The Shanghai Masters will take place at the Grand Stage Venue from the 14th to the 20th of September, and some of the world’s best are set to take part in the tournament. Stuart Bingham is back to defend the title he won last year, and with the exception of Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s best are set to battle it out after walking the famous red carpet.
Ding Junhui won the trophy in 2013/14 at the beginning of his incredible run of five major titles in one season, and despite a relatively poor 2014/15, he could be worth a punt at a big price to rekindle his form in his home country. Mark Selby and Judd Trump will both be fancied after good campaigns last season, while Stuart Bingham is a big price to rediscover the magic of last year.
The wildcard round and the first and second rounds are due to be played from Monday to Thurday, with the quarter-finals to begin on Friday the 18th September, and the final on Sunday the 20th. All of the games up to and including the quarter-finals will be played over the best of nine frames, with the semi-finals the best of 11, and the final the best of 19 frames.
The draw has been kind to Ding Junhui and that’s another reason to back him, as he looks to have a feasible route through to the semi-finals.
The first quarter of the draw features Stuart Bingham, who has some tough players to contend with if he wants to progress to the semi-finals and beyond. John Higgins, Liang Wenbo, Barry Hawkins and Marco Fu are all potential opponents for Bingham before a semi-final. The second quarter is equally tough, with Judd Trump and Neil Robertson on course for a huge quarter-final clash. They’ll have to contend with the likes of Ricky Walden and Mark Williams first though, and it’s a daunting challenge for both players just to reach a semi-final.
Ding Junhui has been handed what, on paper, looks a useful draw in the third quarter. His biggest opponent en route to the semi-finals could be Stephen Maguire, and if Junhui can recapture the form that took him to the top of the world rankings, he should get that far at least. The final quarter of the draw includes Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy, with Selby probably fancied to come out on top if both make it to the quarter-final.
After the heroics of the 2013/14 season there was bound to be something of a hangover, and so it proved for Ding Junhui, as he failed to hit the heights again in 2014/15. He did reach the semi-finals of this tournament and the China Open though, and they were two of his best results all year. That goes to show that he benefits from the home support at those competitions, and he represents a decent value bet. He has a good draw and with a bit of luck will find his way to the semi-finals without too many hiccups. From there it could be a potential semi-final against Mark Selby, where anything could happen, and it certainly wouldn’t represent a surprise if he regained the trophy he won two year ago.
Judd Trump – +500 with BetVictor
One of his biggest contenders, and the overall favourite for the competition, Judd Trump could offer the biggest danger. He was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open this season, but won that tournament last season as well as reaching the final of the UK Championship and winning the World Grand Prix.
Neil Robertson – +600 with Skybet
Robertson has held the position of world number one several times over the last couple of years, but the 2014/15 season came and went without a title. He reached the final of the Australian Open in 2014 as well as the final of the Masters, but lost on both occasions. He is currently 4th in the rankings and if he could get back to his best he has as good a chance as any of those at the head of the betting.
One thing that goes against both Trump and Robertson is the fact that they share a section of the draw, and in all likelihood will meet in the quarter-finals. It’s possible that the victor of that match will go on to lift the trophy, but it’s too tough to call and on that basis, neither appeals as an outright bet at this stage.
Selby, like Trump, also had a great season last term, finishing number one in the rankings and winning the German Masters and the China Open. He won this tournament in 2011/12 and reached the semi-finals last year, so he has shown he can perform here. He was knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open by Jamie Jones recently though, and that’s a knock to current form.
Shaun Murphy has had a long and illustrious career, and he capped final appearances in the German Masters and the World Championship by winning the Masters last season. He’s been remarkably consistent over the last 12 months, and does make some appeal at a decent price, although it’s a negative that he finds himself in the same quarter of the draw as Mark Selby.
Finally, Stuart Bingham is a very generous price to repeat the heroics of last year, when he beat Mark Allen to lift the trophy. He went on to win the World Championship later in the season which was an incredible feat for a player marked as a ‘journeyman’ for many years. He may well have found the key to his game and his form, which would make the price look silly in hindsight, but it really would be astonishing if he won back-to-back title here.
Ding Junhui to win the Shanghai Masters
14th – 20th September
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