With the culmination of the Masters at Alexandra Palace, excitement is already building ahead of snooker’s blue riband event, the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Each year, 32 players converge for one of the most intensive sporting events in British sport, but only one can be crowned the winner.
Let’s have a look at the early favourites in the snooker betting to lift the famous old trophy at the beginning of May.
It’s been a slightly strange season for Judd Trump. Yes, he won the Champion of Champions back in November, but apart from there have been some disappointing results from the player who has dominated the tour for the last couple of years. Having narrowly lost to Barry Hawkins in the semi-final of the Masters, Trump will be desperate to put things right at the Crucible and get his hands on a second world crown.
Fresh from his triumph at Ally Pally, Neil Robertson is riding the crest of a wave, and will be eyeing up the World Championship as a chance to confirm his place among the game’s elite by becoming a multiple world champion. The Australian seems to have found the perfect balance between snooker and family life, and when he’s on top form, there are few players who can stack up against him.
Robertson’s recent record at the Crucible makes disappointing reading for a player of his stature. Is this the year he truly brings his best to Sheffield?
There used to be a time when Ronnie O’Sullivan would be the favourite for every edition of the World Snooker Championship, but in the last couple of years we have seen a slight decline in the ‘Rocket’. Having lost five ranking finals last season, O’Sullivan finally got back on the trophy trail by winning the World Grand Prix in December. The chance to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles lies tantalisingly on the horizon.
Having won the World Championship in 2021, it’s largely been a season to forget so far for Mark Selby. The 20-time ranking event winner recently opened up about his mental health struggles, and all snooker fans will be hoping he’s fit and firing by the time the World Championship comes around. Selby and the Crucible are a match made in heaven, with the world number one’s grit and determination perfectly suited to the long format. The Leicester man can never be ruled out.
Given that John Higgins has been in four major finals already this season, and has featured in three of the last five World Championship finals, odds of 10/1 for him to win at the Crucible this year seem quite generous. There will be plenty of snooker fans who fancy the Scot to bring his A-game to Sheffield and walk away with the trophy, so Higgins may be worth a little flutter if he continues to play as consistently as he has done so far this season.
Elsewhere, UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong can be found at odds of 25/1 in the snooker tips, though it would be hugely surprising if the 24-year-old triumphed in Sheffield. Perhaps better value are Mark Williams and Barry Hawkins, who are both priced at around 40/1.
Williams has shown some good form this season, winning the British Open, while Hawkins reached the final of the Masters having knocked out Shaun Murphy, Trump and Selby. At even higher odds is Stephen Maguire, who is still searching for that first world title, and can beat anybody if he gets on a roll.