- When: 20th April to 6th May 2024
- Where: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- Watch: BBC & Eurosport
- Official Website: World Snooker
The World Snooker Championship is the biggest snooker tournament on the player’s calendar. Not only does it come with the highest number of ranking points, but it also brings in the biggest crowds and more importantly for the players, the largest prize pool hitting just under a cool £2.4 million in total.
The tournament was first held in 1927 with the first 15 titles won by the legendary Joe Davis. Traditionally this is the final big event in the snooker schedule and ensures the season ends style.
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World Snooker Championship Betting Tips
Please note: The following tips are for 2023 and will be updated shortly before the event starts.
The 2023 World Snooker Championship is here, and we have a thrilling tournament to look forward to at the famous Crucible Theatre venue. The best players lock horns for the biggest prize on offer in the snooker world.
It has been another sensational season of snooker, and the World Championship from Sheffield is a fitting way to bring the curtain down. Who will be crowned world champion in 2023? We take a look at the contenders and give you our picks.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the defending champion after his sensational success in Sheffield last year. The Rocket is one of the most experienced players at 47, and O’Sullivan is the current favourite to win the 2023 World Championship.
He went level with Stephen Hendry on seven World Championship wins last year, and O’Sullivan will become the record winner in the modern era with one more Crucible victory. O’Sullivan is regarded by many as the best player of all time, and he remains right at the top of his game as he approaches 50. Can the world champion retain his crown this year? A lot may depend on whether he’s in the mood. But if he is, the other players will be up against it.
Judd Trump has not had the best of records at World Championship in recent years. Trump has been one of snooker’s best performers over the past decade or so, but The Ace in the Pack has secured just one world title in his trophy-laden career.
Trump dominated the 2019 version but has had several poor showings in Sheffield. The 33-year-old has picked up just one tournament win this year, coming out on top in the Masters in January. Nevertheless, Trump is always among the favourites at the Crucible and is always one to watch out for.
Mark Selby has had a solid 2022/23 season. He reached the final of the World Mixed Doubles before winning the English Open in December. Selby was also the champion of the inaugural WST Classic, which took place in his home town of Leicester.
Selby has a sensational record at the Crucible over the past decade, winning an impressive four world titles. The last of those came in 2021 when he edged past Shaun Murphy in a thrilling final. The Jester from Leicester will certainly back himself to become a five-time world champion this year but he sometimes loses his flow on the biggest stage.
Like Trump, Neil Robertson is another top player who does not seem to perform well in the World Championship. Robertson has won a whole host of tournaments over the past decade, but his one and only world title came way back in 2010.
Robertson has not had the best of seasons, though he did manage to win the World Mixed Doubles in Milton Keynes in September last year. Due to his recent Crucible record, Robertson is something of an underdog, but The Thunder from Down Under should never be underestimated.
Although he seems to have been around forever, at just 40 years of age Shaun Murphy still has time on his side. It is hard to believe that his one and only world title came back in 2005 given how big an impact he’s had on the game in the last couple of decades. The Magician has gone close on occasions since, but that second World Championship crown has eluded him so far.
Murphy warmed up for this one by winning the final tournament before the Sheffield event, beating Selby in the final of the Tour Championship in Hull. The Harlow-born ace also won the Players Championship in Wolverhampton in February. Can in-form Murphy cause an upset at this year’s World Championship?
Tips and Predictions
With several top players more than capable of getting their hands on the trophy in Sheffield, the 2023 World Championship will no doubt be a thrilling watch. Will Ronnie roll back the years and pick up another world title, can Selby keep up his fine record, or will we see a new name etched onto the trophy?
Top Betting Tip – Ronnie O’Sullivan to Win - O’Sullivan is looking for an eighth world crown this year. The Rocket has hardly set the world alight this season, claiming just one tournament victory. Nevertheless, even though the World Championship has never been his favourite event, O’Sullivan’s record in Sheffield speaks for itself. The current world champion is the man to beat at the Crucible this year, and he is our tournament pick.
Mark Allen to Reach Final - Mark Allen has had another impressive season. The Belfast boy has won the Northern Ireland Open, the UK Championship and the World Grand Prix, and was runner-up in the British Open this term. The Pistol is looking to take his strong form to Sheffield, and we are backing Allen to make the 2023 final.
World Snooker Champions – 2014 to 2023
|Year||Winner (Seed)||Score||Runner-Up (Seed)||Prize Fund|
|2023||Luca Brecel (9)||18-15||Mark Selby (2)||£2.395m|
|2022||Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)||18-13||Judd Trump (4)||£2.395m|
|2021||Mark Selby (4)||18-15||Shaun Murphy (7)||£2.395m|
|2020||Ronnie O’Sullivan (6)||18-8||Kyren Wilson (8)||£2.395m|
|2019||Judd Trump (7)||18-9||John Higgins (5)||£2.231m|
|2018||Mark Williams (7)||18-16||John Higgins (5)||£1.968m|
|2017||Mark Selby (1)||18-15||John Higgins (6)||£1.750m|
|2016||Mark Selby (2)||18-14||Ding Junhui (-)||£1.500m|
|2015||Stuart Bingham (10)||18-15||Shaun Murphy (8)||£1.364m|
|2014||Mark Selby (3)||18-14||Ronnie O’Sullivan (1)||£1.214m|
- Qualifying – Monday 8th to Wednesday 17th April 2024
- Round One – Saturday 20th to Thursday 25th April 2024
- Round Two – Thursday 25th to Monday 29th April 2024
- Quarter Finals – Tuesday 30th April & Wednesday 1st May 2024
- Semi Finals – Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th April 2024
- Final – Sunday 5th & Monday 6th May 2024
Schedule is subject to change
About The World Snooker Championship
The tournament is held at the world-famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. The Crucible has held every tournament since 1977.
Formed as the Professional Snooker Championship, the competition first took place in 1927 and was considered to be the first snooker tournament of any note. That’s perhaps because it was indeed open to professionals, unlike the English Amateur Championship that had been taking place since 1916 but only welcomed non-professional players to take part in it.
The World Championship is held from mid-April and usually runs through to the first bank holiday Monday in May.
Nowadays the tournament is made up of thirty-two players in total. Sixteen of these are the top 16 ranked players in the world, whilst the other sixteen are made up from qualifiers throughout the season. Players are seeded depending on their world ranking, apart from the champion from the previous year who is automatically ranked as the number one player.
The World Snooker Championship provides the longest format of games compared to any other tournament throughout the season. The first round of matches is played over the best of 19 frames, with the number of frames played then increasing until the final, where the players will play a best of 35 frames match. It is a knockout tournament from the start and the format has remained largely unaltered since 1982.
Due to the length of each match, a number of sessions take place, giving the players a rest period throughout. First round matches have two sessions, the second round and quarter-finals have three sessions and the final has four sessions.
The First Professional Snooker World Championship (1927)
The first outing of what would later become the World Snooker Championship saw ten professionals enter, with most of the leading billiards players at the time putting their names down to compete. The format back then was significantly different to what we know and love today, with the draw taking place at the start of the season and players making their own arrangements about when to play the matches. It was decided ahead of the season getting underway that the semi-finals and final of the tournament would take place in Birmingham and that the semi-finals would extend the fifteen frame match to twenty-three frames.
The final was played out over thirty-one frames and the first ever match of the entire tournament saw Melbourne Inman and Tom Newman go head-to-head at Thurston’s Hall in London’s Leicester Square. It tells you plenty about the priority of snooker at the time that the match was seen as an extra event on top of the billiards match that took place at the time over a period of two weeks. One frame of the snooker was played at the end of each billiards session, with Inman eventually winning the match 8-5 a week after it had begun.
Despite his success in the first match, Inman didn’t make the final in Birmingham. Instead it saw Joe Davis go up against Tom Dennis at Camkin’s Hall, with Davis winning the first seven frames and going on to lift the trophy courtesy of a 20-11 win.
The Joe Davis Age of Domination (1927 to 1946)
By the time the 1928 version of the competition came around, it had been decided to adapt it into a challenge tournament. This meant that Joe Davis qualified automatically for the final, with six challengers going up against each other to decide who would have the right to play him in the last match of the event. It was Fred Lawrence who won the right, losing 16-13 to the defending champion.
Though the challenge system was dropped ahead of the following year’s version of the competition, it didn’t stop Davis continuing to dominate. He played against Tom Dennis in Dennis’ home of Nottingham and won 17-12, racking up a record break of sixty-one in the process. They met again in the final the following year, which saw the best of forty-nine frames played over the course of six days. Davis won again, this time 25-12.
Though the Championship had been running for four years by the time the 1931 tournament rolled around, it was struggling to earn any kind of popularity within the sport. The domination of Davis meant that few players saw a chance of success and there was no real financial gain to be made, resulting in just to professionals entering their name into the tournament and they were names that everyone knew all too well – Davis and Tom Dennis.
The final was held in Nottingham once more and the home crowd’s favourite took a 19-16 lead, only for the perennial champion to bounce back and win 25-21 for his fifth success title. He won again in 1932, beating New Zealander Clark McConachy 25-18 and scored a new highest break of ninety-nine.
In 1933 five different players entered the competition, including the two-time World Billiards Champion Willie Smith. He faced Davis in the final, which was held at the defending champion’s own Chesterfield-based snooker hall. He won 25-18, defending his championship again in 1934 by beating Tom Newman 25-22.
Incredibly, he would go on to win each of the next seven championships, including the one that took place at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London after the conclusion of the Second World War.
Joe Davis – 1927 to 1946 World Championships
|Year||Matches||Frames For||Frames Against||Opponent in Final|
In the end Davis won fifteen championships back-to-back and the first time that his name was not on the trophy was because he decided not to enter the competition from 1946 onwards. Davis never lost a match from the first time he played until the last.
The End of an Era
Whether Davis saw the likely end of his reign and decided to get out of the game before it happened is up for some debate, but the success of the 1946 tournament, including a generous financial reward for both finalists, saw a record twenty applicants for the 1947 event.
Thirteen of them took part in a qualifying tournament before the winner joined seven others at the quarter-final stage. Though the semi-finals took place in March, the final didn’t occur until later in the year in order to allow it to be played in the newly created Leicester Square Hall. It took place over twelve days and saw Fred Davis and Walter Donaldson play the best of one hundred and forty-five frames.
Donaldson eventually went on to win 73-49 on the eleventh day of the competition, becoming the first player other than Joe Davis to win since the event’s inception.
Professional Snooker Breaks Away (1952)
In 1952 there was a dispute between the Professional Billiards Players’ Association and the Billiards Association and Control Council, resulting in members of the PBPA refusing to play in the championship that year. The result was that just two players entered the competition, with Australia’s Horace Lindrum taking on New Zealand’s Clark McConachy.
Given that both players were well past their best, the final was fair from a thrilling event and the Australian won 73-37. Perhaps a more important result of the boycott was a decision by the Professional Billiards Players’ Association to establish their own competition, the PBPA Snooker Championship.
Ten players applied to player in the new competition, with Fred Davis and Walter Donaldson making the final. Davis won, defending his crown in 1953, then maintaining his winning way until John Pullman won in 1957.
That competition was called the World Professional Match-Play Championship and, in a curious quirk of fate, only two players without the surname ‘Davis’ won either it or the Professional Snooker Championship since it was first played in 1927 through to 1957.
No world championship of any sort was held for six years after Pullman’s win, with the next time anything that could stake a claim to be part of it happening when the BACC gave its blessing to a competition on a challenge basis in 1964.
WPBSA Takes Control of the World Championship (1969)
Though there were different snooker tournaments over the years that followed, it wasn’t until the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association took over the regulation of the game of snooker from the BACC in 1969 that anything approximating a genuine competition was re-started. That was when the knockout format that we now know first came into fruition. This opened the door for other players to take on the best players in the world and also made it much tougher for the reigning champion to defend their crown.
The introduction of a knockout tournament might have made the entire event easier for the best players to take each other on, but it didn’t stop a monopoly of the event similar to what had been witnessed throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Just three players won the competition during the 1970s, with John Spencer being victorious twice and Alex Higgins gaining one victory in 1972, only for Ray Reardon to win the other five championships up until 1976. The year that followed is arguably the most important in the competition’s history, though, with the move to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield happening for the first time.
The Move to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (1977)
The modern era of the World Snooker Championship is considered by many to have begun when the tournament took up a home at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 1977, where it has remained ever since.
In its first year there, eight seeds were joined by eight qualifiers and previous winner John Spencer beat the defending champion Ray Reardon in the quarter-final before defeating Cliff Thorburn in the final.
The end of the 1970s proved to be different to every other decade, with four separate snooker players winning each year between 1977 and 1980.
It didn’t take long for a new era of dominance by one player to return to the championship however, with Steve Davis starting the 1980s how he intended to continue with a win in 1981. Alex Higgins won his second title in 1982, with Dennis Taylor winning in 1985 and Joe Johnson lifting the trophy the following year. Other than those anomalies however, it was Steve Davis who picked up the wins every other time.
If the 1980s was Davis’s decade then the 1990s unquestionably belonged to Stephen Hendry, given that the Scot won all but three of the tournaments between 1990 and 1999. That included five back-to-back wins, which was the most consecutive victories for a player since John Pullman in the 1960s.
Snooker’s Own Class of 1992
If all of the previous decades were dominated by individual players, the Noughties was the era of dominance for three players who were born in 1975 and turned professional together in 1992.
Ronnie O’Sullivan might be known by some as the ‘bad boy’ of snooker, but he has won the tournament seven times between 2001 and 2022 to put himself amongst the bracket of elite players who could be considered amongst the best to ever play the game.
John Higgins and Mark Williams were the other kids of 1975 who continued to have their names etched on the trophy during the same period, with Higgins winning it four times and Mark Williams doing so on three occasions.
Snooker World Champions That Turned Professional in 1992
|Player||Nationality||World Titles (Years)|
|Ronnie O’Sullivan||English||7 (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020, 2022)|
|John Higgins||Scottish||4 (1998, 2007, 2009, 2011)|
|Mark Williams||Welsh||3 (2000, 2003, 2018)|
Mark Selby Becomes the Man to Beat (2013 to 2019)
Another period of dominance by one player began in 2014 when Mark Selby beat the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14, taking home a record £300,000 in prize money in the process. Though Selby was then defeated in the second round by a Crucible debutant named Anthony McGill in 2015, he would win the trophy once again in 2016 and then defend his title the following year.
His win in 2016 was against Ding Junhui, who was the first Asian player to reach the final of the tournament since it was created. Selby then defeated Junhui in the semi-final in 2017 on his way to retaining his crown. In 2021 Mark Selby won his fourth title when defeating fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy.
The season ends after the World Championship and only Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan have finished as World Number 1 more often than Mark Selby.
In the modern day format of the World Championships, Stephen Hendry was for many years the undeniable king of the Crucible with seven wins to his name. Hendry dominated the 1990’s, winning his seven titles from 1990 to 1999. Ronnie O’Sullivan joined Hendry on seven world titles in 2022 and is the only modern-day player still playing. Both Steve Davis and Ray Reardon closely follow Hendry and O’Sullivan with six wins apiece. Obviously the most successful player of any era remains Joe Davis, whose fifteen wins are never likely to be surpassed.
One of the standout stats from the Crucible for all of the wrong reasons comes in the form of the ‘Whirlwind’ Jimmy White. He made six appearances in the final during his career but each time he was second-best to his opponent. No one has had more runner-up finishes than White, and few have made more World Championship final appearances than him. There are other interesting facts besides that you might be interested in, with the following being the standouts:
- A player with the surname ‘Davis’ has won the competition twenty-nine times since it was launched in 1927
- With the exception of two outings that took place in Australia, all versions of the Championship between 1969 and 2005 were sponsored by tobacco companies
- Since the competition moved to the Crucible in 1977, no first-time champion has been able retain their title the following year
- Michaela Tabb became the first woman to officiate a World Championship final in 2009
- The 2007 match between John Higgins and Mark Selby finished at 00:55, which is the latest that a final has finished to date
- During the first twelve days of the tournament two matches take place alongside each other on two separate tables, with one match played in the semi-final and final stage