13.4.13

THE CRUCIBLE CONTENDERS: STEPHEN MAGUIRE

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.

20 comments:

Crystal Gayle said...

One of snooker's most extreme underachievers along with the likes of Matthew Stevens, Stephen Lee, Marco Fu etc

Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem to be playing as well as around 6 years ago although the standard all around him has improved. Not one for my short list personally and he still today continues to show him beating himself up if things are not going his way i.e his cue banging etc. A fantastic scorer and sound safety and tactical game and he did win his first ranking title for a few years in Feb by winning the Welsh Open. With his confidence high following this win, some odd results followed in losing deciding frame finishes to Swail and Walden. He did though have a good recent run in China in losing 5-6 to Robertson in the semis but for me he's 14 points behind bigger contenders.

Anonymous said...

Good card player.

Anonymous said...

Maguire's got no chance at Sheffield. He's got a very weak temperament and he'll be horribly exposed in the cauldron of The Crucible. The fact he's on this short-list shows how average the standard is at the very top of the game at present.

Anonymous said...

COME ON JIMMY !!!

Anonymous said...

Maguire far too much of a hot-head. Loses control if he has the slightest run of the ball against him or he misses an easy ball. Would like to see the cue banging, table punching protagonists warned. Out of order.

Anonymous said...

Noticed in the WS site that the White / Milkens match does not have the little tv symbol that indicates which matches will be shown on line.
They can get that changed !

Anonymous said...

Realistically, I don't think anyone expects White to progress in the championship. The spectacle of his return to the Crucible is what is eagerly anticipated. Would be fantastic to see him there again, even just for a short while. But then again, who knows,
Go on Jimmy !

Anonymous said...

Dave I get the impression you don't like ronnie at all with your little digs at him. Say what you want about him, he didn't go on to dominate the game but he's still got 4 world titles in the bag more than most players and is up there with hendry and davis as one of the most prolific winners in the history of the game and is still playing. With the talent he's got he could still break all the records hendry set, look at reardon winning in his 40s.

Anonymous said...

He's in the same situation as Allen and Ding. Whoever comes through that bottom half of the draw will probably have to put out Robbo and Selby: you have to beat the two best players of the season just to reach the final...

Personally I think he's too psychologically weak to win the world championship, and I really don't see him being a major challenger this year.

Dave H said...

I haven't made any digs at him.

Anonymous said...

Apologies dave, I love your blog. Who do you fancy this year?

Dave H said...

Hard to say before the draw comes out but Trump, Selby, O'Sullivan and Robertson stand out.

Anonymous said...

McGuire might just be this years dark horse, but the clock is ticking so he needs to make it happen and keep his temper under control.

Anonymous said...

You really think Ron has a shot? Aside from the fact he's never defended a world title, it is technically John Higgins' turn to win this year.

Anonymous said...

We now know 8 of your top ten

Anonymous said...

No Trump this year mate, even lisowski seems more likely

Anonymous said...

Good luck Jimmy !

Mike Mouse said...

I think his game and his temperament have improved, and he can beat anyone. Based on his recent form, he's definitely in with a chance.

Anonymous said...

Does Ron have a shot ? Stupid question