Snooker’s crème de la crème convene at London’s Alexandra Palace next week for the 2018 Dafabet Masters, better known to snooker betting enthusiasts as the Snooker Masters. The week-long invitational event involves the world’s top 16 players doing battle against each other to determine who really is top dog.
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is bidding to win the title for the eighth time, but there are plenty of players who’ll have something to say about that. With the tournament just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the contenders and the bets you may want to consider!
Who else are you going to pick as favourite other than the man who’s won more times than anyone else? Ronnie O’Sullivan has won pretty much everything there is to win in snooker and broken almost every record imaginable, but there’s no tournament he’s dominated more over the last two decades than the Masters.
Since becoming the youngest ever player to win the title at the age of just 19 in 1995, ‘The Rocket’ has gone on to rack up a further six Masters titles, including three in the last four years. As someone who grew up and still lives in Chigwell, near London, Ronnie is always popular with the audience at Alexandra Palace and it’s seen by many as his tournament.
He thrives on the big stage and has admitted himself he prefers playing against other top players. When Ronnie’s in the groove, there are few who can compete with him. O’Sullivan is generally priced at 5/2 among the top betting sites, while Paddy Power has odds of 11/8 on the seven-time winner to reach the final that look generous.
Of course, when you’re considering your betting strategy, you can’t ignore the world number one in the sport. Mark Selby has won the Masters on three occasions, although he’s failed to go beyond the quarter-finals in the last three years.
After a disappointing second-round exit in the UK Championship – the first ‘Triple Crown’ event of the season – Selby will be out to reaffirm why he’s been ranked the world’s best player for over two years. The reigning World Snooker champion is best priced at odds of 5/1 with William Hill, while Betfair has the 34-year-old at odds of 9/4 to reach the final.
Selby and O’Sullivan – the current top two in the rankings – have been placed in separate halves of the draw so they are on course to meet in the final for the fourth time. Betfair’s odds of 6/1 on an O’Sullivan/Selby final therefore look good value.
Another player whose name is always among the favourites for these major tournaments is Shaun Murphy. The 35-year-old won his only Masters title in 2015 but was knocked out at the first-round stage in the last two years. He’s having a decent 2017/18 season so far, though, reaching three ranking event finals and winning the Champion of Champions tournament, where he beat O’Sullivan in the final.
He should get past Ali Carter in the first round and on his day, Murphy’s capable of beating anyone. If 10Bet’s odds of 14/1 on Murphy to win don’t tempt you, then perhaps consider Betway’s price of 6/1 on ‘The Magician’ to be in Sunday’s final.
On the way he could face Judd Trump in the quarters. Trump is above him in the world rankings and in the betting for the 2018 Masters, but the furthest he’s ever reached in the tournament is the semi-finals and he’s exited in the first round in three of the last four years. The 28-year-old has never quite lived up to his hype, and he doesn’t look particularly appealing at a best price of 13/2 with Black Type.
There are a couple of players competing in the Masters for the first time this year. Scotland’s Anthony McGill is one of the sport’s brightest young talents and has been steadily progressing up the rankings over the last few years. He has two ranking titles to his name and has reached the quarter-finals of both the UK Championship and World Championship, but he’s a rank outsider at 80/1 with William Hill.
Another youngster making his Masters debut is Luca Brecel. The Belgian became the first player from mainland Europe to win a ranking event in August when he won the China Championship. However, if Brecel overcomes Mark Allen in his first-round match, he’s likely to face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the next round. His odds of 40/1 with Coral are probably not worth considering.