The World Snooker Tour season is long, varied, and tests the stamina of the sport’s leading pros just as much as their skill.
Of the myriad trophies that are available each term, none can match the prestige or desire of the World Championship. This is the pinnacle of snooker, and the one that all players – from young debutants to veterans like Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins – want to win to etch their place in sporting folklore.
Held in April each year at the iconic Crucible Theatre in York, the Worlds are an event like no other. The Betfair snooker betting odds have already been revealed for what will be the concluding event of the 2021/22 campaign, and punters are already sizing up where the best of the value lies.
So let’s take a look at those at the head of the market, and see who might just go on to lift that famous trophy in the spring.
For large swathes of 2019 and 2020, Judd Trump was the near-unbeatable force of snooker.
He ascended to the top of the world rankings after a run of form which included title wins at The Masters, the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship and, of course, the 2019 World Championship.
But it’s been a pretty paltry return since, and in the three tournaments that have started the 2021/22 season, he is yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
There were better signs at the Northern Ireland Open, but at this point, it’s hard to make a case for the left-hander as the 7/2 favourite.
The Jester from Leicester showcased all of his granite-like qualities in winning the 2021 World Championship.
He didn’t play his best snooker throughout the tournament, but he is so difficult to beat and has different ways to win matches at his disposal.
The four-time world champion, who has also clinched three editions of The Masters and two UK Championship titles, is arguably not the force he once was, but few have a record to match his at the Crucible, and that’s why he remains a dangerous threat.
For all his immense talent, there are those who believe that Neil Robertson has underachieved in the sport.
A world champion in 2021, the Australian has gone on to complete the Triple Crown and also is the proud owner of 100 century breaks in a single campaign – a record never likely to be beaten.
But inconsistency continues to plague the 39-year-old, and he doesn’t have the best record at the Crucible – that glorious fortnight in 2010 aside.
It’s almost sacrilege to say so, but Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t have a great record in the World Championship.
He’s reached just one final of the event in seven attempts, and that came when the tournament was played behind closed doors in 2020 – the Rocket admitting he felt energised by a lack of pressure on his shoulders to entertain the crowd.
It’s now more than a year since O’Sullivan won a ranking event, and while the competitive juices are still flowing, he is not winning prolifically enough right now to suggest another World title is in the offing.
You have to give huge credit to John Higgins, who at the age of 46 has made a monumental life change.
He’s taken up fitness classes, started a healthier diet, and has lost three-and-a-half stone as a consequence – a decision triggered by breathing difficulties he experienced at the Crucible back in April.
We don’t know how that will impact his snooker, but in the early throes of the 2021/22 season, he has already reached the final of the Northern Ireland Open, where he looked in fine fettle.
A four-time world champion, Higgins needs no introduction to success at the Crucible, and there’s no reason why he can’t enhance that record despite his advancing years.
Whoever goes on to win the World Championships in 2022, there’s no doubt that it will be a fantastic tournament.