Ronnie O’Sullivan’s first round tie with Liang Wenbo looks tough on paper but the match will be played on the green baize and I don’t think it’s the worst draw O’Sullivan could have got.

He’s never lost to Liang, has beaten him at the Crucible before and beat him in a final this season.

That’s not to say it’s an easy draw but at least Ronnie knows how he plays and is more than capable of taking him on again. He’d have been relieved to avoid the likes of Graeme Dott, who has a very good record against him in recent times.

Two matches stand out for me: Stephen Hendry v Zhang Anda and Mark Selby v Ken Doherty.

Like O’Sullivan v Liang, they both take place in what will from now on be known as ‘the quarter of death’.

Hendry will know hardly anything about his 18 year-old opponent and the unknown quantity could cause him problems. Zhang is the only player in the tournament who won’t fully comprehend how special the Crucible is.

However, few debutants ever do well and Hendry has played some good stuff in Sheffield for the last two years.

Neither Selby or Doherty would have wanted to draw each other. Doherty won their last meeting at this season’s Grand Prix and is back playing to a high standard.

Selby knows that if is to be world champion this year he will have to do it the hard way: Doherty then possibly Hendry and O’Sullivan just to get into the semi-finals.

John Higgins, the defending champion, is not a certainty to beat Barry Hawkins, one of those players well capable of causing an upset even though he’s yet to win a match at the Crucible.

Even so, Higgins fans will already be plotting his course through to the quarter-finals, where Neil Robertson looks his likely opponent.

All in all it’s an interesting draw that will take a bit more careful study before I for one make any clear predictions about who is going to win the thing.


Anonymous said...

Great blog Dave but I cant see how being paired against the most dangerous, hungry and dedicated of the qualifiers in Wenbo is anything but a poor draw for O'Sullivan.
He has a tough draw in a very difficult section so the value could lie elsewhere.
The 3rd quarter is as weak as the 4th is strong.
Mark Allen and Neil Robertson for the title this year, and a new winner.

John McBride said...

The "quarter of death". Like it.

What I've learnt over the years about the Crucible is that apart from needing to have the game to win, you also need to have both Mental & physical toughness in abundance, & that undeniable hunger.

One player stands out for me of all the great players that are going to be on show that have this & have one eye on that trophy more than anyone else. Step Forward Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that Selby won't be making the second week.

And as for Hawkins causing Higgins any problems!!!! I'll go for 10-2 or 10-3 to the Scotsman.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

it is an excellent draw. The top half is by far the easier and, we could see a floater make it to the semi-finals.

The bottom half, as you say is stacked-heavy with quality.

O'Sullivan, does for the past few years, attract a difficult route to the final.

2007 he had Ding, Robertson and finished with Higgins.

If all the seeds come through, and he ended up winning the competition (very big generalisation i know,) he would'v beat Wenbo,Williams,Hendry/Selby/Higgins. It would be easily his most famous victory ever SHOULD he achieve it.

Zhang has a lot of up-coming training buddies; Trump/Selt to keep him occupied in the run-up. I can see him beating Hendry, whether he could go on after that who knows.

Thanks, Joe

Witz78 said...

Very one sided draw, and the likes of Ronnie v Wenbo just sums up why we badly need to change to a rolling rankings set up rather than the current stale set up. No wonder progress of rising players is halted when they have to wait longer than they should to enter the elite, whilst other players on the decline are afforded drink after drink in the last chance saloon and the prospect of an easy R1 draw at the Crucible to bail them out and save their skin for another season at expense of younger better prospects.

So what was Barry saying in his press conference after the draw then?

Did he elaborate further on his plans for the sport then?

Anonymous said...

Zhang will be lucky to get 4 frames against Hendry who is playing absolutely amazing in the last month or so

IanW said...

When looking at each individual match here i'm reminded of a time back in the late 80's or very early 90's (i'm not sure exactly which year, but it was the year Thorburn came back from miles behind to beat a qualifier 10-9) when a friend of mine had a 16 leg accumulator bet on all 16 of the seeds winning their opening round match. They all duly obliged.

When i look down this draw i would only stick my neck on the line for 3 seeds to win (Ding, Robertson & Murphy); all the others COULD win but i wouldn't feel comfortable backing any of them with any certainty.

I know it's been 20 years but this surely is good for the game (although not my wallet) that this uncertainty exists?

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
How are you! The draw for the big one looks good and a few tight games. The one I like best is Ronnie O against young Wenbo from China.
I think Barry Hearn is on a kind of “Performance” trip as well. Most folk here and the Chinese people thought that the lad should have had the Masters wild card instead of Jimmy White.

The choice of Jimmy for the card plus the big introduction of Jimmy at the presentation showed a touch of favouritism and a double bonus for some past glories.
Without a young crowd pleaser Dave it should have gone instead to one of “Our Veterans” that sadly always missed out in London’s big one.

I am not sure Mr Wenbo will win the world title but I think he will beat Ronnie and with a bit in hand. Every one that beats Ronnie plays repeated finals and that needs experience.
Players worldwide play on “Habit and Form”. No player knows (in words) what he is doing “Right or doing Wrong” or he would have it tied up in copyright. Mr hey you

PS An explanation for some younger Dave Den bloggers! Stories aren’t copyright. It is the shuffling and permutation of the “Words” that create Copyright. DM

CHRISK5 said...

An intriguing set of 1st round matches,usually 3 or 4 of the seeds fall at the first hurdle.

As for the bigger picture of the potential 2010 champion,there are probably a dozen players capable of winning any major event,if in top form.

If previous patterns are of any use,the winners of the 1980,1990 & 2000 World Champs were ALL first-time winners (Thorburn,Hendry & Mark Williams)

So,if 2010 featured a first-time winner,surely it would be either Robertson or Ding - It would be the perfect time in their respective careers to ascend to the next level.

No doubt,as always,John Higgins & Rocket Ron will take some stopping though!

kildare cueman said...

OSullivan will have no problem with Wenbo. While the youngster is a fantastic long potter, his all round game lags way behind the rocket and may find himself permenantly on the baulk cushion.

Traditionally O'Sullivan struggles against snails and stallers like Selby, Dott and Ebbo but can mix it with anyone who plays at a pace appropriate to snooker.

Hawkins will not trouble Higgins. Even if Hawkins excells and the scot under performs, he struggles to get over the line while Higgins has no such compunction.

This year reminds me a bit of 1982 when Davis and Griffiths, having dominated the season, were confidently expected to meet in the final but were both ousted at the first, leaving the unfancied Hurricane to scramble to the title.

While Ron and John are the best all rounders by a mile, It would not surprise me if neither reached the final. Its hard to win but harder to defend, and while 30 players are totally focussed on getting to the next round, the big two will know that anything short of outright victory will be a failure.

southerner said...

Why should O'Sullivan have an easy draw, anyway?
Why should he, more than any other player, have an easy draw?

Anonymous said...

the answer to that southerner is that ronnie plays very fast and is good looking, so he should get treated differently (and usually does by being treated VERY leniently for his long list of peculiar and snooker law breaking activities, IMHO)

moondan said...

I think the pressure on Ronnie and John to outdo the other will prove to great.
Ronnie will also have a greater reason to find his best with his fathers situation.
Hendry can only beat himself but its been a common practice of his for years now and a yougster with no fear and no pressure could easily do the unthinkable.
From a betting point of view I think it would make perfect sense to oppose all those 3, especially in that extra nervous first round.
Ive only got 3 questions to ask myself this year.
Has Ding gone completely through the difficult period of boy to man and found the game that has showed signs of being as deadly as a prime Hendry?

Can Mark Selby become a really great player and produce his wonderfully balanced game over 5 matches where it really matters?

Can Robbo prove that you can smash your way to glory at sheffield? if he could do that it would be the shot in the arm snooker needs, and for a change it would be a final we could all remember.

Complete outsider who could go well is Mark Davis, he has looked a tougher player this season and have been impressed with the way he has compiled a few breaks and potted some real pressure balls.
He will give Ryan Day a tough time.

shaun foster said...

higgins looks good value and allen may be worth a few quid at decent odds but my double for first round is carter to beat cope and gould to upset out of sorts fu

Dave H said...

Kildare cueman - good point about the 1982 World Championship.

Question remains as to who would be the Alex Higgins in such a scenario.

As he was a championn from a decade before I suppose the closest match would be Peter Ebdon...or even Stephen Hendry.

Greg P said...

The way Fu has played this season it would not be an upset at all if he lost to Gould.

And the reason Ronnie should get an easy draw, southerner, is that snooker needs a great final like Ronnie vs. Higgins. Ronnie shouldn't be knackered by the time he gets to the quarters. It's just rubbish that he has to face Liang, who is better than many of the current "top 16".

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure about that Shaun. I haved a feeling Cope might do some damage this year.

Dave H said...

Or more likely...Mark Williams!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with 11:43 - Mark Davis for the title.

Trophymad said...

well if I would bet (and I don't) I would place all my money on John Higgin. Comparing to Ronnie John'S way to the final looks (accept from his possible match vs. Neil) like a smooth ride...
And I don't think that O'Sullivan should get an easier draw then the others. But a so much tougher one is simply ... unfair (not the right word, but can't find the right word now...)

jamie brannon said...

Personally I agree with Dave that this is a suitable draw for Ronnie as he would have been more vulnerable against a Dott or O'Brien. However, Wenbo has now played him in two big matches so will be not so overawed by playing him and may relax and just play his A game.

I feel Steve Davis, Michael Holt, Graeme Dott and Martin Gould will be the four qualifiers who get a win.

Anonymous said...

yore right, totally unfair

it would have been less unfair if someone else got liang, obviously

do you just type without thinking?

Meredith(MaccaMeri) said...

ok, strongly agreed on the point of O'Sullivan being attractive, just as strongly as I feel that Liang Wenbo can win his opening round match if he doesn't let O'Sullivan's skill, career stats,(and beauty) distract him from his own merits in match play.

I think Wenbo is going to be on his toes for this one as its the unofficial rematch between the two players since Shanghi.

Every player across the board has no reason to lose gracefully as the venue and the potential of higher paychecks from advancing in the competition. (I think I understand a lot better now why John Parrot has decided to retire(?).) The players are all attempting to showcase their progress at Sheffield, so its all or nothing.

I think there might be a dark horse this year, but can't say I can pick one until 1st round results.

that aside..Go Handsome Ronnie, Go!

Anonymous said...

The comparison to 1982 is absurd. That season was totally and completely dominated by Davis and Griffiths. This year Ding has won the UK, Robertson has won the Grand Prix and Selby has won the Masters.
The tournament is NOT wide-open ( we seem to hear every year that it's the most wide open ever - although it's usually W.Thorne who spouts this) although the BIG 2 have been given tricky openers.

kildare cueman said...

CHRIS5 @11.41
Funnily enough When Ray Reardon lifted the title in 1970, it was his first as well, so since the championship was reinstated in 1964, any player who has won in a year that ends in 00 has been a virgin victor.

Dave; re 11.49 blog;
I think Mark Williams is more likely to emulate Alex Higgins' feat.

His place in the top 16 is cemented and he has the quality and temperament to do well.

He also has an upsurge in recent form and does not have the pressure of expectation that some of his peers are burdened with.

He will also avoid the media spotlight and has seen it all before. Definitely a live contender.

Southerner @10.13
O'Sullivan is usually seeded 1 or 2 for the championship, and because of that can be forgiven for expecting a favourable draw.

due to a combination of the regressive ranking system employed by World Snooker and bad luck, he has, in recent years, found himself with a draw that would be more appropriate to the 15th or 16th seed.

shaun foster said...

i think the bookies will have fu clear favourite though greg and 12 57 i agree cope could do damage but his tactical side of the game is pretty shoddy

Anonymous said...

Although a dangerous draw for The Cap, Carter will not lose to Cope - end of!

Mr D

IanW said...

Dave, did i read in papers that there maybe a chance that Ronnie Snr will be allowed to be in Sheffield to watch his son?

This may spur the lad on if it's true..!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for swearing Dave but that's absolute BOLLOCK'S Greg P why should Ronnie get an easier draw?

Anonymous said...

Moondan was asking could robbo smash his way to a world title? Well Shaun murphy did! He played very attackng snooker the year he won it. I agree he'd be a popular winner.

Cant see any easy bets for 1st round,think i'll keep my money for 2nd round when i know the form!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Am intrigued by Hearns comments yesterday of setting up a qualification card/tour for the professionals - similar to Golf to earn their right on the tour. Too right!

Hearn states that for too long snooker players have had it easy and that they should get off their backsides. Interesting. If this plan goes through.

He wants to abolish the current ranking system. At last. By why stop at 17 players onwards. There are a few in the top 16 who just stick around like a bad smell without contributing.

It would make all draws including the world champs, interesting, if he proceeds with this idea. Am sick of the way the system is at the moment.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

You could have given me a bit of credit for the 'quarter of death' reference Dave, but seeing as it's you I'll let you off.

Andrew B. said...

@Ian W - The most seeds to win in the first round is 15 out of 16 in 1983 and 1993.

Cliff Thorburn never won 10-9 in the first round, but he did lose 10-9 from 9-2 up (against Bond in 1994).

14 seeds won last year, the most since 1996.

CHRISK5 said...

I think of all the current top 16 players - Mark Selby is the guy under the most pressure going to Sheffield.

Outside the Masters - His form in ranking events the last 2 years has been mediocre (by his standards)

Provisionally he is only just inside the Top 16 for next season (Selby needs a good run in the China Open too)

Because,a rejuvenated Ken Doherty is not an ideal 1st round draw for him at the Worlds.

Selby & Doherty had deciding frame matches at the Masters 2008 & Grand Prix 2009.

From what Selby has displayed with his talent & temprament in the past,he really should be a comfortable Top 6 player by now.

Then again,it's amazing how often 'average' players have raised their game against the likes of Jimmy White,Ronnie,Selby aswell & have caused many a surprise.

CHRISK5 said...

Some contributor suggested his mate won some money (about 20 years ago) on all seeds progressing to the 2nd round.

Having done some research,this is probably not true.

Since the current 32 player format was established at the Worlds from 1982.

The record for for least amount of seeded players going in the 1st rd is one player in 1983 (Jimmy White losing 8-10 to Tony Meo)

The record for the most amount,is 8 seeds which were deposed in the 1992 1st rd (most notably Steve Davis losing to a young Peter Ebdon)

So,I would like to know which EXACT year of the championships it was when ALL seeds progressed (since 1982)?!

Anonymous said...

Can't agree Mr. D, I'd have the tie down as 50/50.

jamie brannon said...

I think Ronnie will win, but Wenbo may have learned something from the previous two meetings and not be so overawed by playing Ronnie.


speaking of ebbo beating Davis in 92, brings back the horrible memory of a ten leg accumulator, where 2 football teams and 7 first rd matches at the crucible obliged, only for Davis to bring it down at the ridiculous odds of 1-14.

I only stuck him in as an afterthought and will never forget the ponytailed Ebbo punching the air, as if to say "You bet against ME? Take that" GRRRRR...

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you! Thanks for the posts lad; I must say again that you have been very brave to buck the establishment. To many blog members this sounds like “Double Talk” as snooker chatter is not about secrets but open and strong opinions.

An amazing anomaly about the snooker “Player/Viewers” is there unstinting belief in the prize winning player. A player with a title in snooker Dave is considered almost infallible, and even his choice of “Post man Pat” pyjamas should not be questioned. Mr hey you.

IanW said...

Christ Almighty...it was 16 years ago and the bloody point was (83 would have been too early; 93 would have been about right so thanks) that 15 out of 16 won and that this year you wouldn't comfortably pick more than 3 or 4.

I thought i was on a general chat site forum not on frigging Mastermind.

My apologises to all concerned...i won't write a single thing again until i've have it all verified in triplicate, in goats blood and got three witnesses including my lawyer to sign it off.

Sorry...'kin 'ell..calm down geek boys..

CHRISK5 said...

IanW - I do appreciate your sense of humour - Believe or not,I do have one too! lmao

Ok,another interesting topic is the Ronnie always gets a tough draw every year - preventing him winning more World Titles kind of thing.

Very true with Wenbo in 2010.

On the contrary however,in 2000 he lost to David Gray (not the singer!),
2003 to Marco Fu,despite making a maximum,2006 to Graeme Dott & 2009 to Mark Allen (who were all ranked several places below him)

While there are no 'gimmes' or easy matches at top-level sport,
you wouldn't have expected Ronnie to lose any of those matches in them previous championships.

Though hindsight is a wonderful thing!

IanW - Comeback,all is forgiven! (honest)

Anonymous said...

Hearn's ideas are bad for snooker. He's already cancelled the Pro-Tour events because players did not want to play. so now he wants a different ranking system that will see players we've never heard of coming through to the TV stages that will alienate spectators and sponsors alike. This man will be the death knell for our sport.

Anonymous said...


trophymad said...

@ Anonymous 9:19
So far Hearn managed to dig up sponsors out of nowhere, opened up for other Snookerpromoters in the rest of europe and managed to get a lot of press. All upsides and no downside if you aks me. Scratching the pro challenge tour wasn't the most bad idea. Players didn't wanna play, spectators weren't allowed, it wasn't aired - so why waste the ressorces for something that is unwanted by everyone who matters? (Players, Spectators, Press)

Anonymous said...

Just read this back and a very early thread by Witz78 is really spot on with regards to the rankings. There is no reason why players should make top 16 and relax, it's probably the reason why there is such a big division between top 5/6 and the rest. There are a few who want to be the best, Higgins, Ronnie, Robbo, Allen, Murphy, Selby, Ding, Carter and doggedly Hendry & Williams and others who just seem happy 'parked' in the top 16 as long as they don't drop out. If we established an elite one season top 8 rather than a 16 that might help. Rankings have to reward hard work and talent together, at the moment they don't really.

CHRISK5 said...

For what it's worth,I have never placed a bet/wager on a snooker match or tournament outcome ever (and don't intend to do so anytime soon) - The game being like chess with colours is the ultimate beauty of it for me.

Though,I am not anti-gambling nor mind snooker events being sponsored by online betting companies or casions. (where would the game be without them)

You can guess that Stephen Maguire & Stephen Lee being paired in the first round at the Crucible makes me chuckle.

I hope World Snooker & Barry Hearn have their PR skills sharpened up for that match & it's inevitable 'diversions'.

I wonder if Willie Thorne will be 'selected' to commentate that match with his usual phrase - ''He's just gone favourite to win this frame''


Dave H said...

If Liang Wenbo fails to get in the top 16 it won't be through losing to Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible.

It'll be because he failed to qualify for either the Welsh or China Opens. If he had done his place would probably be secure by now.

jamie brannon said...

I think Hearn is still the right man, but recent comments were wrong, I don't think the players will like being called lazy as in my eyes they are not.

Anonymous said...

i think you are wrong dave, it will be a combination of any or all of them, but certainly not excluding the losing at the WC1stround if he does go on and lose

Dave H said...

If he had qualified for Wales and China and then lost in the last 32 he would right now have 30,445 points, which would put him ninth in the latest rankings, so his top 16 place would be secure already barring a large number of results going against him.

Anonymous said...

you obviously didnt read what i wrote at 5.42 dave, or didnt understand what i wrote.

youve basically just put what i did

Dave H said...

No I didn't. I said defeat in the first round at the Crucible would be an irrelevance by now if he'd qualified for Wales and China because his top 16 place would already be guaranteed.

You said: 'it will be a combination of any or all of them, but certainly not excluding the losing at the WC1stround'

Anonymous said...

yes because YOU were excluding them in your original post!!

i was including any of them and saying to you it wont be excluding that

maybe my english isnt perfect, but you were wrong in my opinion on what you said and you are not getting what i am meaning by my post (tho i am not an a grade student at english) and you obviously dont want to be wrong (otherwise youd have posted the posts youve omitted from me and others in the past where you make a mistake on a blog, instead editing it yourself with no publication of the comment)

yet you allow hey you man house room!

this blog is terrible this last couple of months!

Dave H said...

You're free not to read it if you don't like it

Anonymous said...

Hear hear

I've read this guys comments four times and still have no idea what he's on about!

Anonymous said...

If you look at the comments sections of most blogs and websites they are full of idiotic comments, people with axes to grind and petty arguments - all easy when it's anonymous

This place does pretty well IMO

Anonymous said...

it makes no difference to me whether it says Anonymous or JackSmith from Southampton next to a comment.

If i want to reply to it, i do, and put the time of the post im replying to.

people who dont want to post their names dont need to to make a valid point

and just because someone posts their name doesnt make their point better or without axe....

Anonymous said...

I miss Jack Smith from Southampton

He always had a ready quip

Jack Smith said...

I'm still around guys!!