Former snooker professional Craig Edwards @EdwardsTips_ previews the Masters, first-round matches for Oddsmarket.com.
<div><p style="text-align:center"><strong>January 10-17</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Alexandra Palace, London</strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Kyren Wilson vs. Jack Lisowski </strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Sunday 10<sup>th</sup>, 19:00</strong></p><p>Kyren Wilson plays Jack Lisowski on the opening evening of this year’s Masters in a very interesting match. Given Kyren Wilson’s renowned consistency you could be mistaken into believing this would be a match he would comfortably win. Wilson made the World Championship final in the summer losing to Ronnie O'Sullivan and won the Championship League here a couple of months ago. In fact, since the constant grind of tournaments at Milton Keynes post-Covid-19 he has accumulated a creditable seven tournaments where he reached the quarter-final stage, winning the Championship League and losing the other six.</p><p>Jack Lisowski has been the opposite to Kyren Wilson since the resumption of tournaments and it was only these last few weeks of December that he has found his best form. The UK Championship brought a glimpse and a clue that the Cheltenham left-hander was about to find his best form when he reached the quarter-final stage. The Scottish Open was next and after winning his opening match he was struck down by food poisoning and had to withdraw. The final event of 2020, the Grand Prix showed Jack to better effect when he beat bogey player, Shaun Murphy in an early-round before going on to reach the final where an eye-catching semi-final win over an inform Mark Selby showcased how talented a player Lisowski is. Losing to good friend Judd Trump in a high-quality final meant he lost nothing in defeat.</p><p><strong>Jack Lisowski to prove he is ready for the next level and beat Kyren Wilson on the opening Sunday night at the Masters</strong></p><p>The thing that interests me about the matchup between these two young Englishmen is the history of <strong>Lisowski</strong> playing well in beating Wilson several times in their early years in leading their <strong>head</strong> <strong>to</strong> <strong>head</strong> <strong>7-6. </strong> This is despite Wilson being the better player on recent occasions winning the last four but that is unsurprising given his top 8 ranking and remarkable consistency. Lisowski held a very similar career head to head profile with Mark Selby before their recent semi-final so those previous victories undoubtedly helped him put up a career-best display in beating the three-time World Champion 6-3.</p><p>Let's take a moment to analyse Kyren Wilson's consistent form in a little more depth and his World Grand Prix quarter-final against Ronnie O'Sullivan was a microcosm of a flaw in his make up over the last two years. Strangely enough, it was a quarter-final loss to Ronnie from 5-1 up to lose 5-6 in the 2019 Shanghai Masters that started a trend of suffering <em>Clincher’s Disease </em>which is a debilitating mental flaw that has struck down many snooker players over the years. <strong>What is <em>Clincher’s </em>Disease? </strong>When a snooker player reaches the winning post or line of a match, they tighten up with tension slightly which inhibits their performance at the crucial juncture.</p><p>If his World Grand Prix quarter-final loss from 3-1 up was his only loss from in front since there would be no need for concern. That is not the case though, he lost in the Champion of Champions to Mark Selby 5-6 from 4-0 up, and let's not forget he lost in last year’s Masters to Stuart Bingham 4-6 from 4-1 up. There are other reverses between the two Ronnie O'Sullivan defeats that bookend the stated period. He has lost from two frames up with three to play in matches versus Tom Ford, Thepchayia Un-Nooh and Marco Fu to prove there is a worrying trend forming. It is entirely plausible that Wilson's consistency is evidence he has reached a ceiling and perhaps can be charted back to when he won the 2018 German Masters which was his last significant title.</p><p>After winning he declared he was going to change his technique slightly to improve his break building which it has to a certain degree, but these changes may not have helped him to produce his best under the utmost pressure. Paralysis by analysis is nothing new in snooker and golf and his pursuit of technical excellence reminds me a little of what Terry Griffiths did in the 80s when working with Frank Callan. Welshman, Terry Griffiths sprung onto the world snooker stage when he won the World Championship in 1979 at his first attempt after which he quickly followed up with UK Championship and Masters’ wins.</p><p>Once Callan was consulted, he helped Griffiths play centre ball striking better but despite his consistency, Griffiths was never a winner again. Wilson will be at the forefront of his sport like Griffiths was back then for years to come but there can be little doubt that he looks significantly less likely to win events than the likes of; Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan.</p><p><strong>I have the utmost respect for what Kyren Wilson has achieved in his short career, but I have concerns that he will need to be more clinical in closing out matches for him to reach the next level. </strong>With that in mind, I am going to support Jack Lisowski to win on the opening Sunday and I have another bet in mind. Despite Lisowski starting the season slowly his break building has not suffered, and his century bet strike rate of sixteen in twenty-one matches means we can support him to score one at odds of 2.20 with Ladbrokes.</p><p><strong>Masters First Round Picks: </strong></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=df66db4b-b019-4343-9fc7-6c4f20e2a356&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jack Lisowski to beat Kyren Wilson at 2.75 with Paddy Power</a></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=b4150791-892f-469b-9b6a-7dfc6df0fb07&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Kyren Wilson – over 0.5 player centuries two way at 2.20 with Ladbrokes</a> (visit our <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/ladbrokes/review/">Ladbrokes Review</a>)</p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Ronnie O'Sullivan vs. Ding Junhui </strong></p><p style="text-align:center"><strong>Wednesday 13<sup>th</sup> January, 13:00</strong></p><p>Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ding Junhui have crossed swords several times in recent months, starting just over a year ago when Ding Junhui reminded snooker fans around the world that he was still a competitor in the sport, beating <em>The Rocket </em>in the 2019 UK Championship quarter-final with a sublime display on the way to a third UK Championship crown.</p><p>The Chinese superstar has somewhat fallen away from the limelight since, failing to kick on. Amazingly, he has failed to go further than the quarter-final stage of any event since in 2020. For those reasons Ding Junhui remains something of enigma in the sport as he continues to infuriate and underwhelm with results given his high functioning break building ability. With four recent quarter finals he looks on the brink of a big performance again and is evidence enough that the problem with Ding Junhui is his mentality which looks weaker than other elite players.</p><p>This has twice been prominent in recent quarter-final, loses to Ronnie O'Sullivan, particularly when losing 2-5 in the Northern Ireland Open after leading 2-0 and looking in sublime form and well set for a 3-0 lead. Once he lost the third frame, he fell apart preferring to go into a sulk than fight out a win like a top player should.</p><p>Undoubtedly, Ding has difficulties beating Ronnie O'Sullivan as their one-sided head to head proves (<strong>Ronnie</strong><strong>O'Sullivan</strong> <strong>16-5</strong> <strong>Ding</strong> <strong>Junhui)</strong> and he also lost a close match in the round of 16 encounter at the World Championship.</p><p>That World Championship proved how well Ronnie O'Sullivan has been managing to eke out match victories despite looking noticeably below his best form. Managing to win a sixth World Title in his mid-forties was an exceptional achievement and he has managed consistent results since losing in Northern Ireland and Scottish Open finals to Judd Trump and Mark Selby respectively.</p><p>A loss in the recent World Grand Prix semi-final to Judd Trump was further evidence that with his admitted lack of practice Ronnie O'Sullivan is a level below Trump currently. That could soon change with <em>The Rocket</em> but until he rededicates himself to the sport it will be extremely difficult. To be honest it is understandable if Ronnie O'Sullivan does not want to work as hard as he did years ago given his age but he is still adept at reaching the latter stages of tournaments’ and beating other players like Ding using his knowledge and table craft combined with the fear from the respect his opponents still feel.</p><p><strong>Back Ding Junhui to profit against the habitual slow starter Ronnie O'Sullivan</strong></p><p>Recent events have proved what was evident last season that Ronnie O'Sullivan has become a slow starter to matches which is understandable with his lack of practice. Since their 2012 Masters meeting, they have played twelve times and Ding Junhui has started their matches with a 50+ break on seven occasions although Ronnie has still managed to win a couple of close first frames despite Ding’s 50+ break. This leads me to discuss a couple of profitable markets that have been exploitable in Ronnie O'Sullivan matches recently which has been his opponent to score a <strong>50+</strong> <strong>break</strong> and to win the opening frame on handicap.</p><p>If I have read this match correctly then Ronnie O'Sullivan will need to win from behind which he is very capable of given it is best of 11 frames. Therefore, the <strong>Asian</strong> <strong>Handicap</strong> for Ding Junhui looks another solid bet option given the only way we lose our stake is for <em>The Rocket </em>to win 6-3 or better.</p><p><strong>Masters Snooker Tips:</strong></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Ding Junhui – 50+ player break at 3.00 with Bet365</a> (visit our <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/bet365/review/">Bet365 Review</a>)</p><p>Ding Junhui - +25.5 frame 1 handicap at 1.83 with Bet365</p><p>Ding Junhui - +2 Asian Handicap at 1.82 with Bet365</p></div>