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

Robertson is fancied to find form in the run-up to the World Championship
Robertson is fancied to find form in the run-up to the World Championship

A brand new invitational event, restricted to the world's top-32, gets under way in Llandudno today, with coverage throughout on ITV4 and Betfair Live Video. Paul Krishnamurty provides his regular four-man plan...

"In the past, the Aussie played his best snooker all over the world only to seem tired at the business end of the season. This time...expect a series of bold bids in the build-up to the World Championship."

The turnout for the inaugural World Grand Prix perfectly illustrates how the new prize-money based rankings system is changing the calendar. It is a cause for celebration that we now have events all over the world, virtually every week, but the lack of stars at last week's Indian Open ranking event showed the top players can now pick and choose.

300K worth of prize money, with 100K to the winner, has naturally proved enough of an incentive for everyone to turn up in Llandudno this week. Restricted to the world's top-32, it will also be one of the hardest events of the year to win and could in time rival the prestigious triple-crown.


Back Stephen Maguire 2u @ 26.025/1

In such a high-class field, there is no easy section and one must expect the top ten or so players, (the elite that win almost every tournament), to dominate. In this top quarter, that means either Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy or Stephen Maguire.

A strong case could be made for any of a trio that have won seven titles between them this season, but Maguire gets the nod on price grounds. Granted, he's come off second best against both of these rivals lately but he's beaten them both in big matches before and, overall, this season's form is barely inferior, if at all compared to Selby. Maguire is overdue, and capable of, winning another big title.


Back Mark Williams 2u @ 30.029/1

The big guns in this section were all in India last week, so jetlag may be an issue. Regardless of that, Ding Junhui is totally unbackable after yet another early defeat.

Judd Trump was another big disappointment in India and, while he is always feared, remains terrible value on the basis of his poor recent win ratio. Trump seems to always throw in one terrible performance and lack the resilience to come through it.

Much more interesting from a betting perspective are Ricky Walden and Mark Williams, who lost in the Indian final and semi respectively to Michael White. The latter remains in his best form for years, playing as well as anyone over the past month, and must be worth a close look in front of an adoring Welsh crowd.


Back Neil Robertson 6u @ 8.415/2

Compared to last season's heroics, this hasn't been a vintage campaign for Robertson, but I've a feeling it will work to his favour.

In the past, the Aussie played his best snooker all over the world only to seem tired at the business end of the season. This time it could be the other way round, and we should expect a series of bold bids in the build-up to the World Championship.

There's plenty of dangers in this section - most notably Marco Fu, Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham. However none of that trio have been at their best lately by any means, and generally need to be in order to get past a player of Robertson's calibre.


Back Mark Allen 2u @ 26.025/1

It is with great reluctance that, after a period of consistently backing the world's best player at short odds with confidence, I'm abandoning Ronnie O'Sullivan.

All past comments about him being a reformed character, unbeatable much of the time, still stand. However by his own admission, he hasn't found the same form and fluency as the last couple of seasons. I expect he'll find it in time for the World Championship but, fresh off a poor defeat to Matthew Stevens, the Rocket makes little appeal at around 4.67/2.

Instead, odds of 26.025/1 represent fair value about Allen finally showing he has the tools to win a big event. There are few better players in the PTCs and Allen usually produces a seriously fluent, world-class performance in each event. Rather like Trump, he doesn't appear to have much a 'B game', but that is reflected by bigger odds.

The other man to watch is rising star Michael White, who has won the last two events. This is much harder than the Shootout or Indian Open, but he's bang in form and should represent a stiff obstacle to Ronnie in the last-16.

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