Just a week after backing Lewis Hamilton to win the Malaysian Grand Prix, we were once again shouting from the rooftops this weekend as one of our big tips for the 2014 Masters, Bubba Watson, landed the green jacket at odds of 25/1, which we tipped last week in this very article.
We hope you managed to get on that and earned yourself a fabulous earner from your bet!
This week, our focus turns away from golf and instead turns to the green baize, for on Saturday 19th April, the first round of the World Snooker Championship will get underway in Sheffield.
The World Snooker Championship: history
This marathon event lasts for over two weeks and is held each year at the Crucible Theatre.
It has seen some of the most dramatic moments in snooker history. Few will forget Alex Higgins’ tearful victory in 1982, Cliff Thorburn’s first ever World Snooker Championship 147 a year later, nor Dennis Taylor’s sensational comeback from 8-0 down to beat Steve Davis 18-17 in 1985.
The Crucible has hosted the event every year since 1977, when John Spencer defeated Cliff Thorburn 25-21. Before then, the event was contested in a number of different places including St Georges Hall Liverpool in 1966, Jersey in 1957, South Africa in 1965, Sydney Australia in 1971 as well as various cities around the UK including Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Chesterfield, Blackpool, Manchester and Bolton.
Since the heady days of the 1980s however, snooker as a sport has somewhat declined in popularity and with television exposure falling, it is important that the 2014 World Championship shows all that is good about the game while it is in the national spotlight.
The World Snooker Championship: past winners
In the early says of snooker, the game was dominated by relatively few players.
Brothers Joe and Fred Davis won 23 titles between them from 1927 to 1956 (Joe winning 15, Fred 8). John Pulman was another eight-time winner earning his titles in between 1957 and 1968.
Two players ushered in the dawn of the modern era, Ray Reardon (a six-time winner) and John Spencer (a three-time winner) before Steve Davis enjoyed dominance throughout the 1980s, winning six times.
Davis spell at the top was broken in 1990 by Scot Stephen Hendry, who won seven events from 1990 to 1999 and since then three players have won multiple titles: Ronnie O’Sullivan (five time champion), John Higgins (four time champion) and Mark Williams (two time champion).
Other multiple winners include Scot Walter Donaldson, who won twice in 1947 and 1950, and the legendary Alex Higgins who won in 1972 and then a decade later in 1982.
This year’s event will see several former champions given a bye to the first round, including Ronnie O’Sullivan (reigning champion), John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy.
Several others, including Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Graeme Dott, Mark Williams and Peter Ebdon will be trying to earn a first round spot through the qualifying tournament which takes place just prior to the main event.
The 2014 World Championship: draw and format
The top sixteen seeds in the tournament are ranked and given a bye to the first round, with the next 16 seeds given a bye to the final match of the qualifying round. The remaining players are then ranked and the top 32 players are given a bye to the second round of qualifying, with the remaining 64, battling it out from the first round of qualifying.
The 16 players who make it through qualifying will then be drawn randomly against the top 16 seeded players in the first round. The draw is staggered in a similar way to tennis competitions, so that the top two seeds will not meet each other until the final.
There are 16 matches in the first round, with matches played over several sessions to decide the winner.
The 2014 World Snooker Championship: seeded players
The 16 seeded players for the first round of the 2014 World Snooker Championship are (not in order – current world ranking shown in brackets):
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (33)
- Neil Robertson (1)
- Mark Selby (3)
- Ding Junhui (2)
- Joe Perry (15)
- Shaun Murphy (5)
- Marco Fu (7)
- Barry Hawkins (4)
- Mark Davis (12)
- John Higgins (9)
- Stuart Bingham (6)
- Judd Trump (8)
- Mark Allen (14)
- Steven Maguire (13)
- Ricky Walden (10)
- Alistair Carter (11)
Our 2014 World Snooker Championship winner and each way tips
Unsurprisingly, the five time champion and holder of the title of World Champion the past two years, Ronnie O’Sullivan, is the bookies’ hot favourite to win the event.
O’Sullivan is just 2.37 to win with Bet365 and this reflects his dominance at the event over the past few years.
He may not play many events on tour (hence his lowly world ranking of 33) and he remains an enigmatic figure within the game, capable of moments of sheer genius, or total meltdown, but he is undoubtedly the finest player of the modern era, many would say any era, and he is a worthy favourite.
If a challenge is to come to O’Sullivan, then China’s Ding Junhui (8.00) is arguably the strongest candidate. Ding has improved as he has gained experience on the tour and he is arguably now the most consistent tour player yet to win a World title.
Neil Robertson won in 2011 and the Aussie has the game to give O’Sullivan problems, but whether or not he can rediscover the form that took him to the title a couple of years ago remains to be seen.
While O’Sullivan would be my choice for a win here, the shorter odds are not that tempting, so if I was going to make a bet on a player to win other than O’Sullivan, my choice would be Judd Trump (10.00). He hasn’t enjoyed a great year, but his brilliance at the table can be on a par with O’Sullivan on his day.
So for a winner, I’d lump on O’Sullivan, but I’d have a side bet of a smaller amount on Judd Trump to cause an upset.
As for an each way punt, my money would go on Barry Hawkins (34.00) who has enjoyed a stellar year and has superb form at the Crucible going into the event. I don’t think he has the game to win the title, but he certainly can get to the semi final stage and perhaps even beyond. He’d have to reach the final for an each-way payout though, but at 34.00, that is a decent bet.
Our pick for a top UK sports site to place wagers on this event is Bet365, where new signups can enjoy $100 in Bet365 Sports bets and bonus offers.