The Snooker Masters beckons BBC once again on Sunday as the best 16 players will duke it out in a new setting, The Alexandra Palace.
The ‘Ally Pally’ takes over from Wembley who held the event for 33 years. With a new venue comes a new era in my opinion; the era of Judd Trump’s dominance of snooker.
Snooker’s most exciting young player, Judd Trump, sits as joint favourite at 13/2 by most bookmakers. Trump’s all-out-attack game style continues to stun snooker fans of all ages, his confidence is flying high and I think he represents the best value at this price.
Trump does however have an intriguing first round encounter with Stuart Bingham. Bingham defeated him in Shanghai last year very comfortably.
Most people’s tournament finals, Ronnie O’Sullivan, is still arguably the most talented player out there. However, when he last spoke to the media he said , “I seriously can’t see me playing much longer”. A scary thought but then again his words have led Sportingbet offering him at 13/2.
His clear lack of confidence could hint at a lack of mental focus and therefore is reason that I would steer clear at him; although his odds do seem tempting.
Mark Selby seems to be the pick by most experts. The 2008 and 2010 Champions has calmly come out and explained that, “big crowds bring out the best of me”. Selby seems a little highly priced at 13/2 in my opinion.
As for the rest of the group, Ding Junhui sits at 12-1. With such a tough first round, you can expect the Chinese master’s odds to change dramatically if he upsets ‘The Rocket’. Could be worth keeping an eye on his prices if it looks like he can beat O’Sullivan.
I think that Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen are two outsiders to keep an eye on. Murphy is available at 14/1 and after his League Championship win in Essex last week, he is certainly in form and not shy of the big stage.
The UK Open finalist, Mark Allen, could also make a good run this year. Allen is a definite clear outside shot but crazier money has been spent.
Overall, I think Trump offers the best value considering the top three favourites are the same price. He is full confidence, unlike O’Sullivan, and seems primed to “dominate snooker” as he has already suggested.