Right now, John Higgins would be my clear title favourite on many grounds: the motivation of winning it for his father, the chance to answer his critics (myself included) in the best way possible and the most important factor of all: he is the best player in the World, title or no title.
Who can stop him? Well, I think Mark Williams, Mark Selby & Neil Robertson are the main contenders to so. I wouldn't write off Shaun Murphy, he played well up to the semi-finals in Beijing and bossed Higgins over their best-of-9 encounter, and has beaten Higgins over 25 frames before, very impressively at that.
Williams, well, he's quality, but I'm not sure if that killer instinct of about eight years ago remains. Is he as hungry? His performance in losing to Stephen Lee proves the quality is still there, but it's hard for me to imagine the Williams of circa 2003 losing that UK final from that position to Higgins.
Selby played a blinder in China, I've often criticised him for playing to avoid losing rather than going for the jugular, but he was quite simply magnificent up against magnificent plus one in that final. Can he win the World Title? Of course, but he's got to maintain a positive approach
Robertson has been off the boil for a few months, but his form hasn't been awful. Indeed, he came into last year's tournament pretty cold and left a deserving World Champion. He's a strong player under pressure, a natural born winner and a man with no fear of the Crucible.
Of the dark horses, I think Dott represents the most appealing prospect. I can see him putting it up to the likes of Robertson and Selby should he meet them, and who knows, a fourth world final may not be out of the question for the diminutive Scot...
Trump is quality, and if he can beat Robertson, well, he's a contender, make no mistake, young or not. I don't think he will beat Robertson, but I'm hoping for a clash fitting of a Crucible opener.
- Posts: 5009
- Joined: 02 October 2009
- Location: Ireland
- Snooker Idol: Ronnie OSullivan
- Highest Break: 49