With Snooker’s current top 16 boasting arguably the best talent and quality of the past decade, the 2012 Masters at London’s Alexandra Palace looks a real mouth-watering prospect and a wide open betting event.
As ever, ‘Essex Exorcet’ Ronnie O’ Sullivan holds his place at the top of the market however the three times World Champion is hardly a worthy favourite considering his current form and lapse state of mind.
The 36 year-old has already signalled his desire to soon retire from the sport and consequently, a first round match up against Chinese sensation Ding Junhui looks a real stumbling block.
Ding is the reigning champion after trouncing Marco Fu in the 2011 final and his odds of around 12/1 for a repeat success would not be so inflated had he not been drawn to open his defence against the Rocket.
A win over O’Sullivan is likely to pitch Ding into battle with wonderkid Judd Trump however in the last eight and it is for this reason that a wager on the 24 year-old seems a little too risky.
Trump looks to have a fairly soft opener against Stuart Bingham and at 15/2 he is a solid proposition to follow up his recent UK Championship triumph.
He also has form over O’Sullivan from that event should he clash with him once more in the quarter’s.
Completing the Ding/O’Sullivan/Trump half of the draw are 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson, UK Championship runner-up Mark Allen, Twice Crucible king Mark Williams and Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.
This half of the draw, overall, looks extremely competitive and unpredictable and it is for that reason that any other outright bets aside from form man Trump should probably be left alone.
Things look slightly less complicated in the bottom sector and reigning World Champion John Higgins should get his campaign up and running albeit against a resurgent Matthew Stevens who is making his return to the event after six years outside of the top 16.
Higgins always has to be respected and it would be hard to deter anyone from backing the Scot at 15/2 as he will always give punters a run for their money at the very least.
But with World No.1 Mark Selby seemingly out of form and the likes of Graeme Dott and Ali Carter not posing a massive threat on paper, it is recent Power Snooker Martin Gould who is selected to go well at huge odds of around 50/1.
Gould gets his campaign underway against Shaun Murphy – and although he was edged out by the 2005 World Champion in the UK Championship recently, he is taken to exact revenge and reverse the form over his friend and rival.
Selby or Stephen Lee will then await Gould in the last eight and the 30 year-old can build on his recent experiences and grind out another result.
The action will be packed full of quality at the Ally Pally and it would be no surprise to see at least any one of twelve men take the coveted title. Matches leading up to the final are also played over a short format of best eleven so there is little room for error or time to get into contention.
© Frixo 2014