After another day of upsets that saw Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump crash out, Paul Krishnamurty says this is the year of the outsider and tips two more in his quarter-final preview...
"Ronnie O'Sullivan has declared Kyren Wilson as a future number one and, make no mistake, the youngster can win this title...he has played the best snooker of anyone in the tournament."
Back Marco Fu to beat Barry Hawkins @ 2.6213/8
Can any odds-on favourite be trusted in snooker nowadays? The outsider won four of the eight second round matches at the Crucible, setting up the most wide-open quarter-final line-up in living memory. The top-four in the pre-tournament betting are all out and, of the last eight, only Mark Selby begun trading below 20.019/1.
As we've seen throughout the season, the game is more competitive than ever. Virtually anyone can win and everyone beats each other regularly. It is important, therefore, not to read too much into one performance or result.
Had Barry Hawkins met Marco Fu in the first round, he would have just shaded favouritism - maybe at 1.855/6. Now 24 hours after eliminating Ronnie O'Sullivan, he's a 1.68/13 chance. Yet not that much has really changed.
Sure, Hawkins played a blinder but in the previous round his form was ordinary, as it has been for much of the season. Fu has done nothing wrong in his two matches, and was outstanding in the first round. Their career head-to-head is very tight, with Hawkins leading 6-5 in matches, 54-50 in frames.
For my money, 2.6213/8 about Fu is too big in what amounts to more or less a 50/50 contest. It is never easy to follow a great win, especially the next day, and I could see Fu opening up an early lead. He makes good sense from both a betting and trading perspective.
Back Kyren Wilson to beat Mark Selby @ 3.211/5
Perhaps nobody reflects the tectonic shift in snooker than Kyren Wilson, already assured of a top-16 place after a tremendous breakthrough season and the best may be yet to come. Ronnie O'Sullivan has declared Wilson as a future number one and, make no mistake, the youngster can win this title.
Arguably, he has played the best snooker of anyone in the tournament. John Higgins might dispute that, but Wilson was outstanding in both wins. Furthermore, he appears to have the confidence and nerve of a champion.
His temperament has been outstanding, from holding his nerve in the final frame decider against Joe Perry to beating Judd Trump in another decider for his breakthrough title in Shanghai. Lesser characters would have folded after twice losing sessions 4-0 to comeback chasing Mark Allen, but both times Wilson just kicked on confidently.
Beating Selby over three sessions at the Crucible would be another order of achievement and the likeliest outcome is probably a glorious, narrow defeat, rather like Sam Baird in the last round. However Selby is beatable like everyone else and yet to find his best form. Odds of 3.211/5 about the player to have shown much better form in both rounds has to represent value.
Naturally given the above argument, Wilson heads up our treble, though this time receiving 2.5 frames on the handicap, covering the eventuality of a narrow defeat.
The two favourites that do look strong make up the rest. Ding Junhui has won all six matches against Mark Williams since 2010, by a margin of 28-13. Ding usually gets stronger as tournaments develop and he will be a tough nut to crack from here on.
Although Alan McManus won his last two matches against John Higgins, the Wizard of Wishaw was struggling at the time and it is very hard to see a repeat. Higgins has just overwhelmed two much more dangerous opponents, scoring heavily and looking a big challenger for his fifth world crown.
Match odds of 1.182/11 are too prohibitive, so lets take 1.42/5 about Higgins making the highest break instead. He has hit three times as many centuries this season and realistically, McManus is much likelier to win frames via scrapping it out than scoring big breaks.