SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) takes a look at the Shanghai Masters picking out a few intriguing outright prices.
Shanghai Masters | 10th-16th September 2018 | Eurosport
The snooker circuit lands in China's biggest city, Shanghai, for its inaugural Masters invitational event. With a first prize of £200,000 to the winner, it's a competition well worth winning.
Like the Masters in the UK, this event contains the top 16 players, except the Chinese version throws in an extra eight players into the melting pot.
Ronnie O'Sullivan, the defending champion from last year’s ranking event, reappears for the first time this season. It will be fascinating to see how the Rocket gets on after joining SightRight in the close season.
Take the Rocket on
He doesn't need an introduction – he's my first port of call. But its not to advise backing him, it's to take him on.
Bar last season’s win here, his record in China isn't amazing. OK, he's won in Shanghai twice, and lost in another final here but his general attitude usually changes when there's a bit of money involved, like it is here. And he's a seven-times UK Masters champion.
However, he's a risky proposition at 3/1 in the outrights. We are in the dark to how he's coping with the SightRight techniques.
Plus, first up he's likely to face the very dangerous Neil Robertson (he’s beaten O'Sullivan eight times, twice in invitationals). That's enough to be less than confident of Ronnie's prospects.
Obviously he could blow any field away but I'm happy to be against the five-time World Champion.
Value elsewhere in the outright market
What I find with Ronnie's price in nearly every event is, he's next to no value. He’s always around the 3/1 – 7/2 mark and it's very similar in regards to Judd Trump.
Trump is usually 10/1 at max. For a player who is yet to win the Masters (or any invitational event), I would want 14/1+ on Trump to be interested. He doesn't have a favourable draw here, either.
Someone who's as good as anyone, is normally priced around 10/1 (which is invariably value) and can still win events at the age of 43, is John Higgins.
Higgins fresh and ready for the challenge
In terms of freshness, The Wizard of Wishaw is near the top of the chain. He's only entered two events so far, winning his qualifiers in the Indian Open and European Masters.
He picks and chooses his events, but I can imagine he's put some hard graft in for this one at home, whilst a fair few of this field have been over in Thailand for the 6 Red World Championship.
John has a terrific record overseas. He's made 13 ranking finals outside of the UK, winning eight of them. Add in minor ranking and non-ranking events, it's nine more victories.
John Higgins is a proven, adaptable master in every format of the sport. Whether it's a short, best of sevens or a best of 35 slug out – he’s arguably the greatest match player the sport has ever produced.
Higgins showed in getting to the World final in May (second year in succession) he's still got it big time – he was breathtaking.
It's very difficult to take those performances out my head. He has Ronnie and Judd in his half of the draw in Shanghai – he leads Trump 20-9 in head-to-heads, and has won their last seven meetings. Meanwhile, Higgins beat Ronnie in their last two matches 5-1 and 5-0.
The Wizard of Wishaw only needs four wins to make it overall tournament win number 53 in his career. I had hoped to advise double-figures on Higgins (he opened at 10/1 with Sportingbet) but I'm perfectly happy with 8/1 (Sportingbet).
I just can't let him go unbacked in Shanghai.
Selby has a strong shout in Shanghai
Kyren Wilson interested me in Higgins' Quarter. He won in Furth for his second ranking title and, as I type, is in the latter stages in Thailand for the 6 Red World Championship. He's on a crest of a wave and the Masters runner-up can certainly be seen as overpriced at 25/1, even though his draw has a lot to do with it.
I can see him beating Trump but coming unstuck against Higgins (he’s only beaten him once). I do wonder if he will run out of gas as he's done a lot of air miles.
I very rarely recommend Mark Selby as he's usually poorly priced around 4/1-9/2. I tipped him last season for the China Open at 8/1 (when he had had a fairly mediocre season) and he won. It was down to his fine record in China, plus his eye-catching odds.
Well it's deju vu in Shanghai – he's 7/1 for this with Ladbrokes (boosted to 15/2) and he's back in the Far East so I really want him onside in the bottom half.
The Jester an expert in China
Three-time world champion Selby has 29 overall titles to his name, nine (six of them ranking events) have come in China alone.
Selby has won an incredible 11 of his last 12 ranking finals, and since 2014 in all finals, has won 15 of last 18. So get him into the final two and he is close to unbeatable. Furthermore, since 2011, he's made 14 Chinese finals (two in Shanghai, won one, lost one).
Selby is the quintessential Chinese must have. In his career (ranking, minor ranking and non-ranking events) over here he's won a remarkable 111 times from 144 matches – nobody is stronger in these neck of the woods.
I also like his draw in Shanghai to back up his chances. It's a weaker half of the draw. He only has one loss to his name this season and that came in a decider, 5-4, on the black, to Noppon Saengkham. He also won the Haining Open (Chinese non-ranking) before the World Open.
With £200k up for grabs, this event is right up Selby's street. He's a three-times Masters champion so is no stranger to winning in the invitational fields. There's a lot in Selby's favour. You won't get 7/1 on the Jester very often – he must be backed.
Ladbrokes have priced up a Name The Finalists market and it would be rude not to have a little go on a Higgins v Selby final at 11/1. What a tussle that would be!
Shanghai Masters – John Higgins to win outright (8/1 Sportingbet)
Shanghai Masters – Mark Selby to win outright (7/1 Ladbrokes price boost)
Shanghai Masters – John Higgins v Mark Selby final (11/1 Ladbrokes)