Richard Mann previews the WST Classic, where he has outright selections ranging from 16/1 to 150/1.
1pt John Higgins to win the WST Classic at 16/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)
1pt Barry Hawkins to win the WST Classic at 33/1 (William Hill, BetUK)
0.5pt Ryan Day to win the WST Classic at 66/1 (General)
0.5pt Matthew Selt to win the WST Classic at 150/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)
0.5pt Martin Gould to win the WST Classic at 150/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes)
The addition to the calendar of the inaugural running of the WST Classic is most certainly a welcome one, given the distinct lack of tournaments of late at what is usually a busy and crucial juncture of the campaign.
With the World Championship now only a matter of weeks away, the opportunity to have a crack at another event will please both the top and lower ranked players, with ranking points on the line and the chance to gain some proper match practice ahead of Sheffield.
Given the event will not be shown shown on live television, only online at Matchroom.Live, it’s hard to know how motivated some of the big names will be, and as such, I’ll be keeping stakes to a minimum on a handful of darts.
It’s JOHN HIGGINS who headlines the staking plan, having registered back-to-back Championship League titles recently with a string of impressive displays that suggest that the veteran Scot is once again set to peak for the World Championship next month.
Higgins’ record in Sheffield is outstanding, winning snooker’s Blue Riband on four occasions before reaching three consecutive finals between 2017 and 2019 when, not too dissimilar to this year, his form building up to the Crucible wasn’t that flash at all.
That was certainly the case in 2018 and 2019 and following some bruising defeats in major finals last term, perhaps we shouldn’t have been that surprised to see him struggle in the early part of this season.
Nevertheless, it was less than a year ago that he reached another Crucible semi-final and given his form has picked up in recent weeks, and we can be sure he will be working hard on his game ahead of a return to Sheffield, Higgins makes sound appeal at 16/1.
Higgins finds himself in the fourth quarter, while further up that half of the draw I’m going to back MATTHEW SELT and MARTIN GOULD, with both men available at 150/1.
Both are previous ranking title winners and in the case of Selt, he is often one to catch when he’s recent form would suggest otherwise.
He produced a brilliant run to the final of the Turkish Masters last term – the event the WST Classic has actually replaced on the calendar – when hardly enjoying a stellar season prior to that, and he’s more than capable of doing some damage in a section of the draw where the likes of Ali Carter and Ding Junhui could be forgiven for taking their foot of the gas following title wins for both in the last few months.
As for Gould, he is a class act on his day who was a European Masters finalist last season, and while his recent form isn’t good, I think there are a few drawn around him who have similar concerns.
I just wonder if an event like this, away from the TV cameras and in an environment in which he can just go out and free his arm, might be able to spark Gould back to form and we know he can mix it with the very best when firing on all cylinders.
At 150/1, I’m happy to chance him to very small stakes.
I have a little more confidence in BARRY HAWKINS, who makes the staking plan at 33/1.
The case for him isn’t too dissimilar to the one made for Higgins, given we know Hawkins tends to come alive at this time of the year for the World Championship, an event he boasts such a fine record at and one he clearly places great importance on.
Though probably not the force of old, on a consistent basis anyway, Hawkins did confirm the candle still burns bright when whitewashing player of the season, Mark Allen, at the Masters and he was runner-up in that event only 12 months earlier.
This season saw Hawkins begin by finishing runner-up at the European Masters and he has shown flashes of his best on plenty of occasions since, most recently when looking in good touch at the Welsh Open until losing in a deciding frame to Hossein Vafaei in the last 32.
I can’t believe he won’t have been working hard in the last few weeks as Sheffield comes back into focus, and I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t show up well in Leicester.
Quite what to expect from Ronnie O’Sullivan, who heads the draw, is anybody’s guess, so I’m going to take a chance on RYAN DAY from the first quarter at 66/1.
Day is real class act when on song, and he beat Allen in the final of the British Open at the start of the campaign, before remaining in decent touch since.
Though not always the easiest to predict, he’s a multiple ranking event winner, and who knows how far he would have gone in the Masters this year were it not for some terrible bad luck in his deciding frame against Judd Trump, that after he had missed frame ball earlier in the piece.
But that shows what the Welshman can do, and he shaped with distinct promise at the World Grand Prix and Players Championship since.
At the odds, he’s another worth betting to small stakes.
Posted at 1550 GMT on 15/03/23
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.
Further support and information can be found at begambleaware.org and gamblingtherapy.org.
© PA Today's Horse Racing TipsFor today's horse racing tips, our analyst James Boyle looks at the flat racing meeting at Doncaster, with three selectio
6 Best BetOnline Alternatives TESTED: Top Casinos And Sportsbooks To Try SPONSORED CONTENT A screenshot of the BetOnline homepage Are you a fan of t
In one of the many compelling matchups on the NBA schedule on Sunday, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Chicago Bulls take the court at United Center. To pick up an
The Portland Trail Blazers (32-45) will attempt to end a five-game losing skid when visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves (39-39) at 3:30 PM ET on Sunday, April 2