The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield once more opens its doors to the snooker world this weekend as the Betfred World Snooker Championship takes place from April 20th until May 6th. You could call it snooker’s equivalent of the Grand National as the attraction to spectators who wouldn’t normally watch the sport is quite considerable.
Many fly by night fans of the game are known to spend countless hours staring at the green baize and watching the delicate skills displayed by the top professionals in the game. It’s one of the sporting delights of the Easter holiday period: the Final itself has attracted some of the highest TV viewing figures in sporting history.
Who could forget the 1985 drama of Dennis Taylor outfoxing multiple times champion Steve Davis in a last frame thriller? Or the luckless Jimmy White taking Stephen Hendry to the wire in the 1994 classic? Even last year produced a story as Mark Williams won only his second Title in the unprecedented space of 18 years.
This year is set to be a another memorable tournament as 5 times champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is a hot order to equal Steve Davis’ tally of 6 titles and therefore be just one behind the all-time record holder, Stephen Hendry. Can he do it? The bookmakers seem confident that Rocket Ronnie is in a fine run of form.
The 43 year old Essex man is certainly in commanding form. Despite losing the final of the UK Masters to Judd Trump, he has recently walked away with three major titles including the 2019 Players Championship, 2019 Tour Championship and 2018 UK Championship.
The valuable Shanghai Masters was also added to his victories this season, giving him a cool total of over £900,000 in prize money this season. He’s passed a major milestone also this season, completing 1000 century breaks in his victorious final match of the Players Championship, defeating 2010 world champion Neal Robertson.
He’s in the form of his life and will take all the beating next week. However, Ronnie’s recent form at The Crucible has been questionable, having not even reached the Final since 2014. Nevertheless, if taking into account the question marks surrounding the majority of his major opponents and O’Sullivan’s scintillating form, we feel the title will go the way of the favourite.
The majority of the firms are being quite tight with the Essex man, most offering 9/4 including Betfred!
The championship draw is certainly in favour of the Australian former World Champion, being in the top half and consequently kept away from key players like Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan. His recent performances have been excellent including a win in the China Open.
However, what may go against him is stamina due to a long busy season and the fact that he has been beaten in two finals against Ronnie O’Sullivan this season. 6/1 best with Betfair and Paddy Power.
A much more value worthy option is Mark Selby whose Crucible credentials are exceptionally watertight based on his three title wins since and including 2014. The worry is his form from the last two years where many feel he has lost his touch slightly. A first round exit from last years does not inspire confidence also.
Nevertheless, The Crucible event often makes a mockery of the formbook and 10/1 (Coral) is exceptional value if you take into account his World Championship record.
It is perhaps surprising that this talented left hander has never won The Betfred Snooker World Championship and even more bewildering that he has only made one Final appearance back in 2011 where he lost out to John Higgins. However, he won this year’s Masters beating Ronnie O’Sullivan and that has to put him in good stead.
The draw is not ideal as he is highly likely to meet O’Sullivan earlier than he might like in the quarter final. But this is a player in fine form and is on paper the nearest danger to the current favourite, Ronnie O’Sullivan. Best priced 5/1 with Coral, William Hill, Bet Victor.
Kyren Wilson continues to make great strides in the game and his semi-final appearance last year suggests that his game is suited to the demands of The Crucible and represents cracking value at 18/1 with Coral and Unibet
If you’re looking for a whopping big priced outsider that merits suspect, you wouldn’t go too far wrong with chancing on the Chinese number one, Ding Junhui who so memorably made the Final in 2016. Not much to shout about this season although a semi-final appearance in The Masters will have given him some confidence. 30/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.
Lots of question marks against several of these key contenders so therefore the money has to go with the proven form horse, Ronnie O’Sullivan. His talents and zest for the game are well documented and providing he can get past a tricky potential quarter final against Judd Trump, this is O’Sullivan’s for the taking.
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN TO WIN, 9/4 with Betfred!
Best priced odds. All odds are correct at the time of publishing (17:00 16th April 2019) and are subject to change.