Happy Crucible Eve, everybody

The first in a tournament-long series of dispatches from Betfred TV’s Mark Pearson, in Sheffield

The sun is shining, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, so what better way to start than by watching 17 days of top-quality green baize action.

I’m lucky enough to be here, but if I wasn’t I would be sat in the garden (with a shandy) watching the snooker.

And after 2 difficult years, if you are coming to the Crucible the bars are open and our betting shop is back !

The 2022 Betfred World Snooker Championship gets underway at the fabled Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday morning, with 32 of the world’s finest cueists battling on the baize.

Reigning champion Mark Selby will strike the first cue ball at 10am against Welshman Jamie Jones, a match the four-time champion of the world is 1/6 to win.

The Jester from Leicester hasn’t had the greatest of seasons by his standards with just a World Grand Prix semi-final appearance to his name, and recently took the brave decision to air some personal issues that have plagued him.

The Crucible does bring out the best in him though, and he can be backed at 9/1 to retain his crown, just like in 2017. He was nice and relaxed at today’s press day, and the 4-time victor will get a brilliant reception. Here’s my exclusive chat with Mark, ahead of the big day tomorrow.

The man to beat this year looks to be Neil Robertson, who counts the Masters among his four wins on tour this campaign and is 7/2 favourite to win his second title, twelve years on from his first.

The Thunder from Down Under has fallen at the last eight stage for the last three years but comes into this on the back of his most successful season, and is a worthy favourite.

Conversely, Judd Trump, who went into last year’s competition after cleaning up on tour, has not as been as dominant but comes into the tournament a fresher player, having played plenty fewer matches than 12 months ago and will have his supporters at 11/2, to follow up his 2019 World crown.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is next in at 6/1 to equal Stephen Hendry’s modern-era record of seven World titles. The greatest man with a piece of wood since Noah enters the tournament as World No. 1, and can never be dismissed.

Neither can the other players form the “Class of ‘92”, John Higgins and Mark Williams. In fact, it is 7/2 with Betfred that one of this veteran trio rule the world on May Day with THIRTEEN world titles between them.

Higgins is a 14/1 shot to win a fifth title having also been a four-time beaten finalist, while Williams is a 33/1 poke.

Betfred go 9/4 that a new name is written on the trophy. But there won’t be a new name on the trophy.

You need course and distance winners for this stamina test, that’s why I’m going for Mark Selby in the top half, and John Higgins each-way in the bottom half.

Can’t wait – enjoy, and savour.

Mark Pearson

Betfred World Snooker Championship betting – a comprehensive look at all the markets.