2018 World Snooker Championship – who’s in contention?
The 2018 World Snooker Championship starts this weekend at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Mark Selby walked away with the trophy and a cheque for £425,000 last year for his second Championship in a row. Can he make it a hat-trick in 2018?
Here’s our look at this year’s contenders…
The current World Number One and three-time World Championship winner will be confident of adding to his bloated trophy cabinet in Sheffield after recently retaining the China Open. The 34-year-old has seen off Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui and John Higgins in his three final victories to date so will surely fear no-one if, as expected, he reaches the latter stages.
The Rocket is on one of his hot streaks, and if he can keep theatrics to a minimum, looks every inch the likely heir to Selby’s throne after securing the World Grand Prix and Players Championship so far this year.
Could a man called Trump create an almighty stir in Sheffield? The talented 28-year-old perhaps hasn’t seen his game deliver the elite silverware he is arguably capable of winning, but in securing the Players Championship and European Masters in 2017 his chances can’t be discounted.
Never dismiss the resilience of this wily old stager. The four-time champion is looking for his first win since 2011, after running Selby close in 2017’s final. At 42, he would be the oldest winner since Ray Reardon in 1978.
The most successful Asian player in the history of the sport surely merits at least one World Snooker Championship title on his shelf. After bowing out at the semi-final stage last year, he will be looking to replicate the form that saw him reach the final in 2016 only to lose to Mark Selby.
Ding recently beat Selby 6-5 in the 2018 World Grand Prix but couldn’t match a rampant Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.
The Thunder from Down Under is looking for his first title in this competition since his career high victory at The Crucible in 2010. The Australian’s World Championship record has been patchy since that triumph, only reaching the semi-final stage once.
The Welsh Wonder’s time at the top may well have gone, but he has enjoyed an Indian Summer to his illustrious career recently, winning titles at the 2018 German Masters and 2017 Northern Ireland Open.
Murphy is snooker’s Mr Consistency – with the Magician always tending to feature in the final shake-up of major competitions. He perhaps deserves more than the seven major titles he currently has to his name, this last year alone finishing runner-up at the China Championship, Paul Hunter Classic, UK Championship and Players Championship.
Bingham hasn’t shown much sign of repeating his 2015 World Championship victory in recent times, but it would be foolish to discount his chances if he can successfully negotiate the early rounds. First round exits in 2016 and 2017 don’t inspire confidence, however.
Another player who always tends to be there or thereabouts without the credit he deserves, the Hawk is currently ranked sixth in the world after reaching the finals of this year’s Welsh and China Opens.
All images courtesy of PA Images.