The Masters begins on Sunday at Alexandra Palace in London and Gareth Freeman has taken a look at some of the best Masters Snooker odds for the biggest non-ranking event in snooker.
It feels like a bit of a cop out to go for the favourite as the outright winner but it really is hard to look beyond defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan for the 2018 champion.
O’Sullivan claimed the first Triple Crown event of the season by landing the UK Championship and can back that up by securing the second, which would see him become a 19-time major winner – one more than Stephen Hendry.
The tournament seems to be almost designed for ‘The Rocket’; the best of 11 frames format until the final suits his play, there is no real travel involved for him and of all the Triple Crown events it is clearly his preferred event – with O’Sullivan holding a record seven titles.
The 42-year-old has contested three of the last four finals, winning all three, and is clearly the man to beat in London.
Luca Brecel, 22, will be competing in the tournament for the first time in his career and is involved on the opening day as he takes on Mark Allen.
Allen has won the last three meetings between the two but strangely they haven’t met since 2015, and the Belgian has improved a lot in the intervening years.
Northern Ireland’s Allen has reached at least the quarter-final stage in each of the last three editions of the tournament but has struggled for form this season. The 31-year-old has been knocked out by the third round in six of his 10 events this year, and with Brecel the Masters Snooker odds underdog, there is some value in backing him to make a statement in the opening round of games.
Englishman Kyren Wilson finds himself in the opposite half of the draw to O’Sullivan and is a big price to reach the final.
The 26-year-old fell at the first hurdle last year on his Masters debut but has been handed a very winnable first-round assignment against Barry Hawkins.
Wilson is likely to come up against Mark Selby in his second-round match and Judd Trump is also lurking on that side of the draw. However, Trump has struggled in the Masters in recent years - falling in the first round in three of the last four years - while Selby hasn’t reached the final since 2014.
It will be a big ask for Wilson but anyone looking for a Masters Snooker betting outsider could do a lot worse than a punt on the world number 11 reaching a third final of the season.
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