Snooker World Championship, Chinese open winner Ding Junhui already out

| May 9th, 2014


[Ding Junhui at Snooker German Masters]

The city of Sheffield in England is famous for its steelworks and trams, but is also the setting for the World Championship of snooker which is currently in full flow. The tournament remains the most prestigious ranking event in snooker, with many of the top players showing their skills and repertoire at the table in the hope of going all the way to the final to win huge prize money, and gain valuable ranking points in the process.

Like numerous other competitions, the World Championship is open to a number of qualifiers who are more than capable of causing an upset against the much bigger names in snooker. The Crucible Theatre, widely considered as the most iconic setting for snooker tournaments, has seen a number of wonderful finals and shocks over the years, with the 2014 World Championship set to provide more drama as the curtain closer for what has been an enthralling season of snooker. Sports enthusiasts and punters can keep tabs on the latest news and scores during the tournament at, as thirty-two players bid for glory to end the 2013/2014 snooker calendar on a high.

Picking a winner from the sixteen best players in snooker, according to ranking points, can be a difficult task as every one of them possesses the quality to find their game and overcome anyone who stands in their way. Ranked players must also avoid becoming complacent against the sixteen qualifiers who have earned the right to have a shot at the big time, with the first round often creating surprise results. The 2014 World Championship has already delivered huge casualties, with four ranked players heading out of the tournament at the first round stage, including fourth seed Ding Junhui who arrived in Sheffield on the back of winning the Chinese Open, and is considered China’s greatest hope in the sport.

The favorite

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan appears in the right frame of mind to make it three consecutive World Championship titles in a row and add to his Masters victory earlier in the season. Winning two of the Triple Crown tournaments would represent another sparkling season for O’Sullivan, although his superb cue action and potting ability is matched by a certain level of arrogance. Pre-tournament comments which suggested his rivals give him a huge advantage by arriving tired and jetlagged only serves to stokes the fire even more; it creates wonderful snooker for the fans to enjoy as other players are fired up to beat the precocious talent of O’Sullivan, but are often blown away by ‘The Rocket’ who, more often than not, turns on the style during the big tournaments.

Who will challenge O’Sullivan?

Neil Robertson and Mark Selby are the most likely to challenge O’Sullivan for the title, but will have to bring their ‘A’ game to Sheffield. Selby survived a huge scare to get past qualifier Michael White in the first round, while Robertson faces Robbie Williams in the last of the first round matches. Robertson, ranked second in the world, has been in superb form at the table, with a series of maximum breaks in recent tournaments illustrating his undoubted quality. The Australian arrives on the back of finishing runner-up at the Chinese Open, and will look to add a second Triple Crown victory to his name after winning the UK Championship. Numerous runner-up finishes during the 2013/2014 snooker season would suggest that Selby also has the quality to go all the way to the final, but turning excellent form into a tournament victory has eluded the world number three.

Not one single qualifier has won the World Championship in the tournament’s history, but 2014 could be the year when an underdog rises to the top. Former World number one Ken Doherty arrived in Sheffield as a qualifier, and turned back the years in a superb 10-5 victory over World number six Stuart Bingham. The match illustrated that the Irishman still has the quality to compete at major tournaments, and will be a dangerous opponent for anyone at the World Championship. Beating World number three Ding Junhui may be the confidence booster for qualifier Michael Wasley to ride the crest of a wave and go all the way to the final. The draw may favour Wasley as he will have to wait until the quarter-final or semi-final stage to play another of the top five players in world snooker, but his shock victory has made many stand up and take notice.

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