UK Championship Snooker: Betting Tips, Stats & History - Tuesday 27th November 2018

Snooker Shot on the Black

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 2018

O’Sullivan To Defend Title in Style

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan comes into this year’s UK Championship knowing that victory would see him go ahead of Steve Davis to sit at the top of the all-time winners list. With six tournament victories in the bag already, O’Sullivan is the joint leader with the great Davis, one ahead of Stephen Hendry. History could well be in the offing in York, but can Ronnie go all the way again?

Backing Ronnie to win any tournament can be something of a rollercoaster given his rather unpredictable nature. But there is no doubting the talent he still possesses despite him turning 43 before this year’s UK Championship concludes. There are other strong contenders for the title of course, and here we cast our eyes over the main protagonists.

Ronnie O’Sullivan (3/1)

Having won everything there is to win in the game of snooker and having also threatened to quit the sport on many occasions, it is a wonder Ronnie O’Sullivan retains the motivation necessary to compete at the pinnacle of the sport. Though he lost out to Judd Trump in the final of the Northern Ireland Open on 18th November, Ronnie has been in decent form in the few tournaments he’s entered so far this season, winning the Champion of Champions event in Coventry earlier in the month and the Shanghai Masters back in September.

As usual with the biggest events, O’Sullivan goes into it as the bookies’ favourite, this time priced at odds of 3/1. It’s hard to get decent value on Ronnie, such is his popularity with snooker fans and hence punters, but even at this short price there will be plenty willing to back him. All things considered we think he has what it takes to go all the way here and win his seventh UK title in what has been a sublime career to date.

Mark Selby (6/1)

While it is foolhardy to ignore Ronnie O’Sullivan when trying to pick the winner of any snooker tournament in which he is set to compete, the same can be said of world number one Mark Selby. The Jester from Leicester has won the UK Championship twice (in 2012 and 2016) but it could be argued that he has often underperformed at the event having been knocked out at the second round stage in four of the last eight years.

Having said that, when Selby is on song there are few in the game who can match him for shot making and sheer tenacity when at the table. In his last UK Championship triumph he beat O’Sullivan 10-7 in the final but at odds of 6/1 we think he is just a little too short this year.

Judd Trump (8/1)

Judd Trump is another former winner who is hopeful of going all the way this time around. He took the title in 2011 when he beat Mark Allen 10-8 in the final having beaten Ronnie in the second round. Fresh from winning the Northern Ireland Open, Judd could have the desire and wherewithal to go all the way here if he keeps his head.

Trump has never quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he broke onto the snooker scene as a teenager, but he is undoubtedly capable of winning this tournament if things go his way, and odds of 8/1 are sure to be attractive to many.

Kyren Wilson (16/1)

Those seeking an outsider could do worse than to back 26 year old Kyren Wilson at odds of 16/1. He won the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany back in August and narrowly missed out on his fourth ranking event victory when he went down 10-9 to O’Sullivan in the final of the Champion of Champions tournament a couple of weeks ago.

While Wilson would need a little bit of luck along the way, at these odds he could represent fair value for a player who appears to be getting stronger with every season.

About

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

SectionMatches
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

Match Format

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 that od Leo Fernandez, ranked 127th

Venue

UK Championship Snooker Match at the Barbican in York

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. 

Prize Money

The prize money on offer is the second largest on tour at the minute, with £850,000 on offer from the 2017 tournament. The winner picked up a cheque worth £170,00 which again, is the second largest cheque, behind only that of the World Championships. 

The prize money is distributed as the following based on performances:

  • Winner: £170,000
  • Runner Up: £75,000
  • Semi Final: £35,000
  • Quarter Final: £22,500
  • Last 16: £15,000
  • Last 32: £10,000
  • Last 64: £5,000
  • Highest Break: £5,000
  • Total: £850,000

Sponsorship

Betway UK Championship Snooker Screenshot

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. 

Statistics

The most successful player in the tournaments history is that of Steve Davis. He’s won the event on 6 different occasions throughout the 1980’s in a period where he dominated the game. Coupled with Davis is that of Ronnie Sullivan, who has also managed to win 6 career UK Championship titles. What’s most impressive about Sullivan’s record is that he’s made 7 finals in total losing just one to Mark Selby in 2016. Both players are 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, 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 hasn’t been broken since 1994. 

UK Championship Snooker Results

Year

Winner

Runner Up

Score

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

2009

Ding Junhui

John Higgins

10-8

2008

Shaun Murphy

Marco Fu

10-9

History

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. 

Preston Guild Hall
Preston Guild Hall by Dr Greg, Wikimedia Commons

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

Steve Davis is easily one of the most successful players in the tournaments history. He’s the joint most tournament wins of six, alongside that of Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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

China Flag

Ding Junhui burst onto the scene in 2003, turning professional aged just 16. He’s gone to win 2 UK Championship events in 2005 against Steve Davis and in 2009 against John Higgins, both of which are classed as two of the legends of the sport. 

He’s now the most successful Asian player of all time and has 13 ranking event wins to his name, including the World Open, Shanghai Masters (x2) and the Players championship.

Aged just 31 at the time of writing, he’s made over £3million in prize money, made 6 maximum breaks and 477 century breaks, whilst also being ranked as high as world number 1 in 2014. 

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