3 World Snooker Rankings Movers after The Crucible
Another snooker season may be done and dusted but there was great drama along the way – nowhere more so than at the last the tournament, the World Championship.
Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre contains all the ingredients to make or break even the greats of the green baize. That explains why the top two in the world snooker rankings – Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan – bowed out of this cue sport’s premier event early yet previous successes kept them high in the order of merit.
Whose displays – good and bad – caught the eye, though? Here we look at three world snooker ranking movers.
The obvious place to start is with shock World Snooker Championship winner Mark Williams. He didn’t even make it to the tournament proper at The Crucible in 2017 but became the oldest champ for 40 years when he denied fellow veteran potter John Higgins in a memorable 18-16 victory in this year’s final.
Williams was never behind in that match, and if you aren’t then you can’t lose. At 43, he belied a 15-year gap from his last Crucible crown to become a three-time world champion and match rankings top dog Selby despite being almost a decade his senior. Age appears no barrier to success on the baize, however, as the Welsh Potting Machine scooped the Northern Ireland Open and German Masters prizes this season and he’s an 8/1 chance with Coral to retain his world title.
Naturally, this surprise victory for Williams has catapulted him into third spot – best of the rest behind the Jester from Leicester and snooker genius O’Sullivan. It’s even more remarkable because the he had considered retirement and was ranked outside the world’s top 16 as recently as when the seedings for another Triple Crown event, the UK Championship, were decided.
When commentators have spoken about the younger generation of talent in snooker during recent years, most of the hype has surrounded Judd Trump and Ding Junhui. Another in the top 10 now is 26-year-old Kyren Wilson, who can no longer be regarded as under the radar going into the new snooker season.
Although the Masters isn’t a ranking event, its prestige matches the UK and World Championship. Wilson reached the final at Alexandra Palace and followed that up with a splendid run to the semis at the Crucible, having also been runner-up at both at the World and English Open earlier in the campaign.
His current world ranking of ninth is a career high to date – up from 15th towards the end of 2017. Nicknamed the Warrior, Wilson could be well worth a Coral free bet each-way at 14/1 to do better at the World Snooker Championship next year despite the recent trend of Crucible kings being 30 and over.
Hong Kong potter Marco Fu started the 2017/18 snooker season as fifth in the world rankings yet ends it outside the top 16. Now very much a veteran at 40, he needed laser eye surgery and worked a reduced schedule.
Fu didn’t make a ranking event final, with his best displays coming at the invitational Hong Kong Masters on home soil and in the World Six-Red Championship – he made the semis of both. A first round Crucible departure courtesy of emerging Chinese talent Lyu Haotian was a more immediate cause of a rankings slide from 11th to 18th.
Given the renaissance enjoyed by Williams this season, it’s perfectly possible Fu could bounce back next term. He has the experience, ability and temperament, yet is a big price in Coral’s 2019 World Snooker Championship betting at 80/1.
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