September 1, 2011

Shanghai Masters Outright Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:06 pm

Ali last year, before he dropped the trophy and put a big dent in it.

From Monday we are back on China time as the baize boys head over to Shanghai to compete in the Shanghai Masters which is being covered extensively on Eurosport across the world.

Although the tournament begins on Monday with the grossly unfair wildcard round (I know, I know, change the record SB…) it is not until Tuesday that Eurosport picks up the coverage. It’s a tight schedule with four tables on the go at any time and it remains to be seen if the new streaming site will pick up any of the non-televised tables rather than the one that we can all watch on Eurosport anyway. I’m sure this will become clear as the event unfolds and the Eurosport schedule can be viewed here.

An interactive draw schedule, as well as the chance to enter a prediction contest can be found here.

So let’s now turn to the preview.

Quarter One: Will he or won’t he?

There are not many players around where you actually have to factor in two considerations before even thinking about the draw, but when Ronnie O’Sullivan is due to play in China you have to ask yourself firstly, will he turn up and secondly, if he does will he be bothered? There are bound to be those in the next few days that will claim to know what Ronnie is going to do, but the only person that truly knows is the man himself and it’s probably debatable whether even he does yet with a few days still left until flight time. Anyway, he is in this tricky looking quarter and may face James Wattana first up, although James faces dangerous wildcard Jin Long to get there, no walk in the park for the Thaiphoon that one. Stephen Maguire will be confident of reaching the last 16 to face the winner from that trio. But at the top of the draw the holder Captain Carter kicks off against Mark King who hasn’t made a great start to the season and only got here largely due to a decombustulation of epic proportions in the qualifiers by Liu Song, trust me I watched it. Ali gave Mark a good beating the last time they were over there in the China Open and brief reports from the Captain’s camp are that after his most recent bout of poor health he is beginning to play well again in practice. Assuming Ali comes through he is likely to face Peter Ebdon or The Ferginator, Fergal O’Brien who has been showing some decent if characteristically dogged form recently in the PTC’s. With question marks over so many of the players in this quarter in terms of form, attitude and general sharpness I think Fergal is again worth a punt to make it out the other end. He’s a huge price and I’d be very surprised if he makes the final but in the absence of any quarter betting at the moment I’ll recommend a small each way bet on him that may become a decent trade if he does make it out of this quarter unscathed which is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Recommended Bet: 0.5 points each way Fergal O’Brien at 150/1 with Ladbrokes

Quarter Two: Jester to Prosper?

Mark Selby will surely win a proper ranking event this season. He will feel that given the sense of occasion over in Germany last week he already has but the fact remains that it was still only a PTC and he still only has a Welsh Open on his ranking CV, despite his heroics in the Masters. He won’t be unhappy with his draw here although our young pal Jack Lisowski could possibly cause him some problems if he can get to the last 16. But Selby always looks composed and is again, much like last season, starting this one very well. Above him in the draw Shaun Murphy will be looking to start his season off in earnest after a terrible start in the PTC’s, despite a semi-final appearance over in Bendigo, he has dangerous opponents wherever he looks and the likes of Mark Allen, Ryan Day and Dom Dale will all fancy their chances to get to a match up with Selby in the Quarter Finals. I’m content to watch Shaun for a bit as he’s not yet doing a lot right. But whichever way you look at it, Selby is the pick of this quarter on recent form and my main man for the title.

Recommended Bet: 4 points win Mark Selby to win the Shanghai Masters at 15/2 with William Hills

Quarter Three: Have the bookies got it wrong?

As ever in China the whole tournament from the Chinese perspective will be about one man, Ding Junhui. Even if he doesn’t win it and bombs out in the first round 5-0 they will find a way to make him attend the presentation ceremony and give him a toy car or something to play with. He has a really tough draw in this with Martin Gould first up and Matthew Stevens or the in-form Stephen Lee next in line and that is even before he gets to a possible match up with MJW. Mark himself has a much simpler path to the quarter finals and has beaten Ding comfortably on their only two meetings in China, albeit in the less stifling atmosphere of Beijing. The draw however makes it all the stranger that MJW is priced up in double figures with a couple of firms. I wasn’t going to flag him up in this as I thought he’d be around 7/1 best price but when you see 10/1 on a player of his class who can sweep anyone away in the blink of an eye if he’s in the mood, you have to take notice.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Mark Williams to win Shanghai Masters at 10/1 with Betfred.

JV - Good at spotting talent.

Quarter Four: A Crucible Rematch?

Judd Trump and John Higgins are on a collision course for a last 16 match up if they can see off Australian Open Champion and new dad Stuart Bingham and Paul Hunter Classic finalist Mark Davis in their first matches. China was the scene of Judd’s last moment of triumph in a full ranking event when he stormed to the China Open winners podium in fine style with some superb matchplay, winning snooker, the like of which we hadn’t really seen from him consistently before that. Despite Bingo possibly being on cloud nine and in a rush to get home to see little baba, Judd will still have to be in good shape to beat him with Bingo’s new found air of champion’s confidence. The 20/1 on Judd to win this is still up at Ladbrokes and he even retweeted it today. I dare say this will entice some, but not I on this occasion. John Higgins doesn’t always perform to his best in China for reasons best known to himself so I will take a chance on a frequent flyer who I feel is beginning to get a bit of form back after a bit of a lull in Golden Aussie Boy Neil Robertson. Robbo faces the lesser spotted Liang Wenbo in round one and he’s not yet back to the player we witnessed a couple of seasons back and was obviously rocked by being tipped by John Virgo as ‘the next big thing’ in his recent book. He may then face Dotty, who to me, with one notable exception when he won the China Open four seasons ago is another that doesn’t always play that well in China. Given what I read about what he likes to eat in his own book, he probably fasts all the time he is there. It’s Robbo for me in this quarter I think.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Neil Robertson to win Shanghai Masters at 16/1 with Bet365  

I’ll put match bets up as the tournament goes along, good luck if you are getting involved in the outrights.

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