World Snooker Championship: Does anybody want to win?

Updated: April 25, 2016

The World Snooker Championship has reached the halfway mark as our very own JAMIE DAVIES reflects on the action so far.


After a week of limitless drama and giant killings at the Crucible, does anyone want to pick up the World Snooker Championship?


The first ever media day to take place at the championships, less than 24 hours before the opening break, hosted the top 16 players competing for the world title. For some, they were bidding for another success in Sheffield but for others their aim was to finally get their hands on the prestigious prize once and for all.


Stuart Bingham, the defending champion, fell short to become the latest addition to ‘The curse of the Crucible’ on the very first day. For outsiders, the curse is when a first time world champion fails to retain the title in the following year. So yes, even the best players to approach the table such as Steve Davis, Alex Higgins and Stephen Hendry have been cursed.


It is a strange feeling walking around the theatre glimpsing at priceless pictures of Bingham with the trophy knowing his season has ended on just day one.



Well that did not go to plan


Following on from the champion’s defeat, a knock out virus seem to spread to the big stars of the sport including Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson against brave performances from ready to go competitors who showed no fear.


As well as all this drama in the opening weekend, we received the news of Steve Davis announcing retirement after 38 years of professional snooker. The Sunday afternoon crowd were like in a Big Brother house, unaware of the announcement until Rob Walker broke the news on centre stage. Davis walked out with the astonishing silverware that he once lifted on six occasions. The scene was incredible full of heartwarming fans mixed with big cheers and non-stop praise for the legend of the game, it left you with goosebumps and memories you will remember for a very long time.


Attending Davis’ final press conference, the 58-year-old shared his reasons for hanging up the cue and it was all down to the sad death of his father who passed away just weeks before the qualifiers. The moment Steve mentioned his Dad, tears were shed having to pause on his response to a journalist’s question. Everybody in the room felt his pain. This was a father who supported and followed his son from day one to make him the legend he would become as well as dominating the sport for so many years. It maybe goodbye to the playing days but ‘the Nugget’ is here to stay in punditry terms.



Farewell to a legend


Only three days in, some guy called Ronnie O’Sullivan refused to turn up for his press conference after a first round victory. Shocking behaviour, but this guy keeps on hitting the back pages and did so the morning after creating much publicity for the sport. Remember, any publicity is good publicity.


One problem for Ronnie, he does not seem to be in the right frame of mind and was believed to have not been happy with his first round performance. A 17 day tournament can be quite a challenge for the Rocket to maintain and while writing this post, the five time winner has been trailing Barry Hawkins at least until the final session of the second round. With the line-up losing many potentials, would this be a huge blow for Ronnie if not making it to the very end?


The chairman of World Snooker Barry Hearn hosted a press conference with a delightful gift of champagne to the media. Mr Hearn made a few announcements including the Masters trophy to be named after Paul Hunter after a decade since his death from cancer. A fitting tribute to a player who won the competition three times and a people’s champion who sadly departed at such a young age of 26.


LONDON - FEBRUARY 8: Paul Hunter celebrates winning The Masters Snooker Final after beating Ronnie O'Sullivan of England at Wembley Conference Centre February 8, 2004 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

A legend remembered: Paul Hunter to be named on the Masters trophy


Hearn wanted to share his reaction to Davis’ retirement. Davis rang up Hearn before the world qualifiers to say he was retiring once his campaign came to an end in Sheffield. The chairman’s reaction on the phone: “Steve, you retired 10 years ago we just didn’t have the heart to tell you”.  Yes, but we never wanted him to say goodbye.


One daily role at the Crucible is sending out press cuttings in and around the venue which included the player’s lounge and the television presenter’s HQ. When dropping off papers to Hazel Irvine each morning, we had a delightful chat about her experience presenting this year’s Masters golf for the Beeb and being informed of this year’s green jacket winner, Danny Willett popping by on the second Monday.


Entering the player’s lounge included conversations with commentator Willie Thorne, presenter Jason Mohammed and talking to Dennis Taylor just days after suffering from an appendicitis. Taylor looked very well and was great to see him back for the rest of the tournament.


But nothing beat O’Sullivan picking up the press cuttings as he said: “Oy, oy. The newspaper is talking about me again.” Reacting back to Ronnie: “You sound surprised?” and he responded: “Naah mate”. Whether he is your cup of tea or not, he is a great character.


On the second weekend, Mark Williams secured a place for the quarter-finals to be the only remaining Welshman for the title. Gareth Blainey from BBC Radio Wales was delighted to be at the Crucible at least until the second Thursday, four days before the grand final. Could Williams make another final?


As someone who was born in a great city called Chester, the mission was to support 2013 semi-finalist and local lad Ricky Walden going up against highly decorated John Higgins. A friend said on Facebook that their partner once sold wedding rings to the 2016 Player’s Championship winner, now that’s a story.


The scoreline did not go the way it was wanted in the session but felt good to back a local.



Supporting the local lad


So after a week of snooker with a handful of qualifiers still in the running by overcoming the favourites, just who is going to win the biggest tournament on the snooker calendar?


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