Tuesday, 29 January 2013
The German Masters gets under way on Wednesday at the Tempodrom in Berlin. The tournament format is a throwback to the 80's and 90's when the top 16 are introduced into the draw at the last 64 stage and this round was mostly completed last month. This makes the prices of some seeds longer because to lift the trophy they have to win six matches rather than five. Seven last 64 matches have been held over to the event proper.
Mark Selby heads the betting at 7/1 and it will be no surprise on current form if he wins. He consistently delivers results even when during a match he hits a poor patch - which is quite frequent.
Mark Selby - Has taken 'shot for nothing' to a new level
You can read my preview for sportinglife.com here
He comes here on the back of victories in the Masters and last month in the UK Championship. As well as winning the Munich Open earlier this month. Also he made the final here two years ago. Make no mistake he is a great player but one major weapon in his armoury is the refusal to accept defeat even when in a losing position. He doesn't care how boring or less of a spectacle his approach is and he is involved in more TV re-racks than any other player. When faced with a missable shot his first thought approaching the table is where is the shot for nothing aspect. Only when there is no alternative does he push the boat out and even then will try to ensure a few percentage points better chance of a slightly safer outcome in case he should miss.
This is not a criticism - he rightly plays to his strengths and it's a major factor why he is World Number One and the hardest player to beat on the circuit. He reminds me of Peter Ebdon but with a greater understanding of the science of the game which makes him more creative - in shotmaking and in safety play.
Ronnie O'Sullivan said in the past after being beaten by Selby that he didn't know if the Jester was any good or not because he never goes for a shot if he's going to leave something. That is somewhat true but Selby now has lots of winning experience at the top level which makes him such a tough opponent. It can be tempting when playing him to try and open things up a bit because an audience have largely come to see an open game with some decent breaks.
What may have helped him in this new era of the packed calendar and is a consequence of the higher standard of play on the circuit is that the shot for nothing game at which he excels is even more crucial. Because even against players lower down the ranking list if you make a mistake and leave your opponent in then it's likely end of the frame or you'll be a long way behind.
Even though the shootout last weekend was a bit of a lottery he had the form and class to make the only century break of the event. He might win here but the 7/1 - given he starts in the last 64 against the dangerous Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is too skinny so we'll look elsewhere for value.
In the top half of the draw Ali Carter at 25/1 (BETVICTOR, WilliamHill) stands out. Steve Davis called him as the UK winner after the captain beat him readily in the first round. He then looked likely to make the final before Shaun Murphy came back from 8-4 down in the last four to win 9-8. Higgins beat Carter in The Masters but he is well drawn here. It must be made clear that with the current standard of play we need to pick players who are already through to the last 32 where Carter opens against qualifier Fraser Patrick for a place in the last 16. His potential opponent there is Judd Trump who should make it past James Wattana into the last 32 but is then no certainty to beat the rejuvenated Anthony Hamilton for a place in the last 16.
Ali Carter - Well drawn and in great form
In the third quarter Stephen Maguire is worth a punt. The Glaswegian is in really good nick and it helps the top players in these ranking events with lower points and prize money because they feel the heat less than at the bigger events. In this tournament we will see them relax at the table and play at times as if it's practice. This makes them more dangerous. He looked assured and clinical in his run to the semi-final of the Shootout at the weekend so we'll back him each-way at 16/1 (general).
In the bottom quarter Marcus Campbell stands out at 100/1. In the last few weeks he has qualified for the last 32 of both the World Open and The China Open with good wins against Michael White and Xiao Guodong. Like Carter and Maguire he is already into the last 32 where he'll probably face Ding Junhui but is still reasonably drawn and is worth following each-way at a big price.