Former world champions Neil Robertson and Mark Selby suffered surprise exits at the Masters and their departures have blown the top-half of the draw wide open.
Youngster Yan Bingtao kept his nerve to beat Robertson 6-5 in the opening round, while Maguire was a comfortable 6-3 winner over three-time Sheffield hero Selby.
Judd Trump’s positive Covid-19 test forced the Bristol potter out of the competition and that has given the Marshall Arena event an even more winnable feel.
Featuring in the top half of the draw is defending champion Stuart Bingham, who resisted a late rally from Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to set up a second-round clash against Shaun Murphy on Thursday evening and that match looks an interesting contest.
Magician to Cast Spell on Masters Champ
Murphy is rated the narrow
4/5 favourite and at that price the Magician looks a little underrated.
Bingham’s strength is undoubtedly his break-building and it was no surprise to see that Ball-Run was given plenty of chances by the ultra-attacking Un-Nooh. The Basildon native took his opportunities, but he is likely to be put under far more pressure by Murphy and on the season as a whole Bingham hasn’t looked in great form.
The Paul Hunter Trophy holder hasn’t been past the fourth round of a ranking event in the last two terms and his performance to win this invitational event last year was the exception rather than the norm.
Murphy has had some tough draws in recent events, which haven’t reflected well in terms of results, but the 2005 Crucible hero was good enough to win the Welsh Open less than a year ago and he can take this tussle.
Aways Be Wary of the Angry Farmer
Earlier in the day, world number five Kyren Wilson takes on David Gilbert and the
7/4 underdog offers some value to spring the latest surprise in Milton Keynes.
Gilbert has the scoring power to match anyone in the game, and although he hasn’t been in brilliant form of late, it was only a year ago that the Tamworth man made the semi-finals of this event.
Wilson is an extremely tough match player, but Gilbert looks to have real hope of outscoring his rival and that should give him the opportunity to take this contest. The Angry Farmer hammered the capable Joe Perry 6-2 in his opening match and he is a dangerous opponent when he finds his rhythm.
Meanwhile, the Warrior beat Gary Wilson by the same scoreline in the first-round, but the Tyneside man hasn’t been in a good place of late, so it isn’t difficult to question the worth of that form.
Wilson deserves to be favourite but the price for a Gilbert win seems to dismiss his chances of defeating the Warrior too lightly.
*All odds correct at time of writing