Ronnie O’Sullivan will compete for his fourth career UK Championship crown in York as 7/2 favourite with Ladbrokes, but the Rocket will not be celebrating at the Barbican Centre.
A solitary minor European Tour event is the only accolade the controversial cuesmith has landed since his return from a year-long sabbatical and, having lost to the likes of Ben Woollaston, Liang Wenbo and Peter Lines in recent months, it’s clear that his best form has is yet to return from leave.
Furthermore, the latest instalments of snooker’s second most prestigious event haven’t favoured the Essex-born star, with his last showpiece appearance (and victory) in the competition coming way back in 2007.
History argues against backing the Jester from Leicester, Mark Selby, to prevail either.
The reigning UK champ is 8/1 to retain his crown, but not since Stephen Hendry’s hat-trick of wins in the tournament between 1994 and 1996 has any player managed to string multiple titles together in this event.
Selby may be in good touch, reaching the semi final or better in six events already this term, claiming victory in one, but given that the furthest any holder of the title has progressed since 2007 is the last-16, there are more than enough omens arguing against a bet on Mark the Shark.
Arguably the most appealing price on offer is the 6/1 that says Australian pot-machine Neil Robertson claims a maiden UK Championship crown this term.
He holds a respectable record in this competition, reaching at least the quarter finals in each of the previous three seasons.
Frequently running his foes close, each of his last three eliminations have come by a two-frame deficit and in the two renditions of the tournament freshest in the memory, he’s lost out to the eventual winner.
He’s been in good form this season too, reaching three finals in total as well as only failing to advance as far as the last eight in one of his five professional ranking events, one of which he won.
All are strong indicators that 2013 could well be Robertson’s year in the UK Championship.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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