The wait is finally over and after a torturous week of qualifiers for players and traders alike we are down to the final 32 in the World Snooker Championship.
The draw has thrown up a few tasty encounters with the market leaders both being handed difficult draws.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (9/4) will need to get the better of the volatile, but talented Scot Stephen Maguire in Round 1 if he is to win his first title since 2013, while the defending champion Mark Selby will need to see off seasoned-pro Joe Perry.
Judd Trump and John Higgins have both been handed Crucible debutants in the 1st round draw and as a result have been popular with punters in the outright betting market over the last 24 hours.
There are question marks over most of the leading contenders though.
O’Sullivan has been handed the toughest first round opponent he could possibly have got and his failure to get by the quarter-final stage since 2014 suggests that he may not have the stomach or the temperament to slug it out at the Crucible for 17 days anymore.
Mark Selby has had a very poor season by his standards and had drifted to 13/2 until he put in a very Selby-like performance when he defended his China Open title just a few weeks ago.
However, he has been handed a very tricky draw and he can now be found as the 9/2 second favourite.
Judd Trump is another one who is after a fairly average season. He has also failed to get by the second round since 2015 and lost inexplicably to Rory McLeod at the first hurdle last year.
That brings us to one John Higgins of. The four-time champion has had a vintage campaign winning both the Welsh and Indian Opens. He is one of the few players at the Crucible that won’t be intimidated by the Rocket, as shown by the two heavy defeats he has inflicted on O’Sullivan in recent months.
A lively runner from the bottom half of the tournament to keep your eyes on is Barry Hawkins.
He probably couldn’t have handpicked his draw any better if he tried and he certainly has the Crucible pedigree with three semi-finals and a final appearance in the last five years.
Tips from our traders
First Round treble
Mark Allen (-2.5) v Liam Highfield – 8/11: Apparently, Allen playing great in practice and with the boost of winning The Masters should have far too much for the debutant.
Ricky Walden to beat Luca Brecel – 5/6: Brecel changed his cue a few months ago and has barely won a match since, Walden cruised through the qualifiers making centuries for fun in the process.
Ding Junhui -1.5 v Xiao Guodong – 4/7: Ding has been knocking on the door the last few years and has a fine record against his compatriot, beating him 11-2 on aggregate over two matches this season.
It all makes for 17 days of exhilarating action and we hope you all enjoy the greatest show on earth!
* All odds correct at time of posting.