Masters Snooker: Back The Wizard to perform at the Palace

John Higgins
Is the Wizard going to produce some green baize magic?

Our snooker writer Gary Moss has his pick of the bets for The Masters plus some storylines to watch out for over the coming week...

"Higgins is a different, leaner animal these days. With weight shed and consistency in his game, he's a real contender this time at Alexandra Palace and a nice price to do so at 9.08/1."

It's back to Alexandra Palace for another sporting feast - but not quite as we know it.

After the wall-to-wall drama over the festive break provided by the darts, it's now the turn of the world's best cueists to put on a show in North London.

The Cazoo Masters is the first of three of snooker's major events in the calendar year with the top 16 ranked players in the world invited to fight for the £250,000 top prize.

You can plug into the BBC for all the action from Sunday and as we're sure the broadcasting team will quickly remind us, every match in this event is worthy of a final such is the standard at the top of the game.

Wizard tipped to take top prize

It's been a season of near misses so far for John Higgins - left potless as a beaten finalist on four occasions. But he looks like knocking one over soon; playing some brilliant snooker without reward so far in this campaign.

The last of his two wins at The Masters came back in 2006 as he has notoriously been a slow starter after the Christmas break and into the new year only reaching the semi-finals four times in his 15 attempts.

But Higgins is a different, leaner animal these days. With weight shed and consistency in his game, he's a real contender this time at Alexandra Palace and a nice price to do so at 9.08/1.

An intriguing first round clash against recently crowned UK champion Zhao Xintong is one not to miss but on his debut, experience could be pivotal.

Back John Higgins to win the title @ 9.08/1

Tiger Yan pounces to his defence

Don't forget Higgins came mighty close to the landing the Masters a year ago - losing out to this year's defending champion Yan Bingtao.

Albeit behind closed doors at a hushed Milton Keynes, this was a career highlight for the 21-year old Chinese star who won his first major title and followed in the footsteps of compatriot and national hero Ding Junhui in winning a Triple Crown trophy.

All eyes will be on the Tiger when the curtain comes up on this year's tournament as he faces off against Mark Williams.

He goes in a 1.674/6 favourite in the match so perhaps the value is in landing the correct score.

But if you've not seen much of young Yan, watch out for his formidable temperament which may even be a match for his Welsh opponent who has carved out a career being renowned for this very quality.

Back Yan to win 6-3 or 6-4 @ 7.06/1

Ronnie with that winning feeling

The Masters isn't quite The Masters without snooker's headline act - Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The raucous London crowd will be ready to roar on the record seven-time winner and fresh from winning the World Grand Prix title just before Christmas, his army of fans will hope he's got the flavour for it.

His victory in Coventry was impressive; not only was it his first title in 16 months but it came against Neil Robertson; simply one of the finest players in the world.

Ronnie will be the first to admit that his best is probably behind him now aged 46 but moments of inspiration will surely still come around now again as he showed to come back from 7-5 to beat the Aussie in this one.

O'Sullivan should have no real problems beating Jack Lisowski in round one but it could be Robertson waiting for him in the quarters and you wonder whether he can produce the goods again.

Back Ronnie O'Sullivan -3.5 v Jack Lisowski @ 2.8815/8

Judd out to prove doubters wrong

Judd Trump has come in for some harsh criticism over the past year or so.

Despite being consistently the best player in the world for quite some time now and having amassed an impressive 11 titles in the previous two seasons, picking up top prizes in the majors has evaded him with his last coming at the 2019 World Championship.

This has been the narrative around for Judd for a little while as he sits on three major titles now aged 32 - a shy return in comparison to his vast ability.

He'll want to put that right and at the scene of his emphatic demolition of O'Sullivan three years ago which proved a catalyst in his career, a second Masters crown could here could prove just as important.

Doubters are always lurking when you reach Trump's fine standards, but equally it's nice to silence them.

Judd has a tricky starter against Mark Allen and may also have to beat world number one Mark Selby if he is to reach the final but the way he pots balls, you won't be seeing him being written off by us.

Back Judd Trump -3.5 v Mark Allen @ 3.259/4
Back Judd Trump total centuries over 1.5 @ 2.26/5

Get a Free £10 Bet - Every Day!

From January 7-13, we are Doubling our Daily Rewards! Stake £20 on Multiples or Bet Builders over the course of a day, and, after the bets have settled, you'll get a free £10 bet to use on Multiples or Bet Builders. Bets must settle within 48 hours. No opt-in required, T&Cs apply.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles