‘Rocket’ Ronnie opened the series earlier this month with a 3-3 draw against Marco Fu and, as expected, is favourite to be outright winner of the £200,000 tournament where he is a best-priced 5/2 with Ladbrokes. He had won this event five times on the bounce before losing last year’s final to Shaun Murphy. He meets China’s Sheffield-based potter Ding Junhui and is a 21/20 chance with Betfred while his opponent is rated a 7/2 shot with Sportingbet.
Ding, nicknamed ‘The Star of the East’, won the UK Championship last season and, now he’s free to compete after visa problems, will be anxious to get his season rolling. He may be a good bet to force a 3-3 draw against Ronnie at odds of 9/4 with Skybet and bodog.
The other match sees Mark Selby, the ‘Jester from Leicester’, tussle with two-time World Championship winner Mark Williams. Selby is an 11/8 chance with Skybet but Williams could provide something of a turn-up in Plymouth at a very attractive 12/5 with Sportingbet.