There may be a few dates to tick off the snooker calendar before the 2015 World Championships roll around, but Stuart Bingham’s magnificent Shanghai Masters victory shows there could yet be a surprise winner at the Crucible Theatre next time.
Basildon’s Bingham, a quarter-finalist at the 2013 World Championships in Sheffield, thrashed much-fancied Mark Allen 10-3 in China to clinch only his second career ranking event.
The Englishman also reached the UK Championships semis in 2013, but is a still a very chunky sounding 40/1 to be crowned the world’s best in April.
However, the fact Bingham saw off massive crowd favourite and previous winner Ding Junhui in the Shanghai semis, which also featured world champion Mark Selby – beaten by Allen in the last four – shows how far the Englishman has come.
Furthermore, it gives some of the others on the elite snooker circuit belief that big-tournament triumphs are there to be had, outside of powerhouses such as Selby, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Naturally Rocket, a five-time Crucible champion, is the early 7/4 favourite to win a sixth in 2014, though there are always question marks over whether he will definitely attend the event.
2013’s defeated finalist Barry Hawkins is further back at 20/1 and at that price there may not be many better outsider punts available right now.
Obviously, with the 2014/15 season yet to build to the busy winter period which usually separates the wheat from the chaff at the UK’s and the Masters, punters may wish to hold fire.
Even so, Bingham’s big win in the Far East certainly adds attraction to his long odds and others further down the betting.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.