With outsiders faring better than ever this season, Paul Krishnamurty identifies three players at massive odds for the Crucible showpiece...
"Fu would be a big outsider if facing either of them, but no forlorn hope. Fu has beaten Murphy in their last three encounters, and his long-term head-to-head against Ronnie is better than most."
Historically, the World Snooker Championship has been one of the least friendly betting mediums for finding big-priced, shock winners. We have to go back a decade to 2006 to find the last champion to start the tournament at 100.099/1 or bigger - Graeme Dott. 12 months earlier, Shaun Murphy was a 150.0149/1 shot. Prior to that, the last was Joe Johnson in 1986.
Times are changing in snooker, though, with a greater number of different tournament winners and finalists than ever this season. Take out the blindingly obvious favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan, and this would be the most open renewal ever.
Therefore, we've decided to try out the Find Me a 100 Winner trading system I follow every week in golf - a sport much more conducive to massive upsets - for the biggest snooker event of the season.
To make a profit, we only need one of these three selections to shorten down to 9.08/1 - which would require winning three matches, therefore reaching the semis. Because all three are in different quarters of the draw, it's perfectly possible that more than one of them hits the target.
First, Martin Gould owes his 130.0129/1 quote to being positioned in the toughest section. First he'll face Ding Junhui, then probably Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, just to reach the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Gould is capable of beating that standard of opponent.
Winner of the German Masters and twice a runner-up this season, Gould is a player on the up. I've seen him several times at close quarters in several previous Crucible matches, and was struck by how nervous he seemed at this level.
Once he settles down, Gould becomes a world-class potter and breakbuilder and, after this season's progress, those nerves should be a thing of the past. It may well be that Gould is a late developer - rather like defending champion Stuart Bingham - and it wouldn't be a huge shock to see him come through the top half of the draw.
The third section will probably be dominated by O'Sullivan, but Marco Fu represents a sporting alternative at 110.0109/1. His efficient style should be too good for Peter Ebdon's grinding tactics in the first round, after which the seedings suggest he'll need to overcome Shaun Murphy and O'Sullivan to reach the semis.
The Hong Kong star, twice a losing finalist in triple-crown events and a semi-finalist here ten years ago, would be a big outsider if facing either of them, but no forlorn hope. Fu has beaten Murphy in their last three encounters, and his long-term head-to-head against Ronnie is better than most, winning over a third of their match-ups.
Finally, a former quarter-finalist and potential future champion. Michael White created plenty of headlines on his 2013 Crucible debut when beating fellow Welshman Mark Williams, and has since become a ranking event winner. He's by far the biggest odds of any seed, which strikes me as wrong given a promising draw.
White is clear favourite to win his first round match against Sam Baird, before a possible match with Mark Selby. This may not be quite the usual tough challenge, though, with the former world champion being under a cloud, having withdrawn from the last two events for personal reasons.
If White could get past Selby, he wouldn't be a big outsider for the quarter-final either, with Mark Allen the only clearly superior potential opponent.
Here's the trading plan. Place a total of 7.5 units combined on the trio at the odds listed below, then place orders to lay each in-running for 30 units at 9.08/1. If just one of them hits the target, we'll be guaranteed to quadruple our money, whilst retaining an extra profit of up to 60 units if they go on to become world champion, plus of course lay potential on the others.
Back Martin Gould 2.5u @ 130.0129/1
Back Marco Fu 3u @ 110.0109/1
Back Michael White 2u @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay each player 30u @ 9.08/1