SNOOKER analyst Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) takes a look at the opening round of 2018 Riga Masters.
Riga Masters: Round 1 | Friday 27th July 2018
First off, I like Rod Lawler (9/4 Ladbrokes) to beat Jamie Jones. The veteran scouser has had a perfect start to the season qualifying for this and the World Open. In the process, he beat two very good pros in Martin O'Donnell and Mark King.
Jamie Jones is a quality player (got to Round 2 at last season's Worlds) but Lawler shouldn't be over 2/1 in this.
Jones is a better player in the UK than overseas – he made an Australian Open semi-final in 2015, but in eight seasons as a pro, he has an alarming 15 first round/match defeats in foreign shores.
Rod ‘The Plod', in his 29th season as a professional, can continue his fast start to the season and keeping Jones' poor run abroad going.
Kurt Maflin, the 2006 World Amateur champion, is fancied to overcome Liang Wenbo. When pricing this myself I thought Maflin would be a top end 6/4 shot. However, he's 9/5 with Unibet and that's good value.
Maflin is a bit of an enigma in the sport and it's hard to know which player will turn up. On his day though, he can pulverise anyone (beaten Wenbo 5-0 in a previous meeting). Even more so in the short format.
Kurt made the Shanghai Masters quarter-final last season falling to Lisowski. Liang failed to make one ranking quarter final – he's possibly a more frustrating player than Maflin. His consistency is very erratic. Talent wise, he's a top 16 player. Not all about that though. I think Maflin could have his number.
I certainly wouldn't be touching Wenbo at cramped odds of 4/9 generally so instead 9/5 on Maflin is the play.