Super Selby To Be Crowned World Champion
The Snooker World Championship gets underway on Thursday in Sheffield with Mark Selby looking to retain his crown.
The Season So Far
A new calculation method has seen some volatility at the top of the world rankings this season, but though the order has changed, the top ten has remained fairly constant throughout. Mark Selby has reasserted his dominance, winning three titles; Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy picked up the season’s other Triple Crown events and both Judd Trump and Neal Robertson won a couple of trophies.
It’s the one they all want to win. Dating back to 1927, the World Snooker Championship is the most prestigious and most lucrative tournament of them all, as well as being the toughest. The pressure in the latter rounds is particularly intense and few players have the necessary combination of talent and mental strength to succeed. Stephen Hendry still holds the record of seven world titles, but Ronnie O’Sullivan could move into second place if he wins in Sheffield for the sixth time.
Who To Avoid
Once again punters have the difficult task of trying to work out whether to oppose Ronnie O’Sullivan at short odds. At his fully-motivated, untroubled best, he is probably still the best player in the world, but he is beatable. He had no answer to Mark Selby’s comeback in last year’s final and was also swept away by Neal Robertson in the Masters semi-final. Given his Crucible record, he is a justified favourite, but he is no banker and I won’t be backing him at 5/2.
He is the world number one and reigning world champion, but Mark Selby has never been a fashionable player and goes into this year’s tournament as fourth favourite.
Prior to last year there were doubts about his Crucible credentials, but his comeback in the final reminded us of his battling qualities.
Even when out of form, he can find a way to win and you should get a good run for your money if you back him at 7/1.
Shaun Murphy has shown glimpses of his best form this year, most notably when completing a career Triple Crown by winning the Masters, beating Selby and Neal Robertson along the way. The longer matches at the Crucible suit his game and the 2005 world champion has produced some of his best snooker at this event, reaching the last eight in seven of his previous ten visits. At 11/1 he offers plenty of value.
Barry Hawkins has only made the last eight of a tournament three times this season, but the latest was in his last outing at the China Open and that could given him a bit of momentum going to Sheffield, where he has shown the temperament to thrive on the game’s biggest stage, reaching the final in 2013 and the semi-final last year. The world number five is surely over-priced at 50/1 and is well worth backing each way.