O'Sullivan Retains Shanghai Masters Crown
Winning this week's Players Championship and extending what is now an match unbeaten run would dwarf those previous achievements but the Welshman is the form man and would not have to meet Ronnie in the final. Back Ronnie O'Sullivan 10u [3. Given the draw, trying to manufacture an argument against O'Sullivan seems futile.
There is simply nobody in his half of the draw whose form has been in the same league. He's got arguably the easiest first round opponent in Graeme Dott and will be a red-hot favourite against any quarter or semi-final opponent.
Mark Allen and Ding Junhui are, of course, potential champions too but certainly inferior, especially on the most recent evidence. Ronnie showed some of his best ever form - which we know to be an unbeatable standard - to land the World Grand Prix and started his Welsh Open bid in similar fashion before running into John Higgins.
That looks the likeliest final and, if it materialises, the similarly resurgent Wizard of Wishaw will warrant the utmost respect. Until then though, there is nobody of that pedigree to worry about. Apologies for what must seem like endless repetition but this quarter is all about taking on the over-rated Judd Trump. It seems as if almost every week, he loses to a solid top player of around the same standard, then starts half their odds for the next event.
Here at least Trump's first round opponent is one he's beaten four times in a row but Maguire has been in at least good form, especially in the big events. However at three times the odds Maguire - well capable of beating anyone at his best - must be the bet. He'll probably lose to Ronnie yet again if reaching the semis, as in Preston and York, but we'd be on a cracking value bet if he just gets that far.
Higgins has another obvious chance here and is expected to progress past Anthony McGill again first up. Again with value in mind, though, I'm prepared to take him on. Three-times a runner-up this season, Kyren Wilson has repeatedly upset longer established names and this draw may work to his advantage. The key is Shaun Murphy , who has been struggling with back and neck injuries, and was even doubtful to appear in Llandudno.
On the basis of his overall form, Murphy would have been my top pick in the bottom half of the draw but must be swerved while this cloud hangs over him. One would expect he hasn't been practising much and that is usually fatal at this level. Back Yan Bingtao 1. Whereas the other three sections all involve an obviously weak link or value angle, this bottom quarter is brutal.
In such circumstances, identifying the top players for an elite invitational like today's Players Championship is slightly problematic. For example two of those champions produced upsets at massive odds, therefore qualifying for this via the one year ranking list , yet few genuinely believe Anthony Hamilton and Mark King are among the 16 best players.
With rankings now determined by prize money, players can make rapid headway and either of those two veterans could leap to as high as number two on the same list with victory in Llandudno. Back Marco Fu 3u [ Mark Selby remains clear at the top of both the one and two year lists, thanks to saving his best for the biggest events.
Perhaps the extra prize money will spark improvement from Selby, who has done very little to justify his status since winning the UK Championship, but he makes no appeal at short-odds, especially after last week's efforts.
Before losing to Ricky Walden, he gave Robert Milkins chance after chance before edging out a trademark final frame victory. Indeed Selby looks a vulnerable first round favourite against Ryan Day - who has played the better snooker in By comparison, Marco Fu rates obvious value. Back John Higgins 4u [ Speaking of prize money, I suspect John Higgins needs an extra incentive to arrive with his A-game nowadays, so it could be worth chancing that the Wizard of Wishaw returns to world-beating form.
He's gone off the boil since winning back-to-back lucrative events in November but was noted playing well to win last week's Championship League. At his best, Higgins would be strongly fancied against his two main rivals in this section.
Though always capable, Ding Junhui continues to frustrate, but Stuart Bingham is feared. He too looked to have finally found his best form in winning the Welsh Open and must be a strong favourite to get past Hamilton first up.
Back Barry Hawkins 4u [ All four players make some appeal here. Barry Hawkins is arguably playing as well as anyone in the world - or at least was until Murphy beat him yesterday. Neil Robertson also signaled a timely return to form in Gibraltar and even the outsider is not without a claim.
Ali Carter has beaten Murphy in four of their last five encounters and was in good form only last month. I can see him upsetting the odds to halt the Magician's streak first up.
Live betting mobile | Ncaa expert picks week 4 | Betting websites like csgolounge | Golf tips short game chipping | Sporting betting online | Soccer prediction for today |