Snooker Tips: Best bets for the 2018 World Championship
Assessing the top value as the elite of the world game gathers at the Crucible, including a win, each-way and outside pick.
Winner: Mark Selby –
Selby has, by his standards, endured a disappointing season, looking shot of form and energy at times.
Yet the defending champion rediscovered his best in blitzing his way to the China Open title a fortnight ago to ensure that, despite being below his best, only Ronnie O’Sullivan has pocketed more prize money.
O’Sullivan has dominated the field, winning a record-equalling five ranking events, yet that has resulted in the durable Selby – champion at the Crucible in three of the last four years – drifting in price.
Each-way bet: Mark Williams –
Having gone close to hanging up his queue after a poor 2016/17 campaign, Williams’ recovery is all the more exceptional.
The two-time world champion instead invested in recovering his game with a new SightRight technique, and the rewards have been obvious. He has won two ranking events this season, reaching two semi-finals and six quarter-finals along the way, to prove himself a match for anybody.
The 43-year-old is in a difficult section of the draw – he would have to see off Neil Robertson and O’Sullivan just to reach the semi-finals – but is an unflappable character, and has proved himself capable before.
Outside shot: Jack Lisowski –
Oft-heralded as one of the most talented players around, Lisowski has shown enough recently to be worth a punt.
The 26-year-old, one of the quickest players on tour, has reached a semi-final and two quarter-finals this season, losing to O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, and blowing a golden opportunity to beat Kyren Wilson and reach the final four in China a fortnight ago.
His temperament is a concern, but Stuart Bingham is a decent first-round draw, and a quarter-final match-up with close friend Trump could prove a breakthrough moment.
To win quarter: Barry Hawkins -
Nobody can match Hawkins’ consistency at the Crucible over the last few years.
The 38-year-old has won his quarter in four of the last five editions of this event. He made the final in 2013 and knocked out O’Sullivan to reach the semi-finals in 2016, before progressing to the last four again 12 months ago.
The draw has treated him kindly this year, with the enigmatic Ding Junhui his biggest threat in a section featuring the unfancied Anthony McGill and Marco Fu.
First-round shock: Lyu Haotian to beat Marco Fu –
Fu’s Crucible appearance is shrouded in mystery, after he announced that he would play in the tournament despite the eye injury that has ruled him out since January being “not any better or worse”.
As such, there is certainly value with the quickly-improving Lyu Haotian, who reached the Northern Ireland Open semi-final in November and thrashed Rory McLeod 10-2 in the last round of qualifying this week.
Elsewhere, Graeme Dott looks a nice bet to beat Ali Carter at , while Shaun Murphy’s neck and back issues could result in defeat to in-form Jamie Jones at .
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