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World Championship: The Fate of the Favourites – A Potted History

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Begins favorite for the second yr operating

With the World Championship simply across the nook, it’s as soon as once more time to revamp an previous archive submit and try how effectively the favourites on the bookies on the large occasion have fared down the years. 

Once you look again on the historical past books you discover that the bookies have given remarkably few gamers the accolade of World Championship favorite because the years have handed, Ronnie O’Sullivan has now held that accolade a file 13 occasions in his profession, however this yr it’s the flip as soon as once more of the 2019 champion Judd Trump to move the bookies lists and take dwelling a second title after he fell foul of The Crucible Curse final yr. 

The World Championship has now been a Crucible staple since earlier than some folks studying this had been born and it’s additionally lengthy been related to us all liking an excellent previous wager on the winner. However what number of occasions has the principle favorite obliged? Is it extra frequent for an outsider to steal the crown and are there any gamers on the market who simply don’t appear to love being the chased quite than the chaser?

Effectively, let’s have a look and see… 

The 80’s had been predictably dominated by Steve Davis, who began favorite for this and each different championship yearly from 1981 to 1989. That honour/strain then reverted to Stephen Hendry, whose 90’s titles principally justified favouritism, although apparently he did win one when not the strongest fancy within the area, simply as Ronnie has achieved many occasions since.

It was then the flip of O’Sullivan to imagine the mantle of the person the bookies each beloved and feared, he began favorite for the title 9 occasions between the years 2000 and 2009, since after we’ve seen different names begin because the bookies one to beat, till eight years in the past when Ronnie was again on the high of the chances checklist the place he remained till 2017, when Selby changed him because the chased. Since then it’s been a mix of Selby, Ronnie and Judd Trump, who lastly ended his anticipate the title in 2019.

So how have they acquired on? Effectively, after painstaking analysis I believe I’ve managed to seize each favorite since 1981, the yr a red-hot, red-haired favorite began his 80’s reign of baize dominance.

1981 – Steve Davis (Winner). Regardless of by no means having gained the World Championship, Davis got here into the game’s essential occasion as a scorching favorite. He was to justify the bookies religion in him, beating Doug Mountjoy within the closing after seeing off his essential challenger that yr, reigning champion Cliff Thorburn, within the semi-finals.

1982 – Steve Davis (1st Spherical Loser). This was the primary yr that the championship adopted its present format of 32 gamers in Spherical 1, it additionally apparently began on Friday night in a bid to spice up rankings. This format change resulted within the greatest shock of the last decade, Davis, an odds-on favorite and successful machine, struggling the newly discovered ‘Curse of the Crucible’ and dropping the Friday session 8-1 earlier than going out first spherical 10-1 to Bolton Stud Tony Knowles. Alex Higgins picked up the trophy and his daughter Lauren in one of many sports activities most memorable championships.

1983 and 1984 – Steve Davis (Winner/Winner). The bookies love affair with Davis continued as he put the Knowles defeat out of his thoughts to win the championship and nearly the whole lot else for the subsequent two years. He had only one shut match in ’83 towards Dennis Taylor however aside from that dominated the match, successful the ultimate with a session to spare. 1984 wasn’t such a procession and noticed the up and coming Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White practically carry off an excellent closing comeback, however Davis prevailed 18-16 within the first of Jimmy’s many closing defeats.    

1985 and 1986 – Steve Davis (Runner Up/Runner Up). Davis was nonetheless beginning World Championships as very quick priced (in ’85 he was odds-on) favorite however his backers suffered a brief disruption to regular service within the interval that Steve was principally successful nearly the whole lot else, re-writing the file books and making stacks for him and his supervisor Barry Hearn. Defeat on the ultimate black by the hands of Dennis Taylor (who by no means actually mentions it as of late) and a yr later to rank 150/1 outsider Joe Johnson meant he’d failed twice extra to justify the bookies religion in him. However a minimum of his loss to Dennis and his the other way up glasses in entrance of a file sporting viewing TV viewers in that well-known closing did encourage an excellent verse of Snooker Crazy. Each cloud….

1987, 1988, 1989 – Steve Davis (Winner/Winner/Winner). Regardless of what went earlier than, the bookies and practically everybody else on the planet knew we hadn’t seen the tip of Davis. He remained quick priced favorite and his magnificent treble meant he was the primary participant of the Crucible period to win three on the spin. Ultimate wins over Johnson who stays the person who has come closest to breaking the primary time champion Crucible Curse (2 frames forward of Ken Doherty), Terry Griffiths and an absolute steamroller job on John Parrott cemented his place because the king of 80’s snooker. However the bookies had been sensing this could be his swansong…..

1990 – Stephen Hendry (Winner). Younger Scot Hendry began the 1990 Championship as UK and Masters Champion, having overwhelmed Davis over the longer distance within the UK Ultimate. The bookies had as soon as once more referred to as it appropriately and The Wonderbairn’s first title was secured, the ultimate noticed a win over his early 1990’s sparring associate, the luckless Jimmy White.

Hendry was often fairly dependable, with the odd blip.

1991 – Stephen Hendry (Quarter-Finalist). The Curse of the Crucible? Not in your nelly, the bookies laughed off this concept by making winning-machine Hendry a agency favorite to retain his title. However darkish forces had been at work as Brummie Biker Steve James unexpectedly ran over Hendry within the Quarter Finals. Scouser John Parrott was to take his one and solely title defeating that man Jimmy White within the closing.

1992-1996 – Stephen Hendry (Winner, Winner, Winner, Winner, Winner). There’s probably not far more so as to add to that’s there? Begins scorching favorite yearly and wins 5 on the bounce, beating Jimmy an extra 3 occasions (don’t point out 1994) in addition to Nigel Bond and Peter Ebdon. This was actually a interval of pure dominance, the like of which we’ll in all probability by no means see once more.

1997 – Stephen Hendry (Runner-Up). Hendry’s quest for a six-timer could have been what the bookies thought would occur, however the ever-popular and jovial Ken Doherty had different concepts and defied the chances to prevail 18-12 to let Stephen know for the primary time what it felt wish to be the runner-up.

1998 – Stephen Hendry (1st Spherical Loser). Hendry turned solely the second bookies favorite ever to lose in Spherical 1. His match up towards Jimmy White giving Jimmy the possibility to shine one final time towards his previous foe, sadly for him within the first, not the final spherical. Sadly for his thousands and thousands of followers he couldn’t maintain the shape and it was John Higgins who gained his first world title and have become immediately many individuals’s thought of the subsequent man in line to dominate snooker, beating the valiant reigning champion Doherty within the closing.

1999 – John Higgins (Shedding Semi-Finalist). Holder of the UK Championship and the Masters in addition to defending champion, Higgins was certainly the one to interrupt the Crucible Curse? Nevertheless it wasn’t to be as Hendry returned to reclaim the rights to the last decade that belonged to him, for as soon as not because the bookies essential man, he defeated Mark Williams to assert his record-breaking seventh title. What a tremendous achievement this actually was from the game’s biggest ever champion.

2000 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (1st Spherical Loser). A brand new identify on the high of the bookies checklist was now materialising. However the explosive expertise of Ronnie O’Sullivan, a marginal favorite in an open betting warmth which additionally noticed Higgins, Williams and Hendry effectively backed was overwhelmed first spherical. Who by it’s possible you’ll ask? Snookerbacker Traditional Champion 2013, David Grey, that’s who. It was Welshman Mark Williams who was to assert his first World Championship with a win over fellow Taffy Matthew Stevens.

2001 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Winner) / John Higgins (Runner-Up) – Joint Favourites. The bookies couldn’t break up them and ultimately solely 4 frames might in a yr that went true to type. O’Sullivan taking his first World Championship after his two closest contemporaries Higgins and Williams. Williams himself falling foul of the previous Crucible Curse, dropping within the second spherical to Joe Swail.

2002 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Shedding Semi-Finalist). These bookies by no means be taught do they? The Crucible Curse is actual and Ronnie proved that once more in 2002. He misplaced within the semi-finals to Hendry, who reached an unimaginable ninth world closing. He couldn’t make it a historic Hendry the Eighth although and misplaced to Peter Ebdon in a dramatic decider to avenge his closing defeat of 1996. This was to be Stephen’s final closing, even he couldn’t preserve this degree constantly anymore.

2003 – 2007 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (1st Spherical Loser/Winner/Shedding Quarter Finalist/ Shedding Semi-Finalist/Shedding Quarter Finalist). Via the years Ronnie has proved himself essentially the most prolific, least profitable favorite in Crucible historical past. No different participant has did not justify favouritism extra occasions than him. Solely as soon as on this 5 yr sequence did he justify the punter’s confidence, making him, a minimum of till not too long ago, somebody who was proving very pricey to again at The Crucible. Two new champions on this period emerged within the type of Shaun Murphy in 2005 and Graeme Dott in 2006. 

2008 – John Higgins (Spherical 2 Loser). Higgins did not justify the renewed religion the bookies put in him in 2008 and as a substitute, Ronnie, not fairly the nice and cozy order he had been the earlier 8 years was to assert his third crown, defeating Ali Carter in a reasonably one-sided closing, this continued a nasty run for favourites throughout the Noughties.

2009 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Spherical 2 Loser). This was the final yr till his resurgence extra not too long ago that Ronnie began clear favorite, he misplaced early on once more, this time in an epic match towards Mark Allen. This meant that of the 9 occasions Ronnie had began Crucible favorite with the bookies, he had solely gained the title twice. Maybe he most popular being the underdog? John Higgins claimed the title a 3rd time to attract degree with O’Sullivan in championship wins.

Rocked Higgins in 2010.

2010 – John Higgins (Spherical 2 Loser). This was the yr which noticed Neil Robertson storm to victory and the pre-tournament favorite and defending champion get himself into one thing of a pickle with the newspapers. Steve Davis time-travelled in a DeLorean into this yr from the 80’s to assert Higgins’ scalp in Spherical 2, which nonetheless stays a tremendous Crucible story. Robertson beat Graeme Dott in a marathon closing, performed sadly underneath one thing of a cloud in darkish days for the game. However in brighter information, his 14/1 triumph paid for a big chunk of mine and Mrs SB’s marriage ceremony making him a agency favorite of ours, even when he wasn’t with the bookies.

2011 – John Higgins (Winner). It was an altogether totally different Higgins who entered the world in 2011, having returned from his ban and after the lack of his father he had regarded in very good type with a brand new discovered dedication and goal to his sport. From the off he regarded like justifying the bookie’s religion in him and he duly did in true Higgins fashion, breaking the sample of dropping favourites alongside the way in which and beating a brand new child on the block, Judd Trump, within the closing. He now led Ronnie 4-3 in title wins in their very own private battle.

2012 – Judd Trump (Spherical 2 Loser). Judd’s Crucible efficiency the earlier yr and the fanfare which surrounded him was sufficient to persuade the bookies that he ought to begin favorite marginally forward of Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan nonetheless proved too good for the sector and underneath the affect of Dr Steve Peters regarded a distinct participant to the unreliable and inconsistent one of many earlier decade or so. Keep in mind nonetheless that he wasn’t favorite to win or broadly fancied with many citing his incapacity to remain targeted for the complete length of the match. After his triumph, clearly exhausted, he vowed to have numerous day without work, a promise he was to maintain. He as soon as once more beat Ali Carter in a closing which he described afterwards as being the very best he had ever performed.

2013 – Mark Selby / Neil Robertson / Judd Trump (Spherical 2 Loser/Spherical 1 Loser/Shedding Semi-Finalist). O’Sullivan’s now legendary return to the baize after a season off noticed him take his fifth title largely untroubled and by no means headed in any match, this additionally meant he overtook Higgins once more in their very own sport of world championship leapfrog. He was accessible so long as 9/1 a couple of weeks earlier than the match and plenty of claimed he had ‘no likelihood’ of merely returning after a yr off and successful once more. However he did simply that, beating Barry Hawkins within the closing.

2014 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Runner-up). As Ronnie tried the treble the bookies by now had wised as much as him and made him the shortest priced favorite for a few years. He’d been enjoying extra occasions and going into this in robust type, in contrast to the earlier yr when he hadn’t performed in any respect within the run up. Nevertheless it wasn’t to be and the ultimate towards Mark Selby was to show one step too far for The Rocket as Selby turned the primary new champion since Robertson. Ronnie but once more was a dropping favorite.

2015 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Shedding Quarter Finalist). Once more being favorite on the bookies did Ronnie no favours, he was to return unstuck towards the eventual champion Stuart Bingham within the Quarter Finals after a mentally fragile first week when most noticed the indicators that he wasn’t fairly as much as the job. Shedding because the bookies favorite was now turning into a really annoying behavior for him and his backers. Selby within the meantime was the most recent sufferer of The Crucible Curse. 

It’s been fairly some time…

2016 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Spherical 2 Loser). The bookies once more made Ronnie favorite following a mercurial show within the Welsh Open and rumours of him hitting the follow desk arduous within the run up. However this time the person who he beat to win dare we expect it, his final world title Barry Hawkins, was his conqueror in Spherical 2. It was the World #1 Mark Selby who ended up with the trophy in his palms for the second time, beating first time finalist Ding Junhui 18-14. It was one other ‘Curse’ yr, Stuart Bingham overwhelmed by Ali Carter on Day 1 this time in a decider.

2017 – Mark Selby (Winner). Selby got here right here because the standalone favorite on the again of a mediocre season by his personal requirements however having gained the China Open a couple of weeks earlier. Judd Trump was touching joint favorite with a few companies retaining religion or wanting bets identical to in 2013. The match of the match was Selby’s semi-final win over Ding Junhui, who was starting to seem like it could be his time after a memorable win within the Quarter Ultimate over Ronnie O’Sullivan. However Selby’s granite proved an excessive amount of for him and ultimately additionally for a drained wanting John Higgins who once more featured within the closing after a couple of years away from the one desk arrange. Selby coming again after a primary day stoop 18-15, touchdown the 7/2 favourites tag for the primary time since his opponent did it in 2011.

2018 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Spherical 2 Loser). As soon as once more, O’Sullivan returned to the mantle of favorite and as soon as once more, he did not justify it. A superb season main into the massive one had his followers hopes up however as soon as he acquired to Sheffield he as soon as once more got here up quick, dropping a nasty tempered match to Ali Carter, who gained some revenge for the 2 closing defeats Ronnie had inflicted on him. The winner nonetheless was one other ‘Phoenix from the Flames’ within the form of Mark Williams, who miraculously accomplished one of many sports activities nice comebacks and beat his fellow veteran John Higgins in a pulsating closing. The much less stated in regards to the press convention afterwards, the higher.

2019 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Spherical 1 Loser). Once more the mantle of bookies favorite proved the undoing of O’Sullivan, paired towards novice James Cahill in Spherical 1 most anticipated a flying begin for the bang in type Rocket, however it wasn’t to be. He claimed later to be feeling unwell however in actuality he would have needed to produce some constantly spectacular stuff to see off the eventual winner and first time champion Judd Trump, who stormed to victory with some beautiful snooker.

2020 – Judd Trump (Shedding Quarter Finalist). Regardless of the overwhelming proof of the Crucible Curse, the bookmakers noticed no clear various to Judd defending his title efficiently in what can simply be labelled the strangest World Championship on file. Performed in summer time, principally behind closed doorways amid the grip of a worldwide pandemic, it’s one thing of a miracle we acquired a champion in any respect. However we did, within the form of that man O’Sullivan once more, clearly far more at dwelling with out the gaze of the rabble than others, the Rocket coasted to victory within the closing after a dramatic semi-final towards Selby.

So, the figures as they stand are since 1981:

Successful Favourites (Together with Joint Favourites): 15

Shedding Favourites (Together with Joint Favourites): 26

Most Profitable Favourites: Steve Davis (6 wins out of 9 makes an attempt) and Stephen Hendry (6 out of 9). 

Least Profitable Favorite: Ronnie O’Sullivan (2 wins out of 14 makes an attempt).

Most Profitable Non-Favorite: Ronnie O’Sullivan (4 occasions winner when not favorite)

Clear Favourites who’ve misplaced in Spherical 1: Ronnie O’Sullivan (3 times), Stephen Hendry (as soon as), Steve Davis (as soon as).

Co/Joint Favorites who’ve misplaced in Spherical 1: Neil Robertson (as soon as).

Victims of The Crucible Curse: John Spencer (1978), Ray Reardon (1979), Terry Griffiths (1980), Cliff Thorburn (1981), Steve Davis (1982), Alex Higgins (1983), Dennis Taylor (1986), Joe Johnson (1987), Stephen Hendry (1991), John Parrott (1992), Ken Doherty (1998), John Higgins (1999), Mark Williams (2001), Ronnie O’Sullivan (2002), Peter Ebdon (2003), Shaun Murphy (2006), Graeme Dott (2007), Neil Robertson (2011), Mark Selby (2015), Stuart Bingham (2016), Judd Trump (2020)….

Defeaters of The Crucible Curse: NOBODY. EVER. 

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