Posted by Harry Kane on Friday, December 24, 2021
Every sport has its special and world-renowned tournaments, which transcend the discipline itself and appeal to a considerably broader audience.
Take snooker’s prestigious World Championship, for example, which can trace its history back to 1926 and remains the sports longest-standing (and most coveted) competition. In this post, we’ll look at the fascinating history of the snooker World Championship, while looking ahead to the 2022 iteration and the most lucrative betting markets.
The History of the World Snooker Championship
It was the legendary Joe Davies who first lifted the Snooker World Championship in 1927, having purchased the actual trophy (which was topped by a now iconic Greek shepherdess figurine) during the previous year.
Incredibly, Davis won the first 15 World Championships contested, before retiring unbeaten in the competition after his final triumph in 1946.
The tournament’s modern era began in 1969, when the World Snooker Championship reverted to a dramatic, straight knockout format began to attract an outstanding field of the best players from across the globe.
Eight years later in 1977, the event moved to the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. This venue is now synonymous with the championship, having hosted every iteration since and become a de facto mecca for snooker fans nationwide.
By 1982, another popular format tweak was introduced. More specifically, the tournament was adjusted to host 32 participating players, including the world’s top-ranked 16 performers and another 16 competitors who earn their place through a rigorous qualification competition.
Prior to this format change, two qualifiers had prevailed at the World Championship; namely ‘the Hurricane’ Alex Higgins (in 1972) and Welshman Terry Griffiths (in 1979).
However, just one player has emerged from qualifying and won the snooker World Championship in the 43 years since, with Shaun Murphy achieving this impressive honour back in 2005.
But who are the most successful players from the more competitive, modern era? While nobody has matched the incredible accomplishments of Joe Davis, Stephen Hendry has lifted the World Snooker Championship on seven occasions between 1990 and 1999.
Three players have won the world title on six different occasions, with Ray Reardon (who was the first superstar of the modern era) emerging victorious in 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978.
The indefatigable ‘Golden Nugget’ Steve Davis assumed Reardon’s mantle as the world’s dominant player in the 1980s, winning his six titles between 1981 and 1989. Hendry rose through the ranks in the 90s, continuing the striking trend for a single player to dominate the tournament for much of a single decade.
Interestingly, this trend has changed and diminished markedly the turn of the century, with Hendry the last player to truly dominate at The Crucible.
So, while the brilliant Ronnie ‘Rocket’ O’Sullivan has also won six world titles during a stellar and record-breaking career, these have been spread broadly between 2001 and 2020. In this respect, O’Sullivan owes his immense success at The Crucible to his longevity as much as his immense natural talent.
We’ll close this part of the guide with a few interesting snooker World Championship facts and figures, which offer some more insight into the tournament and its rich history.
Who are the Oldest and Youngest Crucible Winners?: Six-time winner Reardon is the oldest Crucible winner, lifting his final title in 1978 at the not-so-tender age of 45 years and 203 days. The youngest winner is the aforementioned Stephen Hendry, whose inaugural title back in 1990 was earned when the Scotsman was aged just 21 years and 106 days.
Who has Made the Most Maximum Breaks at the Crucible?: It’s Ronnie O’Sullivan who has sank the most maximum breaks in World Snooker Championship history, recording three of his 15 career 147s at The Crucible. His first Crucible maximum against Michael Price in 1997 was also the fastest ever completed competitively, having been accomplished in just five minutes and eight seconds.
What’s the Biggest Win in World Finals History?: The World Championship final is usually contested over the best-of-35 frames and four sessions, but Steve Davis’ final triumph against John Parrott in 1989 saw him prevail by the margin of 18-3. This is the biggest winning margin in the sport’s modern era, while the match also ended with an entire session to spare!
The World Championship 2022 Betting Odds
The 2022 iteration of the World Snooker Championship is scheduled to start on April 16th, with the qualifiers having commenced on the 4th and set to conclude on the 13th).
The final will be contested on the Bank Holiday of Monday, May 2nd, with several players in contention to lift this most coveted trophy and its £500,000 prize.
Below, we’ve outlined the three favourites for the 2022 Snooker World Championship, along with a brief profile and their form as they head into the tournament.
1. Neil Robertson (AUS) – 7/2
The form player and new favourite to win the 2022 World Snooker Championship at an average price of 7/2, Australian Neil Robertson is well-placed to claim his second world title and first since 2010.
The ‘Thunder from Down Under’ has certainly been consistently excellent through the 2021/22 season, winning the English Open, the non-ranking Masters and the Players Championship between November and March.
Even more recently, Robertson retained his Tour Championship title, beating John Higgins 10-9 in a thrilling final earlier this month. This was also his 23rd ranking title, making him the sport’s sixth-most successful player ever alongside current rival Judd Trump.
Robertson will undoubtedly start the tournament as the man to beat, and the world number three will take some stopping on the biggest of stages.
2. Judd Trump (ENG) – 9/2
On the subject of Trump, the ‘Juddernaut’ will enter the 2022 World Snooker Championship as second favourite with an average price of 9/2.
Trump was the ante-post favourite at the beginning of the year, but a relatively indifferent run of form that seen him win just the Champion of Champions tournament and the little-known Turkish Masters.
This has seen Robertson draw level with him on 23 ranking titles, as Trump failed to reach a single semi-final or final until his 12th appearance of the season at the 2022 Welsh Open.
His relatively inconsistent 2021/22 form has seen Trump slump from first to fourth in the world rankings, and he’ll need to address this slide if he is to claim his second world title.
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan (ENG) – 11/2
No list of this type would be complete without featuring O’Sullivan, who has been competing at the World Snooker Championship since the 1992/93 season. He’s also the six-time winner of the tournament, with his most recent triumph coming as recently as 2020.
With 38 ranking titles to his name, O’Sullivan is also the most successful snooker player in history, and it’s partially this immense pedigree (allied with his huge talent) that has made him the 11/2 third favourite to lift the title in 2022.
However, these odds mask a challenging season for O’Sullivan, whose sole ranking title came in December at the World Grand Prix. This also ended a 16-month trophy hiatus for O’Sullivan, although his form has improved incrementally through 2022 to date.
As a result, he’s now ranked number one in the world as of April 4th, and he appears to be finding his form at the perfect time ahead of his favourite tournament.
The Best Snooker World Championship Betting Markets
If you are going to wager on the World Snooker Championship, you’ll need to identify the tournament’s best and most lucrative betting markets.
We’ve selected three of the best betting markets below, while asking why they’re so popular in relation to this particular tournament.
1. Accumulator Betting
There are 16 matches in the opening round of the World Snooker Championship, with the format of the draw structured to ensure that the top four seeds are separated and kept apart until the semi-finals at the earliest.
As a result, the initial round-of-16 tends to see a handful of mismatches that pit top-ranked players against qualifiers, creating the potential to combine a number of likely winners in a single accumulator bet.
With an accumulator (or ‘acca’) wager, you’ll combine anywhere between four and 20 selections in a single bet, with each individual price multiplied to create extended and more favourable odds. Each selection must come in for the bet to be successful, hence the need to focus on short-price favourites where possible.
Undoubtedly, the opening round of the 2022 World Snooker Championship enables you to engage selectively in acca betting and achieve a significant return on your bankroll.
2. Handicap Betting
On a similar note, the formative rounds of the tournament may also be suitable for handicap betting.
With this type of wagering, you’ll apply a virtual handicap to one participant in their match against other, usually as a way of lengthening the odds associated with short-price favourites. Your selection will have to win by a margin that factors in the handicap for the bet to be successful, so it needs to be deployed selectively and sensibly at all times.
During the first round, players like Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan will all be drawn against plucky qualifiers to play in a best-of-19 frame encounter.
This creates the potential for them to win by significant margins, so you can theoretically apply –3 and –4 frame margins enhance the odds on offer without overly compromising your chances of winning.
3. Over / Under Betting
We’ll close with over / under betting, which is incredibly popular among World Snooker Championship markets.
There are a couple of iterations of this market. Firstly, you can wager on the winning margin in a specific match, with this also ideal when looking to bet on a short-price favourite to record a heavy victory. During a first round game between Trump and a qualifier, for example, you could back the former to win by a margin that’s higher than 3.5 frames as a way of accessing higher value odds.
Another iteration enables you to wager on how many frames will be completed in a particular match. In a best-of-19 contest featuring a heavy favourite, for example, you may decide that it will be concluded in under 14.5 frames (with a winning margin of 10-4). So long as the outcome is decided before the 15th frame, your bet will come in and you can bank your hard-earned winnings!
Our Snooker Betting Tips – What You Need to Know
While these betting markets may appeal, the question that remains is how can you leverage them to your advantage? We’ll conclude our World Championship snooker betting guide with some detailed tips, so that you can wager sensibly and make the most of your hard-earned bankroll!
1. Limit Your Number of Acca Bets
Accumulator betting can include any number of selections within a single wager but featuring too many outcomes can dramatically undermine your chances of winning. Ideally, we’d recommend that you cap your number of acca selections at between four and six, taking into account the fact that there are 16 first round games at the World Championship and the need to select potential mismatches carefully.
From here, you’ll need to prioritise backing short-price favourites who are highly likely to win their respective matches, so that they can deliver for your acca while contributing to an incrementally higher price.
2. Don’t Ignore Form When Handicap Betting
The very practice of handicap betting requires you to put one participant (usually a short price favourite) at a significant disadvantage against their opponent. So, they won’t just have to win their match, but they’ll also need to prevail by a potentially sizable margin.
With this in mind, it makes sense to study the form of participating players rather than simply accepting their pedigree and status in the game.
For example, four-time and defending World Champion Mark Selby has endured a trophyless 2020/21 season to date, but remains the number one seed at the 2022 tournament. So, while he’ll likely draw a qualifier and progress to the second round, he may not offer great value from a handicap perspective.
Instead, we’d recommend highlighting which short-price favourites are in the best form (such as Neil Robertson) and the quality of their opponents during the first two rounds in particular.
3. Never Overlook the Importance of Past Performance
There’s an old adage which suggests that while form is temporary, class remains permanent. This is certainly true in sports like snooker, and in this respect, you should consider each player’s historical performance at the Crucible before executing your wagers.
If we take Selby as an example, we see a consistent player who regularly reserves his best form for the biggest stage. His two World Championship wins in 2014 and 2016 were his only ranking tournament successes in these years too, so he has a history of performing well at the Crucible regardless of his wider form.
The same can be said for Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the world title six times and always performs incrementally better depending on the scale of the occasion. So, despite the Rocket’s relatively indifferent form in 2021/22, he remains a viable selection across a range of betting markets (including outright wagering and acca betting).