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We’re heading towards the early May bank holiday in the UK and that means that it is the time of the year when the top snooker players in the world head to The Crucible theatre in Sheffield to participate in the sport’s showpiece event of the season, the World Snooker Championship.

Current holder Ronnie O’Sullivan is just one of a host of top players hoping to secure the title in what is one of the biggest tests for players in terms of quality and endurance. With even first round games played over the best of 19, going through to the best of 35-frame final, stamina is almost as important as talent when it comes to this event.

All the top names from the world of snooker are in Sheffield for the tournament to begin, with the first round getting underway over the weekend and being run to completion over the remainder of this week. In this article, we’ll review some of the first round action, preview the rest and then give you details on who we see as the eventual Champion.

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Let’s now take a look at the results of the First Round matches that have been played to a conclusion so far across the weekend, before we preview the remaining matches and give you our pick as to who will win the tournament.

World Snooker Championship – 1st Round Results

(Seedings shown in brackets)

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 10-4 Mark Joyce
  • Stephen Maguire (8) 4-10 Jamie Jones
  • Neil Robertson (3) 10-3 Liang Wenbo
  • Yan Bingtao (10) 10-6 Martin Gould
  • David Gilbert (15) 10-4 Chris Wakelin

First Round Games In Progress

  • John Higgins (5) 3-4 Tian Pengfei
  • Anthony McGill (16) 5-4 Rick Walden

Remaining First Round Games

  • Kyren Wilson (6) v Gary Wilson
  • Ding Junhui (9) v Stuart Bingham
  • Jack Lisowski (14) v Ali Carter
  • Mark Allen (13) v Lyu Haotian
  • Judd Trump (2) v Liam Highfield
  • Barry Hawkins (11) v Matthew Selt
  • Mark Williams (12) v Sam Craigie
  • Shaun Murphy (7) v Mark Davis
  • Mark Selby (4) v Kurt Maflin

The draw for the tournament is seeded with the top seed (Ronnie O’Sullivan) set to take on either the 16th seed Anthony McGill or Ricky Walden in the second round.

Are There Any Potential First Round Shocks To Come?

Stephen Maguire’s loss to Welshman Jamie Jones has been the surprise result of the competition so far, especially when you consider that the Scottish player was 3-0 up in that game and then went on to lose ten of the next 11 frames.

However, there could be a few other upsets in the first round which has given some of the seeds some very testing games. One of those is China’s Ding Junhui who faces a former Crucible World Champion in Stuart Bingham, a player that is now starting to find his best form again. Jack Liswoski also faces another veteran from this tournament, in former finalist Ali Carter.

Another game to watch is the one in play at the moment between John Higgins and Tian Penfei. The Chinese player was 4-1 up in that game before Higgins mounted a first session comeback to trail 4-3, but the Scotsman will have to play a lot better in the second session to avoid being under real threat of a first round exit.

Despite the trickiness of those three games, I would expect the majority of seeds, as has been the case in the games already played, to make it through into the Second Round of the tournament at least and that is when things start to really heat up.

Who Are The Big Contenders This Year?

Ronnie O’Sullivan (4/1)

  • World Title Wins – 6 – 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020
  • Ranking Event Wins – 37
  • Current Ranking – 2
  • Tournament Ranking – 1

Now that he plays in a reduced number of tournaments, Ronnie O’Sullivan has just one win to his name this season, the Premier League, although he was a beaten finalist in both the World Open and The Masters. Having reached the semifinals of this tournament in four of the last six years, winning it twice, he is non for a record-equalling seventh world title this season if he can maintain his very best form.

Judd Trump (11/4 favourite)

  • World Title Wins – 1 – 2019
  • Ranking Event Wins – 22
  • Current Ranking – 1
  • Tournament Ranking – 2

Judd Trump has had another stellar season this time around winning the English Open, Northern Ireland Open, World Grand Prix, German Masters and Gibraltar Open, as well as being a beaten finalist in the UK Championship and Championship League. One of the most talented players in history, Trump has now teamed that with consistency and it is this which has seen him ranked as the favourite for the tournament.

Neil Robertson (4/1)

  • World Title Wins – 1 – 2010
  • Ranking Event Wins – 20
  • Current Ranking – 3
  • Tournament Ranking – 3

Having landed the UK Championship and the Tour Championship this season, as well as being a beaten finalist in the English Open, Neil Robertson comes into this event as one of the form players. Sporting a new permed hairdo, the only Australian World Champion was in great form in the first round, winning with ease against Liang Wenbo and he looks primed for another excellent run in the tournament.

Who Is Our Pick To Win The Tournament?

I do think that the semifinal in the bottom half of the draw will be Robertson v Trump and in the top half, I think O’Sullivan will take on perhaps one of the surprise players of the tournament, Stuart Bingham may be one good shout here, or maybe another renaissance performance by Mark Williams is on the cards.

Despite that, I do expect O’Sullivan to reach the final and I think it is most likely that Judd Trump will win the other semifinal and that would set up, what is for many, a dream contest. Trump v O’Sullivan would be a match featuring the most dynamic and exciting players of the modern era and could be an absolute treat for snooker fans.

As to who would win, my heart says O’Sullivan for thai seventh World Title to equal Stephen Hendry’s mark, but I think greater consistency and the fact he has more match experience this year would mean I would have to go with Judd Trump to win.