What a line-up! For the first time this century, snooker's Holy Trinity otherwise known as the 'Class of 92' are all through to the semi-finals, where they are joined by the best player over the last four years.
Ronnie O'Sullivan is the favourite but all four have strong claims. I suspect the three remaining matches will go very close to the wire, making for an unforgettable weekend.
So, who wins? Based on their form over the previous three rounds, Mark Williams. Based on their Crucible pedigree, whoever wins out of O'Sullivan and Higgins. Or if relative youth offers an advantage in this marathon tournament, Judd Trump.
Is Trump timing run to perfection?
Trump starts out this afternoon in what will be his first semi-final appearance since winning the 2019 title. He hasn't been anywhere near his best so far, or throughout the season, but he is getting stronger. At 8-5 down to Stuart Bingham yesterday, he looked to be on the way out. He then won eight frames on the spin.
Having opposed Trump in every round in some form, and felt generally vindicated about his inability to find his A-game, I have to back Williams. On what we've seen this week, or over several months, he shouldn't be the outsider.
Mark did say something yesterday that worried me. That playing two sessions in one day was exhausting and that, had the Tuesday evening session carried on, he'd have lost to Yan Bingtao. Well, to win this title, he'll need to play two sessions on Friday, Sunday and Monday. That may well prove critical later but, today, he only has to play eight frames.
Williams is playing the better snooker
For the daily double, stick Williams to win the match as a the first leg. Also, try Over 29.5 Frames at Evens in the match - in other words, 17-13 or closer either way. Finally, 17/10 about Williams winning the Centuries Match Bet catches the eye, given he leads 12-4 so far in this event.
Daily Double (£2 stake pays £12.50)
Back Mark Williams to beat Trump @ 2.56/4
Back John Higgins to beat O'Sullivan @ 2.56/4
Discounting certain minor events such as the Championship League, this will be the 72nd meeting between O'Sullivan and Higgins. The former leads 35-33, but the latter has won five of the last six. The last two were comprehensive, by 6-1 scorelines.
Higgins has dominated Ronnie of late
Given their recent history, it is hard not to conclude that Higgins represents the value at 6/4. He may well have developed a psychological edge and, in any case, few if any are better suited to the marathon demands of this tournament. The way he stepped up a gear at 12-11 down to win the last two frames against Jack Lisowski is a case in point.
I do think O'Sullivan is playing better but in the quarters, he gave Stephen Maguire plenty of chances. Higgins is much tougher and may drain his confidence over a long drawn-out match. One thing about Ronnie's world titles is they were usually comprehensive, dominating lesser opponents. Yet up against Mark Selby in 2014, he hit the wall against tactical play of the highest order.
That isn't to doubt Ronnie's credentials. He's a master tactician himself. However I wouldn't price him so short against the other trio. Anyone can win this year's world title.
Betting-wise, similar comments apply. Back Higgins to win in the daily double. For a single, take 4/5 about him winning Over 14.5 Frames. Finally, again 5/2 for the Centuries Match Bet is just insulting. They've both hit seven so far.
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