World Grand Prix Snooker: One player to back from each quarter

Snooker player Neil Robertson
The draw has been kind to Neil Robertson
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Fresh off predicting both the 11/1 German Masters winner and 80/1 runner-up, Paul Krishnamurty previews the World Grand Prix. We've got coverage throughout on Betfair Live Video...

"If Allen brings the game he's shown at recent majors, he will ease into the quarter-finals and go much shorter in the betting."

Back Mark Allen @ [12.0]

The seedings and draw for the World Grand Prix - which starts today at Cheltenham racecourse - are based on one, rather than two years ranking points. The effects may come as something of a surprise.

Mark Allen is number one, while last night's runner-up David Gilbert is eighth, despite never having made the top-16 of the official world rankings. Multiple major winners Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy are ranked 24th and 30th respectively.

Allen a must-bet from favourable draw

Back Mark Allen 4u @ [12.0]

Consequently, the draw is more lop-sided than any in memory. The three market leaders - Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mark Selby - are all in the same half, along with several other frontline contenders. In contrast, Allen is certain to start favourite against anyone he plays before the final.

Of course that doesn't guarantee success, and there are no mugs in this line-up. Gary Wilson is not an easy first-round opponent over best of seven. However if Allen brings the game he's shown at recent majors, he will ease into the quarter-finals and go much shorter in the betting.

The battle for the other quarter-final spot is very competitive, with little to choose between Ding, Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Yan Bingtao. The last-named is rated the best betting option - each-way at 66-1.

Robbo remains a winner-in-waiting

Back Neil Robertson 2u e/w @ 14/1

This quarter also looks very winnable. The favourite is Mark Williams, who I'm adamant is now consistently overbet on the basis of last season's heroics. Until Mark returns to the level not seen since the Crucible, he is poor value and he arrives off a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Kyren Wilson, where his highest break was just 16.

Robertson makes much more appeal. For several months, the Aussie has looked a winner-in-waiting, playing his best snooker in a few years, only to keep bumping into one too good. Often it has simply been a matter of losing great matches to in-form players - Allen in particular.

They could meet again in the semis but Robbo will be fancied against anyone he meets before. For an alternative pick, Stephen Maguire represents good each-way value at 50-1. Williams blocks his route to the quarters but the Scot - a semi-finalist last week having downed Trump - has a good record against him and won their recent encounter at the UK.

Trump preferred in brutal section

Back Judd Trump 5u @ [6.2]

The longstanding, unbreakable rules of this column are to bet in each quarter. However in truth, this is a section I would otherwise by inclined to ignore. Only one of Selby, Murphy or John Higgins can reach the quarter-finals, where they would likely meet Trump.

Having constantly bet against him over the years, it doesn't feel good taking odds merely around 5-1 - especially as Trump failed on the few occasions when carrying our cash (including last week).

Nevertheless he is in much better form than any of his main rivals in this section, and has a relatively easy path to the quarters, with only Joe Perry looking much of a threat.

In-form Wilson good value to take out Ronnie

Back Kyren Wilson 2u @ [18.0]

It probably won't get any easier for whoever gets through that brutal third section. Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is hot favourite to await in the semis but he is no certainty.

Considering the draw, 9/4 is simply too short. He might have to face Trump, who won their last two finals, in the semi. To get there, he'll probably have to beat Wilson, who landed his third title of the season yesterday.

That doesn't amount to a 9/4 chance in my view. Ronnie only needs to get in trouble during one match and his odds for that single match might go higher.

Moreover O'Sullivan was very lucky to beat Wilson in the Champion of Champions final and the'Warrior' remains under-rated in the betting. He has now reached seven finals in the past two seasons - repeatedly giving supporters a good run for their money.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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