Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
Considering he was scrambling to stay inside the world’s top 16 a year ago, Shaun Murphy’s season has been a great success overall.
It’s difficult to argue with the results, and the “Magician” has superbly etched his name onto two ranking event trophies this term.
Defeat to world champion Judd Trump in the final of the International Championship last summer represented Murphy’s sixth loss in a row at the title-deciding stage of a ranking tournament.
But the 37 year-old bounced back with a dramatic 10-9 triumph over Mark Williams to claim the China Championship crown and followed that up in the second half of this campaign with another success in the Welsh Open.
Indeed, Murphy has been a regular presence at the business end of competitions right throughout the 2019/20 term.
The Englishman also reached the final of the invitational Shanghai Masters, as well as the last four stage at the prestigious Masters in London, the German Masters in Berlin, and the Players Championship in Southport.
Murphy’s only majorly disappointing performance came in York for the UK Championship, when he lost in the first round to Eden Sharav.
With £383,000 pocketed from ranking events alone, Murphy is the second highest earner from this campaign behind Trump.
Shaun Murphy’s season before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the sport was one that suggested he would definitely represent a serious challenger in Sheffield.
How big an impact the break has had following the lockdown is the big question that remains unanswered for a lot of the players involved.
Murphy scored heavily in the rescheduled Tour Championship last month, compiling a record-equalling six century breaks in a best of 17 frames encounter, only to be beaten in a quarter-final decider by Mark Allen.
When the 2005 world champion is in that kind of mood, he can appear to be one of the most confident competitors on the circuit, but sometimes the other parts of his game let him down and consistency is always a factor.
Murphy has reached three World Championship finals, so he fully understands what is required to go the distance at the Crucible.
Yet, since finishing runner-up to Stuart Bingham in 2015, Murphy has won only two matches at the famous venue.
A tough quarter of the draw that features Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, and Barry Hawkins means that it’s unlikely to be straightforward regardless of which qualifier he gets paired with in the last 32.
On the other hand, few will want to meet Murphy if he manages to produce at the levels he’s capable of, in particular some of the peaks we’ve witnessed during this excellent season.