defence, have also gotten their hands on the trophy.
The 16 players are split into four groups of four - one group is played each day - with the sections consisting of two semi-finals played over seven frames, followed by a final in the evening which is staged over 11.
The four group winners then proceed to the best-of-11 semi-finals before a best-of-19-frame final is housed over two sessions on Sunday November 21.
Trump hoping to end his hoodoo
Judd Trump is one of 11 previous Triple Crown winners, but the Champion of Champions is a prize that still evades the talented world number two.
The Juddernaut is a two-time runner-up in the event, which includes a final-frame defeat to Robertson in 2019, and an opening match against David Lilley before a clash with either Stephen Maguire or Ryan Day should ensure he least graces his presence in the semi-finals.
Trump is 2/7 to come through that section and reach the last four and is 8/15 to claim a first victory in the competition.
But last week's quarter-final run to the English Open, where he suffered a 5-3 defeat to Mark King, hinted that he is a little way off his breath-taking best and may be aiming to peak for the UK Championship at the end of the month.
Trump could be vulnerable at the back end of the tournament against a stronger opponent, with two-time winner Robertson or Kyren Wilson appearing most likely to capitalise.
Determined Warrior up to the challenge
Robertson won last week's English Open and is 33333/1 to follow up with silverware at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
The Aussie ace is housed in Group 4 alongside Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson and Jordan Brown and is 13/10 to navigate his way through that section, to tee-up a potential semi-final showdown with Trump.
However, the world number three needed a final-frame decider in three of his five wins in MK which included against Wilson in the quarter-finals, where the pair both knocked in two century breaks.
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That suggests only fine margins separates the two on current form and with the Warrior having an easier opener against Brown - Robbo tackles three-time world champion Williams - it is he who may represent the value.
Wilson, who was runner-up to O'Sullivan in this event in 2018, appears to be coming to the boil nicely and odds of 13/8 to win Group 4 and 3333/1 to be crowned champion looks to underrate his chances.
Competition looks fierce in the bottom-half
While there appears to be some weak links in the top half of the draw, the bottom half is super competitive and any of the eight cueman involved will be hopeful of reaching Sunday's final.
Group 3 is headlined by three-time winner O'Sullivan but he gets his tournament underway against Stuart Bingham while Allen's replacement Ding Junhui takes on English Open runner-up Higgins.
The Rocket is 5/4 to overcome that opposition but the 15/8 about Higgins winning the group should make more appeal to punters.
The Scot defeated his old rival Ronnie 6-5 in the semi-finals of the English Open and appears to have his measure of late, having won three of their four encounters this year.
Bingtao to take Group 2
World champion Mark Selby is the headline act at 11/8 to win Group 2.
The Jester from Leicester opens up his Champion of Champions adventure against Dave Gilbert and victory will see him lock horns with either Shaun Murphy or Yan Bingtao.
However, Selby has never made the final of this event from eight previous attempts and his game is more suited to a longer format.
Chinese sensation Bingtao, who beat Selby on his way to the quarter-finals of the English Open, could be the play for punters to win Group 2 at 10/3.