Author: Roy Brindley
Published: 11:10 22/01/2015
The World Snooker Championship does not start until April 18th and the German Masters (begins early February), Welsh Open, Players Championship finals and China Open are ranking tournaments to be contested beforehand, but now is probably the best time to start your ante-post portfolio.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s defeat at the cue of Neil Robertson in last week’s Masters semi-finals showed he is human after all. The Australian then found himself comprehensively outclassed, 10-frames-to-2, by Shaun Murphy in the final.
Of this trio O’Sullivan, with five World Championship titles on his CV (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013), is a best-priced 2/1 (with Betvictor) to lift the trophy aloft this year.
Robertson, the 2010 World Champion, is 7/1 with Paddy Power. Shaun Murphy, who has also tasted victory in the Sheffield showpiece when a 150/1 ante-post victor in 2005, is 14/1 (Betfred).
Indeed the occasional long-shot does pop-up in the World Champs: Joe Johnson, the 1986 victor, was also 150/1 and John Parrot triumphed at 100/1 in 1991. However, recent results underline the importance of only investing in top-16 ranked players.
John Higgins, successful in the 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 World Championship has maintained his top-16 status despite a clear slump in form during recent seasons. However, he has also been displaying clear signs of a return to form and may be back on track for this year’s Championship.
Admittedly he was eliminated in the opening round of the Masters by Mark Allen but in that match he made three century breaks. In one he missed a yellow when on course for a 147.
The back-class, to borrow a horseracing term, is definitely there and in the belief Higgins has bottomed out he may walk into Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre very much on an upward curve. Back to his best Higgins will be a handful for the capricious Ronnie O’Sullivan even when the Essex player is on song.
Recommended Bet: John Higgins to win the World Snooker Championships - 45/1 Paddy Power