The pinnacle event in the snooker calendar descends upon the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield this weekend and it will be another intriguing fortnight to see who can reign supreme.
Mark Selby retained the crown in 2017 but faces stiff competition to make it three wins on the spin from the likes of ‘The Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump to name just a couple.
Here, our snooker expert runs through who they expect to emerge victorious come 7th May.
Selby hitting form at just the right time
Mark Selby is the 9/2 second favourite with Grosvenorsport.com to retain his crown for a third year on succession and make it four titles in five years.
‘The Jester from Leicester’ has a knack of coming into form when it matters most and always produces the goods in Yorkshire, so it would be hardly surprising if he was to go deep in this tournament once again.
He returned to form with a 11-3 final win over Barry Hawkins in the most recent ranking event – the China Open.
O’Sullivan to rocket to sixth world title?
In recent times ‘The Rocket’ may well have been the leading light in the sport, but he hasn’t won this crown since 2013.
You can write him off at your peril though and he comes into the event with five titles to his name this season, and he comes into the final event of the calendar knowing a win in Sheffield would break the record for the most wins in a season.
Some may look at his frustrations with going the distance in the longer-format in Sheffield and he will not like to get involved in too many long-drawn out safety battles, which is probably his only slight flaw going into the tournament.
Despite that he is the 9/4 favourite to take the title and a 34th overall as he looks to edge closer to eclipsing Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 title wins.
Murphy the best of the rest at a price
Shaun Murphy may have only won the Championship once, and though he doesn’t have the titles to back up a solid season this term, he could well go all the way this year.
The 2005 champion in Sheffield has reached four finals this term but is still yet to emerge victorious as we go into the final showdown of the year.
Back trouble has blighted him over recent weeks, but despite that, he reached the final of the Players’ Championships in Llandudno, Wales, only to be seen off by O’Sullivan.
He’s my pick of the tournament and ‘The Magician’ is available at a very interesting 25/1, which could certainly be worth an each way punt. If he puts a run together, he could well make the final and it is hard to see why he couldn’t go all the way and upset the applecart.
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