The Betfred Snooker World Championship begins over Easter weekend with Mark Williams looking to defend his title in Sheffield.
The Welshman claimed his third title last year, and arrives at The Crucible ranked third in the world – but the undoubted favourite for the title is Ronnie O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan has enjoyed one of his best years on tour having already claimed three major ranking events – the UK Championship, the Tour Championship and the Players Championship.
The 43-year-old is now looked for his sixth world title – which would put him level with Steve Davis and to within one of Stephen Hendry, who has the most ever world titles to his name at seven.
‘I’ve been surprised I’ve won as much as I have. I’ve won 50 per cent of the events I’ve played in, without playing brilliantly. I’ve played steady but shows you don’t need to play brilliantly to win tournaments,” said O’Sullivan – who admits he does struggle with the rigours of such a long tournament.
“I’m happy it’s the last tournament of the season. As a player I find it the least favourite of the tournaments. But as a pundit and snooker fan it’s probably my favourite as it’s so special to watch it.
“For me it’s either win it or lose early. If you lose in the semis or final you’re probably best going out in the first round, rather than having to go through all the stress of it.”
Even world champion Williams, who as such is seeded number one for the draw, admits O’Sullivan is going to be hard to beat.
“He’s always the one to beat when his head is on,” said Williams. “When he turns up and he is interested he is almost unbeatable.”
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 18, 2019
We spoke to title sponsors Betfred ahead of the big event.
“It never, ever disappoints – and Betfred have a couple of offers that might just make matters even more interesting.
“‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan is most judges’ choice as the greatest player ever to chalk a cue. Pricing up every Championship invariably begins with Ronnie – because if he’s fit and firing, that innate natural talent can take him to places on the table most can only dream about. However, a look at the sport’s stellar names lining up to ensure that doesn’t happen over the coming weeks is mightily impressive.
“Neil Robertson. Judd Trump. Mark Selby. Mark Williams, the defending champ; to name but a few. IF you think Ronnie is a standout to bag what would be his sixth World Title.
“So – it’s a great week to be a Betfred punter Take advantage of our Snooker offers – and enjoy the action from Sheffield, in what’s one of sport’s standout tournaments.
“Apart from the outrights, we’ve a number of specials that might just float your boat, including;
- Highest tournament break? 147 is 6/5
- Number of Crucible centuries? 87 or more 10/11, 86 or less 10/11
- Number of players making a century? 22 or less 10/11, 23 or more 10/11
- O’Sullivan v The Field – Ronnie 9/4, The Field 1/3
“In terms of the general betting, The Rocket is of course popular at 9/4, but we’ve seen some shrewd e/w money for the young Belgian Luca Brecel, at around 80/1.
“Robertson and Trump can’t be separated in the market at present at 5/1, and among former champions at a very tempting price we find John Higgins, trading at 16/1. And a Williams repeat? 14/1.”