Five players to watch ahead of the World Snooker Championship

Five Players To Watch Ahead Of The World Snooker Championship
Cazoo Masters 2023 – Day Five – Alexandra Palace, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Mark Staniforth, PA

Ronnie O’Sullivan bids for a record eighth title of the modern era while in-form Mark Allen attempts to break a desperate Crucible run as the World Snooker Championship returns to Sheffield on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five players to watch, all of whom have the potential to lift the prestigious title on May Bank Holiday.


Ronnie O’Sullivan

Betfred World Snooker Championship – Day Seventeen – The Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan could eclipse the record he holds with Stephen Hendry (PA Media)

Form is largely inconsequential when it comes to determining whether the 47-year-old O’Sullivan has it in him to win a third world title in four years and go it alone as the only man to claim eight in the modern era. Allied to his recent war of words with the sport’s bosses, it remains to be seen whether he retains to desire to do it again. All things considered, he remains the outstanding favourite.

Mark Allen

Cazoo Masters 2023 – Day Three – Alexandra Palace
Mark Allen has had a stellar season but boasts a dreadful Crucible record (Adam Davy/PA)

Allen has shone out this season by winning three tournaments, albeit in a much-slowed style that has not endeared him to everybody, and ordinarily would be considered one of the likely contenders for his maiden crown. But Allen’s Crucible form is desperate – despite three quarter-finals, he rarely ventures beyond the second round, and may be ill-equipped for the unique rigours of the tournament’s final stages.

Shaun Murphy

Snooker – Embassy World Championship 2005 – Final – Matthew Stevens v Shaun Murphy – The Crucible
Shaun Murphy has reached three finals since winning the world title in 2005 (Gareth Copley/PA)


After struggling through much of the previous year with back and neck complaints, Murphy has surged back to top form in 2023 and heads to the Crucible on the back of two tour title wins in three months. Champion as a qualifier in 2005, and three times a losing finalist since, Murphy is something of a Crucible specialist and has every chance of going all the way.

Mark Selby

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day 17 – The Crucible
Mark Selby represents a significant threat at the Crucible (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Few players in history have proved as well-equipped for the rigours of the Crucible than four-time champion Selby, and at his often exasperating best he can prove almost impossible to overcome over the longer format. The bad news for Selby’s rivals is that he appears en route to rediscovering a happy place, with two ranking title wins already this season, and few would dare back against him if he was still standing at the tournament’s business end.


Ding Junhui

Cazoo UK Championship – Day Nine – York Barbican
Ding Junhui is showing signs of a return to form (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Fate sometimes plays funny games in snooker and so it is that former finalist Ding Junhui has squeezed back into the seedings after a season in which the match-fixing allegations levelled at 10 of his compatriots have left snooker’s relationship with China hanging by a thread. Ding, who is entirely innocent, reached the UK final earlier this season, and the Tour Championship semi-finals earlier this month. What a year it would be for him to finally break his Crucible duck.

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