Snooker World Championship

Ah. It's that time of the year again. The World Championship in Snooker, which means many ours a day in front of the TV.

Actually it already started yesterday and with one of the favorites being eliminated immediately. Graeme Dott, the defending champion and ranked no. 1 on the provisional world ranking lost against Ian McCulloch. It's clear that the pressure was too much to handle for Dott; McCulloch didn't win because played particularly good, he just had a lot of luck and could benefit from the fact that Dott's nervousness made him unable to pot. And so the curse is still unbroken: no-one has ever defended the world championship title when they won it the first time.

So who's going to win? It's harder than ever to predict winners in snooker tournaments but that makes it even more interesting to try. One player that has stood out this year is Neil Robertson, Australia's young snooker wiz. He's already won two tournaments this year, a feat in itself these days. I think he will make it quite far.

Another player which always plays well is Ken Doherty, Ireland's no.1 sportsman ever. He never has these slumps of bad snooker that some of the other top player has and so you always have to take him into account. Doherty plays a very graceful snooker and it would be good to see him make it far in the tournament. He has won the World Championship once before.

A lot of people has put money on Ding Junhui, the extremely talented Chinese teenager. However, his odds went down dramatically when it was revealed whom he was going to play in the first round: Ronnie O'Sullivan. That match is currently in a break and will finish tomorrow, but so far is seems that O'Sullivan is giving Ding the same treatment as in the Masters Final. Ronnie O'Sullivan currently has a 8 to 1 lead where they play first to 10. So I think we can safely rule out Ding Junhui from this years World Championship. It's actually been kind of sad to see him after the Masters Final. He hasn't been himself and hasn't played very well every since then. It seems he hasn't been able to recover from the total knockout he got from his idol. And things are not going to get better if he gets the same treatment in this tournament. I hope that he can pull himself together over the summer break and come back to the extremely fine snooker that he is able to play in his best moments.

What about Ronnie O'Sullivan then? He should surely be a favorite to win. Yes, he's always a favorite in every tournament but I don't have very big hopes despite his brilliant play against Ding. He has this problem of maintaining his good play throughout a whole tournament. Sometimes it seems as if he just can't motivate himself to play good snooker, especially against players that are not among the top ten. It's like it takes a real challenge for him to even bother. So, while I think that Ronnie O'Sullivan is the best snooker player in the world I'm also aware of his shortcomings. But I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

There are of course a couple of other players that are good contenders. Stephen Hendry, Peter Ebdon, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy and Matthew Stevens are some of those to look out for. But the names I mentioned above are those that I wanted to comment on. It's going to be an exciting couple of weeks.

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