The biggest prize in snooker is up for grabs in Sheffield once again. Two weeks of thrilling action begins on the 20th April with £500,000 on offer for the winner.
Ronnie O’Sullivan enters The Crucible as favourite to win his sixth World Snooker Championship. This year’s tournament has a wide open look to it and O’Sullivan will have to play close to his best to win the title he last lifted in 2013. There is at least 10 men who will feel reasonably confident of going all the way this year.
The Rocket is the best player in the history of the sport, there is very little doubt about that. However, he has struggled at The Crucible in recent years. He was memorably beaten by Ali Carter in the second round last year and two quarter-final finishes is the best he has managed in his last four attempts.
His 2018/2019 season has been magical. So far, he surpassed 1000 centuries, won the Player’s Championship, the UK Championship and the Champion of Champions trophy. If he could add a sixth World Championship to that list then it would go down as one of his best seasons ever, of which there have been many. The bookies favourite is hard to look past at 2/1.
Last year’s winner Mark Williams was a rank outsider entering the competition but he played almost flawlessly to win his second World Snooker Championship. He faces a battle to retain his title and this is reflected in his price of 14/1.
There are a number of the usual suspects who will be there or thereabouts. Previous champions Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and John Higgins all know what it takes to win here.
Selby has so often been the man to beat at The Crucible. He has won three of the last five editions of this tournament beating Ronnie O’Sullivan (2014), Ding Junhui (2016) and John Higgins (2017) in the finals. The man from Leicester seems to be struggling to recapture that title-winning form in 2019. His last two wins came in 2018 in the China Open and the China Championship.
His lack of recent trophies will have dented his confidence and 9/1 for The Jester seems too short to back.
Aussie Neil Robertson has had a good start to 2019. He has won the Welsh Open and the China Open this year. He has also reached the finals of the Players Championship and the Tour Championship in 2019, losing both to Ronnie O’Sullivan. He won this tournament all the way back in 2010, beating Graeme Dott 18-13. His best finish since has been a semi-final appearance in 2014. He is joint second favourite at 5/1 with Betfred. Should Robertson come up against O’Sullivan in the final again you would expect there to be only one outcome.
Four time winner John Higgins has lost some of his spark having lost the last two finals here at The Crucible. Having said that, he is built for these tough matchplay scenarios. He is a great break builder and his safety game is second to none. If he plays somewhere close to his peak then 16/1 seems like a great price for the experienced Scotsman.
Trump, Allen & Wilson
There are a number of players who are hopeful of picking up their first World Snooker Championship trophy in 2019. At the forefront of this troupe is Judd Trump, Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson.
Trump has been long tipped to reach the pinnacle of the sport and he finally seems to be fulfilling his potential. He has reached the final here once before. The Bristol-born player lost to John Higgins in the 2011 final and hasn’t been back since. He has won four ranking titles in the last two years, including a Northern Irish Open final win against Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2018. At 5/1, Trump is backed to make a long run in this year’s Championship.
Mark Allen is another man who excelled in 2018. He added The Masters and two ranking titles to his list of honours in 2018. His pre-Christmas form suggested a run in The Crucible was likely and Antepost odds of 14/1 seemed like a no-brainer.
Allen’s form dipped alarmingly in the early part of 2019. The Northern Irishman made headlines in February after conceding a match-winning frame to Ali Carter with 11 reds on the table in the World Grand Prix quarter-finals. So far, his best performance in 2019 has been a semi-final defeat to Neil Robertson in the Tour Championship. He has slipped out to 16/1 in the betting and he might struggle to mix it with the favourites.
The man who Allen beat in The Masters 2018 final, Kyren Wilson, has shown more promising form this season. He has won the Paul Hunter Classic and the German Open in the last two years. Wilson reached the semi-finals at The Crucible last year, losing 17-13 to John Higgins. The man from Northampton will be hoping to go one better this year and he can be backed at 16/1.
First Round Draw
The 1st Round Draw was made on Thursday 18th April. These matches are the best of 19 frames. Seedings in brackets.
Mark Williams (1) vs Martin Gould
Joe Perry vs David Gilbert (16)
Barry Hawkins (9) vs Li Hang
Scott Donaldson vs Kyren Wilson (8)
John Higgins (5) vs Mark Davis
Graeme Dott vs Stuart Bingham (8)
Shaun Murphy (13) vs Luo Honghao
Michael Georgiou vs Neil Robertson (4)
Mark Selby (3) vs Zhao Xintong
Gary Wilson vs Luca Brecel (14)
Jack Lisowski (11) vs Ali Carter
Zhou Yuelong vs Mark Allen (6)
Judd Trump (7) vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Anthony McGill vs Ding Junhui (10)
Stephen Maguire (15) vs Tian Pengfei
James Cahill vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
Outright betting for the Betfred World Snooker Championship
Ronnie O’ Sullivan 2/1
Neil Robertson 5/1
Judd Trump 5/1
Mark Selby 9/1
Mark Williams 14/1
Kyren Wilson 16/1
Mark Allen 16/1
John Higgins 16/1
Stuart Bingham 20/1
Ding Junhui 25/1
Shaun Murphy 50/1
Luca Brecel 80/1
Stephen Maguire 100/1