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Snooker World Championship: Crucible Review

Ronnie O'Sullivan moved alongside Stephen Hendry with a record-equalling seventh World Snooker Championship title thanks to a commanding 18-13 victory over Judd Trump on Bank Holiday Monday.

The writing was on the wall from an early stage of the two-day final with O'Sullivan racing into a 12-5 lead and, although Trump offered a brief fightback, the damage had already been done.

It was a high-quality final featuring six centuries - three apiece - but the Rocket was in a class of his own, with Trump still trying to unearth his A-game despite being able to battle his way to a title decider.

The Rocket, who turned professional in 1992, is considered the greatest of all-time and his longevity has seen him claim a record 39 ranking titles, 21 of which have come in snooker's Triple Crown events - the World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters.

O'Sullivan's victory also makes him the oldest world champion in Crucible history and this win comes 21 years after he defeated old foe John Higgins to win his first title in 2001.

The world number one is 7/2 to win the BBC Sports Personality of Year 2022 after his Sheffield heroics.

It was a third final for Trump, who claimed his maiden world title in 2019, and the Juddernaut is 9/2 to go one better next year. O'Sullivan is 4/1 to retain his title.

Class of 92 still have plenty to offer

Not only was O'Sullivan crowned champion but two of the other three semi-finalists were also members of the fabled Class of 92, showing they still have plenty to offer despite their ageing years.

John Higgins survived a final-frame decider against Jack Lisowski to book his place in the World Championship semi-finals, while Mark Williams beat Yan Bingtao 13-11 in his quarter-final and O'Sullivan outclassed Stephen Maguire 13-5.

It was the first time the trio – who all turned professional 30 years ago – had made the last four of Sheffield's showpiece since 1999, but highlighted that they should be underestimated at your peril.

Three-time world champion Williams topped the century chart with 16 breaks of 100 or more and is 20/1 for victory at the Crucible next year, while Higgins, a four-time winner of the event, is 10/1.

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The Crucible curse continues for 147 hero Robertson

Neil Robertson has arguably been the standout performer in 2022, with wins at the Players Championship, Tour Championship and the Masters.

The Aussie also clinched a £40,000 reward for his perfect 147 against Lisowski in the second-round of this season's World Championships, but it wasn't enough to steer him into the last eight.

The Crucible curse continued for the pre-tournament favourite, with the third seed having failed to make the final in Sheffield since winning his maiden crown in 2010.

In fact, Robertson has failed to make the semi-final in any of his last eight visits to the Crucible Theatre and for a player of his ability that must be of some concern.

The 40-year-old will obviously be trying hard to break that duck and he is 5/1 to put an end to his treacherous record with a second world title in 2023.

China in a safe place with Bingtao and Xintong leading the charge

Experience came to the fore at this season's World Championships but impressive Chinese duo Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong should have plenty to say in years to come.

Bingtao, who is still only 22 and already a Masters champion, was beaten 13-11 by Williams in the quarter-final but it was a game settled by fine margins.

Even so, he had defeated defending champion Mark Selby 13-10 in the second round and showed he has the all-round game and temperament to go all the way to the top.

Bingtao is 16/1 to be crowned world champion in 2023 and his classy compatriot Xintong is also 16/1.

Xintong was beaten 13-9 by a determined Maguire in the second-round but he won the UK Championship in December, so is certainly not one to shy away from the challenge.

His long-potting and cue-ball control are huge assets and this was only his second Crucible appearance, so time is still well and truly on his side.

World Seniors Championship heads to town

The thrills and spills at the Crucible Theatre are not over just yet, with Wednesday marking the start of the World Seniors Championship.

The eight seeds receive a bye to the last-16 (second round) and it's an illustrious list of names that feature former world champions Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, Joe Johnson and John Parrott,  as well as Jimmy White.

Throw in the likes of David Lilley, Michael Holt, Peter Lines, Rory McLeod, Lee Walker, Michael Judge and Nigel Bond, all of whom have won matches on the main Tour in recent times, and it is a competitive field.

Lilley is the defending champion after beating White last year and, having got to within one match of qualifying for the main event where he lost 10-7 to Ding Junhui, may have his followers at 11/2.

However, Holt, who at 43 is one of the youngest in the line-up, looks a worthy favourite at 10/3, given he was a ranking event winner on the main tour just two years ago.

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