After securing a 46 unit profit by picking both finalists at the English Open, Paul Krishnamurty tries his usual staking plan for the International Championship. Check out his eight picks here...
"In a wide-open section, Brecel gets marginal preference over likely last-32 opponent Anthony McGill. Both of these improvers have started the season in excellent form and could be about to really break through, but the Belgian's 4-0 lead in their head-to-head is the clinching factor."
Back Luca Brecel 1u e/w @ 50/1
Starting tomorrow with the International Championship, we are now entering the heart of the snooker season, with six big events scheduled over the next seven weeks. Usually this is the time of year when the world's best begin to find peak form and there is evidence to that effect already.
In producing his best form in ages to dominate the English Open, Ronnie O'Sullivan reminded the world that, when in that mood, he is probably unbeatable. As for the man who has eclipsed him at snooker's peak, Mark Selby, made a 147 yesterday en route to the minor Haining Open title. Back at the start of the month, Judd Trump was outstanding in winning the European Masters.
Back Mark Selby 6u @ 6.411/2
Back Michael Holt 0.5u each-way @ 150/1
Selby won this title in the most impressive fashion 12 months ago, thrashing Ding Junhui 10-1 in the final, and with that confidence boosting win under his belt, the time looks ripe for the world number one to land his first ranking title of the season. Unlike most of the field, he still has to negotiate the last-128 round but a straightforward opponent like Ashley Hugill might help him build some fluency ahead of tougher tasks later on.
There are dangers, for sure, including a tough last-32 match against either Mark Williams or Ryan Day. But, with Neil Robertson still unconvincing and Stuart Bingham absent starting his six-month ban, Selby may not have to face an elite player until at least the semis.
The mini-section which previously involved Bingham now boils down to Robertson or an outsider. At 130.0129/1 on the exchange, Joe Perry is rated next best and a tempting price. However I prefer the each-way option on Holt. 'The Hitman' only lost in a deciding frame to eventual semi-finalist Anthony McGill in Barnsley, and should fear nobody before the semis. Notably, he's won two of his last three encounters with likely last-32 opponent Robertson.
Back Ali Carter 1u e/w @ 70/1
Back Kyren Wilson 2u @ 36.035/1
Ding is very much the man to beat in this section but there is plenty of opposition. Assuming he reaches the last-16 - dangerous given his tendency to start slowly - the 2013 champion may have to then get past bang-in-form Wilson. Although Ding dominated their recent World Open final 10-3, Kyren previously beat him 5-1 in a quarter-final. The Englishman did little wrong in Barnsley and is worth keeping onside at bigger odds than we profited from there.
I'm also persisting with one of my English Open picks in the other eighth. Carter is always worth considering at these sort of odds and, while all three matches to reach the quarter-finals will be tricky, there's nobody to be afraid of. Not least given that he leads the toughest potential obstacle - Shaun Murphy - in their career head-to-head.
Back Judd Trump 5u @ 6.86/1
Back Matthew Stevens 0.5u e/w @ 200/1
Long-term readers will know I've never been a fan of taking short odds about Judd Trump so, if he loses a silly match to a vastly inferior opponent in the early rounds, this probably won't happen again for some time.
Nevertheless, it will need such an upset to occur and to be fair, Trump is in outstanding form. He looked set to challenge strongly in Barnsley before losing a high-quality match by a deciding frame. The last-16 hurdle looks tricky, probably against either David Gilbert and Liang Wenbo, both of whom came in for consideration.
The other mini-section is the weakest in the draw, with only Mark Allen trading anywhere below 130.0129/1. He's hardly the most reliable though so lets try a miracle bet on a veteran. Throughout his impressive yet underachieving career, Stevens has always retained the ability to suddenly produce world-class snooker. This six-time Crucible semi-finalist has been scoring heavily in recent events since getting a new cue.
It feels like heresy to abandon Ronnie after he won so well but, with Selby and Trump also in the staking plan, we can only afford to back so many favourites. Plus, this draw is not straightforward. I said prior to that last event that Yan Bingtao must be persisted with whilst at these kind of odds and if the 17 year-old wins his last-128, he is quite capable of shocking the Rocket first up.
There's plenty of others to consider here too, most notably John Higgins and Barry Hawkins. In a wide-open section, Brecel gets marginal preference over likely last-32 opponent Anthony McGill. Both of these improvers have started the season in excellent form and could be about to really break through, but the Belgian's 4-0 lead in their head-to-head is the clinching factor.