Selby and Bingtao fancied to progress

The first big shock of the tournament is upon us. Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is out, put to the sword by Anthony McGill in a deciding frame.

Good news, therefore, for the quartet of contenders who were scheduled to meet Ronnie if reaching the semis. Mark Williams leads John Higgins 5-3 and will play to a finish today, while Mark Selby starts out against Mark Allen.

Williams still under-estimated

Firstly, I am very happy to have got Williams onside via the handicap among yesterday’s bets and am following up at odds of 25.024/1 to win the title. There’s still a lot to do from this draw but he won’t have to play either Trump or Robertson – the pair against whom I’d fear for him – until the final.

The man to beat in this half now is definitely Selby but I don’t see his chance as four times likelier than the other trio in this section, as current odds imply.

Allen tends to thrive against Selby

Notably, he trails Allen 7-5 in their head-to-head. This is a hard match to call, because their respective Crucible form is so different from their wider results. Both enjoyed very easy first round wins against struggling opponents. My instinct says it goes deep into the final session so take 6/5 about Over 22.5 Frames.

The betting between Yan Bingtao and Shaun Murphy is much closer than expected pre-tournament, when the Masters champion was trading at less than a third of Murphy’s outright odds.

That is due to Shaun’s good comeback against Mark Davis, suggesting his game is in better shape than we’ve seen through most (though not all) of the season. A decent effort for sure but this opponent presents a much harder test.

Bingtao to state title credentials

Bingtao has fared well against Murphy throughout his short career. He caused a massive upset as a 15 year-old against him in the Champion of Champions, only trails 4-3 overall and won more frames than lost. All of those matches, for which he would have started clear underdog, came prior to his breakthrough at the Masters.

That superb performance demonstrated Bingtao’s suitability for majors. By far the best ever match player of his age, he should be in his element over these multi-session matches.

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