The UK Championships are widely regarded as one of the biggest snooker events in the world. It makes up one leg of the Triple Crown and with it offers a prize pool that is beaten by very few, such is the stature of the event.
It takes place in November and December and is the last of the major tournaments of the Calendar year. It actually comes at the mid-point of the snooker season and is one that many targets as a top ranking event to gain entry into that of the World Championships.
UK Championship Snooker Betting Tips for 2019
The UK Championship is upon us once again and snooker fans could be in store for a really thrilling tournament. Many of the game’s best players are in superb form and this looks like a very open edition of the sport’s second most prestigious tournament. There is almost £1m up for grabs in total as Ronnie O’Sullivan looks to defend his crown and add to the record seven titles he has won at this event.
He certainly won’t have things all his own way at the Barbican Centre in York, with that venue having hosted the tournament for most of the last 20 years. Indeed, the Rocket isn’t the favourite, the first time in a long time he has turned up to one of snooker’s biggest tournaments in the position of being, in theory at least, the underdog. Remarkably given the domination of the biggest players, there will be a total of 12 former champions taking to the baize. Will we see a new name on the famous trophy or will one of those glorious dozen claim glory again? 1992 champion Jimmy White at monster odds of 1500/1 anyone?
Judd Trump (11/4)
The man who has, for now at least, knocked O’Sullivan from the head of the betting market is the 2011 UK Championship winner and clear world number one, Judd Trump. After beating the Rocket in the final of the Northern Ireland Open recently, the man from Bristol moved well clear of his opponent at the top of the standings. With three wins already in the 2019-20 season there is a feeling that the current World Championship winner may be ready to dominate the game for the years ahead and fulfil the promise he demonstrated when winning this tournament as a 22 year old.
He has now won five ranking events this calendar year, as well as the non-ranking Triple Crown event The Masters. If he does the business in York he will hold all three of the game’s biggest prizes, a truly remarkable achievement. Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams are the only players to win all three in the same season, with John Higgins also having held the three trophies simultaneously across two campaigns. With those four legends holding 20 World Championships between them, that would put Trump in rather illustrious company.
He’s 11/4 here and all in all we have to say that seems like very good value. That suggests he has around a 27% chance of winning and given his form, record against his major rivals and performances of late in the biggest events, we have to feel he has a better chance of success than that. There is unquestionably a lot of serious talent priced at longer odds but it is equally beyond doubt that Trump is in the form of his life and a very worthy favourite.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3/1)
Ronnie may just relish not being the favourite in this tournament, although of course he will remain the biggest draw and attract huge amounts of media attention. At odds of 3/1 he isn’t all that far behind Trump in the betting, with some bookies actually having the current world number one and world number two as joint-favourites.
The Essex man obviously loves this tournament, announcing his arrival as a once in a generation talent by beating Stephen Hendry in the final in 1993 at the age of just 17 (okay, 17 and 358 days). He has won the UK Championship at regular intervals since then but having enjoyed a golden period towards the end of his career he will arrive at the Barbican hoping to claim a third consecutive crown and take his tally to total of eight, which would be a figure that is unlikely to be bettered any time soon, perhaps ever.
His form is obviously decent enough, having made the final in Belfast just a few weeks ago. He gave Trump a good game in the decider too but lost 9-7, the same score by which Trump beat him in that tournament’s final 12 months earlier. 2017-18 and 2018-19 were remarkable seasons for the man who will turn 44 years old just days after this year’s final; but there are some signs that his game isn’t quite what it was.
At his best, Ronnie rarely lost a final and was almost impossible to peg back when he got his nose in front. In more recent years he hasn’t been able to keep those standards up. In his last 15 ranking finals he has lost five times. Good by most standards but not by his own. In non-ranking events he has dropped off even more, losing six of his last 11 matches.
Moreover, Trump has got the better of him in seven finals and so given there isn’t much between them in the betting it is hard to be too excited by the Rocket from a betting point of view, despite his unparalleled record at this tournament.
Neil Robertson (9/2)
Aussie Neil Robertson is the only other player at single digits in terms of odds, the former world champion priced at 9/2 (Mark Selby is next at 10/1 with the field 14/1 bar). Robertson’s gaming addiction is very much in the past and over the last few months he has started to get back to his very best. He is currently ranked fourth in the world and looks to have a decent draw in section four that should, in theory, see him make it through to the last 16 relatively easily.
He has made four ranking finals in 2019, losing twice to Ronnie but winning both the Welsh Open and the China Open. However, it was his far more recent performance in the non-ranking Champion of Champions that really caught the eye. At the start of November Coventry witnessed one of the greatest ever games of snooker as Robertson beat Trump 10-9 in the final.
The UK Championship third favourite notched five of the eight centuries in that astonishing game, including a 137 in the decider. That came after he made a snooker in the previous game before winning on a re-spotted black.
When on song few can roll in big breaks like the 2013 and 2015 UK Championship winner and another Trump versus Robertson final could be on the cards here. This tournament is going to be a cracker so where will your bets be going?
The tournament is one of the biggest in terms of player numbers with 128 being present over the course of the 2-week format. The qualification process is pretty simple in that the players are based on their World Ranking, so the top 128 players are entered. If a player is unavailable to play or withdraws prior to the start of the tournament, the next ranked player will step in and so on, until the field is full to capacity.
The draw is made up into 8 sections, which includes 16 players in each section. Players are distributed in terms of ranking. So, seed 1 would play seed 128, seed 2 would play seed 127, seed 3 would play seed 126 and so on, working down. The top seeds are kept a part as best they can. Again, Seed 1 plays in the top half and seed 2 plays in the bottom. The earliest the 1stseed would be able to play a top 32 ranked player would be the last 32 round.
UK Championships First Round Matches by Ranking
|1||1 v 128||64 v 65||32 v 97||33 v 96||16 v 113||49 v 80||17 v 112||48 v 81|
|2||41 v 88||24 v 105||56 v 73||9 v 120||40 v 89||25 v 104||57 v 72||8 v 121|
|3||5 v 124||60 v 69||28 v 101||37 v 92||12 v 117||53 v 76||21 v 108||44 v 85|
|4||45 v 84||20 v 109||52 v 77||13 v 116||36 v 93||29 v 100||61 v 68||4 v 125|
|5||3 v 126||62 v 67||30 v 99||35 v 94||14 v 115||51 v 78||19 v 110||46 v 83|
|6||43 v 86||22 v 107||54 v 75||11 v 118||38 v 91||27 v 102||59 v 70||6 v 123|
|7||7 v 122||58 v 71||26 v 103||39 v 90||10 v 119||55 v 74||23 v 106||42 v 87|
|8||47 v 82||18 v 111||50 v 79||15 v 114||34 v 95||31 v 98||63 v 66||2 v 127|
All rounds in the tournament are played as best of 11 legs. This is until the final where the players will play best of 19. The format is relatively short considering it’s one of the majors, but with the huge number of games that need to be played, it’s one of the traits of the UK Championships.
The short format is often more interesting as well and upsets are often very common throughout. In 2017, 2nd seed Ding Junhui was knocked out in the first round by Leo Fernandez, ranked 127th.
Unlike a number of the bigger tournaments in world snooker, the UK Championships haven’t had a particularly long-term venue to host. It’s been hosted at the likes of the Preston Guild Hall, Bournemouth International Centre and the Tellford International Centre. It currently resides in the Barbican Centre in York, where it’s been played since 2011 and previously from 2001 to 2007.
The Barbican Centre is one of the biggest arenas in York and holds a capacity crowd of 1,500 for snooker games. It’s had several refurbishments over the years, with the most recent seeing the grand opening happen in 2011 after a £1.5million refurbishment job.
The prize money on offer is the second largest on tour at the minute, with over £1 million on offer from the 2019 tournament. The winner will pick up a cheque worth £200,000 which is the third largest cheque, behind only the World Championships and the Masters.
The prize money is distributed as the following based on performances:
Sponsorship, as with all sports, plays a huge role in the makeup of the UK Championships. It has actually had periods where there have been no sponsors at all, mainly in 2001, 1996 and 1991. The majority of their longer-standing sponsors have come in the form of bookmakers.
The current sponsors is that of Betway, who have been main sponsors since 2015. Other bookies that have held deals at some point have included the likes of Coral, William Hill and 12Bet.com. Outside of the bookmaker sponsors, they have also been able to utilise money coming from Pukka Pies, Travis Perkins, PowerHouse, Liverpool Victoria, Royal Liver Assurance, StromSeal and Tenants.
The most successful player in the tournaments history is Ronnie Sullivan, who has managed to win 7 career UK Championship titles. What’s most impressive about Sullivan’s record is that he’s made 8 finals in total losing just one to Mark Selby in 2016. Second on the list of all-time winners is Steve Davis. He’s won the event on 6 different occasions throughout the 1980’s in a period where he dominated the game. Davis is also tied for the most final appearances with Stephen Hendry on 10.
Other players who have enjoyed success at the tournament include the likes of John Higgins, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams and Mark Selby, all multiple winners in their own right.
Stephen Hendry holds the record for the most century breaks in a final with 7. His 10-5 win against Ken Doherty saw the Scotsman rack up the points in a record that has remained intact since 1994.
UK Championship Snooker Finals: 2009 – 2019
|2019||Ding Junhui||Stephen Maguire||10-6|
|2018||Ronnie O’Sullivan||Mark Allen||10-6|
|2017||Ronnie O’Sullivan||Shaun Murphy||10-5|
|2016||Mark Selby||Ronnie O’Sullivan||10-7|
|2015||Neil Robertson||Liang Wenbo||10-5|
|2014||Ronnie O’Sullivan||Judd Trump||10-9|
|2013||Neil Robertson||Mark Selby||10-7|
|2012||Mark Selby||Shaun Murphy||10-6|
|2011||Judd Trump||Mark Allen||10-8|
|2010||John Higgins||Mark Williams||10-9|
The first UK Championship was held in 1977 at Tower Circus, Blackpool. It was then known as the United Kingdom Professional Snooker Championship. Originally the event was only open to British players, but this was later amended in 1994 when it was open to all professional snooker players, regardless of nationality.
The first tournament was won by that of Patsy Fagan, who beat Doug Mountjoy, 12-9, with a first prize of £2,000. Just a year later the tournament made its first move to that of the Preston Guild Hall, where it remained up until 1997. The tournament now carries more ranking points than any other on tour, apart from the World Championships, making it a popular tournament for the players.
Over the years the UK Championships has been centre stage for many quality finals. Whilst there are many to choose from, including the likes of John Virgo and Patsy Fagan winning, winning their only major titles, it was in 1989 that was probably as standout a final as there has been.
The 1989 final included that of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. Davis had dominated the sport throughout the 80’s and with it was one of the best players of all time. But, he subsequently lost that final to a young Stephen Hendry 16-12, before losing the 1990 final to same player a year later, this time 16-15. It was the start of Hendry’s dominance of the sport throughout the 90’s and the end of Davis’ reign as the world’s best.
In 1993 the structure of the tournament changed, moving from a best of 31 to a best of 19 frame final. In that same year Ronnie Sullivan was to win his first ranking event and became the youngest player to do so at the time aged just 17. 8 years later he inflicted the biggest final defeat, playing against Ken Doherty winning 10-1 with some of the best snooker of his career.
Whilst Davis hadn’t retired from the game altogether, in 2005 he reached his first ranking event final for two years aged 45 and he was up against an 18-year old Ding Junhui. He subsequently lost to Junhui 6-10, but the final was the biggest age gap between two players in any ranking event final.
The Barbican Centre in York had been hosting the event from 2001 through to 2006 and then again from 2011 onwards. The structure of the event changed in to best of 11 frames for all games apart from the final.
Steve Davis is easily one of the most successful players in the tournaments history. He has the second most tournament wins with six, surpassed by Ronnie O’Sullivan only in 2018.
Davis was able to dominate for much of the 1980’s, with all six of his victories between 1980 and 1987 where he had final victories over fellow greats such as Alex Higgins and Jimmy White amongst others. He was also runner up on three occasions during the 80’s where he lost out to Higgins once and twice to the new sensation that was Stephen Hendry.
At the turn of the 20th century Davis struggled to recapture the form and consistency that made him one of the best players of all time but he did reach his last final in 2005 where he was beaten by China’s Ding Junhui.
He’s the only player to have won 4 UK Championship titles in a row and after officially retiring in 2016, some 38 years after first competing, he ended with 28 ranking event wins and 55 non-ranking event wins as part of an illustrious career.
Ding Junhui burst onto the scene in 2003, turning professional aged just 16 and he’s gone to win 3 UK Championship events. The first was in 2005 against Steve Davis, the second was in 2009 against John Higgins, both of which are classed as two of the legends of the sport. His latest title came in 2019, defeating Scotsman Stephen Maguire in the final, knocking out the previous champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan, in the last sixteen.
He’s now the most successful Asian player of all time and has 14 ranking event wins to his name, including the World Open, Shanghai Masters (x2) and the Players Championship.
He’s made over £3.5 million in prize money, made 6 maximum breaks and over 500 century breaks, whilst also being ranked as high as world number 1 in 2014.