2016 World Snooker Championship final: Ding to capture Crucible crown for China
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | April 30, 2016
2016 World Snooker Championship final
- Ding Junhui v Mark Selby
- Sunday, May 1st and Monday, May 2nd
- First break-off: 14:00 BST
- Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
- Live on the BBC and Eurosport
In-form Ding to defeat dogged Jester
Only two qualifiers have lifted the World Snooker Championship during the modern era, but “Chinese Sensation” Ding Junhui holds major claims of becoming the third and first Asian break builder to grab global green baize glory at the Crucible.
No oriental potter has ever even contested the world final, but this has been a belated breakthrough tournament for Ding, who Coral make a slight 4/5 favourite to lift the trophy because he has proved to be the most impressive player in Sheffield this year.
Junhui’s final opponent is World Snooker number one and 2014 Crucible champ Mark Selby (evens to reign again), who ground out an epic 12-and-a-half-hour 17-15 semi victory over Hong Kong cueman Marco Fu to reach this stage for the third time.
The head-to-head record between ‘the Jester from Leicester’ and Ding reads 10 wins apiece, which makes their final encounter even more compelling.
Crucible set for styles clash
Despite having to go through three best of 19 frames qualifying rounds to even grace the tournament proper, Junhui appears only to have been battle-hardened by the humbling experience of playing in the booths at Ponds Forge a short walk across the Steel City.
Making three centuries before even making it to the Crucible, Ding has added a further dozen breaks of 100-plus, including seven as he ran out a 17-11 victor over veteran Alan McManus in the first semi. Junhui is thus more attractive at 2/1 to win the World Snooker Championship and rack up the highest break of the final.
Prior to ending the renaissance of the Scottish potter nicknamed ‘Angles’, Ding battered two-time World Snooker champion Mark Williams 13-3. It is clear he is in vastly superior form to Selby, and the Chinese Sensation is evens to win with a handicap of -1.5 frames.
In stark contrast to the big breaks and cunning clearances of Ding, the Jester somewhat fails to live up to his nickname on the baize. Gritty snooker is how second seed Selby plays the game, though does have seven centuries in this year’s tournament to his credit.
Selby will try and disrupt rhythm
This clash of styles with Junhui aiming to outpot his opponent makes the 2016 World Snooker Championship final, played over two days and the best of 35 frames, all the more compelling. Can the Leicester native bog Ding down in safety and tactical battles?
A good start and getting into his rhythm is essential for Junhui here, and a 5/2 price for him to lead 3-1 after four frames (or a safer 7/4 to simply with the mini-session) is worth considering if the Jester’s tricks fail to faze him.
There’s a famous saying about this four-session epic; you can’t win the World Snooker Championship on day one of the final, but you can lose it. What the score will be after the first 16 frames is thus among the most interesting markets.
With so little to choose between them in history, a close encounter seems assured. An 8-8 draw after the second session is a 17/4, and it would be a major shock to see Selby more than a frame up going into the final.
Weight of expectation on Junhui
Leicester’s Jester is 19/4 to lead 9-7, but there is far more to like about the 9/2 on offer for Ding to hold such an advantage.
Seeing the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen all eliminated from his half of the draw opened things up for Selby to make seemingly serene progress to at least the semis, yet meeting unseeded opposition didn’t result in hammerings.
Junhui’s route to the final contained matches with three seeds compared to just one in Fu that the Jester had to face. Although he is world number one, the pressure isn’t on Selby, but on Ding, who is projected to draw TV viewing figures of 50m from his homeland.
That level of expectation hasn’t proved a millstone round his neck so far, but the Chinese Sensation must go to the well again here.
Novelty bets back by popular demand
Coral also cater for the more casual punter here, who know only the best baize pros reach the heady heights of a Crucible final.
If you fancy this Junhui v Selby showdown to go the distance, then odds of 15/2 say there shall be a deciding frame. This is not without merit, though World Snooker Championship finals ending 17-16 are becoming rarer.
We’ve not witnessed a maximum 147 clearance at the Crucible yet this year, but what better stage on which to pot 15 reds, as many blacks and then all the higher value colours in sequence than this? A tasty 10/1 price says either Ding or Selby shall clear up for a max break.
Coral’s top tip: Ding is delightful at 2/1 to end the Asian, and specifically China’s, wait for a World Snooker Championship win by beating Selby and making the highest break of the final.