World Snooker Championship 2016 Tips

John Higgins (ew)Tournament Winner18/1Betfred, Bet365
Ricky Walden  (ew)Tournament Winner50/1Betfred, Bet365
Kyren Wilson (ew)Tournament Winner125/1Betfair, Paddy Power

After a dazzling return to action following a six-month break, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the 15/8 favourite with Coral to regain the World Snooker Championship title he last won in 2013, when the tournament gets under way in Sheffield on Saturday.

During his self-imposed hiatus, O’Sullivan’s world title odds drifted to 5/1, but he blitzed January’s Masters at Alexandra Palace – beating Barry Hawkins 10-1 in the final – and then breezed to a fourth Welsh Open title in February, causing that price to tumble as punters rushed to back the sport’s brightest talent.

O’Sullivan was a 5/2 chance for last year’s tournament, but he made it only as far as the quarter-finals, where he suffered a shock exit at the hands of Stuart Bingham, who we tipped as a 50/1 outsider in our pre-event preview. We wrote:

“Stuart Bingham catches the eye as an outsider at a big each-way price, with Betfred and Paddy Power paying 50/1. Bingham doesn’t have the best record here – he reached the last eight two years ago – but he has enjoyed a good season, with victory at the Shanghai Masters followed by a run to the semi-finals of the UK Championship. He was ranked as high as fourth last year and is currently the world number 10.”

Bingham went on to edge out Judd Trump 17-16 in a thrilling semi-final, before defeating 2005 champion Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the final. It was a success which goes to show just how wide open snooker can be. A look through this season’s results on tour underlines this view – the eight previous World Ranking events in 2015/16 have been won by seven different men, with John Higgins the only two-time winner.

Bingham, who won three times in 2014/15, has struggled to live up to the expectations which come with being the world champion, reaching only one final during the current season, but he does start this year’s championship at the shorter price of 28/1 with the tournament sponsors Betfred. His recent form doesn’t inspire the same sort of confidence as a year ago.

The most recent winner on the tour is Judd Trump, who beat Ricky Walden in the final of the China Open at the start of this month, and the 26-year-old from Bristol is seen by the bookies as one of the two most likely challengers to five-time champion O’Sullivan. Trump, who was the beaten finalist here in 2011 and has twice reached the semi-finals since then, is a best price of 7/1 with Betfred.

Neil Robertson is the second favourite at best odds of 6/1 with Betfred. The winner of December’s UK Championship is a serial champion, having claimed 11 titles at ranking events including a 2010 Crucible success, plus the Masters title in 2012. The Australian has also twice reached the semi-finals here.

Mark Selby is the current world number one, but the winner of last year’s German Masters and China Open hasn’t reached a ranking final this season. The 2014 world champion has been struggling for form, which explains why he is available at 10/1, a couple of points shorter than last year’s beaten finalist Murphy.

At 18/1 with Bet365 and Betfred, Higgins simply can’t be ignored. His two victories on the tour this season have taken his career tally to 28, which includes four world titles, most recently in 2011. When he is on top of his game he is perhaps the most complete player on the circuit, but his Crucible record makes for strange reading – in his last 12 appearances he has gone out in the first or second round nine times and gone on to win the event in the other three. He had previously reached at least the last eight for eight successive years.

If you’re looking for an outsider to match Bingham from last year, then take a look at Walden, who appears to have come into form at just the right time. The 33-year-old, who won the International Championship last year, has reached the final of the last two ranking events, beating Bingham and Higgins in the latter stages of the China Open a few weeks ago. The 2013 semi-finalist can be backed at 50/1 with Bet365 and Betfred.

As an alternative at a bigger price, consider Kyren Wilson at 125/1 with Betfair or Paddy Power. The 24-year-old from Kettering beat Trump to win the Shanghai Masters earlier this season and has since reached the semi-finals of the German Masters and the non-ranking Champion of Champions, beating Trump again.

John Higgins (ew)Tournament Winner18/1Betfred, Bet365
Ricky Walden (ew)Tournament Winner50/1Betfred, Bet365
Kyren Wilson (ew)Tournament Winner125/1Betfair, Paddy Power