The new format in York has wasted no time in sending some favourites home early and there is nothing to suggest that the shocks at the Barbican will not continue. Below are two previews of matches that look set to send a couple more giants to the grave.
Joel Walker to beat Alan McManus @ 5/6
Joel Walker wasn’t even born when Alan McManus made his debut in the UK Championship but that won’t harm the 19-year-old’s chances of reaching the next round.
The Sheffield potter, who won the Rileys Future Stars tournament in 2010 before turning professional last year, has adjusted impressively to life on the tour as seen recently when he overcame some useful players to reach the quarter-finals of Event 7 of the European Tour in Antwerp.
That run included back-to-back whitewashes over the highly thought of pair Jamie Cope and Mark King, and with Walker making it through to the last-16 in Event 6 in Gloucester the week before, there are few players with more confidence playing this week.
In contrast, ‘Angles’ McManus has been struggling ahead of a tournament he first played in 1990.
Whilst Walker was making a name for himself the 42-year-old was quickly being forgotten in Gloucester and Antwerp, winning just one match.
Before that the player who was once a staple of the top-16 (1990-2006) edged out Judd Trump on his way to the last-32 of the International Championship but that form isn’t exactly being blessed by the cocksure Bristolian’s own recent performances and the confident selection is for Walker to progress and condemn the Scot to a third straight defeat.
Michael Wasley to beat Jimmy White @ 5/6
Jimmy White arrives at the scene of his 1992 victory in dreadful form and could be leading his fans out of the door early and disappointed after his opening round match against Michael Wasley.
White’s Gloucester-born challenger wasn’t old enough to count to 147 when the Whirlwind lifted this crown 21 years ago but despite the dramatic contrast in their experience preference is for the unknown.
The 23-year-old produced the best finish of his fledgling career at his local tournament, event six of the European Tour – the Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup in Gloucester, where he won three matches en route to the last-16, including an impressive 4-1 victory over Peter Ebdon. That form alone betters anything that White has been able to achieve this term and despite his sparse resume Wasley should arguably be favourite for this match.
His 51-year-old opponent has only won two matches from the seven European Tour competitions this year and this is very much a clash of two players grappling on opposite trajectories.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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