Paul Krishnamurty analyses Sunday's action from Milton Keynes which involves groups headed by Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins...
"There were some promising signs before lockdown. McGill enjoyed a few good victories in ranking tournaments and, perhaps significantly, won a group in this event."
Few would quibble with the statement that a 'big-three' have pulled away from the rest over the past couple of years. Judd Trump and Ronnie O'Sullivan won their groups with the minimum of fuss, winning all three matches. Can Neil Robertson join them in the last-16?
Robertson hard to oppose, even at short odds
At odds of [1.25] to win Group 16, the Aussie makes no betting appeal but he is hard to oppose. I heard at the outset - from Stephen Hendry if memory serves - that Robbo has been putting in some practice during lockdown. In anything like top form, he would be a certainty. Even at 50% of his best, only Kurt Maflin would be a threat among these opponents.
Maflin is a player I could see going well. He's a natural talent and that type has tended to shine through this week. I like the Norwegian at 5/4 and 8/11 respectively to beat the two lesser members of this group - Ken Doherty and Ashley Carty.
Group 7 has similar dynamics. Two limited types who are hard to back at anything approaching snooker's top level - Craig Steadman and Hammad Miah - but the favourite is much more vulnerable than Robertson.
Hawkins risky given lack of B-game
At his best, Barry Hawkins would win this in a canter. However he wasn't before the break and, unlike most around his level, doesn't possess much of a B-game. Much may depend on how much practice he's managed to get in.
I'll take on 'The Hawk' with Anthony McGill. The Scot has struggled over the past couple of seasons but there were some promising signs before lockdown. He enjoyed a few good victories in ranking tournaments and, perhaps significantly, won a group in this event before the format changed.
McGill also has a good record in the single frame Shootout - winning it in 2017. I'm not sure what sort of guide that represents but it does at least offer further evidence of a liking for short matches.
Let's take 17/10 about him winning the group and also try a double. McGill to beat Steadman at even money and Maflin to beat Carty at 8/11 pays around 12/5