Ronnie O'Sullivan is the star attraction at today's Championship League but Paul Krishnamurty says he is well worth taking on at very short odds...
"Ronnie's odds for each match are below [1.5]. This strikes me as madness, given that he is on the record as saying he's barely picked up a cue since February."
Betting on individual matches at the Championship League has, so far at least, been very tricky and unpredictable but the outright market is beginning to shape up. Half of the last-16 are now known and the line-ups for two of the secondary groups are almost complete.
Originally, I put up four outright selections for relatively small stakes. One (Michael Holt) is out, while Gary Wilson went through yesterday. The pair of rank, 275-1 outsiders, Ben Woollaston and Martin O'Donnell, are yet to play.
Add impressive Wenbo to the outright portfolio
I'm now adding a fifth selection on the basis of yesterday's outstanding performance from Liang Wenbo. Any form signals should be taken seriously and he certainly sent a message to the rest in his three wins from three, winning nine frames out of ten. If maintaining it, 25/1 will represent excellent value in the next stage.
Wenbo is the first man through to Group D and has a very good chance of starting favourite to progress to the final. The hardest opponent he could face in that group is Mark Allen - yet to play and not somebody I'm particularly positive about. Two of the other three spots will go to the winners of relatively weak groups 8 and 15.
Plus there could well be many more upsets before these group line-ups are resolved. Judd Trump is through but Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson are out. The two other elite names - Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson - are yet to play.
Ronnie admitted he's going in cold
Ronnie is in action today and is trading at extremely prohibitive odds of [1.3] to win Group 10. Likewise his odds for each match are below [1.5]. This strikes me as madness, given that he is on the record as saying he's barely picked up a cue since February.
Of course, his natural talent may end up shining through and yield three easy wins. However there must be a decent chance that at least one of these matches goes wrong, or at least offers some trading potential.
Georgiou the pick of his opponents
In the first match against Kishan Hirani, the plan is to try a 'lay-to-back' strategy. In the last two, I'm simply taking the favourite on. Both Michael Georgiou and Chris Wakelin are perfectly capable of an upset, or holding him to a 2-2 draw in these conditions.
The former is quite tempting at around [8.0] for the group. Georgiou is a former Shootout winner and has the sort of naturally fluent style that one might assume is likelier to produce a good standard despite limited practice. However such is the one-sided betting in O'Sullivan's matches I'd prefer to try that less ambitious target.
The other group in action is much tighter and hard to call. Tom Ford is favourite for Group 15 but a case could also easily be made for Robert Milkins, Ian Burns or Mike Dunn.
Milkins - another natural type - would be my tentative pick but his chance is reflected by the odds. Instead, my advice here is to back or trade any odds that inflate noticeably in later matches in response to earlier results. Over-reactions are commonplace this week.
Lay Ronnie O'Sullivan 5u @ [1.2] (vs Kirani)
Place order to back O'Sullivan 2u @ [2.0]
Lay Ronnie O'Sullivan 4u @ [1.45] (vs Georgiou)
Lay Ronnie O'Sullivan 4u @ [1.48] (vs Wakelin)