John Higgins (@1.33) vs Li Hang (@3.25)
26-09-2019

Our Prediction:

John Higgins will win

John Higgins – Li Hang Match Prediction | 26-09-2019 02:30

Li was entered into the wildcard round of the China Open as an amateur player for three consecutive years from 2006. He lost at this stage in 2006 and 2008, but in 2007 he beat Ian Preece 54 to reach the first round of a ranking event for the first time, where he lost 15 to 1997 world champion Ken Doherty.[1] In April 2008, Li won the ACBS Asian Under-21 Snooker Championship with a 61 success over Li Yuan in the final.

The Belgian endured a terrible time after that breakthrough success but this months semi-final appearance in the China Open has provided a signal of a return to form. Still, theres an opportunity for both of these players to reach the second round at the Crucible for the first time in their careers. When on his game, Brecel is a dangerous threat to anyone and its easy to forget that hes still only 24. Making his fourth bow at the Crucible, Brecel will be hoping that the obstacle of Wilson can lead to a stepping stone to greater glories in the event. The last time Gary Wilson qualified he played Ronnie OSullivan so hell be thankful that he has been granted with a more realistic path into the last 16. Luca Brecel relied heavily on his China Championship victory from last season to remain inside the top 16 and gain one of the crucial automatic berths. In a first round draw that is full of eye-catching ties, this one is possibly not one that especially stands outs.

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Michael Georgiou represents Robertsons initial test, the latter proudly becoming the first Cypriot to ever qualify. The former Snooker Shoot Out champion has done well to reach this stage but one suspects that hell find himself out of his depth against Robertson, particularly if the 16-time ranking event winner maintains his current hot streak. Robertson has never really threatened to add to his 2010 Crucible crown but looks to be in the best form of his life heading into this edition. Only Ronnie OSullivan has managed to stop the Melbourne man in his tracks of late and, with the pair in opposite sides of the 2019 draw, there could be a mouthwatering rematch of their Players Championship and Tour Championship final showdowns of last month. Neil Robertson is the man in form after a run of four consecutive ranking event finals culminated in the Australian triumphing in the lucrative China Open at the start of April.

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Selbys displays on home soil have predominantly been dismal, reaching the last four of a UK-based ranking event only twice in two years. 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. Zhao Xintong is arguably the most improved player of the season. 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. Thats what a lot of people are wondering as we get set for the 2019 World Snooker Championship. A lot depends on which Selby actually turns up. 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. Which Mark Selby is going to turn up? Most of his strong showings have come in China and its against one of that nations highly fancied young stars who he faces first. 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.

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.

Other qualifiers gained more headlines but one of the most impressive of the lot was Tian Pengfei. Tians next opponent will be Stephen Maguire, who was once thought of as a nailed on world champion. To seal his debut at the Crucible, the 31 year-old overcame Soheil Vahedi before standout successes over world number 17 Ryan Day and two-time former finalist Matthew Stevens. Things havent quite worked out that way for the Scot despite once claiming that it would be a failure if he didnt etch his name on the trophy before the age of 30. That said, the five-time ranking event winner has produced a relatively consistent season and will be hoping to improve on a dismal recent Crucible record that reads six first round defeats in the last eight years. Now 38, Maguire often acts like a player who doesnt really have much belief in his game.

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The Paul Hunter Classic and German Masters champion reached the last four twelve months ago and was eventually undone by John Higgins but, like the four-time world champion, Wilson boasts a suitable temperament for the big occasion. With two semi-final and a couple of quarter-final appearances in ranking events this season, Donaldson is beginning to become more recognisable at the business end of comps. The Scot has gone under the radar a touch but has actually been one of the most improved players on the circuit of late. Scott Donaldson was the last player to emerge from the 2019 World Snooker Championship qualifiers late on Wednesday night after a dramatic 10-9 victory over Lu Ning. His debut berth in the World Championship shouldnt come as any great surprise then, but its difficult to envisage him going any further. With a taste of the single table set-up, the Kettering cueist will be desperate to make a return. Kyren Wilson could be a dark horse for this years tournament as hes got all the necessary tools to do well in the 17-day Marathon of the Mind.