The snooker season rolls into Shanghai for the next week for the rejuvenated and reformed Shanghai Masters, a tournament which is designed to be a parallel for The Masters in London at the beginning of each year.
A huge prize pool is on offer this week as is an extended format so it is no surprise to see the greats and the good breaking off in the tournament. As with most events in China there are wildcards too but the format favours the stronger players.
2017 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
2016 – Ding Junhui
2015 – Kyren Wilson
2014 – Stuart Bingham
2013 – Ding Junhui
2012 – John Higgins
2011 – Mark Selby
2010 – Ali Carter
2009 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
2008 – Ricky Walden
Just 24 men begin in the tournament. The top eight in the world go straight through to the second round of the tournament with the next eight in the rankings each facing a Chinese wildcard in the first round to try and book their spot with the elite. The first round through to the quarter finals are the best of 11 frames with each semi-final the best of 19. The champion will be determined in a two-session final over the best of 21 frames.
The defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is the number one seed this week and he is in the top half. John Higgins is seeded to be his semi-final opponent but Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump will have a thing or two to say about that. Man of the moment Kyren Wilson could end up in this half of the draw as could Neil Robertson. Stuart Bingham, Ryan Day and Liang Wenbo could all be ones to avoid if they make it through as well.
The world champion Mark Williams is the second seed this week. He is the leading light in the bottom half of the draw although Mark Selby might feel entitled to dispute that fact. The other two seeded players are Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins so this looks a tough section. When you throw in the fact that Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire, Luca Brecel, Xiao Guodong and Yan Bingtao could all end up in this half we should be guaranteed some great action from it.
I’ll take a player in each half of the draw this week. In the top half it might not be a wise move to take on Ronnie O’Sullivan but this is the first time he will have been out since the World Championship and Neil Robertson could be the man to beat him should the Rocket be rusty. Robertson is scoring brilliantly again this season so he is a real threat and while O’Sullivan is a danger if he can dump him out the draw opens up massively for him. At 16/1 I think he’s worth a bet given his form this term.
Yan Bingtao has had a quiet time of things so far in 2018 but he’s too good not to come good and it might be an elite event like this one in his homeland to bring his best form back out. At his best he can challenge in these tournaments without a doubt. Mark Williams would be tough in the second round if he gets there but Bingtao will have had a match on the tables by then and will have built his confidence up. It is a long shot in a tough part of the draw but Bingtao is definitely overpriced if he can find his best.
Back N.Robertson to win Shanghai Masters (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 with 888sport (1/2 1-2)
Back Y.Bingtao to win Shanghai Masters (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Unibet (1/2 1-2)
Back him here: