The World Snooker Championship will get below means on the Crucible subsequent Saturday with defending champion Mark Selby and six-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan each scheduled to be in motion on the opening day.
Here, the PA information company picks out a few of the speaking factors previous to this 12 months’s match.
On the face of it, it appears to be like very very similar to enterprise as common. Neil Robertson’s stellar season to this point makes him favorite to assert a second world crown, whereas O’Sullivan can also be in competition to match Stephen Hendry’s file of seven titles.
Four-time winner Selby and 2019 champion Judd Trump full the highest 4 seeds, however regardless of their continued dominance on tour, all arrive with asterisks over their skill to remain the course and carry the trophy on the ultimate Monday.
Robertson isn’t any fan of the venue of the format, Selby has been candid about his psychological well being points this season, Trump has been off the boil on this marketing campaign, and O’Sullivan’s software can by no means be solely assured.
Their vulnerability may play into the arms of the likes of fifth seed and former finalist Kyren Wilson – regardless of a removed from spectacular season himself – and 27-year-old Belgian Luca Brecel, who has appeared a unique participant since reaching the UK last in December.
Is it China’s time?
Zhao Xintong’s beautiful UK title win over Brecel was a certain signal of issues to come back on the world snooker tour, which now boasts two ‘triple crown’ winners among the many 9 Chinese gamers who presently inhabit the highest 50 world rating slots.
The quest to be topped the primary Chinese winner could also be slightly past Zhao this time round, as he embarks on what is simply his second Crucible marketing campaign, having misplaced within the first spherical of his solely earlier look in 2019 to Mark Selby.
But former Masters champion Yan Bingtao, this 12 months’s sixteenth seed, has already confirmed himself adept on the long-form sport and the 22-year-old possesses a real likelihood of constructing that historic breakthrough.
Where is the brand new British technology?
As forty-somethings proceed to reign supreme on the prime of the sport, the highest-ranked British participant below the age of 30 is the present world quantity 42 Sam Craigie.
While the Chinese expertise continues to rise – Zhao and Yan are 25 and 22 respectively – the emergence of a home-grown successor to the likes of O’Sullivan and Selby appears far-off.
Traditional format stays
The World Championship stands more and more remoted in an period wherein even best-of-19 matches are few and much between. Robertson has been among the many most vocal in calling for the world semi-finals and last (presently best-of-33 and 35 respectively) to be slashed to best-of-25 at most.
But many extra vocal components insist the marathon periods are exactly what makes the Crucible so particular, and keep it could do untold injury to the match’s custom if it had been to observe the instance of the UK Championship and slash its frame-count.
The sport’s governing our bodies have proven no inclination to heed Robertson’s recommendation, that means the Championship, within the format it has roughly maintained since 1982, is safely intact.