For the first time this season, a ranking event will be staged away from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, with Celtic Manor hosting the stars of the snooker world for the £70,000 Welsh Open.
The event is the tenth tournament of the 2020/21 campaign and is the 30th running of the Welsh Open. This year’s field features all the top players and promises to be a cracker.
Rocket Ready for Lift-Off
Ronnie O’Sullivan is yet to win a tournament this season, but he has been knocking on the door and now could be the time for punters to side with the six-times world champion.
Trump has already won four events this season, but O’Sullivan has fared better in the draw and looks to be the one to be with.
Championship League form should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but there were clear signs on Wednesday and Thursday last week that the Rocket is finding his feet.
The top players use the Championship League as an opportunity to grab some competitive table time and O’Sullivan appears to have fine-tuned his game for a big showing in Wales.
This is the fourth and final tournament in the Home Series. The 45-year-old finished runner-up in the Northern Ireland Open and the Scottish Open and is the pick to land the Ray Reardon Trophy.
Reardon is a former coach and mentor to O’Sullivan and it would mean a lot to the 37-time ranking event winner to lift the trophy named after the legendary Welshman.
Ryan’s Day Again?
Recent Shoot Out winner Ryan Day is an appealing each-way wager at
66/1 to follow up his victory with another on home soil.
Since landing his maiden ranking event at the Riga Masters in 2017, the Welshman has used seven different cues and struggled for consistency on the green baize.
The 40-year-old had slipped down the rankings and was outside the top 50 prior to his Shoot Out win, but he has now moved up to 32nd place and is a player to watch with his confidence boosted.
Day has made the quarter-finals in this event twice and, now happy with his cue, he can go well from a wide-open first quarter.
Second Quarter Too Tough to Call
Masters Champion Yan Bingtao and classy duo Mark Selby and Neil Robertson all go from a fiercely competitive segment of the draw and are difficult to fancy at the prices.
A bright future and many more titles are expected for the exciting Bingtao, who is
33/1, but the 20-year-old will need to potentially see off both former world champions just to reach the semi-final.
All-Welsh Clash Highlights Opening Round
The all-Welsh tie between Mark Williams and Michael White is the pick of the first-round matches, with the wily and experienced Williams a strong fancy to come through.
He is another player who appeared at the Championship League in Milton Keynes and gained plenty of match practice last week.
White holds the upper hand in the head-to-head but has been terribly out of form in the last two years.
Snooker fans will be hoping Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan can win their first-round matches and set up a popular second-round encounter, but Mark Joyce is fancied to have the measure of the Whirlwind and cruise through.
*All odds correct at time of writing.