After a brief detour to Celtic Manor, snooker returns to Milton Keynes for the high-class Cazoo Players Championship.
The top-16 cuemen on the one-year ranking list will battle it out for the trophy and a winners cheque of £125,000.
Judd Trump is the first port of call, in terms of rankings and the betting, and in fact ‘The Ace In The Pack’ is miles clear of Mark Selby, who occupies the second spot on the one-year list.
Trump the Expected Favourite
However, there are a few reasons why it could pay to oppose Trump this week.
Most importantly there doesn’t seem to be much juice in the
5/2 on offer about ‘The Juddernaut’. The Bristol potter is also housed in a stacked top-half of the draw alongside second-favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Ding Junhui and the in-form Jack Lisowski are also in the same section as Trump, and even though he has been dominating the season, the 2019 world champion didn’t play in the Masters or the Shoot Out and was beaten in the third round of the Welsh Open last week.
On balance, the bottom half looks the weaker section and that could lead to some each-way value.
Robertson Expected to Progress
Neil Robertson is the obvious place to start, but that hasn’t been missed by the odds compilers and it’s hard to get excited about the
4/1 on offer.
The Aussie should make his way past Lu Ning in round one and set up a clash against either Kyren Wilson or Ryan Day. There’s little for ‘Robbo’ to fear there, but there just isn’t enough in the price to recommend a bet and he can be left alone.
Higgins can Shine
One price that does look a little big is the
10/1 on offer about John Higgins.
The ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ kicks off against last week’s Welsh Open winner Jordan Brown, and while the Antrim potter will be full of confidence, there were certainly tougher draws that could have come the Scot’s way.
Clearly, Higgins has more of his career behind him than in front, but that is yet to see a major downturn in performance. The Scot has made three of the last four World Championship finals and the Wishaw cueman was good enough to finish runner-up in the Masters last month.
A second-round tie against either Mark Selby or Mark Williams will await Higgins should he get past Brown, and while that won’t be easy, it’s preferable to taking on the likes of O’Sullivan and Trump in the top half of the draw.
10/1 Higgins looks to represent decent each-way value.
*All odds correct at time of writing