There have arguably been only four surprise winners of the World Championship title during the 33 years it has been staged at the Crucible.

Terry Griffiths stunned the snooker world in 1979 by winning it at his first attempt as a qualifier.

Joe Johnson was 150/1 in 1986 while Shaun Murphy came through the qualifiers to land the title in 2005.

Graeme Dott had been in a world final but was still a shock winner in 2006 because he had never before won a ranking event crown.

Could anyone conceivably come through the pack to repeat these heroics this year?

As ever in sport, it’s the not knowing that keeps audiences coming back. Who could have believed Tom Watson would have had a putt for the Open title last year or that wildcard Goran Ivanesevic, his body racked with injuries, could win Wimbledon in 2001?

To help discern what registers as a shock winner, I have divided the 32 players in this year’s event into six categories represented by the coloured balls.

The yellows are the players least likely to win and the black category features those with the best chance – in my opinion!

I have taken into account the draw, form, past record and personal prejudice.

Yellow: Steve Davis, Stuart Pettman, Mark Davis, Marcus Campbell

Green: Tom Ford, Zhang Anda, Gerard Greene, Martin Gould, Fergal O’Brien

Brown: Michael Holt, Joe Perry, Stephen Lee, Ken Doherty, Mark King, Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu

Blue: Stephen Hendry, Ali Carter, Jamie Cope, Liang Wenbo, Peter Ebdon, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Ryan Day

Pink: Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire

Black: John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson

I would say that if any of those from the yellow to brown groups won the title it would register as a shock.

To an extent, it would if any of the blues won but not those from the pink or black groups.

(Is anyone still following this?)

Last year, only two of the top 16 failed to get through the first round.

Who looks vulnerable this year?

Certainly Selby doesn’t have it easy against a resurgent Doherty and Carter could come a cropper against Cope.

I think Dott has every chance against Ebdon and Higgins is not by any means nailed on to beat Hawkins.

It would be a huge shock were Ding or Williams to lose given their recent form and despite what a lot of other people say, I think O’Sullivan will be safe against Liang.

The truth is that although we keep hearing how ‘open’ snooker is these days, it is very likely that the world title will be won by one of the usual suspects.

The fun lies in finding out which one...


Anonymous said...

that is a very good, well balanced view.

good blogging, dave!

CHRISK5 said...

Dave - I would pretty much agree with that interesting logic.

The only thing I would tinker with is having Ali Carter in the pink ball group - he's been ultra consistent this season & knows what it takes to make a Worlds Final - if he made another Final he would surely do much better than in 2008. (though having Jamie Cope 1st rd is understandable to him having a slightly lesser chance)

I would have had Stephen Maguire in the blueball group with his very ordanairy season so far & that he is yet to make a Final - with offtable matters added to that.(though Maguire has a more favourable draw than most)

I think blueball candidates would still qualify as 'shockwinners'.

If say - Hendry or Ebdon defied the formbook to some degree & rolled back the years - that would be a shock - So too if Wenbo or Cope delivered on their potential earlier than expected.

What is clear - You haven't been tempted by the logic that there will be a definite 1st time champion to start the decade. (as has been the case since 1970 onwards)

kildare cueman said...

I would more or less agree with those groupings.

I think Allen has a better chance than Maguire though.

Im not sure Maguires recent form, coupled with his well documented off table distraction, suggests he will possess the confidence for anything other than a match or two.

Allen on the other hand, secure in the top 16, with a good match temperament and a favourable draw, is a live contender.

We all know how important confidence is, but one player who seems to be a bit of an anomaly in the confidence stakes is Sean Murphy.

He won the championship as an unknown to the general public.

He then went on to win the UK after having a disastrous start to the season.

Its almost as if he builds his confidence in the long matches as the tournament progresses.

Hes had a poor season by his standards this year, so if he can get to the later stages, will be relatively fresh.
I wonder....

I feel a Hendry in decline and all out attacking Wenbo are only borderline blues.

Two or three years ago I felt Jamie Cope would blitz through the field in long matches, as he could relax and let his cue go.

Im not so sure now. Like Matthew Stevens, theres mental scarring there. Cope has had a few cruel comebacks inflicted upon him in the last couple of seasons in the world and UK.

I think if he fails to beat Carter this year, he will remain in the blue, or even brown categories in future championships.

CHRISK5 said...

Dave - I thought you would have created a 'white ball' group - just for Steve Davis!

He's got loads on his plate like propogating the Hearn agenda & his exhibition rematch with Taylor.

If Davis won (yeah right) - would the last person to leave the bookies - remember to turn out the lights!! LMAO

jamie brannon said...

Personally the players in the yellow and green groups are all pretty similar too me. The ones in pink and black are the serious contenders for me. While Allen and Ebdon are my dark horses.

Im sticking with my Robertson tip. I think he will beat Selby in the final. I hope Ronnie can do it, but I feel he is vulnerable against Liang and his long game is still not there and it could get exposed. The man most likely to do that is Selby, hence why I selected him for the final. I actually can't read Betfair due to restrictions on my computer. I would like to know who your tip is Dave.

Anonymous said...

Love this idea Dave!

Anonymous said...

A very good preview - as always. :)

But I'd put Zhang into the yellow group because it would be the shock of the century if he'd win it on his first try.

And I see Fu in the blue cluster because he has already proven that he can raise his game to the big occasion. A surprise? Yes! But no real shock.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you! Congratulations Dave on your winner picking idea. To many punters it will seem so obvious but it still needed “The words first” to make the concept, and then of course now the actors to play there parts.
It’s too bad Dave that there is so many good snooker threads around as your thread would have made a good follow on competition as it took shape. Mr hey you

jamie brannon said...

I think eight contenders out of 32 is pretty open. At Wimbledon out of a field of 128, you probably only have four or five who can win it and Federer is a warmer favourite than anyone at the Crucible. In the 1990's it was basically Hendry or Hendry! Then after that it was one of the 'big four' of Ronnie, Higgins, Hendry and Williams.

Lucie said...

This sounds very plausible. I like the fact that you included "personal prejudice" as a criterion.

The line between blue and pink seems to be the most open one - I could easily imagine Ali Carter or Mark Allen moved up.

Are there any news, by the way, about problems due to the current flight chaos? Or has everyone been clever enough to arrive early?

oldschool said...

i think hendry could still win one more ive backed him at 40/1.also holt can certainly beat perry and i know hes as good if not better than players that have won titles.hes just a bit nuts.definately a good outsider bet.ive pacticed with him a lot he just needs a bit of form at the right time to give him that extra confidence needed.

Betty Logan said...

Fallen off the wagon Dave?

You really think Michael Holt has as much chance as Ken Doherty in winning this thing?

If someone told you that one of Mark King, Fergal O'Brien or Steve Davis were going to win it you'd choose the other two other Davis?? It would be extraordinary for any of them to win, but only one of those players is capable of doing extraordinary things, as Davis proved at the 2005 UK.

Dave H said...

Dangerous to assume I was ever on it

Ken has a stinking draw, which is what knocks him back into the brown camp (not a reference to the leaders' debate)

CHRISK5 said...

What is clear - in 2 & half weeks -
we can all 'click back' to these mixed & varied predictions with some intrigue & ammusement (maybe)

Although I have wrote some of them down on paper already - to save the bother!!

Claus Christensen said...

"Well, who could have anticipated Hendry destroying Davis in the final"

Things like that will be heard in 18 days time on this great blog.

Bryan said...

Yeah surprised that you put davis in he yellow camp, i know on current form etc but he as a better chance than most yellow, greens and a few browns cause he has what it takes!

Anonymous said...

dream on bryan

he is terrible now. done very very well to get there though

jamie brannon said...

The racing post tipped up Ding to win and Hendry also as a saver at 40-1. The way he talked about Hendry was a little silly. He was basically implying that he was almost as good as he was and was a serious threat to others. In my opinion he is too past it now and would consitute a shock winner.

This guy also though Tom Ford was a good bet for his quarter!

I do think Mark Davis is a good nap for round 1 at 9-4 to beat a struggling and slightly over-rated Ryan Day.

Ashame to hear about Parrott retiring, almost an all-time great.

Good to see about three pages worth of snooker in the Times today. Funnily enough not much sniping in the papers today.

Anonymous said...

Parrott almost an all time great. Are you having a laugh?