Ronnie O’Sullivan was sent tumbling out of the 2019 World Snooker Championship on Tuesday after falling victim to one of the biggest ever Crucible shocks.
The world number one and pre-tournament favourite fell in an incredible 10-8 reverse against James Cahill – the first amateur player to ever qualify in Sheffield.
Debutant Cahill, who also caused a sensation when he ousted Mark Selby in the opening round of the UK Championship in December, rarely flinched with the winning line in sight.
On just one really noticeable occasion did the 23 year-old suffer from clincher’s disease, when he missed an almost straight red in the penultimate frame while on a break of 62.
But O’Sullivan, who blamed poor health for his defeat, failed to pounce and Cahill took that frame on the black followed by the next with a composed clearance to triumph.
The young Englishman’s success undoubtedly ranks among the most eye-catching Crucible shocks of all time.
But what other unexpected results have memorably wowed spectators at World Championships in the past?
The Biggest Crucible Shocks
Tony Knowles 10-1 Steve Davis (1982)
For perhaps the most obvious that springs to mind, you’d have to go all the way back to 1982 and just the sixth edition at the Crucible Theatre.
Steve Davis, the undisputed best player in the world and the reigning champion after his maiden glory twelve months earlier, was again the heavy favourite.
But opponent and relative newcomer to the scene Tony Knowles didn’t shy away from the challenge, thrashing Davis in spectacular fashion with the “Nugget” managing to claim just a single frame.
Knowles, of course, would go on to reach the quarter-finals that year and the last four three times during the decade, but nobody ever predicted that initial outcome.
I don’t think so Dave, a lot of talent out there beyond the top 16. Whatever happens today I think the biggest ever still remains Tony Knowles turning the Nugget over 10-1 in’82.
— Fin Ruane ⭐️ (@finsnookercoach) April 23, 2019
Stuart Bingham 10-7 Stephen Hendry (2000)
After dominating the 1990s by claiming a record seven world titles, there was no reason to believe that Stephen Hendry’s time at the top was coming to an end.
Even though there were the likes of young trio Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, and Mark Williams to compete with, Hendry was still only 31 and was the pre-tournament favourite for an eighth success in 2000.
Nobody told debutant Stuart Bingham, who compiled eight half century breaks in ousting the reigning champion 10-7.
At the time a complete unknown, Bingham would 15 years later of course go on to lift the prestigious silverware himself.
Bingham Hendry 2000
Wasley Ding 2014
— Chris (@BOff147) April 23, 2019
Michael Wasley 10-9 Ding Junhui (2014)
In 2014, Ding Junhui entered the World Championship in the form of his life.
The Chinese number one, who had predominantly struggled in Sheffield, was arriving on the back of a record-equalling season in which he captured five ranking crowns – including the penultimate event of the campaign in Beijing at the China Open.
Yet, with the added attention came the extra pressure and Ding wasn’t able to handle it as he came up against Michael Wasley, who was ranked well outside the top 64 at the time.
Wasley was 8-6 down but fought his way back to force a decider with a gutsy 103 century break and duly prevailed in a marathon, edgy final frame to once again shatter the hopes of an expectant nation.
In one of the craziest Crucible shocks, Wasley’s run to the last 16 that year represented his best ever performance in any ranking event during his brief four-year stint as a professional player.