With all eyes on the incredible return of Ronnie O’Sullivan after a year away from the snooker table, the question on people’s lips is not who will win the World Championship, but who will The Rocket’s victim be?
Before the showpiece final however, O’Sullivan will face Judd Trump in the last four following his thrilling final frame win over Shaun Murphy.
Trump has impressed throughout the tournament but Ronnie backers perhaps shouldn’t be too concerned as O’Sullian’s record against him is strong.
The 37-year-old has won two of the last three with the 23-year-old Trump, which goes some way to explaining O’Sullivan’s 8/11 price to win a fifth world championship.
Thus Ronnie’s likely opponent in the best of 35 final is Barry Hawkins, who is priced at 11/2 to claim a remarkable championship win.
Hawkins has produced his best career performance at the Crucible, picking up impressive victories over Ding Junhui and the joint pre-tournament favourite Mark Selby.
Before the final though, the Hawk’s likely opponent in the last four is Ricky Walden.
The Chester man is 10/1 to win the World Championship, but Hawkins has won seven of their 12 meetings, including the last two matches.
The other man who could deny Hawkins a final place is Michael White, making his first appearance at the Sheffield venue.
If White were to see off Walden in their quarter-final clash, Hawkins’ chances would surely grow even stronger off the back of his four wins in five meetings against the 21-year-old.
For those wondering what sort of contest an O’Sullivan v Hawkins final would be; each of the pair’s last three meetings have been won by a single-frame margin.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing