Riga Masters betting preview and free tips for the first ranking tournament of the snooker season

Jack Lisowski
Jack Lisowski

The new snooker snooker season kicks off with the Riga Masters on Friday - read Richard Mann's outright preview here.

Recommended bets

1pt e.w Jack Lisowski at 14/1

0.5pt e.w Yuan Sijun at 80/1


Snooker fans have barely had chance to catch their breath since Judd Trump overpowered John Higgins in the final of the World Championship in Sheffield in early May, producing a dazzling display that might well have surpassed anything seen on the green baize since the invention of the game.

His rivalry with Ronnie O'Sullivan over the next few months should be something to behold but neither are in Riga for the first ranking event of the 2019/2020 season, similarly Higgins, and that would seemingly leave the door open for Neil Robertson to begin this campaign in the same way as he spent much of the last: winning tournaments.

Robertson won three of them last term in a stellar run that also saw him reach four major finals in a row and he again showed up well at the Crucible, until Higgins got the better of him in an enthralling quarter-final tussle.

The Aussie has a fantastic record fresh. Indeed, he lifted this very trophy 12 months ago before going on to enjoy his most successful season to date and plenty of people will be keen to back him at 4/1 with the likes of O'Sullivan and Trump absent.

Robertson looked in really good touch when making three centuries in his 6-0 defeat of Oliver Lines at qualifying for the China Open recently, as did 6/1 second favourite Mark Selby, the former world number one on a retrieval mission following a couple of years in the doldrums.

Neil Robertson is already a tournament winner this season
Neil Robertson

Both are clearly respected, particularly Robertson, but he is short enough given the amount of unknowns in play at this stage of the season while Selby can only be be watched until we see evidence that he has regained his killer instinct.

Kyren Wilson warrants strong consideration given he made the quarter-finals of this event last year before going on to win the Paul Hunter Classic and Six-Red World Championship in the subsequent months and unlike some of his counterparts, he is sure to have prepared well for the start of the new campaign.

I can see him going very close and can't put anyone off taking the 8/1 on offer, for all last year's runner-up Jack Lisowski is just preferred at 14/1.

Lisowski is a supreme talent, a left-hander who evokes memories of the great Jimmy White, and he enjoyed a real breakthrough season last year, reaching three finals and one semi-final.

A first ranking title still evades the 28-year-old but he is close, as evidenced by his runner-up finish at the China Open back in April, and he will be desperate to continue his rise up the rankings with a strong start this term.

A free-flowing, heavy scorer, Lisowski is a deadly potter from distance and though his safety game has, at times, drawn criticism, his all-round game does appear to be evolving as he gains more experience against the very best.

Lisowksi doesn't appear to have fared too badly with the draw in Riga, a potential meeting with Scott Donaldson in the last 16 the stiffest challenge he could face until the latter stages, and his aggressive style of play is certainly well-suited to the best-of-seven matches that will take place until the semi-final stage.

A deep run from Lisowski looks highly likely and at 14/1, he makes plenty of appeal.

Despite finding himself in a tougher half of the draw on paper, I can't resist a small wager on Yuan Sijun at 80/1.

Sijun might well be the best of the next wave of Chinese youngsters coming through the ranks and he certainly impressed last year, making a couple of quarter-finals as well as reaching the last four of the Gibralter Open.

Another who is highly proficient when in the balls, what has impressed me most about Sijun is his temperament and he showed plenty of composure when coming from 3-2 behind to beat Mark Williams at the World Grand Prix.

Sijun had actually lost the fifth fame of that match on a re-spotted black but responded with a marvellous break of 131 before producing a nerveless finish to close out the match.

Williams wasn't the only big name to fall foul of Sijun's talents last term, either, the likes of Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Robert Milkins all losing to the 19-year-old and with another season under his belt, he could become a real force in the next few months.

Sijun faces a tough opening match against Ricky Walden but will know he has the game to go a long way this week and at 80/1, I can't resist adding him to my staking plan.

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