John Higgins (@1.33) vs Li Hang (@3.25)
25-09-2019

Our Prediction:

John Higgins will win

John Higgins – Li Hang Match Prediction | 25-09-2019 02:30

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OSullivan has been practically unstoppable this season, reaching the title decider in seven out of the ten tournaments hes participated in, with only Trump managing to evade him in big finals. Ronnie OSullivan once again heads into the World Championship as the pre-tournament favourite, as he so often does. An incredible first round draw has paired the Rocket with James Cahill, who was the headline story of the qualifiers when he beat Michael Judge to become the first amateur to reach the Crucible in the tournaments 42-year history. Which brings us to the last match. The Englishman hasnt challenged at the Crucible since 2014, though, and is often his own worst enemy as he struggles to deal with the inner demons that can affect his game, especially when the format increases over multiple sessions. Cahill, a former professional who will regain his tour card next season, has actually played the five-time world champion three times but unsurprisingly has fallen short on each occasion. Its not easy to see how he can change that statistic given the new world number ones pedigree and form. But greater challengers surely await OSullivan in the 2019 World Snooker Championship. Its what dreams are made of and aspirations dont come much loftier than a 2019 World Snooker Championship encounter with OSullivan. Cahill, still only 23 and an exciting prospect for the future, will be looking to enjoy his moment against the sports biggest star.

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The Hawk hasnt enjoyed an especially good campaign but might fancy his chances in an open looking top quarter of the draw to repeat his now trademark run to the last four. The 28 year-old is one of six Chinese in the draw, four of whom are set to make their debuts on the famous stage. The latter, of course, has become somewhat of a master at the longer format and has reached the semi-finals or better in five out of the last six editions. Li has risen into the top 32 in the world rankings this season and is undoubtedly a dangerous player. But its never easy at the Crucible, never mind when its a first appearance, and facing someone like Barry Hawkins doesnt make the task any simpler. Some people might be surprised to learn that Li Hang, despite first turning professional in 2008, has never actually played in the World Championship at the Crucible.

In 2015, of course, Bingham proceeded to win the championship. An intriguing battle between two former world champions, this has the hallmark of a game that could go right down to the wire. Like all the qualifiers, Dott has useful victories in the qualifiers under his belt and it will be interesting to see whether or not that has any influence on the outcome. One of six players to claim multiple ranking titles this term, Bingham has only lost to Dott three times in 11 meetings and hammered the Pocket Dynamo when they last crossed paths in Sheffield four year ago. Even so, Stuart Bingham would have to be considered as the favourite, especially taking into account his wonderful form this season. Graeme Dotts record in this event is superb, underlined by the fact that he has featured at the TV stages of the World Championship every year since 2000, bar one.

The 22 year-old must have been a despondent character twelve months ago when he dropped off the Main Tour but immediately bounced back via Q School and in one season is already in the cusp of breaking into the top 64 in the world rankings. Most of his strong showings have come in China and its against one of that nations highly fancied young stars who he faces first. Thats what a lot of people are wondering as we get set for the 2019 World Snooker Championship. Theres no reason to think that Zhao, a heavy scorer when in full flow, cant put it up to the Leicesterman again on this occasion. A lot depends on which Selby actually turns up. Zhao gave Selby a stern check in the semi-finals of the China Championship in September the only piece of silverware in Selbys cabinet from a forgettable period. Which Mark Selby is going to turn up? Zhao Xintong is arguably the most improved player of the season. The Jester just lost his coveted world number one position for the first time in more than four years and has looked a shadow of the self that captured three world titles in four years between 2014 and 2017. Selbys displays on home soil have predominantly been dismal, reaching the last four of a UK-based ranking event only twice in two years.

John Higgins v Li Hang - Highest Break Scorer

Trump, now a Masters champion, has matured immensely since then and is rightly considered to be one of the favourites for the title overall. The latter has come a long way, though, since his desperate first round defeat to Rory McLeod in 2017. Un-Nooh, the quickest player on the tour, is capable of running off frames in quick succession and one suspects that the 34 year-old will need that kind of fire power in order to match Trump. A possible crucial quarter-final with OSullivan awaits but first Trump will have to take the necessary precautions to overcome a skillful opponent in Un-Nooh. Two of the most enjoyable players to watch on the entire circuit when in full flow, this could really be a barnstorming battle between a pair of heavy scorers. As you can see, the bottom section is littered with thrilling looking ties and this one is no different. Un-Nooh gave John Higgins a decent run on his debut in 2018 and Trump can probably expect a similarly tough test next week as the Thai returns for a second crack at the Crucible. The first couple of players out of the bag in Thursday mornings draw were Judd Trump and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Li lost in the qualifying rounds for the first three ranking events of the 2015/2016 season. A pair of 65 victories over Lee Walker and Ricky Walden saw him advance to the third round of the UK Championship, where he lost 63 to Jamie Burnett.

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Another mouthwatering prospect in this bracket of the 2019 World Snooker Championship draw is the match between Mark Allen and Zhou Yuelong. The 2009 semi-finalist will be hoping that the advantage to all that will be a fresh outlook ahead of the sports most vigurous examination. The Northern Irishman has been one of the players of the season, although things have gone a touch quiet since he captured a brace of ranking titles and reached the UK Championship final at the end of the calendar year. Still, while Zhou should represent a decent workout for Allen, its hard to look past the 33 year-old in terms of reaching the last 16 on this occasion. Allen skipped the China Open, an unusual decision that cost him his spot in an easier looking top half of the draw. To some critics out there, the Chinese players are often unfairly being labeled as failures and underachievers, which is somewhat hilarious considering the majority of them are either teenagers or in their early twenties. Zhou is one of the leading protagonists in the huge pack of young Chinese stars that are emerging.

It has taken David Gilbert 17 years as a professional to break into the top 16 but he picked a good time of the year to achieve it, guaranteeing an automatic World Championship spot for the first time. From ten prior encounters with one another, Perry possesses the advantage with six wins to his name. Joe Perry, with his immense experience, was in many peoples eyes the most difficult qualifier to get. But Perry is more familiar with the Crucible surroundings and, even as the qualifier, is arguably the marginal favourite for this one. Gilbert has been the better player overall this season, highlighted by his runs to the finals of both the World Open and German Masters. Perry, who beat defending champion Mark Selby in the first round as a qualifier in 2018, is now match sharp and relatively fresh after losing only five frames in the preliminaries at the English Institute of Sport. The Englishman probably would have been hoping that achievement resulted in an easier opening path but it hasnt really transpired in that fashion.

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