The 2019 UK Championship starts tomorrow in York; Ronnie is the defending champion.
This is the first of the “BBC tournaments” but the first round won’t be shown on BBC at all. Some matches will be shown on the Eurosport player.
This tournament goes by strict seeding, meaning that seed 1 plays n° 128, seed 2 plays n°127 etc… Because of that the very top players are rarely challenged in the last 128, and, unfortunately, it’s usually their matches that get on the stream.
Tomorrow the streamed matches will be: Neil Robertson v Alex Borg and Stuart Bingham v Lei Peifan in the afternoon, John Higgins v Peters Lines and David Gilbert v James Cahill in the evening.
I don’t expect any upset in the afternoon, but the evening might be interesting. Indeed Peter Lines has won 6 out of 8 of his matches against John Higgins, and, worryingly for Higgins he hasn’t defeated Peter Lines since 1994! The other match might bring a surprise as well. James Cahill hasn’t been bossing his season so far, but seems to play particularly well when facing top players. He gave Judd Trump a scare in Belfast, forcing a decider from 3-0 down and he’s very capable to cause David Gilbert some problems.
Away from the camreras, one afternoon matches is certainly worth to follow: Zhao Xintong v Alexander Ursenbacher.
On Wednesday, play starts in the morning.
I expect Ding Junhui v Duane Jones to be on the stream. Now Ding isn’t a morning person, and his form has been dire in recent months. He’s also been playing exhibition style and it hast cost him. It will be interesting to see how he will play this time. The other streamed match will likely be Stephen Maguire v Billy Joe Castle.
The other “TV” matches will probably be Mark Selby v Andy Hicks and Barry Hawkins v Gerard Greene in the afternoon, Kyren Wilson v Riley Parsons and Mark Williams v Fraser Patrick in the evening. Not expecting an “shock” here. Ricky Walden v Xu Si and Hossein Vafaei v Louis Heathcote would have been my choices instead.
On Thursday, the most interesting matches – in my opinion – are Robbie Williams v Luo Honghao and Ken Doherty v Mei Xiwen. I expect neither to be on the stream.
On the stream, David Lilley may cause Jack Lisowski problems if Jack’s potting isn’t reliable, which happens sometimes.
Finally, I hope that Ronnie will be focused from the start. Ross Bulman can play.