SNOOKER analyst George Weyham (@GWSnookerTips) takes a look at the outright market ahead of the 2018 World Open.
World Open | 6th-12th August 2018
The first of four ranking events in China this season is the World Open. Yushan is the venue for the third year in a row and the outright winner will walk away with a tidy sum of £150,000 on Sunday 12th August.
Last year Ding Junhui defeated Kyren Wilson 10-3 in a one-sided final. He's back to defend his crown and I think there's a fair chance he can retain it.
Ding Junhui (11/1 10BET)
Ding is my opening fancy of three to take top honours at 11/1 (10BET). When he has his right head on, he's close to unbeatable.
In the first two rounds at the Worlds he was faultless. However, he fell in the quarters when favourite for the title to Barry Hawkins. It would of hurt as the title was there for him to grasp but he seems to blow cold quite quickly from boiling hot at Sheffield.
It's very hard to forget though just how good Ding is when he's on-song, hence he's got to be backed here. He's not got a bad draw either, with only Neil Robertson in his quarter, which I think is a big threat. Winning two tournaments in a row is tough in this day and age, hence I'm discounting the Aussie.
Ding is a six-time champion over in his native China. He has broad shoulders and can take the pressure of expectancy in his home events. I'm happy to take double figures on him here.
Oppose Mark Selby
Last week in Riga, I opposed Mark Williams at the top of the Outright market at 5/1. He was beaten in his second match by Zhang Yong at 7/1. I'm going to do a similar practise in Yushan with favourite Mark Selby.
As much as he's world number one and has a fabulous record in China, he's short of proper tournament practice so far this season (much like Mark Williams).
Selby was less than convincing in qualifying for this, struggling to victory over amateur Luke Simmonds. He has a tricky opener with Elliot Slessor, who beat Ronnie O'Sullivan twice last season.
Then a match-up with either Zhou Yuelong (Zhou leads Selby 2-0 in head-to-heads) or Jamie Jones (beaten Selby before). And when you think Selby lost here last season 5-2 to Lee Walker in his opener, alarm bells are ringing about him being 11/2 favourite outright.
I'm going to take Selby on with two players in his quarter. It's not something I like doing often (pick two in a quarter) as I prefer to scatter the players around the draw. But a few sections look very tough to access, especially Quarter 4 – Kyren Wilson, Mark Allen, Jack Lisowski, Joe Perry, Stephen Maguire and Mark Williams all in there.
Xiao Guodong (50/1 BetVictor)
First up is a player who beat Selby in February this year in Germany and the previous year in Barnsley, Xiao Guodong.
Of the players outside the top 16, there aren't many more complete players than Guodong. He's a terrific break-builder (18 tons last season), has a very good tactical game and has loads of bottle.
Nicknamed ‘X-Factor’ because he has it all, the 29-year-old made the Shanghai Masters final in 2013 and has made altogether 10 quarter-finals in his career (including three last season) so at least knows how to make the latter stages.
I think at 50/1 (BetVictor), in a section that looks winnable, he's a tad overpriced.
Noppon Saengkham (200/1 10BET)
At huge odds of 200/1 (10BET) – was 300/1 at start of week – I think Thailand's Noppon Saengkham can cause a shock.
He made his first ranking semi-final in last season's Welsh Open and beating in the process Judd Trump 4-1 and Kyren Wilson 4-0 until he succumbed to Barry Hawkins 6-4. It opened my eyes to what a talent he is.
The former world under 21 champion strikes a ball beautifully – he delivers the cue like a piston.
James Wattana – the best Thai snooker player ever – will soon pass the mantle onto Saengkham and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. I'm hoping Saengkham can perform as well as he did in March in Cardiff, as he won't fear anybody.
I think 200/1 is over the top. He's a dark horse to watch out for this week and beyond.