Get Carter onside in Berlin
The German Masters gets under way on Wednesday at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
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The tournament format is a throwback to the 80s and 90s 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 he hits a poor patch during a match.
He comes here on the back of victories in the Masters and last month in the UK Championship. He won the Munich Open earlier this month, and made the final here two years ago.
He is a great player and 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.
He may well 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 stands out.
Steve Davis called him as the UK winner after the captain beat him readily in the first round. Carter 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. 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.
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 a general 16/1.
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.