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Snooker World Championship predictions: The Rocket set for blast off
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Aaron Ashley
Ronnie O'Sullivan will be chasing an eighth World Championship title in Sheffield
Ronnie O'Sullivan will be chasing an eighth World Championship title in Sheffield

- Ronnie O’Sullivan is a seven-time world champion including wins in 2020 and 2022
- O’Sullivan has lost only five of his last 25 matches
- Recommended bets:
Ronnie O’Sullivan to win
Shaun Murphy each-way

The World Championship is the pinnacle of snooker and all eyes will be on Ronnie O’Sullivan as he bids for a record-breaking eighth Crucible crown.

The Rocket equalled Stephen Hendry's modern record of seven World Championship triumphs in 2022 and, despite being 48 years of age, he remains the man that they all have to beat.

Luca Brecel defeated O’Sullivan in the quarter-final last season before going on to claim his maiden title, overcoming four-time champion Mark Selby 18–15 in the final.

But this campaign has been all about O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, who have won 10 of the 22 tournaments that have taken place this season between them.

However, those two giants of the sport are on course to clash in a star-studded semi-final, which means plenty others will fancy their chances of going all the way.

Avoiding O’Sullivan and Trump in the top half of the draw are the likes of defending champion and top seed Brecel, Selby, Mark Allen, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy, all of whom will be feeling pretty optimistic.

The stats

The 32-runner field consists of 16 Englishmen, six Welshman, five Chinese players, two Scots, a Belgian, a Northern Irishman and an Iranian.

Eight of the 32 players in the draw are former World Championship winners and 10 of the last 12 winners have been English.

Brecel, hailing from Belgium, became the first continental European to lift the trophy last season.

Joe O'Connor, who came through qualifying, is the only debutant in the draw.

O’Sullivan is a seven-time world champion, including wins in 2020 and 2022, and he has lost only five of his last 25 matches.

Trump has made at least the quarter-final in five of his last seven visits to Sheffield.

Shaun Murphy could enjoy an extended run at the Crucible this year
Shaun Murphy could enjoy an extended run at the Crucible this year


Having turned up in peak shape to all the big events this season, O’Sullivan is a difficult man to oppose as he seeks an eighth Crucible crown.

Despite playing in only 11 events this season, the Rocket has won five titles and finished runner-up once, claiming silverware at both the Masters and the UK Championship meaning he is aiming to become only the fourth player to win all three Triple Crown events in a single campaign.

Trump may be a tricky obstacle to pass in the semi-final but there are few concerns before then, as he opens up against Welsh youngster Jackson Page before meeting Barry Hawkins or Ryan Day in round two.

Good friend Ding Junhui looks like being his most likely quarter-final opponent but O’Sullivan has lost only seven of their 33 previous encounters, which tells its own story.

And the Rocket should also have Trump’s measure were they to meet in the last four as he has won their last five rivalries which includes three finals over a longer format.

That makes O’Sullivan the one they all have to beat but there is each-way value to be had in the top half of the draw, with 2005 champion and three-time runner-up Murphy perhaps the pick of those options..

It has been a slow-burning season for the Magician but there has been enough evidence to suggest he has been peaking for the Sheffield showpiece.

And the draw also looks kind for Murphy, who opens up against Lyu Haotian before a potential last-16 duel with Ali Carter or Stephen Maguire.

Defending champion Brecel would be his toughest quarter-final opponent but the Belgian has flattered to deceive this season and would not be sure to emulate last season’s heroics.

With a semi-final place his for the taking, Murphy must make plenty of appeal at what are lucrative odds.

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