As the people of Sheffield go about their business, they start to wonder why all of a sudden there is a lot of different accents floating around. Suddenly it dawns on them, it’s near the end of April, that means one thing. The snooker is coming to town.
As the queues in the supermarkets become longer and traffic on the roads gets heavier, the snooker enthusiasts flock from far and wide to be a part of something special. The Snooker World Championships.
Who doesn’t love it when the snooker is gracing our television screens. Occupying most of the day’s coverage and replacing the usual daytime fodder. Even non-snooker fans can’t help but get hooked on the final frame deciders, the intense atmosphere and of course the late night finishes.
From the century breaks to the scrappy tedious frames, we love it all.
The standard each year is getting better and better and I’m confident this year could be the best yet. I fully expect that tournament century tally the BBC obsess over every year, to be knocked out of the park. The players really are that good and even some of the so-called ‘lesser’ players are more than capable of knocking out the big boys.
As the punters amongst us ponder who will take home that coveted world crown. Here are three players who could be worth backing before the gruelling 16-day tournament gets underway.
The one player everyone knows and many will be backing is the one who arguably transcends the sport. Just as Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Tiger Woods took darts and golf respectively, to the masses, Rocket Ronnie is the nation’s favourite.
He is always the first player that springs to mind for the ardent fans and the ‘barely bothering.’ There is a reason why the five-time winner is priced at 2/1, he is simply incredible.
One of the best players ever to grace the green baize and few would bet against him to be the last man standing come the May 7th.
In his last event (China Open) Ronnie uncharacteristically crashed out in the quarter-finals 6-2 to Elliot Slessor. However, his 147 maximum break and the high break cheque of£42,000 should have softened the blow.
Given his experience on the big stage and the raw natural talent he possesses, his price is well justified.
The Northern Irishman is a player who could well be worth an each-way punt. With Fansbet paying 1/2 of the odds if you reach the final.
Getting 28/1 is an absolute steal given he managed to win one of the ‘big three’ tournaments earlier in the year.
I have always admired the County Antrim’s man’s game and believe this could be his year. Winning the Masters proved his critics wrong, he has shown he can mix it top players and how deserves a place on snooker’s top table.
Can the Pistol claim his first world title?
The Jester from Leicester is probably the most consistent player on tour. It’s fair to say the reigning World Champion is coming into the tournament, in great form after winning the China Open at the start of the month.
Being the number one ranked player in the world, you need to live up to the billing and he certainly does. His finesse around the table is staggering and even when he isn’t cueing at his brilliant best, his ‘B’ game is just as good.
It doesn’t matter who his opponent is, if they are three up in a best of seven, Selby is still favourite in my eyes. He is the closest in the market to Ronnie O’Sullivan priced at 7/2 and if the draw goes a certain way then few would be surprised to see the two in the final.
Who do you think will be crowned King of the Crucible?
*all odds are subject to change