Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy can both argue cases as to why they are going to take home the trophy following the conclusion of the upcoming Masters event and, with both boasting strong prices, punters should focus their attention on these two candidates.
Recently crowned UK Open champion Selby is priced at 7/1 amongst a gaggle of top players – including reigning Masters champ Neil Robertson – while Murphy is a 12/1 shot.
The latter suffered defeat when he met Selby in the final of the UK Open, as he did when taking on Robertson at the final hurdle of this competition last year. Runners-up have a good record of going one better the year after in the Masters though, and this should see his hopes of winning a fifth career ranking title buoyed.
Five of the previous 11 winners of this event came second the year before and with Murphy falling short in the final time around now has history in his corner; something which the bookies have overlooked if his hefty tournament odds are anything to go by.
He’s obviously in good touch, having made the UK Open final, beating the likes of Graeme Dott, Luca Brecel and Ali Carter on the way.
Ricky Walden is his first round opponent and a match betting price of 2/5 suggests he will cruise through. His seven wins from nine meetings between the pair offers pretty weighty support to this notion.
Selby is the other tantalising prospect in the pre-tournament betting stakes as he bids to add a second ranking event in as many attempts to his growing trophy cabinet and, having appeared in three of the previous five finals, winning two of them, Mark the Shark must be backing himself.
Before you go skipping down to the bookies with a wheelbarrow-load of cash, however, take heed of this cautionary note. He begins his campaign against Stuart Bingham; the man who despatched him from the recent Wuxi Classic the last time he graced the felt.
This must be a concern for the Leicester-born cuesmith and, with a potential banana skin to avoid, Murphy could prove the value bet of the two.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date