Mark Selby entered the 2015/16 season as world number one after wins in the German masters and China Open, while Stuart Bingham is ranked second after beating the odds to win the World Championships.
The ‘Triple Crown’ refers to the three most prestigious competitions on the Snooker calendar: The UK Championship; The Masters and the World Championship.
Only nine players have won all of Triple Crown events at least once; Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Steve Davis, Mark Williams, Alex Higgins, Terry Griffiths Neil Robertson and Mark Selby.
The UK Championship is the first Triple Crown event on the 2015/16 schedule, with Ronnie O’Sullivan the defending champion and therefore considered a leading contender by online bookmakers. Neil Robertson became the eighth player to win all Triple Crown events with his victory in the 2013 UK Championship, making him the first overseas player in the history of the game to do so.
Winning the UK Championship is hard enough, but defending the title has proved impossible to do in recent years, meaning the UK Championship snooker odds are always very tempting but also potentially very tricky to gauge. This is emphasised by the fact that eight different winners have won the last eight tournaments and with the 2015/16 season proving equally competitive, picking a winner for this years UK Championships could prove very difficult.
The last player to win consecutive UK Championships was Stephen Hendry who won three titles from 1994 to 1996. Since then, all of the biggest names in snooker have tasted victory in the tournament, including Ronnie O’Sullivan who has won the competition on five occasions and John Higgins who has three UK Championship’s to his name. However, none of them have gone on to win consecutive titles showing just how difficult it is to do.
Consecutive wins at the Masters are also difficult to come by, so Shaun Murphy has a job on his hands if he wants to retain his title in January 2016. Mark Selby has proved to be the most successful Masters player in recent years, winning the title three times in the last eight years. The late Paul Hunter was the last man to achieve consecutive victories, winning the 2001 and 2002 titles. ‘Snooker Spice’ then went on to win again in 2004 before tragically losing his battle with cancer in 2006.
The World Championship will bring the curtain down on the 2015/16 season in May with the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield again playing host. Selby denied O’Sullivan a hat-trick of titles in 2015 after Ronnie had previously won the 2013 and 2014 titles. Selby beat O’Sullivan 18-14 in a dramatic final that looked in the bag for Ronnie as he took a 10-5 lead. Selby turned the game around to seal a brilliant victory and also make him the ninth player to win all Triple Crown events.
Stuart Bingham is the current champion after he clinched his first World Championship title by beating Shaun Murphy in a gripping 2015 final.