Sunday 1st May. 2PM. BBC & British Eurosport
A fascinating fortnight of snooker has seen 30 of the world’s best players bite the dust, and now just 18 frames stand in the way of Ding Junhui or Mark Selby lifting the 2016 World Championship trophy.
With a cheque for £330,000 and the honour of winning snooker’s ultimate crown at stake, both men will be out to perform at the famous Crucible Theatre. For different reasons, these have been the best players over the fortnight and we should expect nothing less than a thrilling final over the next two days.
Who will lift the crown? There’s only one way to find out.
Can Ding Make History For Asian Snooker?
At a time when Barry Hearn has worked wonders to expand the sport around the world, Ding Junhui has undoubtedly been the flag-bearer for Asian snooker. The 29-year-old has racked up 11 ranking titles during his career, reaching the last eight or better on three previous occasions in Sheffield. The Popular Chinese superstar has already made history by reaching the final, but he’ll be desperate to become the first Asian name on the trophy.
If he plays like he has over the past two weeks, then he’ll have every chance. The qualifier has dominated most of his early matches from the early stages, and hit seven centuries in his 17-11 semi-final win over Alan McManus to record the most centuries in a single match ever at the World Championships. With inspired from like that, the former world number one certainly has a chance.
The likeable first-time finalist could potentially crack under the pressure, but he has looked an extremely cool customer over the past two weeks. This is the biggest match of his life, and a good first session could set him up for the ultimate triumph.
If he does, the growing Asian fanbase will be ecstatic.
Can The Jester Work His Magic
Make no mistake; in terms of style, this has been anything but Selby’s best. However, the 2014 champion has shown an incredible ability to grind out results over the past two weeks and now finds himself just one match away from a second crown.
With the Foxes looking to wrap up the Premier League title at Old Trafford on Sunday, it could be the perfect weekend for Leicester. Selby will determined to keep up his end in this, his third final in Sheffield; as long as he doesn’t fall too far behind, many will fancy him to do just that.
On paper, Selby’s route to the final has been easier as he avoided the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Barry Hawkins due to early casualties. Will that make a telling difference as he prepares for an encounter against a player deemed capable of winning it for the first time this year?
Whether we see sensational Selby or gritty Selby, it should be an intense spectacle. You wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.
World Snooker Championship Final Betting
The bookies are struggling to call this one, but Bet365 have established Ding as the slight favourite at odds of 4/5. Selby, meanwhile, is available at Evens.
One way or the other, the first session will be crucial. Ding will be desperate to start well, especially in that opening four-game mini session. Given the way he’s started all tournament, we’re expecting him to establish that early lead.
It won’t necessarily lead him to victory, but it would help set up a thrilling final. However, we cant see him winning four on the spin. Back the 3-1.
The one thing we all hope for is a match of intense drama. There’s absolutely no question that the two stars have enough quality to produce it.
This year’s tournament will be a record-breaker in terms of centuries made, and we’re confident that the final will last long enough to bring a few more.