SNOOKER specialist George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) previews Wednesday's action from the 2020 Masters at Alexandra Palace.
Kyren Wilson v Jack Lisowski | Wednesday 15th January 2020, 13:00 | BBC
If Jack Lisowski can rediscover his form from Glasgow, where he made the Scottish Open final before Christmas, he’s got a great chance here against Kyren Wilson and in this very winnable quarter.
Armed with a brand new cue, it was the first event of the season where Lisowski really found his rhythm. And didn’t he just – his scoring was exceptional north of the border, notching 27 breaks over 50, six of them centuries. On the way to the final, he beat all types of styles.
At the top of the game, there aren't many bigger contrasts than Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and John Higgins, yet Lisowski disarmed them both. The 6-5 semi-final win over Mark Allen signified any doubts about Lisowski’s bottle when he hit a fantastic break of 95 in the decider after it looked like ‘The Pistol' would complete an unlikely comeback from 5-3 adrift.
Even in the final against Selby, he was well in it, until he lost patience in frame 12 going for a suicidal red after taking the upper hand in a safety duel. That cost him the chance to hit level at 6-6 and he didn’t recover.
Lisowski has to learn to bide his time and wait for his opportunities. A bit like his best friend on tour Trump has done, adapted into a top safety player. Once he clicks in that department, the sky is the limit and he will win title after title.
I am still confident Wilson will break his triple crown duck soon but his results overall this season have not been great. Before Christmas, he lost in the last 64 in York, last 32 in Glasgow and failed to qualify for Germany. He’s lost in eight deciders and four by two frames. To be fair, he has won five deciders but all these close games just show he’s not quite on it.
Kyren does have a knack of doing well in these invitationals. He made the final here two years ago, lost in this season's Paul Hunter Classic final, should of beaten O’Sullivan in Shanghai losing in the quarter-final 6-5 from 5-1 up and to O’Sullivan again in last season's Champion of Champions final.
These pair partnered each other at the World Cup for England but acquaintances will be out the window Wednesday afternoon, and I really think Lisowski will come to the party and make it an eighth career victory over ‘The Warrior'.
A match-up with Williams or Bingham in the quarters doesn’t worry me in the slightest. Lisowski hasn’t got a losing head-to-head against either. Jack said at the Scottish Open he was playing ‘the best snooker of his career’ and his new weapon of a cue must have something to do with it. I think he can make a total mockery of that 4/1 to win the quarter – it’s without doubt, my best bet of the tournament.
If he wins the quarter, the question is then can he go further, and is he worth backing for the title or reaching the final? Yes, but I go back to him not winning any title yet as a professional. I still question his overall maturity to win a title, especially one of this magnitude.
But winning the quarter, no doubt. He’s made 14 career quarter-finals (in all competitions) but won through to the semi-final in just six. Thankfully, five have come in the past 18 months hence he’s nearly there but, for me, the safest option is a semi-final berth for Jackpot Jack.
Predicted score: Jack Lisowski 6-5.
Mark Williams v Stuart Bingham | Wednesday 15th January 2020, 19:00 | BBC
This is the first meeting between these two in a triple crown event, a statistic that, considering they have been pros on tour together for 22 years, is a little surprising.
Out of the 15 players who have played in this event multiple times, no player has a more wretched record in it than Stuart Bingham. He’s played nine times previously, and incurred eight first round/match defeats. I haven’t a clue why Bingham does so badly in it, he’s a fabulous all-round player. Maybe it’s mentally?
Since winning the Masters in 2003, Mark Williams hasn’t made a final in 13 appearances. He’s had a sloppy season too, only making the final of the China Championship. The other four rankers read a last-32 loss and three last-64 exits.
I know Williams hardly practices any more too – I’m told he hates it. He gets by with his top-class natural ability. He’s still the most relaxed person on tour by miles with a ‘can’t be arsed’ look about him but believe me, he still cares. Whether he’s put any effort in over Christmas and New Year is the million dollar question. He has at least played in the Championship League.
I think out of all the first-round games, this is the biggest ‘to avoid’ match of them all. Bingham’s record here is a huge negative as is Williams’ record in general this season.
If push came to shove, I would plump for Bingham narrowly to stop the rot, with no confidence at all. As the betting suggests, it’s a pick-em contest.
Predicted score: Stuart Bingham 6-5.