Ronnie O'Sullivan gets his hands on the Crucible trophy for a sixth time
Will Ronnie O'Sullivan get his hands on the trophy for a seventh time?

Snooker betting tips: World Championship outright preview and best bets for the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan will bid for a record-equalling seventh victory at this year's World Championship, which begins at the Crucible Theatre on Saturday – read Richard Mann's outright preview here.

Snooker betting tips: World Championship

3pts Ronnie O'Sullivan to win World Championship at 6/1 (General)

Already advised:

1pt e.w. Anthony McGill at 66/1 (Now 50/1 after the draw)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

There are two big questions to be answered at this year’s World Snooker Championship: can RONNIE O'SULLIVAN claim a seventh world title to equal the record set by Stephen Hendry, and can Neil Robertson finally rekindle his love for the Crucible, thereby confirming himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport?

O’Sullivan, champion in 2020, will arrive in Sheffield as the number one ranked player in the world on the back of a highly consistent campaign that was highlighted by victory over Robertson in the final of the World Grand Prix, before he made another final at the European Masters in February.

There have also been semi-final finishes at the English and Scottish Opens, a good run in the UK Championship, and another semi-final at the Tour Championship recently when only an inspired Robertson was able to take him down in a deciding frame.

Neal Foulds' World Championship top-16 verdict

Neal Foulds will be penning a fortnightly column on Sporting Life
Click here to read more

World Snooker Championship round one betting tips

John Higgins

If the early part of O’Sullivan’s career was characterised by a mix of spellbinding brilliance and frustrating inconsistency, the last couple of years in particular have shown him in a different light. Perhaps that untouchable level of snooker that he used to regularly produce is seen more fleetingly now he is 47-years-old, but few could question his commitment to the cause this season, or his desire to keep competing at the highest level. However long he has left, O’Sullivan appears determined to make it count.

O’Sullivan might modestly argue that he’s had to adapt as age slowly takes the edge off other parts of his game – and his long potting was occasionally found wanting at the Tour Championship – but in many ways, I think that makes him a better fit for Sheffield, and certainly a better betting proposition.

Ronnie O'Sullivan is world champion for a sixth time
Ronnie O'Sullivan has won six world titles already

In the past, O’Sullivan has done his winning at the Crucible and everywhere else by being able to steamroller opponents with his heavy scoring and all-round superior game. It’s when he’s not been playing at his best that he has sometimes come unstuck in Sheffield, and it’s worth remembering that he’s only made it past the second round of this event once in the last four years – when going all the way in 2020.

O'Sullivan rates best Crucible bet

There have been occasions when he’s not had the answers if asked to dig deep in the multi-session format of the World Championship, and it's little wonder that he once described Sheffield as an ‘ordeal’.

But I do think we are dealing with a different O’Sullivan nowadays. Sure, he’ll always be fiery and produce those golden quotes for journalists, but he’s displayed a willingness to win the hard way this term more than he ever has before.

O’Sullivan will deny it, but he cares about the legacy he will leave and knows how important it is to make the most of his remaining chances while still able to compete for silverware. He also knows that winning a seventh world title would finish the O’Sullivan/Hendry debate. By any other metric, O’Sullivan has gone past Hendry to such an extent that just gaining parity with his old rival in terms of World Championship wins would make it almost impossible for Hendry to be rated higher. If O’Sullivan wins in Sheffield this year, there can be no question that he is the greatest.

Snooker's most prolific title winners
Snooker's most prolific title winners

I’m not buying that this stuff doesn’t matter to O’Sullivan who was understandably frustrated when losing to Robertson at the Tour Championship, a match in which he made five centuries. I’m convinced O’Sullivan’s motivation will be as strong as at any time in his career, with his winning in 2020 reminding him that not only does he have the game for this marathon event, but also dangling the carrot of world title number seven.

Open a Sky Bet account for £30 in free bets

Above all else, I really like the way O’Sullivan has played and prepared in the build-up to Sheffield and believe everything points to him peaking just at the right time. Following a busy period before Christmas which yielded a major title, O’Sullivan has picked his battles since by skipping the Turkish Masters with the aim of keeping himself fresh for the Tour Championship and World Championship.

And much of the evidence would suggest the plan has worked. O’Sullivan looked sharp at the Masters until bumping into the irresistible Robertson, just as was the case at the Players Championship, while Ricky Walden had to play really well to beat him at the Welsh Open.

Very few players have been able to touch Robertson this season, but O’Sullivan has beaten him in one final and went mighty close to doing so again last time out. That gives us a good indication as to where O’Sullivan’s game is at. In truth, O’Sullivan has been really unlucky to continually bump into the Australian this season and you can probably mark up the overall body of his form since Christmas.

Form and format point to Ronnie

Putting that aside for a moment, I thought O’Sullivan's standard of play at the Tour Championship was very high, having earlier beaten Mark Williams in another very good match, and if he can sharpen up his long potting and maintain the high scoring he has produced of late, it’s hard to see him losing too many sessions, or at least going down without forcing his opponent to produce something special.

I suppose that’s the one concern – that O’Sullivan has sometimes come up short against the likes of Robertson and John Higgins this season, and whether he would be able to take down either of those two, or an on-song Judd Trump. I’d argue that he disproved that theory by pushing Robertson so close at the Tour Championship.

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson played out another thriller in Wales
Ronnie O'Sullivan and Neil Robertson played out another thriller in Wales

Furthermore, one of the keys to winning the World Championship is being able to work your way into the second week and then find your best form at the death. This is indeed a marathon and Robertson, for one, has struggled to find the right formula in recent years. O’Sullivan, on the other hand, has rarely missed a beat in the early rounds of tournaments throughout the last couple of seasons and that should stand him in good stead against David Gilbert in a tricky opening clash and I think his impressive level of consistency should carry him into the second week.

Ordinarily, the promise of a second-round clash with Mark Allen would jump off the paper, but the Northern Irishman has been badly out of form of late, while the likes of Higgins and Zhao Xintong all have questions marks to answer in the bottom half of the draw. Robertson once again looms as a potential semi-final opponent, but I’m not taking that for granted and believe it is a match O’Sullivan is more than capable of winning.

With so much in his favour, from the draw, to his form, and the added motivation of chasing a record-equalling seventh world title, O’Sullivan makes a huge amount of appeal at 6/1.

There can be no getting away from the fact that Robertson heads to Sheffield as the man to beat, the aforementioned Tour Championship victory his fourth of the season following wins at the English Open, Masters and Players Championship.

Like O’Sullivan, he skipped Turkey in a bid to keep himself fresh, but he cherry picked his events last year yet still came unstuck at the Crucible, having once again warmed up with victory at the Tour Championship.

Neil Robertson was too strong for Barry Hawkins in the final of the Players Championship
Neil Robertson after winning the Players Championship

That’s not to say Robertson has played badly in Sheffield over the last few years – he’s made the last eight in his each of the last three renewals – but he’s only made one semi-final since winning his sole world title in 2010 and few would argue he’s not a better player than that.

Even were he not to win another world title, I’d be comfortable with calling Robertson one of the all-time greats and I do think the Crucible and its importance is overstated. Robertson is one of the best we’ve ever seen, but he’s a Ferrari who needs to be fine-tuned for special days on the track. I’m not sure a 17-day slog in Sheffield suits him at all, and it’s hard to get away from the fact that he’s run out of gas in the second week of the event on a few occasions now.

It feels like a strange thing to write that O’Sullivan, the ultimate flair player, might now be better suited to the demands of this event, but he’s adapted his game in the last few years and made himself hard to beat even when he’s not firing on all cylinders. That is just another reason why he’s the best, and to my mind, the one to be with this year.

The other important factor is price, and if O’Sullivan looks big at 6/1, there is no leg room taking Robertson at 7/2, given his more recent Crucible record and him openly stating he doesn’t enjoy playing at the venue.

Having put Anthony McGill in my staking plan a few months ago, I’d have clearly been happier had he not found himself in the same section of the draw as 2019 champion Trump, and their potential second-round match would be a tough one for both players.

Is Neil Robertson the man to beat in Sheffield?
CLICK HERE for James Cooper's World Championship form guide

McGill, who faces Liam Highfield first up, was desperately unlucky not to beat Kyren Wilson in their semi-final here in 2020 and backed that up by making the last eight 12 months ago, once again underlining just how much his game and temperament is suited to the Crucible. Having shaped up much better this season, making the UK Championship quarter-finals and the Scottish Open semi-finals, I think McGill will push anyone close – even Trump.

Can Selby mount strong title defence?

Trump and Mark Selby are probably the two hardest players to call this year.

Trump, who has been drawn to face the dangerous Hossein Vafaei in the first round, was brilliant when winning the Champion of Champions at a canter and then equally impressive when battling hard for victory in Turkey, but he's struggled for the consistency that stood him in such good stead last season and the one before. At his best, he’s remained very, very good, but he has lost matches he wouldn’t usually lose and I wonder if even he believes he can put it all together for 17 days.

Whereas O’Sullivan has been generally solid all season and seems unlikely to lose a session heavily in Sheffield, Trump looks to have a horror session in him at the moment and thus, prices ranging from 4/1 to 11/2 look too short.

Selby is a different conundrum altogether. Having openly admitted to struggling with his mental health this year and failing to find any real form on the table, it ought to be easy to put a line through the defending champion.

Mark Selby is world champion for a fourth time
Mark Selby was crowned world champion for a fourth time last spring

The problem with that is that Selby, who kicks off the tournament against Jamie Jones on Saturday, is a different animal in Sheffield, someone who is almost impossible to beat if he makes it into the second week when the matches get longer and that ability to scrap and battle become ever more important.

Whether Selby is in a good enough place to find that something that has been missing from his game this year, with all that he has struggled with off the table, remains to be seen. But he’s done it before and we just know how he tends to be inspired by the Crucible when it can have the opposite affect on others.

Even with big question marks around him, I will only reluctantly leave Selby out of my staking plan, with quotes of 9/1 the sort of price we might look back on in a few weeks’ time with real regret. Already a four-time world champion, I do believe he will win this event again.

Further down the betting, I can’t muster much enthusiasm for 2020 runner-up Wilson who still hasn’t kicked on as many predicted. If it is to happen, I suspect this tournament affords him his best chance to win a Triple Crown title. Nevertheless, 16/1 looks a poor price.

Hawkins and Williams appeal at bigger prices

I’d much prefer the general 40/1 available about Barry Hawkins, runner-up to O’Sullivan in 2013 and a beaten finalist at the Masters and Players Championship this term. His chance might just have gone, but he’s in the midst of a strong campaign and knows how to handle the pressure cooker of the Crucible.

Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins pictured in the Masters final
Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins pictured in the Masters final

Similar comments apply to Williams, a three-time world champion and winner of the British Open earlier in the season. He’s playing well again and is a live runner at 33/1, for all he has lost very close matches at the Masters, Players Championship and Tour Championship this year.

That pair are both berthed in the top half of the draw, and with McGill already running for me, I’m not desperate to add either to the shortlist, nor UK champion Zhao who came of age in York and backed that up at the German Masters.

A star has been born, I have no doubt, but his overall form this season has been very unpredictable, and he’s only played at the Crucible once before, when losing in the first round to Selby in 2019. He’ll put that right soon enough, but he would need to take another huge step forward to become world champion this year and, on balance, I think he’s best left alone.

And so it all comes back to O’Sullivan, who to my eye producing his best snooker of the season at the Tour Championship, recaptured a good deal of his old magic to go with a greater level of consistent, tough match-play snooker that is always such an asset at the World Championship. He might just be peaking in time for his date with destiny and that record-equalling seventh world title.

World Snooker Championship 2022: Draw and tournament bracket

  • Mark Selby (1) v Jamie Jones
  • Yan Bingtao (16) v Chris Wakelin
  • Barry Hawkins (9) v Jackson Page
  • Mark Williams (8) v Michael White
  • Kyren Wilson (5) v Ding Junhui
  • Stuart Bingham (12) v Lyu Haotian
  • Anthony McGill (13) v Liam Highfield
  • Judd Trump (4) v Hossein Vafaei
  • Neil Robertson (3) v Ashley Hugill
  • Jack Lisowski (14) v Mathew Stevens
  • Luca Brecel (11) v Noppon Saengkham
  • John Higgins (6) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • Zhao Xintong (7) v Jamie Clarke
  • Shaun Murphy (10) v Stephen Maguire
  • Mark Allen (15) v Scott Donaldson
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan (2) v David Gilbert


Published at 1130 BST on 14/04/22

Related snooker links

Safer gambling

We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.

If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.

Further support and information can be found at and siding with overs.

Like what you've read?


Sporting Life
Join for free!
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Race Replays
My stable horse tracker
giftOffers and prize draws
newsExclusive content

Next Off

Fixtures & Results

Fetching latest games....