World Snooker Championship: Ten year trends point to...

Australian Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson ticks all the right boxes ahead of this year's World Championship

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 world champions to try and find this year's winner...

"He's 38, seeded No.2, has played 15 times previously at the Crucible, winning in 2010. He didn't go past the quarter-finals last year and has won two rankings titles in 2020."

In some ways, the unique circumstances of this year's World Snooker Championship suggest previous trends are slightly devalued.

And yet, every player who walks out from behind the famous Crucible curtains still knows that this is the big one.

Like every year, you're playing for a place in history. And, of course, there's the little matter of the half-a-million pound first prize.

In other words, the pressure is intense and handling it will be a huge part of the winner's make-up.

The July/August date is clearly new and means a lack of build-up tournaments due to the lockdown but at least there will be some spectators following the decision to use this as a test event as part of the Government's plan to ease live audiences back into sport.

There are certainly some significant trends when looking at past winners and, as we're focusing on the last 10 years, they'd be even stronger but for the extraordinary win for Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2013.

The Rocket turned up in Sheffield that year having played just a single competitive match all season and had a false ranking of 14.

However, other trends - he was a good age and past winner - were in his favour as he roared to his fifth world title, a tally he hasn't added to.

So, working on the belief that the best players usually come out on top whatever the circumstances, who is the best statistical fit for this year's world championship?

To help work that out, here's a look at the last 10 winners and how they shaped up at the time of their triumphs:

2019 - Judd Trump

Judd Trump wins WC.jpg

Age at time: 29
Seeding: 7th
Crucible appearances: 9
Previous Crucible Best: Final
Previous year: QF
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2018 - Mark Williams

Age at time: 43
Seeding: 7th
Crucible appearances: 19
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: DNQ
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2017 - Mark Selby

Age at time: 33
Seeding: 1st
Crucible appearances: 12
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: Win
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2016 - Mark Selby

Age at time: 32
Seeding: 2nd
Crucible appearances: 11
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: R2
Won a ranking event that season: No

2015 - Stuart Bingham

Age at time: 38
Seeding: 10th
Crucible appearances: 8
Previous Crucible Best: QF
Previous year: R1
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2014 - Mark Selby

Age at time: 30
Seeding: 3rd
Crucible appearances: 9
Previous Crucible Best: Final
Previous year: R2
Won a ranking event that season: No (losing finalist)

2013 - Ronnie O'Sullivan

LatestRonnie1280x720.jpg

Age at time: 37
Seeding: 1st
Crucible appearances: 20
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: Win
Won a ranking event that season: No

2012 - Ronnie O'Sullivan

Age at time: 36
Seeding: 14th
Crucible appearances: 19
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: QF
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2011 - John Higgins

Age at time: 35
Seeding: 2nd
Crucible appearances: 16
Previous Crucible Best: Win
Previous year: R2
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

2010 - Neil Robertson

Age at time: 28
Seeding: 29th
Crucible appearances: 5
Crucible Best: SF
Previous year: SF
Won a ranking event that season: Yes

Trends of past winners:

Age

- Two of last 10 Crucible winners were in their 20s
- Seven of last 10 Crucible winners were in their 30s
- One of last 10 Crucible winners was in his 40s

Seeding at the time

- Five of last 10 Crucible winners were seeded in the top three
- Seven of last 10 Crucible winners were seeded in the top eight
- Nine of last 10 Crucible winners were seeded in the top 10

Past appearances

- Nine of last 10 Crucible winners had played there at least nine times previously
- 10 of last 10 Open Crucible winners had played between five and 20 times previously

Past success

- Six of last 10 Crucible winners had won the title previously
- Eight of last 10 Crucible winners had reached the final previously
- 10 of last 10 Crucible winners had reached at least the quarter-finals previously

Previous year

- Two of last 10 Crucible winners had won the year before
- Seven of last 10 Crucible winners didn't go past the quarter-finals the year before

Won a ranking event that season

- Seven of last 10 Crucible winners had won a ranking event that season
- Three of last 10 Crucible winners hadn't won a ranking event that season

What we're looking for?

Taking the strongest trends, the ideal fit for a world champion is as follows:

- Is in his 30s
- Seeded in the top 10
- Played at Crucible at least nine times
- Had reached the final before
- Didn't go past the quarter-finals last year
- Has won a ranking event this season

Does anyone fit the bill?

Three names come through all those checks:

Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy

The trio are all previous Crucible champions and are seeded this year as follows: Robertson (2), Selby (7), Murphy (10).

Going back to the trends, seven of the last 10 were seeded in the top eight; in other words they were seeded to get through to the quarter-finals. Ronnie, of course, was a de facto top eight player in 2013 so it's a strong trend. As Murphy is 10th we'll eliminate the 2005 champion.

The one big problem this year is current form as, apart from the short-format Champions League and eight-man Tour Championship in June, we've been deprived of it due to the lockdown.

It means we're leaning heavily on pedigree although there is actually a way of splitting Robertson and Selby.

Robertson wins tie breaker

A final trend is that all of those previous 10 winners had won a ranking event within the previous seven months.

Selby's two ranking wins this season came in 2019 while both of Robertson's were in 2020 - the European Masters in late January and the World Grand Prix in early February.

So, with his ranking wins fresher in the memory, the Aussie gets the vote.

The pick: Left-hander Neil Robertson is 38, seeded No.2, has played 15 times previously at the Crucible, winning in 2010. He didn't go past the quarter-finals last year and has won two rankings titles in 2020.

There, and I made it to the very end without mentioning the 'Crucible Curse' - the well-known stat that no first-time Crucible winner has gone on to defend the trophy the following year.

Clearly, in a trends preview like this, I'm leaning heavily on that so sorry Judd Trump. You may be 30, seeded No.1 and have won no less than six ranking events this season but history says this isn't your year!

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