The World Snooker Championship is the most iconic snooker betting events in the world – and this year's competition has intrigue written all over it, with the action starting on April 21, 2018. As ever, the game's biggest celebrity, Ronnie O'Sullivan, heads the betting, partly because the bookies always take a lot of bets on the player due to his personality, but also because the 'Romford Rocket' is in red-hot form.
However, O'Sullivan's odds are short enough and there's reason to think it's worth taking the pragmatist's route and back Mark Selby to win the 2018 World Snooker Championship. That said, for those preferring to back the flair game, the O'Sullivan-styled Judd Trump is an intriguing alternative to become the heir apparent.
Top snooker betting sites have installed O'Sullivan as 2/1 favourite for the 2018 World Snooker Championship, followed by Selby at 4/1. Ronnie is bidding to add to his five title wins in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013. Interestingly, the odds go against the official world rankings, in which Selby is number one and out-ranks Ronnie.
However, O'Sullivan is playing so well that this is the best season of his career, with snooker's most popular player having scooped five titles and hit 70 century breaks. If he wins the World Championship, he'll become the first player to exceed £1m in prize money in a season (the winner gets £425,000).
However, while a strong case can be made for an O'Sullivan renaissance, he's now aged 42 – and that would make him the oldest winner since Welshman Ray Reardon took the title (aged 45) in 1978. The age factor is a concern and O'Sullivan has stated that the biggest factor at the 17-day Crucible event is mental fatigue and pressure.
And that makes 34-year-old Selby the pragmatic bet to win the Championship at odds of 4/1 with William Hill and add to his success in 2014, 2016 and 2017. The player arrives at the Crucible having impressed when winning the recent China Open, where he beat Barry Hawkins 11-3 in Beijing.
Selby is youthful, in form, official world number one, proven at the Championships and looking to win it for the third time in a row. O'Sullivan is ever the joker, but even he has gone on record as saying that Selby is the favourite in his eyes – and it could be worth taking his verdict seriously.
With O'Sullivan and Selby both at relatively short odds, that creates some bigger prices among the other main protagonists in the betting – most notably the Chinese player, Ding Junhui and England's Trump.
The latter, a 28-year-old ranked fourth (one place below Junhui) in the world rankings, is a player with tremendous natural ability and flair at the table. Many have hailed him as having a playing style similar to that of O'Sullivan, and Ronnie is known to admire his talent. Given the fact that he's been hailed as a genius, it's easy to see why his odds of 8/1 with Betfair for the Championship are appealing.
The risk is that he's also getting a reputation as an underachiever. Trump has won seven ranking titles since turning professional in 2005 and many hold the belief that he is a World Champion in the making. However, the same was said of the iconic Jimmy White – a player beaten in six heart-breaking Crucible finals.
Trump's best performance in the Championship came in 2011, when runner-up against John Higgins. This season he's again threatened greatness is around the corner, only to disappoint. He lost to O'Sullivan in the Players Championship semi-final at Llandudno, when failing to close the match from more than one winning opportunity.
Ultimately, Trump has the game to win at the Crucible and it's tempting to pocket the odds of 8/1 on him finally delivering on his potential. Backing Trump can also work for cash-out opportunities, because he has the ability to dominate games from the start, causing his odds to tumble in-play.
Ronnie O'Sullivan is trying to win the World Snooker Championship for the sixth time, which would leave him just one behind Stephen Hendry. However, despite a great season, it's a tough ask for a veteran player. The pragmatic call is to back Mark Selby at 4/1 with Paddy Power and bet on flair with Judd Trump at 8/1.
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