It’s hard to believe it has been a year since Ronnie O’Sullivan lifted his sixth world title, and that is in large part because it has only been eight months!
The 2020 rendition of the World Championships, held as usual at the Crucible in Sheffield, was postponed from its usual April slot to July for Covid reasons.
That was something that world no. 1 Judd Trump probably deeply regretted, as he was in stunning form at the time and must have fancied retaining his title, breaking the crucible first-time champion jinx in the process.
Picking a form horse coming into this year’s tournament is a more difficult proposition with so many players blowing hot and cold. Trump is indeed the prime example of this having notched up a run of tournament wins before Christmas with blistering break building and a rock solid all round game, before slowing down around the turn of the year.
A few off colour displays now leave him a tasty 3/1 to reclaim the trophy he prizes so much, particularly as he has been able to take a short break while the packed calendar has resulted in many looking like they are running on fumes entering this year’s event.
Ronnie O’Sullivan can never be lightly dismissed, but he has been soundly beaten in four consecutive finals for the first time in his career and his propensity to have a really poor session make him a swerve at 7/2.
Next in the market, Neil Robertson always looks the part at some juncture in this tournament, but he has flattered to deceive on more than one occasion and has a bad habit of drawing himself into bouts of safety that would wear even Terry Griffiths down over this fortnight.
Long bouts of safety is just what three-time winner Mark Selby enjoys, but his own game is far away from that which earned him his third crown in 2017. His break building has not been of the same standard this term and he can miss a pot when least expected.
John Higgins produced what he called the best snooker of his career to land the Players Championship at the end of February and anywhere near that form would put him right in the mix. At double figure odds he might tempt a few each way backers, but the nagging suspicion is he could run out of steam later in the tournament. That and three losing finals in a row from 2017-2019 are enough to put us off.
It would be remiss not to mention blog favourite Ding Junhui. He is as big as 40/1 to lift the crown on the back of poor current form. But he does have a tendency to bolt up out of the blue, as last year’s U.K. Championship showed. He faces former champion Stuart Bingham in the first round, a tough match, so we will start with a watching brief.
In closing, Judd Trump is by far and away the most obvious choice. His draw has been extremely favourable, and although his first opponent, Liam Highfield, was impressive in qualifying we think his 3/1 price could quickly shorten with a few shocks elsewhere.
Trump to win, 3 pts, at 3/1 (widely available)