Richard Mann profiles each of the top 16 players ahead of the Betfred World Championship, which begins in Sheffield later this month.
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Mark Williams - 20/1
Crucible best: Winner 2000, 2003, 2018
Another of the famous 'class of 92' who will surely leave the game as one of its great players. An almost irresistible force when at his peak, Willams' frightening single-ball potting combined with streetwise match-play snooker took him to number one in the world rankings from 1999 to 2003.
His career had appeared to be on the wane into his early 40's but the decision to join the renowned SightRight Coaching Programme proved a career-saving one and the 2017/2018 season was to be one of his best as he proved victorious at The Northern Ireland Open and German Masters before capping a fabulous season by winning the biggest prize of all when beating John Higgins at the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre.
In true Williams style, he has celebrated hard, starting by appearing at his post-final press conference naked and continuing to enjoy himself off the table throughout the new season.
Title success at the World Open back in August tells you that his game is still there, as do a couple of promising efforts in defeat more recently, but Williams will return to Sheffield some way from the player he was 12 months ago.
Ronnie O'Sullivan - 5/2
Crucible best: Winner 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 & 2013
As if we needed confirmation, this season has surely proven beyond doubt that O'Sullivan is the greatest snooker player in the history of the sport.
The 2018/2019 campaign began with O'Sullivan chasing a record seventh UK Championship and record 19th Triple Crown success, a feat he achieved with a dominant display in York in December, cruising to the final before beating Mark Allen with an almost flawless display.
A bruising defeat to Judd Trump in the final of The Masters had threatened to derail O'Sullivan's season but he was soon back to his best, reaching 1000 career centuries in the final frame of his dominant Players Championship final victory over Neil Robertson which came in front of a packed and raucous Preston crowd who ensured this iconic snooker moment will live long in the memory.
Five World Championship wins already tells you all you need to know about O'Sullivan's Crucible pedigree but Sheffield hasn't been a happy hunting ground for The Rocket in the last few years, for all he appears intent to mounting a bold bid this time around.
Mark Selby - 10/1
Crucible best: Winner 2014, 2016, 2017
One of the most successful snooker players of modern times with his Crucible record particularly impressive, winning the World Championship on three occasions between 2014 and 2017.
However, Selby hasn't been able to scale the same heights in the last couple of years with his first-round exit here 12 months ago preceding a barren run of form which, victory at the China Championship apart, has seen him struggle badly with his game and more concerning, his consistency.
So long the cornerstone of his armoury, Selby's B-game has seemingly gone missing and he has struggled to get over the line in close matches, situations he would ordinarily thrive in.
The manner in which he surrendered a huge lead to Neil Robertson in the Players Championship was most concerning and although there have been enough flashes of brilliance to suggest he isn't a million miles away from his best - his impressive demolition of Stephen Maguire at The Masters a case in point - he returns to Sheffield with more questions to answer than in many a year.
Neil Robertson - 6/1
Crucible best: Winner 2010
Former world number one and winner of all three of snooker's Triple Crown events, the 2010 world champion began this season having struggled to find his very best more recently but he has steadily found his groove this winter before enjoying a stellar run in the last few events.
Robertson's recent victory at the China Open was his third ranking-title success of the season and his fourth final appearance in a row, capping a memorable few months that also saw him and fiance Mille Fjelldal welcome their second child in March.
Final defeats to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Players Championship and Tour Championship will have no doubt left Robertson bruised and under no illusion of the task facing him if they meet again in Sheffield but the fact he could lift himself to win in China so soon after that latest defeat has to be a positive, as is the knowledge that he now finds himself in the top half of the draw, away from O'Sullivan and Judd Trump.
A long season could yet catch up with Robertson over 17 days in Sheffield but he will clearly be one of the form horses on show and his strong Crucible record should stand him in good stead.
John Higgins - 20/1
Crucible best: Winner 1998, 2007, 2009, 2011
One of the most complete snooker players of any generation, Higgins has it all. A fearsome competitor with an astute tactical brain to sit alongside his strong long game and heavy break-building, Higgins has the titles to match his skills, 30 ranking titles in all.
Runner-up finishes in Sheffield in the last two seasons were always going to hurt and it is no surprise that he hasn't been at his best this term, particularly through the early part of the campaign.
Nevertheless, he returned to the Crucible 12 months ago on the back of a couple of early exits, only to to produce some wonderful snooker on the way to the final, and there have been enough shoots of promise in the last few months to suggest there is plenty of magic left in the the Wizard of Wishaw yet.
Mark Allen - 18/1
Crucible best: Semi-Finalist 2009
Allen might have scraped into last year's World Championship following a solid run in the preceding China Open but he returns to Sheffield 12 months on as the number six seed on the back of a season that has been most impressive, despite its slight dip since Christmas.
That strong start to the campaign saw wins at the International Championship and Scottish Open sandwiched between a brilliant run to the final of the UK Championship, only a rampant Ronnie O'Sullivan good enough to halt the Northern Irishman's terrific run of form in York.
Allen hasn't looked quite the same since but has made a couple more semi-finals, at the Players Championship and Tour Championship, and he remains a better player than when reaching the last eight here 12 months ago.
A class act with a rock-solid temperament, he will surely be world champion one day.
Judd Trump - 5/1
Crucible best: Runner-up 2011
Should the left-handed potting machine go on to lift the world title in Sheffield, 2019, in snooker terms at least, will be remembered as the year of the Trump, and for once, it won't be the 45th President of the United States making the headlines.
Judd has enjoyed arguably the best season of his career to date, seemingly spurred on by criticism at his apparent underachievement in the game, winning in Northern Ireland before again getting the better of Ronnie O'Sullivan when producing a breathtaking display in the final of The Masters.
Another victory followed, this time in the World Grand Prix, to demonstrate that his game remains in good working order but O'Sullivan extracted some revenge when producing a dramatic comeback in their encounter at the Tour Championship that is sure to have stung Trump hard.
Whether that result has World Championship ramifications, only time will tell, but a potential rematch with O'Sullivan in the quarter-finals in Sheffield certainly wets the appetite.
Kyren Wilson - 16/1
Crucible best: Semi-Finalist 2018
Kyren Wilson has been one of the talking horses of the last few years and is now turning promise into titles with pleasing regularity.
Wilson has already lifted the Paul Hunter Classic and German Masters this season and demonstrated what he is capable of on the biggest stage when pushing Ronnie O'Sullivan all the way in a pulsating final of the Champion of Champions in November.
Things have gone a little quiet for Wilson since, a drubbing at the hands of Judd Trump at The Masters a particularly bitter to pill to swallow, but he has already shown a liking for the Crucible having made the semi-finals stage stage last year and the strong suspicion remains that this marathon test suits his game ideally.
Wilson is still without that Triple Crown success but he will be desperate to put that right in the coming weeks.
Barry Hawkins - 25/1
Crucible best: Runner-up 2013
Hawkins remains without a win in snooker's blue riband but there is little doubting his effectiveness at the Crucible and his capabilities on the biggest stage of all.
Runner-up to Ronnie O'Sullivan here in 2013, Hawkins enjoyed another terrific run last year when only narrowly losing out to Mark Williams in a tense and dramatic semi-final that could have so easily gone the other way.
The current season has been one in which Hawkins has shown glimpses of his best without being able to lift any silverware, a runner-up finish at the Shanghai Masters and last four appearances at the World Open and World Grand Prix high points in a campaign otherwise littered with early exits.
Still, he can usually be relied upon to come good when the World Championship comes around and another bold show would not surprise anyone.
Ding Junhui - 28/1
Crucible best: Runner-up 2016
The big hope of Chinese snooker, it has long appeared destiny that Ding would one day become world champion. He certainly went close when losing in the final in 2016 but that remains his personal best in Sheffield.
Following the early exits of Mark Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan here last year, the path appeared clear for Ding to finally win the title he and most of China have been dreaming of for some time but having made seamless progress to the last eight, he showed disappointingly little fight when faced with a steely Barry Hawkins.
Another chance had gone begging.
This season has done little to raise his spirits, though he did play well to reach the semi-finals of The Masters, and he will return to Sheffield as big a price as he has been for quite some time.
Jack Lisowksi - 40/1
Crucible best: Second Round 2018
A huge talent whose reward for a highly-consistent season has been automatic qualification for the World Championship.
Lisowski has been to Sheffield twice before and last year's 13-1 hammering at the hands of John Higgins seemingly taught Lisowksi plenty of lessons with three ranking title finals this term and a host of other strong showings plummeting Lisowski up the rankings.
A major title still evades him but he is improving all the time and while his safety game leaves him short of one of the major weapons needed to be successful at the Crucible, he certainly boasts the attacking game to make him a threat to anyone on his day.
Stuart Bingham - 20/1
Crucible best: Winner 2015
Bingham went from snooker journeyman to world champion when beating Shaun Murphy in the final in 2015, completing a remarkable double in the process having won the Amateur World Snooker Championship back in 1996.
He has remained one of the most consistent performers on the Tour and is in the midst of another fine campaign having already won the English Open and Gibraltar Open.
Key to Bingham's success this term has been his impressive breaking-building which was again in evidence when he made a flawless 147 maximum break at the recent China Open and while his game remains in such good nick, he warrants plenty of respect.
Shaun Murphy - 66/1
Crucible best: Winner 2005
Those to have witnessed Murphy become world champion in 2005 will never forget it. Having progressed through two qualifiers to make the Crucible, Murphy became only the third amateur to win the World Championship, staging a dramatic comeback to beat Matthew Stevens 18-16 in the final.
Murphy would go on to enjoy a terrific career, winning all three Triple Crown events following victories at the UK Championship in 2008 and The Masters in 2015, and he added the Champions of Champions title to his CV in 2017.
That success came amidst a consistent campaign that saw him reach four more major finals but this season has been much more of a struggle with a runner-up finish at the Scottish Open the only moment of cheer in a season that has been otherwise plagued by early exits.
Luca Brecel - 50/1
Crucible best: First Round 2012, 2017, 2018
Brecel has been touted as one of the most promising talents in snooker ever since qualifying for the World Championship in 2012, aged 17, though he remains very much a work in progress.
Victory at last season's China Championship is a clear illustration of his rich talent and capabilities at the highest level, as his recent run to the semi-finals of the China Open, but consistency remains his biggest problem.
An impressive victory over Mark Allen at The Masters back in January appeared to herald a new dawn but until China, Brecel has suffered plenty of disappointing reverses and will need to find his best form on a more regular basis if he is to make the most of his undoubted talent.
Sheffield would be a good place to start.
Stephen Maguire - 125/1
Crucible best: Semi-Finalist 2007 and 2012
Like Brecel, Maguire is a huge talent who might have more to show for an impressive career that has fallen short of reaching the great heights expected of him when he trounced David Gray 10-1 in the final of the UK Championship in 2004.
A couple of last four finishes at the Crucible and three more ranking title victories have ensured Maguire remains a force in the game to this day but when watching him in the full flight, like when recovering from 4-0 down to beat Mark Williams at this year's UK Championship, it is hard to fathom why he isn't contesting at the business end of major tournaments with more regularity.
Having pushed Ronnie O'Sullivan close in the first round here last year, he will certainly know he has the game to match the very best in Sheffield and being seeded this year means he ought to get a much easier starter this time.
David Gilbert - 100/1
Crucible best: Second Round 2012
Gilbert has enjoyed a remarkable twelve months to earn himself automatic qualification at the World Championship for the first time and few would begrudge him the achievement.
At 37 years of age, Gilbert's career could easily have petered out but he responded with a fine campaign which has seen him reach two ranking finals as well as three more quarter-finals.
A maiden ranking title still evades him but he will surely put that right in time and this prolific break-builder, who made the 147th official maximum break earlier this year, now looks to have all the tools required to do well in Sheffield.
World Snooker Championship: Draw and tournament bracket
- Mark Williams (1) v Martin Gould
- David Gilbert (16) v Joe Perry
- Barry Hawkins (9) v Li Hang
- Kyren Wilson (8) v Scott Donaldson
- John Higgins (5) v Mark Davis
- Stuart Bingham (12) v Graeme Dott
- Shaun Murphy (13) v Luo Honghao
- Neil Robertson (4) v Michael Georgiou
- Mark Selby (3) v Zhao Xintong
- Luca Brecel (14) v Gary Wilson
- Jack Lisowski (11) v Ali Carter
- Mark Allen (6) v Zhou Yuelong
- Judd Trump (7) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
- Ding Junhui (10) v Anthony McGill
- Stephen Maguire (15) v Tian Pengfei
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) v James Cahill