The 2021 Masters snooker gets under way at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes this Sunday. A not-to-be-sniffed-at £250k pot awaits the winner of this triple crown event, which is shown live on the BBC and Eurosport.
The world’s top 16 players will be vying for the crown in this non-ranking tournament, which is very high up in the ambitions of all the top players and we’ve asked PPTV’s snooker guru Graham Temple to dive into the tournament for some punchy punts for you.
There’s a multitude of pre-tournament markets available and we’ll attempt to fish out a few value bets to add to the entertainment. We’re going to start by eliminating a few to cut down the field a bit.
Ronnie O’Sullivan hasn’t been spending too much time on the practice tables. He’s been relying on table time in matches to get his eye in. In recent tournaments he’s even played on in frames, despite needing an impossible amount of snookers, to get a feel for the table. The 13-times finalist here even failed to take his place in the tournament last year.
There’s no doubt he’s the best player who has ever lived and still retains his flair and ability. However, you can’t just turn up and expect to match the class and hunger of the likes of Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Judd Trump.
This is a tournament in which these lads will be well practiced and they’ll have the bit between their teeth. The Rocket will have to beat Ding Junhui and then either an in-form John Higgins or Mark Allen to get to the semi-finals, where he can expect to meet a lethal Judd Trump or Jack Lisowski. We can’t have O’Sullivan in this year’s Masters. He showed a disrespect to the tournament last year and the snooker gods will get their revenge.
Another couple of players to eliminate from the equation are Shaun Murphy and David Gilbert. Murphy continues to pot them off the rafters, but has forgotten how to win and David Gilbert has struggled to find the form which saw him reach the World Championship semi-final in 2019.
We’ve narrowed the field down to 13 players and it’s time to look for a few value plays. The defending champion Stuart Bingham has the benefit of recent table experience in Milton Keynes, where he played well in the Championship League.
However, despite getting plenty of centuries, he did miss a few crucial easy pots in that event and he’ll have to sharpen up if he’s going to defend his crown.
There’s good value in the first quarter betting in Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. The 2018 Shootout winner can mix it with the best and is taken to knock Bingham out, and then either the rudderless Murphy or carefree Mark Williams in the second round.
He’s great value to win the first quarter and make the semi-finals. We also wouldn’t put anyone off an each-way outright play on sharp Thai. That could be a nice docket to have should the first quarter winner bet land.
Let’s swiftly move down to the third quarter for our next value play. Jack Lisowski has never won on the circuit, but he certainly put it up to Judd Trump in the recent Grand Prix final here, where he lost out 10-7.
Trump played near his best in that final last month, yet was pushed all the way by the 29-year-old Cheltenham cueist. Lisowski revealed at the Grand Prix that he had straightened his cue action. This, he says, has given him more consistency in his game and a new-found belief that he can mix it with the best. His long potting was just incredible in the closing session of that final.
He’s a confident young man and won’t hold any fears no matter who he plays. Lisowski can dispose of Kyren Wilson in the first round and will then expect to meet Trump for a place in the semi-finals.
Trump will have to be on top of his game to get the better of Lisowski. We just can’t resist the price on offer on the latter in the third quarter betting. He’s another that we’ll also have a dabble on in the outright market each way.
There’s no doubt that Judd Trump is anxious to build his own snooker legacy and it’s hard to believe he’s only made the final of the Masters once. Of the leading fancies for outright honours it looks between him, Selby and Robertson. Trump is very hungry, and the 2019 Champion looks the obvious play, even if we’ve earmarked Lisowski as the potential banana skin.
Trump looks plenty of value to win this tournament and we’ll be in profit with the staking plan below if he wins. Enjoy the week of green baize action from Milton Keyes and be lucky!
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