Paul Krishnamurty previews the second set of semi-finals, which includes a Group of Death headed by Judd Trump...
"Gilbert can also take great encouragement from beating Trump comfortably in their last two meetings."
Entering the penultimate day, the Championship League is wide-open. There is a strong favourite, with Judd Trump trading below [3.0] for the title, but he has a very tough group to negotiate before joining Stuart Bingham and Ben Woollaston in the final.
Ronnie exit demonstrates peril for favourite backers
Moreover, yesterday proved how this short format is made for shocks. Ronnie O'Sullivan backers are entitled to feel sick. The Rocket carried on where he left off in the first round, taking his run to 12 consecutive frames, then 13 consecutive wins. One 3-0 loss to Bingham later and he's out.
So while Trump may be sweeping all before him in the sport, he makes little appeal as a betting proposition here. The world champion also eased through the opening round, albeit in much less impressive fashion.
But these opponents are considerably tougher and liable to take advantage of any mistakes, especially with scoring so good on these tables. 38 centuries so far is a fantastic tally given the circumstances, with everyone coming in cold.
Trump faces three tough opponents
At different stages of the past couple of years, any of Barry Hawkins, David Gilbert and Ryan Day could have laid claim to being the best among them. All are perfectly capable of winning this title.
Gilbert gets the marginal nod at 4/1. After a slow start in his first match, he excelled in a pair of 3-0 wins. He can also take great encouragement from beating Trump comfortably in their last two meetings - 5-2 at the Scottish Open and 3-1 in this event.
Wilson tipped to maintain stellar form
Group A is nowhere near as competitive on paper. Gary Wilson - one of my pre-tournament picks at 70/1 - arguably produced the best snooker of the opening round, hitting four tons. He's a worthy favourite to beat three players who have all been markedly inferior in recent times - Luca Brecel, Mark Joyce and Ashley Carty.
In these somewhat random conditions, taking 11/8 about the favourite doesn't appeal. However the OddsBoost of 15/2 about Wilson winning all three matches does feel like fair value.