Who Are O’Sullivan’s Biggest Challengers in the World Snooker Championship?

This year has seen the resurgence of the Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan in the snooker world with the wayward genius claiming five of the eight World Ranking majors this season. He joins Mark Selby and Stephen Hendry as the only players to win this many events and of course, O’Sullivan has the chance to surpass even those lofty achievements in the forthcoming World Snooker Championship which starts in a few days’ time.

After taking the honours in the English Open, Shanghai Masters, UK Championship, World Grand Prix and most recently The Player’s Championship, it is unsurprising that as he has zoomed back up the World Rankings to occupy second spot in the list (only Mark Selby is ahead of him), so the bookies odds on O’Sullivan winning a sixth world title have shortened.

With Coral Sport (which you can join today by taking advantage of their great Coral new player offer) O’Sullivan is now just 15/8 to win his sixth world crown, considering it is a 32-man field and features all of the top players around the world, the shortness of the price emphasises just how well Ronnie O’Sullivan is playing at the moment.

The Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan in profile

With over £9.2 million in career winnings, a current ranking of 2nd in the world, a total of fourteen 147 maximum breaks in major tournaments and 944 century breaks in his career so far, it is little wonder that Ronnie O’Sullivan’s stats are the envy of the Snooker world.

Only Steve Davis (with 6) and Stephen Hendry (with 7) from the modern era of snooker can boast more World Titles than O’Sullivan’s five (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013) and in truth, given his talent, O’Sullivan should have at least matched Hendry’s tally if not surpassed it.

O’Sullivan’s issue has been a tendency to self-destruct at times and he has had moments in his career where he has seemingly lost his game altogether, only to bounce back to his brilliant best shortly thereafter.

What has been impressive this year about O’Sullivan has been his ability to produce his best form more consistently. That stands him in good stead ahead of the World Championships especially as being ranked second, he will avoid playing current World Number 1 Mark Selby unless both players reach the final.

Current Odds for the World Snooker Championship 2018 (offered by Coral Sport)

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan – 15/8 favourite
  • Mark Selby – 4/1
  • Judd Trump – 8/1
  • John Higgins – 9/1
  • Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson, Mark Williams– 14/1
  • Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy – 22/1
  • Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham – 25/1
  • Kyren Wilson – 33/1
  • Luca Brecel – 40/1
  • Marco Fu, Ali Carter, Ryan Day – 50/1
  • 66-1 Bar

So, the question is, who out of this crop of stars, or perhaps the rank outsiders not listed in the betting above, could be the player to ease Ronnie out of the World Championship and cause an upset? Furthermore, will that player go on to stand a chance at lifting the World title in early May?

Who could upset the Rocket?

  • Mark Selby (4-1)

There’s no doubt that Selby has the game to beat any player on his day. You do not get to World Number 1 and be a three-time World Champion, including the current holder of the title, if you are not able to beat any player in the world when at your best. Selby has won three out of the last four world titles, including a victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan back in 2014.

Selby has also been a regular winner on tour this season, winning three of the last four events held in China including the recent China Open and he has been a consistent performer around the world over the past year, easily earning the top ranking in the game.

Selby’s greatest quality however is his match-play and his ability to mentally last the pace, even in the marathon 33 and 35-game matches that you get in the latter stages of the World Championship. It is this mental fortitude, allied to his consistency which marks him down as The Rocket’s biggest obstacle, though the two are not scheduled to meet until they reach the final.

  • Judd Trump (8/1)

If any player could be said to be Ronnie O’Sullivan’s most natural replacement in the game when he eventually decides to hang up his cue, then it is Judd Trump. The Bristolian reached the 2011 World Championship Final where he lost to John Higgins but has since struggled to match that performance at following World Championship events.

A hugely talented and natural player and a former World Number 1, Trump has already clocked up more than 500 century breaks in his career and is world ranked at number 4 at present. He is also a winner this season having landed the European Masters in Belgium in October and he was a runner up to Ronnie at the Shanghai Masters in November.

Like O’Sullivan, Trump’s mental state can be his main issue at times but when it comes to natural talent and shot-making, Trump is perhaps the only player of the modern group that has the imagination and audacity to take on some of the most difficult shots successfully.

  • John Higgins (9/1)

Form and class are the two things that will lead you to be a World Champion. John Higgins class has never been in doubt as the four time world champion (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011) has netted almost £7.5 million in prize money in his career, won 30 ranking events and was the beaten finalist last year when losing to Mark Selby.

Higgins form has continued into the current season where the Scot has claimed wins at the Indian Open, the Welsh Open and the Championship League which puts him in excellent form heading into the World Championships this year.

Higgins composure and ability to build breaks has always been his main asset but he is also a fabulous student of the technical side of the game and his safety play is often underrated and can get him out of some tricky situations at times. If Higgins can get through the early rounds of the tournament and play his way into the latter stages, then he will be a real danger to any player drawn against him.

Each Way Bets

If you are looking at a decent shout for an each way bet on the longer odds options with Coral Sport then you will need your player to reach the final in order to trigger a win on your bet. However looking at the list of players in the tournament we feel the following offer the best each way chances:

  • Shaun Murphy (22/1) – A Former World Champion and a winner this season of the Champion of Champions event, where he beat O’Sullivan in the final, Murphy has the game on his day to beat anybody. The days where he can do that are diminishing however but if he gets on a roll of form over the longer format then he could be a real threat.
  • Luca Brecel (40/1) – Brecel became the first Belgian player to win a ranking event when he won the China Championship last year, defeating Shaun Murphy in the final. A hugely talented player who recently landed a 147 break at the Championship League against John Higgins, whether he has the stamina to last the longer format is not yet clear but on sheer talent Brecel stands a chance against anybody.