We now know the full first round line up for Llandudno so let’s take a look at the matches, a reminder that these are all Best of 9 played in a two table format before reverting to one table from the Quarter Finals onwards.
Mark Selby (1) v Ryan Day (16) – Tuesday 1pm
Marco Fu (8) v Anthony McGill (9) – Tuesday 1pm
Ding Junhui (5) v John Higgins (12) – Wednesday 1pm
Stuart Bingham (4) v Anthony Hamilton (13) – Monday 7pm
It goes without saying that this is a very difficult event to have any confidence in when punting. By definition these are the 16 current best players in the world and as such there is very little between them, so anyone who comes out on top after the tournament can definitely give a nod to Lady Luck. Ryan Day is in great form lately and comes to this from securing his place in it in Gibraltar. He faces the undisputed world number one and will be hoping that he hasn’t left his form behind at customs, Selby usually wins the meaningful matches between the two and there isn’t anything that suggests a break in that pattern will happen here. Marco Fu had a stunning run of form recently and faces Shootout King Anthony McGill who is becoming a verified top 16 player thanks to his consistency, but he’s yet to beat Marco in 4 attempts so despite his recent improvement I’m going to take Marco to shade that one and set up a quarter final with Selby. The price of Ding Junhui in the outrights reflects his recent form which it must be said will be secondary in his mind to the recent loss of his young mum, let’s just hope that he can rediscover his best form soon, until then I think you have to side with John Higgins on Wednesday, while on day one Ballrun attempts to shoot down German Masters Champ and Pottingham’s Sheriff, Anthony Hamilton. I’d have that one as pretty much even on current form and wouldn’t put anyone off a punt on Hamilton at 3/1, he’s won their last two meetings including the semi-final in Berlin so on that alone, that price is too big.
Predicted Winners: Selby, Fu, Higgins, Hamilton.
Recommended Match Bet: 3/1 on Hamilton to beat Bingham at Bet 365
Predicted Half Winner: Higgins.
Barry Hawkins (3) v Neil Robertson (14) – Tuesday 7pm
Ali Carter (6) v Shaun Murphy (11) – Wednesday 1pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan (7) v Liang Wenbo (10) – Monday 7pm
Judd Trump (2) v Mark King (15) – Tuesday 7pm
Barry Hawkins is always on the shortlist of potential winners these days and even though he faces Neil Robertson first up the bookies now rate him higher in the outrights than the Aussie, who it has to be said seems to have forgotten how to win tournaments at the moment, that of course is a coin toss but I’ll just side with Hawkins who has won their last two meaningful matches. Ali Carter skipped the Shootout and Gibraltar and faces the man coming back from the rock with the trophy Shaun Murphy. Carter has enjoyed the upper hand in their more meaningful meetings and is in decent form as he proved in Germany so it may be worth siding with The Captain given Murphy’s busy recent schedule. Day one kicks off with surely more of the same from Ronnie and Liang, Liang will look for all the world like winning only to miss something crucial and let Ronnie off the hook just like The Masters and most other times they have faced each other. While in-form Judd Trump faces Northern Ireland winner Mark King, Judd has had much the better of the head to heads and I’d expect him to win again there with a little bit in the tank, I expect a good week for him.
Predicted Winners: Hawkins, Carter, O’Sullivan, Trump.
Predicted Half Winner: Trump
Recommended Bet: Judd Trump to win the Players Championship at 11/2.
Match Treble: Selby, Fu and Higgins pays over 5/2. Add Hawkins and Carter for almost 20/1 acca.
Best Outright Odds: 9/2 Selby/O’Sullivan, 11/2 Trump, 12/1 Higgins/Hawkins, 14/1 Robertson, 16/1 Murphy, Bingham, 18/1 Fu, Ding 40/1 Carter, Day 66/1 McGill, 80/1 Wenbo, 100/1 Hamilton, 175/1 King.