Betfair Live Video will be covering this week's European Masters snooker throughout. Check out Paul Krishnamurty's preview and betting tips...
"On the basis of his run to the UK semis, Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao is well ahead and primed to take his rightful place in the top-16 before long."
To follow the least predictable Masters renewal in history, we have another event that looks highly prone to producing an upset. Judd Trump is the most notable name to have fallen at the earlier, qualifying stage while Ronnie O'Sullivan has again failed to enter.
Back Ding Junhui 5u @ 10.09/1
In fact of the 16 players to line up at Alexandra Palace, only seven will be in Austria. A golden opportunity, one might therefore think, for Ali Carter to go one better. He'll start favourite against anybody faced before the last-16.
Not for me. Last week's performance came out of the blue and all the pressure was off. He's far from certain to win his opening matches against lesser opponents, let alone either Ding Junhui or Kyren Wilson at the quarter-final stage.
I'm unconvinced the latter is at his best so preference is for Ding, whose defeat to Joe Perry was forgiveable, considering how well he was playing before Christmas. For an outsider, try Daniel Wells at 175/1. The Welshman made good progress last term and could very plausibly come through from this draw.
Back Thepchaiya Un Nooh 1u @ 42.041/1
Neil Robertson starts favourite and rightly so, but he is positioned in the toughest quarter. John Higgins is a threat, as is Thepchaiya Un Nooh - who whitewashed Robbo on their latest outing.
A decent case can also be made for Graeme Dott or even UK quarter-finalist Liang Wenbo, who beat Stuart Bingham to get here. In a tricky section to resolve, I'll go for Un Nooh - a great talent, belatedly on the up.
The bottom half of the draw includes only one player who could legitimately be called a frontline contender. Mark Selby is priced accordingly and could well land a third title of the season.
I'd prefer to bet each-way and am split between two top Chinese prospects. Zhou Yuelong is overdue a run and fancied to give Mark Williams a very hard time first up.
However on the basis of his run to the UK semis, Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao is well ahead and primed to take his rightful place in the top-16 before long.
From the weakest quarter by far, Marco Fu concludes what I'm pretty sure is my first ever all-Asian staking plan. His best form is by far the best of anyone in this section and is playing better than the bare recent results, scoring heavily.
The alternative was Zhao Xintong, who certainly has the talent, if not necessarily the tactical skills to win a ranking event. Gary Wilson also warrants respect but is short enough at 18/1 for a non-winner.
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