World Championship Contenders: Seeds 9-16

World Championship Contenders: Seeds 9-16

In a first of three part special, Vavel takes a look at who will be looking to lift the coveted trophy at the Crucible.

Chris Lincoln

With the World Championships just around the corner, the top 16 players in the World will be eagerly awaiting the opening draw to see who they face in their first match of a challenging fortnight at the Crucible.

In this edition, we take a look at seeds nine to 16 and the pedigrees they have behind them before the first round begins.

16 Ryan Day

Welshman Ryan Day would have been watching the China Open with more nerves than normal. The 37-year old was sitting in the final automatic qualification position but knew that place would be lost if Mark Williams defeated Mark Selby. Yet the World Champion held his nerve to allow Day to edge into the elite 16 and avoid three gruelling qualification rounds.

Day himself is still yet to win a ranking event despite being a professional for 18 years. He went close at the World Grand Prix where he was defeated in the final by Barry Hawkins and also made the final four of the Gibraltar Open before losing for Judd Trump. Five first round defeats in 15 tournaments will concern Day, though he has reached the quarter-finals on three occasions from 11 attempts at the World Championships.

15 Anthony McGill

26-year old Anthony McGill has enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2016/17. After only getting as far as the quarter-finals three times in as many years, McGill achieved the same feat within just six matches at the beginning of the season. The Scotsman even went a step further by winning his first ranking event at the Indian Open when he saw off Kyren Wilson.

Yet since then McGill has struggled for form, failing to progress past the second round in nine of eleven competitions. Though he did show his ability under pressure with a second ranking event success at the Shoot-Out. This will be just the third time McGill has played in the World Championships, making the last eight two years ago.

14 Kyren Wilson

The 25-year old from Kettering is still waiting to realise his potential but did make a name for himself in three tournaments this year. Kyren Wilson reached the final of the Indian Open before losing to McGill, and also made the last four of the Northern Ireland Open and China Open where he was defeated by both eventual winners.

Wilson has mixed form at the Crucible, reaching the first round and losing out on qualification before making the quarter-finals last year. He could cause problems on his day but will have to raise his game to progress to the latter stages.

13 Liang Wenbo

Like McGill, China's second best player won his maiden ranking crown this season. Liang Wenbo defeated Judd Trump at the English Open to register his account. Progression to the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix and quarter-finals of the Scottish Open marked good winter form, but since then Liang has won just two matches in the last five ranking event tournaments.

His World Championship pedigree is not great either and Liang will be delighted to qualify automatically after losing out in qualification on seven occasions. However, he has also been defeated four times in the first round but did reach the quarter-finals in 2008.

12 Ronnie O'Sullivan

It seems strange to see the 28-time ranking event champion ranked so low but Ronnie O'Sullivan has only reached two ranking finals this season, losing both. He lost the European Masters to Judd Trump and UK Championship to Mark Selby as he ended his first season without a ranking trophy since 2010/11.

However, the Rocket tends to save his best snooker until the big moments and defeated Joe Perry in the Masters back in January. With five World Championship wins, one runner-up and five semi-final appearances to his name across 24 seasons, you certainly cannot rule the 42-year old out of winning this year's competition.

O'Sullivan is hunting his sixth World title (photo: Getty Images)
O'Sullivan is hunting his sixth World title (photo: Getty Images)

11 Mark Allen

Northern Ireland's Mark Allen has endured a really challenging season, failing to reach the final eight in eleven of twelve tournaments he has participated in. He did reach the quarter-finals of his home tournament before losing to Anthony Hamilton but has also missed four competitions across the season.

This will be Allen's eleventh consecutive World Championship appearance, though he has failed to progress past the second round in the last five. A stellar couple of years between 2009 and 2011 saw him reach one semi-final and two quarter-finals and the 31-year old will have to rekindle that kind of form if he has any hope this season.

10 Ali Carter

Ali Carter's battles with illness have been well documented during his career but he is also one of the most respected players on the circuit. Victory in the World Open was well received and Carter just lost out on a second ranking title of the season in the German Masters final. A semi-final appearance at the Players Championship also helped prove that the 37-year old from Essex is in the best form of his life.

Carter has not enjoyed the Crucible too much in recent years with four consecutive second round exits. Yet between 2007 and 2012 he progressed to the final on two occasions, semi-finals once and quarter-finals once. Could this finally be his year?

9 Neil Robertson

Australia's Neil Robertson was the player in form at the start of the season, winning the opening event at the Riga Masters and reaching the last four of the World Open and European Masters in his opening quartet of events. Robertson had a lacklustre winter though and is only just beginning to find his feet again after reaching the quarter-finals in four of the last five competitions.

Like O'Sullivan, Robertson tends to pick his game up on the big stage and he was World Champion back in 2010. Two further semi-finals and three quarter-finals prove he is capable of challenging again, though he did lose in his opening match last year.