As another pair of Betfair World Championship contenders begin their campaigns, Paul Krishnamurty expects Mark Allen to progress with much less trouble than Stephen Maguire...
"Since the turn of the year, he's won the World Open and lost twice to both Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui - arguably the most in-form players...In the 13 matches he won at those events, nobody took Allen to a final frame and only three managed to stay within two."
Mark Allen v Mark King
It will come as no surprise to readers of my tournament previews to learn that I expect Mark Allen to win today's first round match with the minimum of fuss. No disrespect to his opponent Mark King but he's only won six matches in 13 Crucible appearances and never looked like a contender. Allen most certainly does.
Almost all the recent evidence points towards an easy Allen victory. In the six top-grade events since the turn of the year, he's won the World Open and lost twice to both Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui - arguably the most in-form players. The other defeat to Barry Hawkins also came against an opponent at the peak of his powers. In the 13 matches he won at those events, nobody took Allen to a final frame and only three managed to stay within two. His form in smaller events is equally impressive, reaching the Betfair Snooker Shootout final and winning 11 out of 14 Championship League matches.
That is of course demonstrated by match odds of just 1.222/9, so a better value plan is to try a correct-score combo. By backing 10-3, 10-4, 10-5, we're taking odds just above 3.02/1.
Stephen Maguire v Dechawat Poomjaeng
Speaking of short-priced first round favourites, Stephen Maguire may not be quite the certainty odds of just 1.162/13 suggest. One must expect him to prevail over a little-known Crucible debutant, but Maguire has a long history of losing matches he shouldn't or at least making life hard for himself.
I won't pretend to know much about Poomjaeng, except to say his recent qualifying results are highly promising, not least winning four matches against higher-ranked opposition to get here. Previously he won five matches to reach the last-32 of the China Open, including a second straight win against highly-rated fellow Crucible qualifier Ben Woollaston. If Poomjaeng copes with the occasion, there is plenty of evidence that he's capable of winning the six frames to land a bet on the handicap.