17 days of long-format snooker begins in Sheffield on Saturday for the 2019 World Championship, and, as always, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the tournament favourite at 2/1.
Surprisingly, however, Ronnie’s margin over the field in the betting is slighter than usual, largely because of the popularity of Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, who have both been heavily backed over the last couple of months.
The seeding for this year has led to a rather lop-sided draw with Ronnie, Trump and Mark Selby all in the bottom half, and while this isn’t ideal for the players, it presents a good opportunity for some each-way value when you’re punting.
That brings us to the first tip for the outright: the reigning champion, Mark Williams at 14/1 each-way.
In his own words, the Welshman has probably spent more time with a pint glass in his hand than a cue this season. However, he has begun to practice more in recent months, and he has a chance to play himself into form here with the favourable draw here.
Of the players in the bottom half, we are happy to leave Ronnie and Trump at the prices available given they will likely run into each other at the quarter-finals stage, so the player we landed on was Mark Allen, who we make a 16/1 shot to win it outright.
The Pistol hasn’t quite been firing of late, however, he has taken some time off in preparation for this and, according to our snooker sources, he has been practicing brilliantly.
There’s little value in the place part of his odds for us given he will likely have to beat either Ronnie or Trump in the semi-finals, hence the win-only recommendation here.
There’s also a pack of first round match-ups to cannon into this week, with 5/1 second-fav Neil Robertson among the pick of them.
Robbo arrives here in arguably the form of his life, and Georgiou is making his Crucible debut. We fancy the Aussie dazzler to win and win well, so there’s appeal in the handicap here.
We’ve another debutant here in Scott Donaldson, who did everything but lose his final qualifying match against Lu Ning of China – the decisive frame lasted over an hour! – and we think he’ll struggle under the pressure here after that epic 10-9 tussle.
We can only see this being a very tight affair with neither player likely to break clear of the other so over on the frames total makes a lot of sense.