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Riga Masters Snooker: One player to back from each quarter

Snooker player Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson is the man to beat on last season's form
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Snooker returns on Friday with the first ranking event of the season covered live throughout on Betfair Live Video. Here's Paul Krishnamurty's preview...

"Lisowski was phenomenal at times in these shorter and the only dangerous opponent before the quarters is Scott Donaldson."

Back Jack Lisowski 3u @ [15.0]

Now entering its sixth season, the Riga Masters is now established as the first ranking event of the new season. This never attracts all the top names and neither of the World Championship finalists, Judd Trump and John Higgins, nor Ronnie O'Sullivan entered.

Given the weaker field and the short format - best of seven until best of nine in the semis and final - one might assume it would prime for an outsider, hungry at the start of season. A logical theory but, in fact, winners have been pretty obvious. The closest thing to an outsider was Ryan Day a couple of years ago at around 20/1.

Defending champ a class apart on recent form

Back Neil Robertson 8u @ [5.0]

Neil Robertson has won two of three renewals since it became a ranking event and, in the absence of his main rivals, is a solid favourite. He will be sub [1.5], often considerably so, against potential opponent before the semi-final.

For my money, Robbo was as good as anyone last season. He looked the likeliest Crucible winner until being dragged down by Higgins in the quarters. Otherwise, his form was simply relentless for months. Sure, there is a risk of early season rust but he won his sole match in qualifying for the International 6-0, with three tons.

If you're looking for a bigger priced alternative, try Yuan Sijun at 55/1. He doesn't need to worry about Robbo until the quarters and has surpassed Yan Bingtao - also in this section - in my estimation of brilliant Chinese teenagers.

Further progress expected from Wilson this term

Back Kyren Wilson 4u @ [9.8]

This section is more competitive but still only includes one heavyweight. Kyren Wilson started last season very well, reaching the quarters here before back-to-back victories in August and September.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I'm expecting further progress from the 'Warrior' this term - aka the new Selby. His hardest match before the semis may come first, against Xiao Guodong - an opponent he's beaten six times on the spin.

Possible alternatives here include Zhou Yuelong, Ali Carter, Matt Selt, Lu Ning and Sam Craigie. All capable but, Carter aside, hardly regulars in the latter stages.

Lisowski poised for another strong title bid

Back Jack Lisowski 3u @ [15.0]

Mark Selby has won this title before, when it was a PTC, but remains hard to back with confidence after a poor season that saw him surpassed in the world rankings. The draw has handed him a series of tricky opening matches too - Hossein Vafaei followed by perhaps Graeme Dott and Joe Perry.

The other mini-section, in contrast, is very weak and could be easy pickings for last year's runner-up. Lisowski was phenomenal at times in these shorter and the only dangerous opponent before the quarters is Scott Donaldson. It doesn't fit the staking plan to include the Scot but he's also cracking each-way value at 70/1.

Ford rates best value in weak section

Back Tom Ford 1u e/w @ 50/1

Until evidence emerges of a run like 2017/18, opposing Mark Williams will be a cornerstone of my strategy. He's priced on one good season, that came out of nowhere and wasn't repeated. Assuming he wins his qualifying round, Williams will face Ronnie's Crucible conqueror in the last-64 - James Cahill.

I'm tempted by 100/1 about Cahill. That was no fluke and he's got great potential. In contrast Crucible semi-finalist Gary Wilson's odds have crashed to 22/1. This is surely an over-reaction to one good tournament - about a player I've tipped on these pages numerous times at 250/1 plus in recent years.

Preference is for Ford, who has a decent record in minor events. He won and reached several PTC finals, including this one, and made the UK semis last term. Others to consider in this section are the erratic but sometimes brilliant pair Thepchaiya Un Nooh and Luca Brecel.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

Profit/Loss:

2018/19: +154.5 units
2017/18: +106 units

Paul Krishnamurty,

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