Masters Snooker Preview – Where should you be placing your bets?12th January 2018 / Julian
For a game which migrated out of pubs and pool halls, snooker has a rather gentlemanly image. Punters who don’t enjoy the sport might even say it was a little bit boring or subdued. Perhaps it’s the waistcoats, or the ties, or some other intangible factor, or perhaps it is the ripples of polite applause which break out in appreciation of the most stunning long pots. It’s all just a little bit too nice for some, isn’t it?
Enter The Masters. The snooker tournament in which you can guarantee the crowds will be fanatical and loud and make their presence felt. It’s the best atmosphere in snooker and one which brings forth very different responses from the players.
John Higgins is one player who has made his discomfort at the tournament well-known. He may have won the title twice, but the Scot considers it one in which he has underperformed over the years. O’Sullivan however seems to delight in the Alexandra Palace crowd and as the current title holder he will wish to ensure he begins the year in style.
The Masters may not be a ranking event, but with the world’s top 16 competing in addition to a couple few wildcards the standards could not be higher. There’s also a combined prize fund of £600,000 to be collected so there’s more than simply pride at stake.
At the moment every conversation about snooker seems to start and end with Ronnie O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan begins the defence of his title against Marco Fu on Tuesday and you’d certainly expect the Englishman to go through on current form. With 7 Masters titles, O’Sullivan has won the tournament more times than any other player, with the nearest being Stephen Hendry on 6. This could be the one which sees Ronnie go two clear, as he really is in such fine form at the minute. William Hill have the rocket at 5/2 for the title.
Reliable Mark Selby. At the World Championship final Selby looked down and out as John Higgins led 10-4. Selby then went on to win an incredible 12 of the next 14 frames and eventually came out the winner at 18-15. This made Selby only the fourth ever player to successfully defend the title after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan. Selby ended the year with 5 ranking titles, equalling the record of Hendry and Ding Junhui. Don’t ever say reliable is boring. Mark Selby is 4/1.
Judd Trump is a slightly enigmatic force in snooker and sometimes you wonder what you’re going to get when he approaches the baize. Yes, he has all the skill in the world. Yes, he can beat anyone on his day. Yes, he is the world number 3 and one of the best players in the game. Can he beat the rest to lift the trophy this time around? To say that only Trump knows would probably be optimistic; prior to the 2017 world championship he claimed to be the best in the world. He went out in the opening match to player ranked 52 places below him. Trump is priced at 11/2.
This year John Higgins’ preparation involved an Old Firm match and a pub brawl which resulted in the premises closing. Surely this will temper him for the rowdy crowd at the palace? Higgins is more than capable of getting a result and in the Scottish Open he steamrollered O’Sullivan 5-0. He could not go on to close out the competition, however, coming unstuck to Neil Robertson in the semis. If the Scot is to win the Masters for a third time he needs to be at his aggressive best, so it’s good to hear there’s still some fire left in his belly. Higgins is priced at 15/2.
Ding Junhui had a rather modest year in 2017, however he did manage to win the World Open held in Haikou. Perhaps playing in his native China agreed with Ding, or perhaps it was only coincidence. In any case, China’s most successful snooker player of all time is a man who should never be discounted. For him to lift the trophy, he will need to be at his very best and he can hardly rely on the crowd for support, especially should he face the rocket. Ding Junhui is priced at a modest 9/1.
Tournament prediction: At the moment it is increasingly difficult to bet against Ronnie for any tournament he enters. He isn’t invincible, but he has the experience and the weapons to beat the rest even with a subpar performance. You can’t say that of any other player on the circuit right now. Ronnie O’Sullivan to win.
The tip is based on the personal opinion of the author. No success is guaranteed. Please gamble responsibly. 18+
* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!
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