The first round of The Masters comes to a close on Wednesday evening when the last match takes place inside Alexandra Palace as the former finalist Kyren Wilson takes on the last man to win the tournament at this venue in Stuart Bingham.
Wilson came so close to lifting the title in 2018 but couldn’t get the better of Mark Allen in the final. Bingham went one further in 2020 when he held off Ali Carter to claim the title and you could argue he’s the defending Ally Pally champion this week.
I would be intrigued to know how Kyren Wilson feels about his season so far. He hasn’t won a title or made a final but it has felt like he has played some consistent stuff. He made the semi-final of the UK Championship where he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight before running into an absolute train of a performance from Luca Brecel. I sense he is bubbling under the radar but just needs that breakthrough event for his own peace of mind.
That run to the final in 2018 is the only time Wilson has made it past the quarter final of this competition. He is seeded to reach the last eight these days so he has only really performed to expectation rather than anything special. It might be that with a little less expectation on his shoulders this year he can allow his cue arm to flow. The one thing which is a concern is he has missed a number of easy balls in key parts of frames this season so you wonder if something is affecting his focus away from the table.
There is no doubt that this was a pretty average season for Stuart Bingham until he got to Coventry for the World Grand Prix. He wasn’t out of this world there either in fairness but he did make the semi-final before the eventual winner Ronnie O’Sullivan got the better of him. He has since looked much more like his usual self at the Championship League and while that is always a dangerous form guide, for someone like Bingham who plays in everything, the opportunity to have won a few matches ahead of this could be priceless.
Bingham has been around forever and a day but unlike a lot of London and Essex players he has a pretty decent record in it. He won the tournament two years ago and was a deciding frame against the eventual champion Yan Bingtao away from making the final in his defence of the title 12 months ago. He also made the last four in 2016 so this is a tournament that seems to inspire Bingham rather than fill him with dread and things.
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Head to head
These two men have met on eight previous occasions with Wilson leading the way with five wins to the three of the more experienced Bingham. That was 4-0 in favour of Wilson at one stage though so Bingham has pulled things back in recent times. Wilson leads 38-31 in the frame score at this stage of their head to head. Bingham has won their last two meetings and he has also won the only previous time they have played at this tournament, which was in the quarter final two years ago. Bingham also won their only other 15 red meeting over the best of 11 frames too.
I like Stuart Bingham in this match. I wouldn’t say he is a certainty or anything like that but I do think he performs well at this tournament and I expect him to go well here after oiling his arm at the Championship League event last week. Wilson can sometimes be a little slow to begin a year and I saw an interview he did recently where he suggested that was down to family life being important to him over Christmas, so it is clearly something he is aware of.
I think we’re in for a pretty tight battle here even though these two haven’t really have made close tussles. I see two fairly evenly matched players but the slight edge is with Bingham in the scoring department and it might be that which gives him the tools to pick up the win here. Bingham has won three of their last four meetings and that might well be significant. Take that run in the UK Championship away and Wilson has done little of note all season. All Bingham’s form is since then and I’ll ride that form here.
Back S.Bingham to beat K.Wilson for a 3/10 stake at 2.75 with BetVictor
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