Ronnie O'Sullivan takes centre stage at Alexandra Palace on Monday but Paul Krishnamurty says he's no certainty to progress...
"Bingham has been scoring heavily all season and hit 21 in six matches at the UK. This bet could be landed without even getting close to pulling off the upset."
Back Stuart Bingham to score Over 2.5 Fifty Breaks @ 11/10
Monday afternoon sees Ronnie O'Sullivan begin his bid for an eighth Masters, 20th major title and second leg of the triple crown. He already owns the first two records but has never won all three majors in the same season. (Nobody has since 2003).
Ronnie short odds to maintain Bingham dominance
On this season's form, it is hard to make a case against him. The [3.15] to win the event is plenty short enough given the competition but fair on the basis of his record. Likewise, [1.29] to beat Stuart Bingham reflects a 14-3 lead in past matches.
That noted, Ronnie doesn't appeal as a betting proposition in the first match of the tournament. He is no certainty. All of Bingham's three victories came in majors and he was superb for much of the UK Championship. Without an unlucky in-off in the deciding frame of the semi, this pair may have met in the final.
Moreover while O'Sullivan is playing as well as ever this term, he hasn't been bombproof against top-class opposition. Trump beat him and Selby took him to a decider in Northern Ireland. Kyren Wilson was famously unlucky to lose 10-9 in the Champion of Champions.
Three fifties well within range for in-form Bingham
At the UK, Ken Doherty traded heavily odds-on when their first round match went to a decider. There is plenty of trading mileage in backing Bingham at [4.4] to do so again but, as he's already in my outright plan, today's bet is on him merely hitting Over 2.5 Fifty Breaks at 11/10.
He's been scoring heavily all season and hit 21 in six matches at the UK. This bet could be landed without even getting close to pulling off the upset.
Lisowski a must-bet on the formbook
A much more confident bet awaits in the evening, where Jack Lisowski is rated the first-round nap at [2.14] on his tournament debut against Ding Junhui. On this season's evidence, the betting is the wrong way round.
The 2011 champion has really struggled since relocating to China, leading some to wonder whether he'll ever be the same player again. It is far too early to write off such a class act but he is very hard to back until evidence of improvement is seen.
Ding has reached just one quarter-final this term and struggled against anyone competitive. He needed plenty of luck to reach the UK quarter-finals before coming up well short against Martin O'Donnell.
Lisowski in contrast has reached five quarter-finals and looked a winner-in-waiting. He keeps falling short against elite players - Robertson twice in big games, Ronnie at the UK, Higgins at the Crucible - but is generally scoring heavily.
Since the UK, he's reiterated good form at the Championship League - winning 12 out of 16 games. Without a transformation in form, Jack will get plenty of chances among the balls against Ding.
Back Stuart Bingham to score over 2.5 Fifty Breaks 3u @ 11/10
Back Jack Lisowski 5u @ [2.14]