Stephen Maguire has twice been a losing World Championship semi-finalist. The first of these last four appearances came in 2007. He led John Higgins 14-10 but, like many have before and indeed since, felt the unique Crucible pressure and Higgins came back to beat him 17-15.
Maguire again reached the semi-finals last year. He admitted afterwards that he had taken Ali Carter too lightly and lost 17-10.
However, this season, after a few frustrating years of knocking on the door, the door opened again for this fiery Scot. He won a dramatic Welsh Open final in a decider against Stuart Bingham to capture his first ranking title for five years.
Maguire can be a formidable player but also a powder keg of emotion or, to put it another way, he’s often like a can of pop shaken up, with the inevitable explosion causing a bit of a mess.
It is the length of the World Championship which may count against him simply because in longer matches there is a greater chance of something going wrong. What is needed is discipline and focus throughout the 71 frames you must win to become champion.
Maguire’s Crucible record is not great compared to how good he is. This season, though, he has been much more consistent, not least because he has played so much snooker.
He has also at times played quite superbly at the Crucible. In 2008 he won eight frames in succession against Neil Robertson and looked so good that he briefly replaced Ronnie O’Sullivan as the tournament favourite.
Such spells of snooker come from a player who plays on inspiration with the bit between his teeth. There’s no one in the game he can’t beat or hasn’t beaten.
To become world champion he will have to string a series of such performances together while keeping a cool head to deal with the inevitable disappointments that crop up.
With Maguire there is a refreshing lack of pretension or front. He is who he is. He came from a snooker background. His grandfather built a snooker room in which could practice. As a teenager he spent long hours observing up close the majesty of Stephen Hendry.
O’Sullivan said in 2004 that he would ‘dominate the game for ten years.’ He didn’t, but neither did anyone else.
Maguire once said he wanted to be world champion by the time he was 30. He’s now 32. However, the glory of capturing snooker’s holiest of holy grails applies whatever age you are.
Maguire is not as high in the betting as a few years ago but has played well enough this season to deserve the status as a contender when it all starts again in a week's time.