World Championship Contenders: Seeds 8-1

World Championship Contenders: Seeds 8-1

In the second part of our World Championship special, we take a look at the eight best players on the planet and their Crucible pedigree.

Chris Lincoln

With qualification complete and the draw made, the eight best players in the World will be chalking up their cues as they prepare to enter the biggest stage in snooker.

8 - Marco Fu

Hong Kong's number one has enjoyed an excellent season with the pinnacle being his Scottish Open success in December. Marco Fu has become a regular in the latter rounds of competitions this season, reaching the final of the Players Championship before making the last four of the World Grand Prix, Masters and UK Championship.

Fu is no stranger to the Crucible either with 16 appearances. He will be looking to build upon a good season by going a step further than the semi-finals he reached last year and back in 2006.

7 - Barry Hawkins

Barry Hawkins has arguably presented the most consistent form on the circuit this season. He followed a quarter-final appearance at the Welsh Open with victory at the World Grand Prix. A quarter-final appearance at the German Masters duly followed before just missing out on the final at the Masters. Hawkins also lost out in a final frame decider at the Northern Ireland Open final and reached the last four of the English Open.

After failing to progress past the early rounds of the World Championship for seven seasons, Hawkins has been runner-up, a semi-finalist twice and reached the quarter-finals in the last four years.

6 - John Higgins

Former World Champion John Higgins is always consistent in his form and performances. The 41-year old won the Championship League, Champion of Champions and China Championship this season. The Scotsman has also reached the last eight at four other different tournaments this year.

That form puts Higgins in good stead as he makes his 23rd consecutive appearance at the Crucible. He has progressed into the last eight no less than 12 times, winning the competition in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 to make him the fifth most successful player in the modern era.

5 - Shaun Murphy

Shaun Murphy has one ranking title to his name this season but it could have been many more. The World number five won the Gibraltar Open in March but has fallen foul of the semi-finals in six competitions and the quarter-finals in another four.

Murphy has a habit of just missing out at the Crucible too. He has progressed into the quarter-finals on eight occasions, losing one semi-final and two finals. However, he did become a surprise World Champion in 2005 after becoming just the second player in history to win the competition after coming through qualification.

4 - Ding Junhui

For a period of the season, Ding Junhui looked almost unstoppable. Victory in the 6 Red World Championship was followed by the same outcome on home turf at the Shanghai Masters. Ding also reached the International Championship final and reached the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions and Players Championship.

The Chinese number one went close to winning a maiden World title last year when he lost out to Mark Selby in the final. Ding had previously reached the quarter-finals twice and semi-finals once.  

3 - Stuart Bingham

After a disappointing 2015/16, Stuart Bingham was back with determination this year. Appearances in the finals of the 6 Red World Championship and China Championship had semi-final disappointments at the Shanghai Masters, International Championship and English Open sandwiched in between. Bingham then made the last four of the German Masters before finally winning an overdue competition at the Welsh Open in February.

Bingham has been at the Crucible ten times in 16 years and struggled to make an impact until he won the competition two years ago. However, he was haunted by a first round exit during his title defence last year and will hope to start better this time around.

2 - Judd Trump

27-year old Judd Trump has been a regular in finals this season. He won both the European Masters and Players Championship but also lost at the final hurdle in the Gibraltar Open, Welsh Open and English Open. Three further quarter-final appearances and another trio of semi-finals suggest that Trump is arguably the player of the 2016/17 season.

Trump showed his potential at just 21-years old when he made the 2011 World Championship final. Since then he has reached two semi-finals and a quarter-final but many predict this could be the year for the man from Bristol.

1 - Mark Selby

Mark Selby is the ranked the best player in the World for a reason and he always tends to deliver on the big stage. Victory at the Paul Hunter Classic, International Championship, UK Championship and China Open means Selby will end the season as the most decorated player once again. He also reached the final of the Shanghai Masters and semi-final of the European Masters.

Selby has won two of the last three World Championships and was also runner-up in 2007. A further semi-final appearance and two more quarter-final showings prove that Selby has the pedigree to deliver at the Crucible.