Snooker World Championship

    Sports betting expert David Myers has analysed the Betfred World Championship 2017 and gives his best bets for the tournament.
  • Thursday 13 April 2017
  • Tipsters

Snooker fans will be licking their lips ahead of this year’s World Championship, which gets underway at Sheffield’s famous Crucible Theatre on Saturday, writes DAVID MYERS.

The 16-day marathon provides a huge test for the world’s elite, and stamina is very much required. There have been many occasions down the years when a player endures several stamina-sapping matches, only to turn up for the final running on empty – only on Wednesday night did a two-hour final frame qualifier broke the world record for the longest-ever frame!

A glance at the last 10 finals highlights the likes of with the likes of Mark Selby, Ali Carter, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins reaching their first finals, prior to falling at the final hurdle to more experienced players.

Last 10 World Championship Finals

Year Winner (seed) Runner-up Score
2016   Mark Selby (2) Ding Junhui (Q) 18-14
2015   Stuart Bingham (10) Shaun Murphy (8) 18-15
2014   Mark Selby (3) Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 18-14
2013   Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) Barry Hawkins (15) 18-12
2012   Ronnie O’Sullivan (14) Ali Carter (13) 18-11
2011   John Higgins (2) Judd Trump (Q) 18-15
2010   Neil Robertson (9) Graeme Dott (Q) 18-13
2009   John Higgins (5) Shaun Murphy (3) 18-9
2008   Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) Ali Carter (14) 18-8
2007   John Higgins (5) Mark Selby (Q) 18-13

WINNER

There haven’t been too many shocks in Crucible finals, with only Shaun Murphy, managing to lift the trophy in 2005 having made it as a qualifier. Bar Murphy, 19 of the last 20 winners were all top 16 seeds – half of the starting line-up – as can be seen in the below table.

Last 20 World Champions

Yr Winner  Age Seed Form(latest first) Season best UK best World best World prev year
16    M Selby  32 2 L32 W QF Semi Won Won Last 16
15    S Bingham  38 10 L32 SF SF Won SF QF Last 32
14    M Selby  30 3 QF L32 RU RU Won RU Last 16
13    R O’Sullivan  37 1 - - L128 L128 Won Won Won
12    R O’Sullivan  36 14 QF SF W Won Won Won QF
11    J Higgins  35 2 W QF W Won Won Won Last 16
10    N Robertson  28 9 L16 L16 L16 Won QF SF SF
09    J Higgins  33 5 RU L16 SF Won Won Won Last 16
08    R O’Sullivan  32 5 L32 RU L16 Won Won Won QF
07    J Higgins  31 5 QF L32 L32 Semi Won Won Last 32
06    G Dott  27 14 L16 QF SF SF QF RU Last 32
05    S Murphy  22 (Q) L48 L48 L32 L32 NQ L32 NQ
04    R O’Sullivan  28 3 QF QF QF Won Won Won Last 32
03    M Williams  29 3 L16 QF SF Won Won Won Last 16
02    P Ebdon  31 7 SF RU L16 RU RU RU QF
01    R O’Sullivan  25 4 L32 W L16 Won Won Semi Last 32
00    M Williams  26 3 RU QF W Won Won RU RU
99    S Hendry  39 2 QF W SF Won Won Won Last 32
98    J Higgins  22 3 W SF L32 Won RU QF QF
97    K Doherty  26 7 L64 L32 L16 SF RU QF Last 16

The above list of 20 champions provides some vital information into their backgrounds heading into the tournament, and one of the most surprising is how world champions performed in the previous year’s competition – amazingly, only 3 of the last 20 winners made the semi-final or final 12 months earlier. In contrast, all bar the 2005 qualifier, Shaun Murphy, made at least the quarter-finals of this tournament and the UK Championship, earlier during their career.

Another clue can be found via the winner’s current season of their world title, as 18 of the last 20 victors made a semi-final at least, while on current form leading up to Sheffield, 16 winners made a quarter-final during their last three tournaments.

The winner’s seeding also shows that 19 of the last 20 winners came from the top 14, a sequence that was disrupted just once by Murphy in 2005. A closer look shows that 14 of the last 20 winners were seeded 2-7, with the No.1 seed (the defending champion) having a woeful record – only Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013 won back-to-back titles.

With the history books suggesting this year’s winner should come from the higher seeded players, here is a close-up of each of the world’s top 16 players.

Mark Selby

Seed: 1
Age: 33
Odds: 9-2
Nickname: The Jester from Leicester
Last 10 Worlds (latest first): W L16 W L16 L32 QF SF QF L32 RU
2016/17 best: Winner x 4 (UK, International, Classic, China Open)
Recent form (latest first): W QF L32

Having already won four titles this season, the defending champion, Mark Selby, is experiencing his best ever campaign and arrives at Sheffield clearly the man to beat.

However, being the No.1 seed for this tournament brings added pressure, and only Ronnie O’Sullivan managed to win the title from the last 20 top seeds to have tried. It’s also worth noting that while Selby arrives in top form having won the China Open just a few weeks ago, only two of the last 20 world champions actually won the final tournament prior to Sheffield – John Higgins in 2011 and 1998. Selby also never won a tournament in either of the seasons that he won both previous world titles in 2016 and 2014, and his followers will be hoping he hasn’t peaked too early.

Verdict: Bids for a third title in four years, but may face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semis, while also having the No.1 seed jinx to overcome.

Judd Trump

Seed: 2
Age: 27
Odds: 4-1
Nickname: Ace
Last 10 Worlds (latest first): L16 SF QF SF L16 RU – – – L32
2016/17 best finish: Winner x 2 (European Masters and Players Championship)
Recent form (latest first): QF W RU

Another of the top players enjoying a career best season, Judd Trump arrives in terrific form having won two ranking events for the first time in one season, along with three finals. One of those titles came just last month, and he has a decent pedigree at Sheffield with two semis and a final during his last six appearances.

Trump also has a decent draw in the bottom half away from Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan, with a possible last 16 clash against Anthony McGill, whom he leads 7-1 in head-to-heads.

Verdict: Enjoying his best-ever season, while a kind draw gives him one of his best chances of landing the title.

Stuart Bingham

Seed: 3
Age: 40
Odds: 28-1
Nickname: Ball-run
Last 10 Worlds (latest first): L32 W L32 QF L32 L16 – L32 L16 –
2016/17 best finish: Won (Welsh Open)
Recent form (latest first): L16 L16 W

The 2015 world champion, Stuart Bingham, felt the burden of wearing the crown during a disappointing season last time around, but has bounced back well. Indeed, Bingham reached four semi-finals prior to landing February’s Welsh Open, and he could go well if getting past a potential last 16 against Kyren Wilson.

Verdict: In better form than last season, but won’t be easy to win this again at the age of 40.

Ding Junhui

Seed: 4
Age: 30
Odds: 12-1
Nickname: The Dragon
Last 10 Worlds (latest): RU QF L32 QF L32 SF L16 L16 L16 L32
2016/17 best finish: Winner (Shanghai Masters)
Recent form (latest first): QF SF L64

Having failed to get past the last 16 in his first four visits to the Crucible Theatre, Ding Junhui has now reached two quarter-finals, a semi-final and a final during the last six years – a sequence that suggests he could be edging closer to a first world title.

That first final appearance against Mark Selby 12 months ago should put Ding in good stead for another bid, especially as he seems to have found some form of late, though he may need to beat Selby in the semis, if getting past Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarters.

Verdict: Made last year’s final and hitting form, but a tough draw awaits.

Shaun Murphy

Seed: 5
Age: 34
Odds: 22-1
Nickname: The Magician
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L32 RU QF QF L32 L16 QF RU L16 SF
2016/17 best: Winner (Gibraltar Open)
Recent form (latest first): QF L16 W

Became one of the youngest winners of this title back in 2005, and made a couple of finals since. Arrives in fair form having won a weakened version of the Gibraltar Open last month when beating Judd Trump 4-2 in the final, but has a very tough draw at the Crucible, which may see him face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 16, Ding Junhui in the quarters, and Mark Selby in the semis – a gruelling schedule even before the two-day final.

Verdict: Reliable and should be thereabouts, but has one of the toughest draws in the tournament.

John Higgins

Seed: 6
Age: 41
Odds: 16-1
Nickname: The Wizard of Wishaw
Last 10 Worlds (latest): QF L16 L32 L32 L16 W L16 W L16 W
2016/17 best finish: Winner x 2 (China Champ, Champ of Champ)
Recent form (latest first): L16 L16 L64

One of the most experienced players in this year’s tournament having won the title on four occasions, John Higgins can never be written off in Sheffield, despite his advancing years. A winner of two titles earlier this season, the Scotsman was going well until of late when failing to get past the last 16 in his last five tournaments – a similar sequence to his last five below-par Crucible appearances.

Verdict: In the better half of the draw, but recent form a concern and lifting the title could prove tough at the age of 41.

Barry Hawkins

Seed: 7
Age: 37
Odds: 20-1
Nickname: The Hawk
Last 10 Worlds (latest): QF SF SF RU L32 L32 L16 L16 L16 L16
2016/17 best finish: Winner (World Grand Prix)
Recent form (latest first): L128 L16 L16

Has enjoyed an excellent time of things during the last four years, making the latter stages of some of the big televised tournaments, but still yet to win any of the majors, as was the case in January’s Masters when 5-1 up in the semis, before crumbling to a 6-5 defeat. Good pedigree at the Crucible having made a final and two semis in the last four years, and February’s Grand Prix win should boost his confidence in getting over the line.

Verdict: Has promised to win a “big one” for some time, but can lack a killer instinct during the latter stages. A nice draw could see him into the quarters safely.

Marco Fu

Seed: 8
Age: 39
Odds: 20-1
Nickname: Hong Kong Fuey
Last 10 Worlds (latest): SF L16 L16 L16 L32 L32 L32 L16 L32 L32
2016/17 best finish: Winner (Scottish Open)
Recent form (latest first): L128 RU L64

The combination of a second Crucible semi-final last year and a run of decent form of late makes Marco Fu a contender this time around. Having struggled in the ranking events during the first half of the season, Fu then won the Scottish Open, made three other semis, and was runner-up to Judd Trump in his final tournament last month.

Verdict: Hitting form, but is another who finds himself in the tough top half of the draw where Mark Selby could await in the quarters. Still respected at decent odds.

Neil Robertson

Seed: 9
Age: 35
Odds: 12-1
Nickname: The Thunder from Down Under
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L32 QF SF L32 QF L32 W SF L16 L16
2016/17 best finish: Winner (Riga Masters)
Recent form (latest first): QF QF L64

With a current world ranking of No.9, from No.2 in 2014, the overall view is that Neil Robertson’s game hasn’t been at its peak for some time. Indeed, the 2010 world champion failed to get past the quarter-final stage during his last nine ranking tournaments, and he will need to raise his game by some margin if progressing from the toughest side of the draw.

Verdict: Form has been on the slide this season and would be a surprise if he suddenly bounced back here.

Ali Carter

Seed: 10
Age: 37
Odds: 50-1
Nickname: The Captain
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L16 L16 L16 L16 RU L16 SF L16 RU QF
2016/17 best finish: Winner (World Open)
Recent form (latest first): L32 SF L32

A dual runner-up here in 2012 and 2008, though Ali Carter has not managed to get past the last 16 since. He did win the World Open earlier this season, while a semi-final last month suggests he is playing better than a 50-1 shot, but his overall form in both the biggest tournaments, the World and UK Championships (one semi in his last seven appearances), doesn’t offer confidence.

Verdict: Glimpses of form this term, but failed to shine in the big tournaments during recent years.

Mark Allen

Seed: 11
Age: 31
Odds: 40-1
Nickname: The Pistol
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L16 L16 L16 L32 L32 QF QF SF L32 L16
2016/17 best finish: Semis x 2 (China Champ, Champ of Champ)
Recent form (latest first): L16 L32 L16

Hit a peak of No.7 in the world several seasons ago and has been consistent since, though his form since reaching a couple of semis earlier this season has gone backwards. His form at this tournament has been nothing special either, with just one semi in 10 visits, and the Irishman may be hoping for a quarter-final appearance at best.

Verdict: Both his recent form and performances here suggest he could struggle to make the latter stages once more.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Seed: 12
Age: 41
Odds: 6-1
Nickname: The Rocket
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L16 QF RU W W QF QF L16 W QF
2016/17 best finish: Winner (The Masters)
Recent form (latest first): L32 QF L64

Since winning the first of his five world crowns in 2001, Ronnie O’Sullivan hasn’t experienced a longer gap of four years without lifting the trophy, and with his last title coming back in 2013, the Rocket could be ready to strike once more. Not that it will be easy at the age of 41, but O’Sullivan has a habit of breaking records, such as when winning the aforementioned title in 2013 having not played a single tournament that season.

O’Sullivan’s form has been in-and-out this season, winning one of the 14 tournaments entered – The Masters – and reaching three other finals. He will also have to do it the hard way from a tough draw, with possible clashes against Shaun Murphy (fifth seed) in the last 16, Ding Junhui (fourth seed) in the quarters, and old foe, Mark Selby (No.1), in the semis.

Verdict: Would have to become one of the oldest winners of the modern era, and has a tricky draw, but you can never write off the Rocket.

Liang Wenbo

Seed: 13
Age: 30
Odds: 80-1
Nickname: The Firecracker
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L32 – – – L32 – L32 L32 QF
2016/17 best finish: Winner (English Open)
Recent form (latest first): L64 L16 L128

Having won his first ranking event earlier this season, Liang Wenbo then reached the semi-final of the World Grand Prix to cap a good season, though wining the world crown may be asking too much. The fact his route to the final could include Ding/O’Sullivan/Selby, along with an unimpressive record at the Crucible is enough to suggest he will need to pull out a gigantic effort to get anywhere near lifting the title.

Verdict: Had a good season, but yet to shine here and punters may want to look elsewhere for this year’s winner.

Kyren Wilson

Seed: 14
Age: 25
Odds: 40-1
Nickname: The Warrior
Last 10 Worlds (latest): QF – L32
2016/17 best finish: Runner-up (Indian Open)
Recent form (latest first): SF L128 L128

One of the most improved players on the circuit, having jumped from No.70 in the world to No.14 during the last two years, Kyren Wilson has made one final and two semi-finals this season. One of those semis came in the recent China Open, which should ensure Wilson turns up at the Crucible in decent form, and a quarter-final appearance at this venue on just his second appearance last year was an encouraging sign.

Verdict: Still improving and holds a better chance than his 40-1 odds suggest. Lively outsider.

Anthony McGill

Seed: 15
Age: 26
Odds: 80-1
Nickname: Licensed To Thrill
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L16 QF
2016/17 best finish: Winner (Indian Open)
Recent form (latest first): L64 L16 L64

Having earned the right to be here having enjoyed a career best season courtesy of two ranking titles – albeit two of the weaker tournaments – and three quarter-final appearances, Anthony McGill will be hoping to repeat his 2015 effort here when knocking out Mark Selby before making the quarter-final stage. That victory put McGill on the snooker map, but he may need to beat Judd Trump in this year’s last 16 if reaching another quarter-final.

Verdict: Arrives on an upward curve and remains capable of a shock, but needs to improve recent form.

Ryan Day

Seed: 16
Age: 37
Odds: 125-1
Nickname: Dynamite
Last 10 Worlds (latest): L16 L16 L32 – QF L32 L32 QF QF L32
2016/17 best finish: Runner-up (World Grand Prix)
Recent form (latest first): L128 L16 SF

A three-time quarter-finalist at the Crucible, Ryan Day has plenty of experience, but is still awaiting that elusive first ranking title. A first round clash with Mark Selby will be tough, and the draw won’t get any easier should he make it to the last 16.

Verdict: Yet to win a ranking title, and unlikely his first will come at the world championships.

The importance of concentrating on the world’s top 16 players can also be seen via this season’s results, with 18 of the 20 biggest tournaments being won by a top 16 player.

2016/17 major events

Date Tournament Winner Runner-up Result
Jun Riga Masters  Neil Robertson  Michael Holt 5-2
Jul Indian Open  Anthony McGill  Kyren Wilson 5-2
Jul World Open  Ali Carter  Joe Perry 10-8
Aug P Hunter Classic  Mark Selby  Tom Ford 4-2
Sep Shanghai Masters  Ding Junhui  Mark Selby 10-6
Oct European Masters  Judd Trump  Ronnie O Sullivan 9-8
Oct English Open  Liang Wenbo  Judd Trump 9-6
Oct International Chmp  Mark Selby  Ding Junhui 10-1
Nov *China Champ  John Higgins  Stuart Bingham 10-7
Nov *Champ of Champs  John Higgins  Ronnie O Sullivan 10-7
Nov N Ireland Open  Mark King  Barry Hawkins 9-8
Dec UK Championship  Mark Selby  Ronnie O Sullivan 10-7
Dec Scottish Open  Marco Fu  John Higgins 9-4
Jan *The Masters  Ronnie O Sullivan  Joe Perry 10-7
Feb German Masters  Anthony Hamilton  Ali Carter 9-6
Feb World Grand Prix  Barry Hawkins  Ryan Day 10-7
Feb Welsh Open  Stuart Bingham  Judd Trump 9-8
Mar Gibraltar Open  Shaun Murphy  Judd Trump 4-2
Mar Players Champs  Judd Trump  Marco Fu 10-8
Mar China Open  Mark Selby  Mark Williams 10-8
10-8
*Non-ranked tournament

The current world No.1 and defending champion, Mark Selby, features four times in the above list, but the fact defending champions of this title have such a poor record means he is bypassed.

Also ignored is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who won just one of the 14 tournaments entered this season, which equates to a 7% strike-rate. With 7% converted into odds of 14-1, O’Sullivan’s current price of 6-1 to win the world crown don’t appeal, especially as he remains in a tough half of the draw and won’t find it easy aged 41.

Ahead of Selby and O’Sullivan in the market is Judd Trump (4-1), who has a more attractive profile and will avoid the aforementioned pair from the bottom half of the draw. Trump has also been in terrific form, hitting an impressive 57 centuries this season – 13 more than any other player. With a final and two semis during his last six world championships, Trump has proper Crucible experience under his belt, and this may be the year he finally comes of age.

Also in Trump’s half of the draw is Barry Hawkins (18-1), who almost did this column a favour in the Masters several months ago but for throwing away a 5-1 lead in the semi-final. Hawkins has a good record at the world championships, and is respected once more having won his second ranking tournament earlier in the season.

NAME THE FINALISTS

Several bookies have priced up this market, with the 11-1 favourite a Mark Selby/Judd Trump final. However, a look at the records below shows that not many finals featured both the No 1 & 2 seeds.

Year Seeds in world finals
2016    2-Q (seed 2 beat qualifier)
2015    10-8
2014    3-1
2013    1-15
2012    14-13
2011    2-Q
2010    9-Q
2009    5-3
2008    5-14
2007    5-Q
2006    14-8
2005    Q-6
2004    3-13
2003    3-5
2002    7-5
2001    4-2
2000    3-9
1999    2-5
1998    3-1
1997    7-1

The last time both the No.1 and 2 seeds contested a final was way back in 1987 when Steve Davis and Joe Johnson clashed. In fact, of the last 13 finals, 11 had at least one player that was ranked in double-figures or a qualifier, suggesting punters may need to be a bit more adventurous playing this market.

HIGHEST BREAKS

There are several markets revolving around the highest break, 147s and centuries struck during the next fortnight, and for punters looking for to get involved, the following records may provide some pointers.

Highest breaks this season

Date Tournament Highest break
Jun Riga Masters 138 Martin O Donnell
Jul Indian Open 142 Mark King
Jul World Open 144 John Higgins
Aug Paul Hunter Classic 147 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Sep Shanghai Masters 147 Stephen Maguire
Oct European Masters 147 Shaun Murphy
Oct English Open 147 Alfie Burden
Oct International Champ 145 John Higgins & China Xu Si
Nov *China Champinship 144 Shaun Murphy
Nov *Champ of Champs 143 John Higgins
Nov N Ireland Open 147 John Higgins
Dec UK Championship 147 Mark Allen
Dec Scottish Open 142 Marco Fu
Jan The Masters 141 Marco Fu
Feb German Masters 147 Tom Ford
Feb World Grand Prix 145 Judd Trump
Feb Welsh Open 144 Mark Davis
Mar Gibraltar Open 145 Jack Lisowski
Mar Players Champ 136 Judd Trump
Mar China Open 147 Judd Trump

Most centuries this season

Player Centuries
Judd Trump 57
Ronnie O Sullivan 44
Mark Selby 44
Marco Fu 40
John Higgins 36
Stuart Bingham 32
Neil Robertson 31
Shaun Murphy 30
Mark Allen 29
Joe Perry 25
Ding Junhui 23
Ali Carter 21
Barry Hawkins 21
Liang Wenbo 21
Mark Williams 18
Kyren Wilson 13

Centuries in World Championships

Year Televised (Qualifying)
2016     N/A   (84)
2016     86    (132)
2015     86    (83)
2014     58    (69)
2013     55    (63)
2012     71    (60)
2011     74    (73)
2010     60    (50)
2009     83    (69)
2008     63    (45)
2007     68    (61)

Highest breaks in World Championships

Year Highest break
2016   143   Kyren Wilson
2015   145   S Bingham & N Robertson
2014   140   Neil Robertson
2013   143   Neil Robertson
2012   147   Stephen Hendry
2011   138   Ding Junhui & M King
2010   146   M Allen & G Dott
2009   147   Stephen Hendry
2008   147   R O’Sullivan & A Carter
2007   144   A Carter

There will be plenty of interest in whether a maximum 147 will be struck at this year’s world championship, and with a total of 10 having been recorded since Cliff Thorburn’s first in 1983, there is every chance of another perfect 36 balls. The bookies go 5-4 that a maximum will be hit, and 8-13 it won’t, while the highest break to be 145 or higher is 4-5.

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