Saga of Snooker World Championship

Let me tell my readers about the World Championship of Snooker which is true test of players skills, mind concentration and above all patience of the players as the finalists have to play continuously for five days (see the format in next para) three days in semi finals and the final played over two days with almost 40 hours of energy sapping snooker in semi final and final. Except Chess no other sports in the World have this kind of time in the semi finals and final of World Championship and it is the hardest and toughest test of a sportsman and true treat for the spectators in the arena as well as in the globe on television and computer.

The first round is played over 19 frames played in two sessions. The second round and quarter-finals are the best of 25 frames played over 3 sessions while the semi-finals and final are played over 4 sessions, the semi-finals being over 33 frames and the final 35 frames. For the first 12 days of the tournament two matches are played concurrently. For the last 5 days (the semi-finals and final) only one table is used and the final two players end up playing daily on those five last day with around 10 hours per day. Hats off to the players for their endurance, stamina and skills.

As the season of 2016-2017 concluded with the World Number One player Jester from Leicester Mark Selby deservedly won his third World Title in four years by beating seasoned -Wizard of Wishaw and four time World Champion John Higgins in a very fascinating match by 18-15.

Prize money for the 2017 Championship was a record £1,750,000 with the winner receiving £375,000. In a high-quality and tightly contested semi-final, defending champion Mark Selby beat Ding Junhui 17–15 in a repeat of the previous year's final. Selby met John Higgins, in a repeat of the 2007 final. Higgins was the second oldest Crucible finalist at 41 years, 348 days; only Ray Reardon had been older. Selby trailed 4–10 during the second session but then won 12 of the next 14 frames to lead 16–12. Higgins won the next three frames but Selby took the title 18–15, becoming champion for the third time in four years, joining Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, and Ronnie O Sullivan as the only men to have successfully defended the title since its move to the Crucible.

With this win, Selby has set many new milestones:-

  • Becomes the fifth player to win three world titles at the Crucible, after Hendry (7), Davis (6), O Sullivan (5) and Higgins (4)
  • Banks the biggest prize in snooker history, £375,000
  • Smashes Hendrys long-standing record of £740,000 for the most prize money earned in a single season. Selby has won £932,000 in 2016/17
  • Equals the record of five ranking events won in a single season, set by Hendry and Ding Junhui.
  • Wins his 12th career ranking title, bringing him equal sixth on the all-time list alongside Neil Robertson and Ding
  • Captures his eighth Triple Crown title having won three Masters and two UK Championships
  • Becomes the sixth player to win the World and UK titles in the same season after Davis, Hendry, O Sullivan, Higgins and Mark Williams
  • Takes back to back ranking titles for the first time in his career and becomes the first player to win the China Open and World Championship consecutively

This year signified the 40th anniversary of snooker s showcase event being hosted at the sport s Theatre of Dreams – the Crucible in Sheffield.

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It could not have been marked in any better way than a final between two of the finest competitors to grace the Sheffield venue. However, 17 days of high quality action was the treat for every snooker lover across the World.

We have seen an array of superb shot-making throughout the 2017 World Championship. There was Shaun Murphy s outrageous trick shot which went viral on social media and Stephen Maguire s drilled pressure black to stay in his quarter-final with Barry Hawkins. However, the effort which sticks out for pure skill came from Selby in the 17th frame of his semi-final with Ding: a phenomenal long blue running off the side cushion to develop the reds.

The format for the World Championship has been largely unchanged since 1982. It has a knock-out format with 32 players, contested over 17 days ending on the first Monday in May, which is a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

16 of the players reach the final stages directly while the other 16 get there through a qualifying competition. The reigning world champion receives a direct entry and is the number 1 seed. The remaining direct entries are based on the latest world rankings, players being seeded based on these world rankings. Since the defending champion is normally ranked in the top 16, the top 16 ranked players generally receive a direct entry.

A number of changes to the qualifying system came into effect for the 2015 championship. All living world champions would be extended an opportunity to play in the qualifying rounds. The top 16 seeds would still qualify automatically for the first round at the Crucible, but all non-seeded players would have to start in the first of three qualifying rounds. Previously players seeded 17 to 32 only had to win one qualifying match to reach the final stages. The overall championship would increase from 128 to 144 players, with the additional places made available to former world champions and players from emerging countries.

The World Snooker Championship is the leading snooker tournament both in terms of prestige and prize money. The first championship was held in 1927 and was won by Joe Davis. Davis won the first 15 championships before retiring from the event, undefeated, after his 1946 success. In the 1950s snooker went into a period of decline and the championship was not held after 1952, although an unofficial championship was held until 1957. In 1964 the championship was revived on a challenge basis and in 1969 the championship became a knock-out event again. Since 1977 it has been played at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. The tournament is currently played over 17 days and ends on the first Monday in May. In the modern era (since 1969), the best record is that of Stephen Hendry, who won the title seven times. 

Written By : Dr. Ravindra Kumar Gupta

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