With the 2017 World Snooker Championship just around the corner, it’s time to take a
look at all of the favourites and highlight who we think will lift the Crucible trophy in April.
With 20 qualifying spots available, there are plenty of big names who won’t be in
Sheffield this year. However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t see any of the biggest
stars compete for the world title this time around; with so few places available, many top
snooker players have been left with no option but to qualify once again. This article
takes a closer look at each player who has already qualified for the tournament – and
also who we predict will win it all.
Mark Williams: Crucial Qualifying Victory
When Mark Williams steps onto the Crucible stage in April, it will be 12 years to the day
since he last won the world title. But the last decade has been a time of glorious
snooker for the Welshman, with 10 ranking tournaments to his name – including a
memorable comeback victory in the 2016 Northern Irish Open. Although Williams isn’t a
player who usually features in the latter stages of tournaments, his results have proven
that he is still a snooker force to be reckoned with. There are few players who have
more experience than the Welshman at the Crucible, and with so many of the game’s
top stars currently struggling with form, Williams may well be the favourite to lift the
trophy. Mark Williams showed his class once again when he won through qualifying,
defeating the likes of Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins and Ronnie O’Sullivan along the way.
With his Crucial win under his belt, Williams can start to focus on the main event – and
he is expected to do so while playing in one of his best ever Crucible performances.
The In-Form Players
Judd Trump – Despite being one of the favourites to win the World Championship last
year, it was a hugely disappointing campaign for Judd Trump. The ferociously talented
player was expected to go far in the tournament, but ended up crashing out in the first
round – and didn’t even make it to the final stages of the English Open. But with the
new season well underway, Trump seems to have found his form once again. In fact, he
has only lost one match all year, and currently sits at the very top of the World Rankings
– the first time he has ever held the #1 spot. With the target on his back set to be
greater than ever before, Trump needs to perform at his best to retain his top spot – and
he only has himself to blame if he doesn’t reach the final of the World Championships.
Judd Trump is a player who has often struggled at the Crucible, but he certainly has the
game to win the world title. With each passing round, Trump gets more and more used
to the pressure of being #1 in the world; he’s likely to be the only player in the
tournament who has that level of pressure on him. If Trump can keep his cool, he will be
looking to win his first world title – and be the first man to win both the World
Championship and the World Grand Prix.
Shaun Murphy: The Dark Horse?
Shaun Murphy has long been one of the best players in the world, but having never won
a ranking tournament (apart from the non-ranking Champion of Champions), he has
been labelled as a ‘choker’ in the past. But Murphy certainly doesn’t seem to be choking
at the moment, having won the Wuxi Classic and the Hong Kong Open in consecutive
weeks – with his win in Hong Kong being his first ranking trophy since 2006. Although
Murphy is a long way off regaining his #1 spot in the world, his recent form will give him
great confidence for the World Championship – especially after his last Crucible
appearance ended with a 10-4 victory over Ding Junhui. It remains to be seen whether
Murphy can keep up his form at the Crucible, but if he does, he could well be the one
lifting the trophy come the end of the tournament.
John Higgins: Still Going Strong at 39
John Higgins has been around the Crucible almost as long as snooker has been around
as a sporting event. Having first played at the Crucible in 1992, the Scottish player is
still one of the best in the game – and has won the World Championship three times in
his career. Even though he is now 39 years old, Higgins is still going strong at the top of
the game – and he is the only player in the world who has managed to remain as a top
10 player since the year 2000. If Higgins can overcome his Crucible demons and win
the title once again, he will become the oldest player ever to win the world title – and will
put himself in the history books once again.
Ding Junhui: Will the Real Ding Please Stand Up?
Ding Junhui’s rise to become one of the best players in the world was almost
instantaneous after he first appeared on the snooker tournament scene in 2005 – but it
came to an abrupt halt in the 2016/2017 season. Although Ding was still a top 10 player
in the world, his form seemed to be in freefall, with the Chinese man falling outside of
the top 16 for the first time in eight years. That was until the season-ending World
Championship came around, with Ding playing some of the best snooker of his entire
career – including a 10-9 victory over John Higgins in the final qualifying round. If Ding
can continue his run of form at the World Championships, he will be looking to win his
first ranking title since the 2014 Welsh Open – and he could well be the one to end
Higgins’ reign as the world champion.
Neil Robertson: Consistency is Key for ‘The Rocket’
As one of only two players in the world who has won over £10 million in prize money,
Neil Robertson is one of the most successful snooker players of all time. But the
Australian has always lacked the consistency to win the world title – struggling to find
his best form at the ‘biggest’ tournaments. However, Robertson has been in the form of
his life over the last few months – reaching the final of the English Open, World Open,
and Scottish Open – and only narrowly missing out on a fourth final of the season at the
Northern Ireland Open. With so many top players struggling, Robertson is in the perfect
position to step up and win his first world title – and with his previous Crucible
experience, he will know how to handle the pressure better than most.
The Crucible is one of the most exciting sporting events of the year, with some of the
best snooker players competing in the hope of winning the prestigious World
Championship. If you’re a fan of the sport, you’ll be hoping your favourite player is
successful, but if not, there are plenty of other great matches to enjoy – and the
tournament is always a very exciting one to watch. If you want to get involved in the
snooker action, make sure you check out our World Championship predictions above –
and remember to keep an eye on the matches in Sheffield as the tournament draws