Former snooker professional Craig Edwards @EdwardsTips_ previews the Masters 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>World Snooker begins 2021 with a triple crown invite-only event; the Masters. It takes the top 16 of the two-year rankings after the UK Championship bringing an elite field. Twelve months ago, Stuart Bingham beat Ali Carter in the final of an event founded back in 1975. The triple crown status in the sport with the UK Championship and World Championship ensures the highest level of prestige for the winner.</p><div><p><strong>Draw</strong></p><p>Stuart Bingham vs. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh</p><p>Shaun Murphy vs. Mark Williams</p><p>Mark Selby vs. Stephen Maguire</p><p>Neil Robertson vs. Yan Bingtao</p><p>Judd Trump vs. David Gilbert</p><p>Kyren Wilson vs. Jack Lisowski</p><p>John Higgins vs. Mark Allen</p><p>Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Ding Junhui</p><p><strong>Quarter 1</strong></p><p>On current form, undoubtedly quarter 1 is the weakest with none of the participants currently in the top 16 of the one-year ranking list, in fact, with exception of Shaun Murphy the other three need a strong 2021 to see them qualify for next year's renewal. Stuart Bingham win at Alexandra Palace was by far and away his best performance of 2020 and apart from that encouragement was <em>thin on the ground</em>. His exceptional break building has suffered slightly and even during last year's win unusually Bingham's break building was below the high standard we have come to expect from the Basildon man. There has been a recent improvement from Bingham at the Grand Prix where he served it up to Judd Trump in leading 3-1 only to let the world number one back into the game and pinch victory.</p><p>His first-round opponent Thepchayia Un-Nooh from Thailand is making his debut in the Masters and is the fastest player in snooker as his 2019 Shootout win proved. As a player, he has no ceiling but is prone to silly mistakes and over aggression.</p><p>Shaun Murphy has struggled in recent months post-Covid-19 with the continuous events at Milton Keynes meaning commuting and quarantining now he resides in Ireland. He may be refreshed for his Christmas and New Year break and it is only a few months since he was provisional 3<sup>rd</sup> in the world on the 2019/2020 season.</p><p>Mark Williams has struggled since his phenomenal third World Championship in 2018 and has struggled at Alexandra Palace badly in recent years. From a betting perspective, he is overlooked easily.</p><p>I suggest the best recent form on offer is <strong>Stuart</strong> <strong>Bingham’s</strong> improved effort at the Grand Prix when he ran Judd Trump close and he would be the likely winner at 3.10 with <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/bet365/review/">Bet365</a>. </p><p><strong>Quarter 2</strong></p><p>Quarter 2 is significantly harder and what we have come to expect from the Masters. Neil Robertson has just won the sport's second most prestigious tournament, the UK Championship while Mark Selby has won the European Masters and Scottish Open recently at Milton Keynes.</p><p>Selby plays Stephen Maguire who won the Tour Championship in the summer after receiving a last-minute invitation due to Ding Junhui still being in China. Selby faces Robertson plays Yan Bingtao the twenty-year-old Chinese player who had a phenomenally consistent 2019/2020 with a first tournament win at the Riga Masters and a runner up finish to Judd Trump in the Players Championship.</p><p>This quarter looks likely to have Neil Robertson and Mark Selby fight out a quarter-final. Robertson has gotten the better of <em>The Jester from Leicester </em><strong>Mark</strong> <strong>Selby</strong> since their World Championship quarter-final and looks hard to predict but I expect Selby to redress the balance with his great Australian rival and the William Hill price of 2.63 appeals.</p><p><strong>Masters Quarter 2 Betting pick: </strong><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Mark Selby 2.63 at William Hill</a> (visit our <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/william-hill/review/">William Hill Review</a>)</p><p><strong>Quarter 3</strong></p><p>The sport's world number one Judd Trump has set himself head and shoulders apart from the rest at the top of the world rankings and they do not lie as his dominance for the past two years has seen him accumulate a remarkable eleven events since an impressive win at the end of 2018 at the Northern Ireland Open. He plays David Gilbert who looks totally out of form in recent months which is a far cry from twelve months ago when he lost in the semi-final to Stuart Bingham.</p><p>The other young elite player of the quarter is Kyren Wilson whose consistency saw him reach a first World Championship final a few months ago. Already in his young career, he has reached the Masters final and the next step on the ladder for Wilson would be to win a triple crown event.</p><p>It needs stating that his record versus Judd Trump during a previous couple of seasons is exceptional in comparison to his peers and even if he doesn’t win the tournament he seems the player most likely to upset Trump's domination. He plays <strong>Jack</strong><strong>Lisowski</strong> who recently has encouraging efforts at the UK Championship and World Grand Prix to draw confidence from, especially his semifinal victory at the World Grand Prix against an in from Mark Selby.</p><p>He has a strong head to head record versus Kyren Wilson and is more comfortable than most when facing his good friend Judd Trump who he ran close in the World Grand Prix final last week. Therefore he is a speculative selection at a good price to win Quarter 3 and Outrights to small stakes.</p><p><strong>Masters Quarter 3 Betting Pick:</strong></p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=3e56a0bf-7bdf-4fe1-b9a6-d22c7cc3dd2c&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jack Lisowski 12.00 at Betway</a> </p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Jack Lisowski – each-way 51.00 at Bet365</a> (visit our <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/bet365/review/">Bet365 Review</a>)</p><p><strong>Quarter 4</strong></p><p>Quarter 4 on paper looks the <em>Group of Death </em>with four triple crown winners. Former Masters Champion Mark Allen plays Scottish legend John Higgins while hometown boy Ronnie O'Sullivan faces Ding Junhui. Mark Allen won the Champion of Champions with some of the most impressive performances of 2020 as he brushed aside Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson.</p><p>That was the brightest of highlights for the year but the rest of the year has been a disappointment for the Northern Irishman. Allen recently used a new cue at the World Grand Prix like his opponent John Higgins who fights father time remarkably well still. He is not the player he was once but that’s to be expected now in his mid-forties, that said two maximum breaks in competition in recent months remind us he can still play. That twinned with his table craft mean he is still a tough draw for all the other players.</p><p>It was great to see snooker’s Goat Ronnie O'Sullivan win a sixth World Title in the summer when below his best. He has seemed below his best all through 2020 but the recent runner up finishes in the Northern Ireland and Scottish Open’s remind us he is still difficult to beat. He plays Ding Junhui who won the 2019 UK Championship out of nowhere and continues to flatter to deceive. His mentality is not as strong as the other top players and often needs things to go all his way but he remains an extremely dangerous opponent.</p><p>For the winner of the quarter I am going to go pass except to suggest the winner of the outright could easily come from this section of the draw. <strong>Mark</strong> <strong>Allen</strong> reserves his best game for these types of events and his Champion of Champions form is still fresh in the memory while being the best recent form on offer and is available at 19.00 each way with <a href="https://www.bookmakersreview.com/bet365/review/">Bet365</a>.</p></div></div>