World Snooker Championship betting preview and tips

With 3/1, 33/1 and 5/1 snooker winners in 2017, our in-form tipster Simon Crawford brings you his selections for the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield.

Recommended bets:


4pts win Ronnie O'Sullivan at 6/1 - price simply too big for a five-time winner and player whose 'A' game still remains better than any of his rivals

1pt e.w. Marco Fu at 20/1 (1/2 1,2) - semi-finalist in 2016 and one of this season's stand-out players who can have another long Crucible run

1pt e.w. Ali Carter at 50/1 (1/2 1,2) - gritty, determined and tenacious, the longer format matches will suit him and has enjoyed a solid campaign

This year marks the 40th anniversary of snooker’s World Championship first being staged at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

And with so many players in fine form heading into the event, it could long be remembered as one of the best.

Judd Trump finds himself as tournament favourite after reaching five ranking finals this season and will be hoping he can finally break his Crucible duck.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CRUCIBLE DRAW & SCHEDULE!

Runaway world number one, defending champion and winner of the recent China Open, Mark Selby is next in the betting and certainly it will take something good to dethrone him.

Until recently it was the familiar name of Ronnie O'Sullivan that had topped the betting - and it had done so for most of the season - but he has now slipped back to 6/1 and that is too big to ignore so he is my headline selection.

Trump and Selby have been the two most consistent players so far, but you can never take the chances of The Rocket lightly.

These days he is heavily involved in punditry and claims he is only playing the game for a bit of fun - but for me his 'A' game still remains better than any of his rivals.

Clearly, O'Sullivan playing at his optimum level does not happen as often as it once did.

But let me take you back to the 2012/13 campaign, one that O'Sullivan missed the vast majority of only to turn up at the Crucible and defend his world crown, beating Barry Hawkins 18-12 in the final.

No other player could have missed virtually the entire season and then win the world championship.

O'Sullivan actually goes into this one of the back of a solid campaign that has seen him win a record seventh Masters title, as well as reaching the finals of the European Masters, UK Championship and Champion of Champions.

So there has been plenty of brilliance but also some surprise early exits which makes the current O'Sullivan very much a loose cannon.

At 41, O'Sullivan is now one of the oldest players on the circuit but admits he is using tennis star Roger Federer as an example of how to try and prolong his stellar career. 

"There were three or four years when Federer didn’t win anything,” O’Sullivan told the London Evening Standard.

"He’s accepted he probably won’t be number one as he’s not playing enough tournaments but wants to be around a lot longer and has to have that approach to do that for his health.

"Federer’s quite similar to me also in that I need to have fire in my belly. I can’t perform unless I’m fired up."

Only O'Sullivan will know how much longer he intends to carry on, but what exactly will get a player who has already won 28 ranking titles fired up?

I believe he will want to get to 1,000 career century breaks. He is already the record holder with 868 and if he could reach four figures, that would be a milestone which may never be beaten.

The other landmark that I think he will want to at least match is Stephen Hendry's seven Crucible wins.

O'Sullivan currently has five and while many already herald him as the game's greatest ever player, seven world titles would surely end the debate in his favour.

In the last 22 seasons in Sheffield, only five times has he failed to reach at least the quarter-finals and the longer matches clearly suit him. He is a formidable front-runner but with his game not quite so consistent he can afford to lose a session bit still progress.

Ultimately, I'm convinced that if he arrives in Sheffield wanting to win the title then he will - it's as simple as that.

His form leading up to Sheffield has not been the greatest, but he is one of the few players who can turn form on with a flick of a switch.

Some players find the Crucible daunting but O'Sullivan is a big-match player and there is no bigger stage than the World Championship.

Marco Fu matched his best ever World Championship run 12 months ago when he reached the semi-finals, losing out 17-15 to eventual winner Selby.

The 39-year-old from Hong Kong would have hoped to have taken that form into this but he failed to get beyond the second round of the opening eight events on the calendar.

However, he finally hit his straps at the UK Championship, reaching the semi-finals, and it proved to be the start of something of a purple patch.

The next event on a stacked schedule was the inaugural Scottish Open in Glasgow, where Fu claimed only the third ranking title of his career as he beat local favourite John Higgins in the final.

He then reached the semi-finals of both the Masters and World Grand Prix, before losing 10-8 to Trump in the final of the Players Championship in Llandudno.

Fu failed to qualify for the event immediately before Sheffield, the China Open, and I feel this could turn out to be something of a silver lining.

Mainly based in the UK, Fu did not have the long return flight to Beijing, a new routine to cope with and the effects of jet lag.

Instead he will arrive at the Crucible rested, fresh and with a large amount of time spent on the practice table.

A fine break builder and astute tactician, Fu is a player who has taken time to show his full potential.

He will be heartened by last year's performance and also his achievements during the current season so it would be no surprise to see him feature at the business end of the tournament.

At 20/1, there are players shorter than him in the the betting in much worse form so he is certainly worth an each-way interest.

If and when Ali Carter decides to write his autobiography then it will certainly be a captivating read.

Constantly battling against Crohn's disease which requires a special diet, the 37-year-old Essex cueman has also bravely won his battle with cancer - twice.

He is also a qualified pilot ... oh yes - and a very good snooker player!

Carter has twice been a Crucible 'nearly man', having been a losing finalist in 2008 and again in 2012 where O'Sullivan was his nemesis on both occasions.

He arrives in Sheffield having won the World Open this season - his fourth ranking title - as well as reaching the final of the German Masters, semi-final of the Players Championship and last eight of both the Shanghai Masters and China Championship.

Carter has a fine all-round game but for me his biggest strength is his grit and determination.

He goes out if his way to make life as difficult as possible for his opponent and it takes a strong player to stand up to that.

I would be amazed if Carter does not win several more ranking titles and I see no reason why he can't be a world champion at some point.

Odds of 50/1 for a player who has been on the winners' rostrum this season look generous to me and worthy of an each-way interest. 

World Championship 2017: Draw & Tournament bracket


Mark Selby (1) v Fergal O'Brien
Ryan Day (16) v Xiao Guodong
Neil Robertson (9) v Noppon Saengkham
Marco Fu (8) v Luca Brecel
Shaun Murphy (5) v Yan Bingtao
Ronnie O'Sullivan (12) v Gary Wilson
Liang Wenbo (13) v Stuart Carrington
Ding Junhui (4) v Zhou Yuelong
Stuart Bingham (3) v Peter Ebdon
Kyren Wilson (14) v David Grace
Mark Allen (11) v Jimmy Robertson
John Higgins (6) v Martin Gould
Barry Hawkins (7) v Tom Ford
Ali Carter (10) v Graeme Dott
Anthony McGill (15) v Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump (2) v Rory McLeod 

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CRUCIBLE SCHEDULE!

Posted at 1000 BST on 13/04/17. 

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