Betfair Exchange odds make Judd Trump favourite to win snooker's World Championship this month as Ronnie O'Sullivan targets a record-equalling seventh Crucible title says Gary Moss...
"Trump 4.47/2 is the favourite to win this year but, as the sport’s top attraction, many fans expect defending champion O'Sullivan to win every tournament he plays in."
When the World Championship begins at The Crucible on Saturday, an opportunity awaits for one of the sport's biggest names to take their place in the folklore of the game.
Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump have scaled the mountain that is the World Championship before - the former six times and the latter just the once - but both dream of doing it once more.
The list of contenders to win this famous title goes much deeper than the pair - Neil Robertson (pictured below), for example, is the same price as O'Sullivan on the Exchange at 6.611/2 - but for O'Sullivan and Trump, who boast unrivalled box office status and have an army of fans behind them, the pressure and glare of the spotlight eclipses the rest of the field.
The Crucible is a place where snooker legacy is created and while Ronnie may be applying the finishing touches to his, Judd is a little earlier in his journey as he looks to emulate his heroes and secure achievements which are remembered for years to come.
Rocket's fuel to be the best
Trump 4.47/2 is the favourite to win this year but, as the sport's top attraction, many fans expect defending champion O'Sullivan to win every tournament he plays in.
This has been the tale of Ronnie's season to a tee - with plenty of moments of magic, but without a piece of silverware to rubber stamp to it.
In a campaign where he has played more snooker than in recent years, he's reached five ranking event finals but lost them all - and been comfortably beaten in a few.
Playing well enough and regularly enough to go deep in tournaments but failing to finish the job.
Is O'Sullivan's recent form a sign of his diminishing clout against the game's very top players or is he saving his killer punch for when it matters most - at the Crucible?
Believe us when we say it really does matter this year in Sheffield for O'Sullivan.
The only significant record left for the Rocket to capture on the old green baize is Stephen Hendry's mark of seven Crucible crowns.
Having captured his sixth a little under a year ago and returning with the wind in his sails as defending champion, the narrative reads that this is his golden chance to draw level with the sport's record all-time record holder.
With O'Sullivan widely regarded as the greatest player to have ever graced the sport, taking a slice of Hendry's prestige here would probably end the debate forever and put him up there as the greatest for titles as well as brilliance.
The amount of snooker O'Sullivan has played this year suggests the hunger is there. Whether he can make it seventh heaven could depend on how significant you believe his inability to convert finals into trophies since winning in Sheffield last summer.
Whatever side of the fence you're sitting on, only a fool would write off the Rocket, and with Hendry's record in sight, we know O'Sullivan has added motive.
Judd drive for domination
Trump is far and away the best player in the world right now on form. An accumulation of 14 ranking titles in two seasons and an unassailable lead at the top of the world rankings proves this.
But as he comes to Sheffield not in possession of any of snooker's Triple Crown titles and with only three major titles on his CV, it is at these blue-ribband events where he needs to begin replicating his domination.
Still in his early thirties and blessed with a crude streak of desire to win title after title, now is the time where he will be looking to build on his wonderful start in the game and establish a legacy of his own, like O'Sullivan looming on the other side of the draw.
In joining an illustrious list of players to have won multiple world titles, he can start to turn an era he is bossing into a lasting dynasty.
One of the great quirks of snooker is that when you're at the top, it doesn't matter how well you play in one event, the question soon turns to whether you can do it again? After claiming both his maiden Masters and World Championship wins in 2019, it is only 24 months later and we're wondering when he can do it again.
This is a pressure for any player but for Trump, who harbours hopes of achieving the very best in the game, winning has become his calling card and anything but a trophy feels like a failure.
A year ago, Trump fell foul to the much-publicised Crucible curse but now it's time to get back to business and begin the kind of domination at the World Championship that his talent warrants.