Despite a poor season and threats to pull out of the World Championship, 'the Rocket' Ronnie O'Sullivan looked in great shape when handing Dominic Dale a 10-2 defeat in round one.
The similarity between Ronnie's performances this season those of 2005/06 is quite striking - if it follows suit, we should expect him to reach the semi-final, suggesting a buy of his outright index at around 46 and to get behind him for his second round match against Shaun Murphy - for which O'Sullivan is favourite.
Compare and contrast 2005/06 with 2010/11, tournament by tournament:
- World Open: 05/06 - finalist, 10/11 - finalist
- UK Championship: 05/06 - 1st round defeat, 10/11 - 1st round defeat
- Welsh Open: 05/06 - 2nd round defeat, 10/11 - 1st round defeat
- China Open: 05/06 - 1st round defeat, 10/11 - 1st round defeat
- Premier League: 05/06 - winner, 10/11 - winner
The only significant failing this year compared to five years ago was the Masters. O'Sullivan made the final then, but lost in the first round earlier this year.
A lot of my friends, even the ones who love sport, cannot understand the attraction of watching snooker for hours on end. I, however, simply can’t get enough of it and I would take Mark Williams versus Mark Selby over Real Madrid versus Man United any day. I guess you could call me snooker loopy.
So for the next two weeks, expect to find me either in Sheffield, or at home, in front of the box, with one finger firmly fixed on the red button.
Like cricket, the scoring system is well suited to spread betting. Markets are offered on the number of century breaks (68-69 with Sporting Index). The previous record of 69 was smashed in 2009 as 83 100+ breaks were scored, but the Crucible crowd witnessed only 60 last year.
The highest tournament break is anticipated to be around 145 by spread setters. However, in three of the past six years we’ve seen a maximum, while last year two players shared the highest total of 146. Mark Allen, Graeme Dott, Mark Selby and current champ Neil Robertson each scored a break over 140.
Sporting Index’s Champions ton-ups spread of 165-175 seems a bit bolshy against Neil Robertson’s equivalent of 109 last year, but buyers would have profited significantly in 2009. John Higgins, the eventual winner then, racked up 11 centuries and a tournament ton-up total of 239. Enjoy!
Always loved the Masters Snooker. It's a good time of year to sit and watch with a cup of tea while it also seems right that it comes hot on the heels of a major event in another legitimate pub sport, darts.
With numbers galore and a nice leisurely pace, it's also perfect for a spot of in-play spread betting. Here's a few things that may or may not help inform your decisions from past Masters events:
Highest Break (Sporting Index quote 141.5-142)
- The high break has not topped 141 in the last three years
- Average for last four years is 142
- There's been just two maximums in the history of the event: Kirk Stevens in '84 and Ding Junhui in '07
Centuries (Sporting Index quote total centuries at 21-22.5)
- There were 20 centuries last year, 32 in 2009 and 23 in 2008
- Average number of centuries in last three years is 25
- There has been an average of 4.3 centuries in the last three finals
- There were 16 50-up breaks in last years climax, 14 the year before but only 2 in 2008
- Frame supremacy in the final has averaged 3.6 in the last five years
- An Englishman has won eight of last ten tournaments
- Mark Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan have contested the last two finals
- Selby is going for his fourth straight final appearance