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Snooker seeds drop like flies in first round of World Championship

Five of the top 16 players have fallen at the first hurdle at this year’s World Snooker Championship. Chief among them were pre-tournament second-favourite and Sheffield-based Chinese cueing sensation Ding Junhui.

Number 13 seed Mark Davis became the latest elite competitor to endure an early exit at the Crucible Theatre, when Welsh veteran Dominic Dale (66/1 with Coral for the title) defeated him 10-5. Ding, meanwhile, lost a final frame decider to first time qualifier Michael Wasley (100/1).

Most of the shocks have occurred in the lower half of the draw, with four-time champion John Higgins suffering a humbling first round loss to fellow Scotsman Alan ‘Angles’ McManus (66/1) 10-7. Ken Doherty (100/1), king of the Crucible in 1997, upset Stuart Bingham 10-5, but there is to be no nostalgic Celtic clash with the Wizard of Wishaw in the last 16.

Wales’ Ryan Day (50/1 for the tournament) put pay to another Scottish hope Stephen Maguire, edging the Glaswegian 10-9. Top 10 pair Mark Selby (6/1 for a first global title) and Shaun Murphy (18/1 to be World champion for a second time), meanwhile, scraped through their opening round matches on the right end of that scoreline.

At the time of writing, only 2010 winner Neil Robertson (13/2) has yet to complete his last 32 clash with Robbie Williams. Former finalists Judd Trump (9/1) and Ali Carter (50/1) held off fight-backs to progress 10-8 apiece.

The second round at the Crucible is already underway with ‘the Jester from Leicester’ Selby already up on Carter, although the winning margin of frames is now increased from the best of 19 to 25.

Punters will not be surprised to learn that, given the number of seeds that are already out, defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is the odds-on favourite for a third straight title at 8/13. The Rocket faces ‘Gentleman’ Joe Perry in round two.