Snooker’s top-16 players are bidding to claim the Masters crown as they gather at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena.
Stuart Bingham is the defending champion and is joined by fellow big-hitters Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby. Masters debutants Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Yan Bingtao are also set to contend in what looks a highly competitive field.
Draw Against Judd
It’s difficult to ignore the claims of Trump, even at
5/2, given the Ace is the current English, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and World Open champion, as well as holding the World Grand Prix, International Championship, European Masters, German Masters and Players Championship crowns.
However, the Bristol boy looks to be housed in a tough section of the draw, and although he won this event two years ago, Trump has been beaten in the first round in four of the last seven stagings of this tournament.
Seven-time Masters champion and last year’s Crucible hero O’Sullivan finds himself in the same half with the likes of Kyren Wilson, John Higgins and Mark Allen also in the second section and the Rocket faces a tough first-round assignment against Ding Junhui, which he is
2/5 to win and his opponent
For those reasons it could pay to look for an each-way play in the top half of the draw. Selby and Robertson look to have strong claims, but they could clash in the second round, should they negotiate their way past Stephen Maguire and Yan Bingtao in their opening contests.
Magician Just the Trick for Masters Glory
Shaun Murphy has just embarked on a weight loss program in aid of charity and at
20/1 he looks a tasty wager. The Magician takes on Mark Williams in the opening round, and while it would be foolish to doubt Williams’ class, he hasn’t had a particularly successful season.
It’s fair to say that Murphy hasn’t enjoyed the best season either, in terms of results, but his performances have still been at a high level and the Magician was good enough to win the Welsh Open last year.
Bingham or Un-Nooh await Murphy should he get past Williams, and while a clash against either of those cueman won’t be easy, it’s not as tough as it could be when you look at the bottom half of the draw.
As ever with the Magician’s attacking style of play he runs the risk of leaving his opponent opportunities, but the 2005 World Champion is a handful for anyone when on-song and, he certainly looks to represent some decent each-way value.
Keep an Eye on Ding
The price isn’t quite there to justify a bet, but Ding is worth keeping a close eye on this week at
25/1. Enter the Dragon hasn’t been at his best for a while but there have been signs that his form is returning.
Ding looked in good nick when making the quarter-finals of November’s Northern Ireland Open and he was a little unfortunate to lose in a final frame decider in the following UK Championship. There doesn’t look to be enough in the prices given Ding’s draw in this event, but he could be a player worth keeping onside in upcoming events.
*All odds correct at time of writing