Richard Mann provides his best bets from the first-round action at the Dafabet Masters and picks out a fancy from the specials markets.
Punters might have to wait until Wednesday afternoon for the best bet of this year's Dafabet Masters with JACK LISOWSKI far too big at 5/4 to get the better of 2018 runner-up Kyren Wilson.
In boxing they say that styles make fights and as far as snooker goes, there is certainly a clash in styles here with Wilson's methodical approach and rock-solid safety play quite the contrast to the free-flowing, flamboyant style of Lisowski, whose own tactical game has been left wanting in the past.
Given Wilson's more impressive CV to date, it might surprise some to see that Lisowski boasts the superior head-to-head record 7-4, though the overall frames won - 38-35 in Lisowski's favour - suggests those meetings have been closely contested.
Crucially, more recent form will give Lisowski plenty of encouragement to believe that he can enjoy a good week in London with his solid showing at the UK Championship backed up by a brilliant run to the final of the Scottish Open a week later.
While subsequent defeats in qualifying for the European Masters and German Masters were clearly a setback, it is important to have sympathy for Lisowski for having to take in those matches so quickly after an emotionally draining week in Scotland and I'm keen not to judge him too harshly.
A good break over Christmas and more time to get to grips with the new cue he sported at the end of last year should have done him the power of good and I'm surprised he's not favourite in the betting to get past Wilson.
This last few months have been something of a struggle for Wilson and notably, the number of final-frame deciders he has lost would suggest he is a player low on confidence.
When first establishing himself in the top 16, Wilson became renowned for holding his nerve in close matches but that reputation has somewhat faded away in the last 12 to 18 months and he could be vulnerable against such a fluent and aggressive opponent as Lisowski.
Having made the final here two years ago, Wilson couldn't make it past the first round 12 month ago when Judd Trump blew him away in convincing fashion and Lisowski's similar style of play could put him on the back foot again.
With his confidence low and his form a long way from his best, Wilson might not have any answers again.
Elsewhere in the first round, ALI CARTER will be out to prove he deserves his place in the field having been the man to benefit from Ronnie O'Sullivan's decision to skip the event.
Carter takes on Mark Selby on Sunday night and don't be surprised if this match produces a close battle and a late finish.
Either side of his victories at the English Open and Scottish Open, Selby has remained a little way off his brilliant, flawless best as inconsistency continues to stop him from returning to the top of the world rankings.
Prior to Selby's victory in Scotland, he turned in ragged displays when beaten by John Higgins and Matthew Stevens at the Northern Ireland Open and UK Championship respectively and I expect another veteran in Carter to at least give him a game here.
Carter is a real street fighter, particularly when he has a point to prove, and he has shown enough this season to suggest he is far from a spent force despite not contesting the latter stages of major events as he would have liked.
Despite falling 4-0 behind to Ding Junhui when they met at the UK Championship in York, Carter rallied to win four of the next five frames and it was only Ding's excellent form that allowed him to hold off a stirring comeback from his opponent.
That Ding would go on to lift the trophy paid a real compliment to Carter and suggests he can still mix it with the best when on the big stage.
It doesn't get much bigger than The Masters and I want to back him on the handicap (+2.5) at 4/5. I can't believe he won't be competitive and Selby's own penchant for just doing enough gives a little more encouragement to those wary of taking odds-on.
As stated in my talking points piece here, Mark Williams might yet be capable of giving a good account of himself this week and as such, he could represent a touch of value at 21/20 to beat Stuart Bingham.
The latter hasn't exactly set the world alight this term and Williams offered some encouraging signs when qualifying for the European Masters and German Masters before Christmas.
I'll refrain from adding him to my list of bets but would love to see him show up well, similarly JOHN HIGGINS who is too temping to ignore to win the second quarter at 9/4.
Higgins has been a model of consistency so far this season, reaching a couple of semi-finals, and while he might not be able to scale the same heights he once did, he remains a fine operator.
He'll fancy beating Barry Hawkins in the first round given how few notable results the latter has managed of late while the prospect of facing Selby or Carter in the quarter-finals shouldn't concern him too much given he beat the former in Northern Ireland recently and holds a dominant head-to-head record (20-9) over the latter.
With Hawkins about as easy an opener as he could have hoped for in a field as strong as this, I thought Higgins might well be favourite to win the second quarter so the 9/4 on offer make plenty of appeal.
1035 GMT on 08/01/20.
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