The Ricoh Arena opens its doors for the third night of the Champion of Champions with the winner of Group 4 to be decided. Four players have been split in two matches with the victor from each facing one and other for a chance to progress to Saturday’s semi-finals. Below is a preview of the second of those clashes.
Mark Allen’s successful defence of his Haikou World Open crown secured his place in the event and it’s difficult to look past the outspoken Northern Irishman progressing to a likely showdown with world number one Neil Robertson for a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The 27-year-old has been making more headlines for his criticism of changes made by WPBSA chairman Barry Hearn rather than his snooker over the past couple of years but there are definite signs that the County Antrim player has turned a corner.
Highly impressive victories in Event 5 and 6 of the European Tour, which is played over the same best-of-seven format as this group opener, has given Allen ideal preparation and the way he is playing at the moment he looks sure to take advantage.
Allen won seven matches in both of those tournament successes but only once in each event was he taken to a deciding set with the majority of the clashes put to bed before the fourth frame. The 2009 World Championship semi-finalist won half of those 14 matches 4-1 or 4-0 which is a remarkable achievement given the often hectic conditions of low-ranked events of that nature and it is an excellent indicator of the standard he is operating at present.
On the other hand, Carter has struggled for any consistency this year and only qualified for the event due to a win in the German Masters all the way back at the beginning of the year. The furthest he has progressed in a tournament this season is reaching the semi-finals of Event 4 of the European Tour and some surprisingly poor defeats have littered his campaign. Losses to the likes of David Morris, Gerard Greene and Sam Baird are worrying signs for the gritty 34-year-old as Allen represents a different challenge all together.
Furthermore, Allen has had the better of their recent meetings, winning in the Champions League this year and more importantly overcoming Carter in convincing fashion, 6-2, in the last-16 of the UK Championship two seasons ago.
The selection here has to be for Allen to triumph with something to spare with odds of 6/1 on 4-0 and 10/3 on 4-1 making plenty of appeal.
Allen is in the type of mood to potentially make a serious run this week and his opener against Carter should be just a stepping stone.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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