Liang and Perry should keep it close
Mark Selby is just 4-9 to open with a win over Liang Wenbo in the Champion of Champions, but while the world number one is playing well he makes little appeal at the price.
It’s 4-4 in their personal series, so Liang could see support at 9-4 to progress to Wednesday evening’s quarter-final.
The fact that three of Selby’s four wins over the Chinese number two were wide-margin triumphs could deter anyone considering backing the outsider on the handicaps in this best-of-seven-frames clash.
But Selby’s recent record in Coventry isn’t great – he lost 4-1 to Stephen Maguire in round one in 2015 and 6-1 to Judd Trump in the last eight in 2014 – and Coral English Open champion Liang is good enough to chance at 4-9 with a start of 2.5 frames.
Mark Allen will already have one eye on next week’s Coral Northern Ireland Open but he has a date with Joe Perry, a late replacement for Marco Fu in the draw, at the Ricoh Arena first.
Ladbrokes, who make Allen 4-6, give Perry a shout of adding to his 8-5 head-to-head lead over the Co Antrim native and punters should respect that firm’s stance.
Allen, 8-11 to make the match’s highest break, compiled breaks of 140 and 106 in beating Ricky Walden in the last 16 of the China Championship last week and 131, 114 and 100 in downing Selby in the last eight in Guangzhou.
But Perry had runs of 137, 136 and 100 in the International Championship and 134 in his only Coral English Open outing so Allen is no certainty to oblige in the market.
The Fen Tiger is a scrapper too and if Allen is found wanting, he could take advantage.
Allen will do well to triumph by a scoreline of 4-2 or better, so the best bet may be to back Perry with a start of 1.5 frames.
Outright market leader Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has never been beaten in this tournament, was cut to 13-8 having been 3-1 for the title after ousting Martin Gould 6-2 on Monday night.
Liang Wenbo +2.5 frames
1pt 4-9 bet365, Sky Bet
J Perry +1.5 frames
1pt 4-6 bet365, Coral, Hills