The snooker season gets underway with the first ranking event of the campaign, the Riga Masters. Now in its sixth year, the Riga Masters is established as the traditional curtain-raiser for the snooker season.
World Snooker Championship finalists Judd Trump and John Higgins will not be in attendance for this year’s season opener. Likewise, Ronnie O’Sullivan will not feature. In theory the weakened field and short format of this tournament should suit an outsider but the honours list of the Riga Masters is nothing to be sniffed at. Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins, Neil Robertson (twice) and Ryan Day have all won this tournament in the last five years.
Defending champion Robertson has been installed as the favourite with the bookies.
Unsurprisingly, past winners Robertson and Selby are the early favourites to take home the trophy. The Aussie is listed at 7/2 with Bet365 while Selby is second favourite at 11/2. Following them, Kyren Wilson and Mark Williams are both available at 7/1 while last year’s beaten finalist Jack Lisowski is 12/1. Tour favourites Luca Brecel, Joe Perry and Thepchaiya Un-nooh are all listed around the 20/1 mark.
With the Riga Masters being the first event of the season it’s hard to make a call based on form. Some of these players will have played in the Snooker World Cup but really their last meaningful game of snooker was back in April or May.
Neil Robertson is favourite for a reason, he was won the tournament two out of the three times he has entered and he will be a popular bet. Last season was the best of his career. He won three ranking events and finished runner-up in three more. Don’t forget Robertson was the form player at the Worlds before being cut down by John Higgins in the quarter-finals. He has proven on multiple occasions that he suits the best-of-seven and best-of-nine formats and he will be hoping to get his season off to a good start.
There is value further down the field too. James Cahill makes his return to the professional tour after an impressive 2018/2019 season as an amateur. The 23-year-old was the first amateur ever to qualify for the main draw of the World Snooker Championship. He stunned the snooker world by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 in his first round match before losing 13-12 to Stephen Maguire. He also claimed a victory over world number one Mark Selby in the 2018 UK Championship. The Blackpool player will be out to make a big impression on his return to the professional ranks. He’s worth an each way bet at 100/1.