Fans of snooker will keep up with the results of most of the ranking events. And try to watch as much UK Open and Masters action as they can. But if there’s one event that cue enthusiasts show real love and dedication for – it’s the World Snooker Championship. Dominating a fortnight of the year, this festival of table sports simply cannot be missed.
It’s The Big Kahuna. The Daddy. Numero Uno. If you’re into your snooker, this is your Glastonbury, your World Cup and your Christmas all wrapped up into one. This year, like every other, is sure to deliver some pretty big gifts down your chimney too. So, in anticipation of the event, we thought we’d put together a guide for you. So here’s our preview of the 2018 World Snooker Championship…
Where’s it happening?
It’s now very much a tradition of the sport that the biggest event in the calendar take place in Sheffield. And in the home of snooker, the Crucible Theatre. This Grade II listed building is in the middle of the city, on Norfolk Street, and has hosted the Worlds since way back in 1977. For anyone thinking of going – there are still some tickets available, but they’re limited. The venue is within walking distance of the train station, has plenty of parking and near lots of decent hotels and places to eat nearby.
When’s it on?
First round action begins at 10am sharp on Saturday 21st April. Round two starts five days later on the 26th, with the later stages kicking off on Tuesday 1st May. We’ll know our two finalists by Sunday 6th May and have the final played out the next day, on the Bank Holiday Monday. The two sessions for the final will start at 2pm and 7pm. A winner is usually decided before Midnight.
The TV coverage
As ever, the trusty BBC will be there to bring us all the action. They’ll be plenty of live ball potting to be seen across BBC One and Two over these two weeks. But don’t worry if you’re out at work in the days – the highlights packages at night on BBC Two should be enough to sooth your snooker itch.
If a match isn’t being shown during a live broadcast, check the BBC Red Button – it may be on there. Alternatively, check out the online coverage. You’ll find everything you need and more on the BBC’s Snooker site.
The format for the World Championships is nice and simple. It’s a knockout contest with 32 entrants. 16 of those make it there because of their ranking (the Top 16, obviously) and 16 get there via the qualification process. There’s a First Round (best of 19 frames), Second Round (best of 25), Quarter Finals (25), Semi Final (33) and Final (best of 35 frames).
The reigning champion
Last year saw the rather ironically-nicknamed ‘Jester from Leicester’ Mark Selby picking up the trophy, after beating Scotsman John Higgins 18 frames to 15 in the final. At one point Selby was six frames down in the match, trailing 10-4. But rallied to stage a quite remarkable comeback and deservedly win the thing.
The prize fund
This year’s pot total is just shy of £2 million. Altogether there’s an available balance of £1,968,000 to share out among the 32 competing players, with £425,000 of that heading the way of the winner.
When the cream of the crop assemble to fight it out, any one of them is capable of winning. There will be 32 players trying their level best to win the thing and they’re all more than capable. Some are yet to win a big tournament, but that doesn’t mean they can’t…
That said, our picks are two men that have shown they have the grit and determination to fight it out and win a major ranking event or two. They’re due to meet in the Second Round should they see off their opponent’s in their opening games. Those men are the aforementioned reigning champ Mark Selby and another Mark – the reigning Masters champion Mark Allen. We’re backing the winner of that early tussle to triumph.
Ronnie O’Sullivan goes into the tournament a clear 2/1 favourite and can never be dismissed. But his ‘antics’ can cost him and only a very brave Ronnie fan back him at odds that short, given the level of competition. Selby is second favourite at 4/1, which isn’t hugely generous, but if he wins like we can see happening… That’s not a terrible price at all.
At 28/1 Mark Allen is huge value. As is his Masters co-finalist Kyren Wilson at the same price. Back them each-way and you’ll get them not only at 28s, but 14s to reach the final. And remember – they only need win four games to make it to the final…
It’s all set to be another cracking tournament. We’ll be catching as much baize-based ball bashing as possible and we’re sure you will be too. If you fancy a go one a table yourself, why not book a table at your nearest Rileys?
Whether you’re considering a few frames yourself or you prefer to watch the masters at work, you can remind yourself of the rules of snooker here.