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.
Other than six-time ranking event winner Judd Trump, Stephen Maguire’s season has arguably been the most standout of any player on the circuit.
The Scot began it more than a year ago in 16th place in the world rankings, and at that point he hadn’t etched his name onto a single trophy in five years.
Fast forward to the present day, Maguire is the man in form having emerged victorious from a high-profile field at the Tour Championship last month in Milton Keynes.
That triumph represented his first at ranking level since 2013, but it was actually his third piece of silverware overall this term.
During last summer, Maguire partnered John Higgins to claim the World Cup for Scotland, while a short time later the former world number two captured the Six Red World Championship for the second time in Thailand.
Buoyed by his return to the winners’ enclosure, Maguire proceeded to go on an unexpected run to the final of the prestigious UK Championship in York just before Christmas before being denied at the last hurdle by Ding Junhui.
It was Ding who the Glaswegian replaced to complete the Tour Championship line-up after the Chinese number one opted against travelling back to the UK amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maguire took full advantage, pocketing a mammoth £260,000 for the winning the title, topping the Coral Cup standings, and recording the highest break of the tournament.
Back in the top ten of the world rankings for the first time since the 2013/14 season, Maguire has suddenly catapulted himself into the World Championship conversation, and what had seemed like an unlikely tilt at world glory now appears more of a genuine possibility.
That said, while there has been plenty of notable achievements in the last year, it’s worth noting that Stephen Maguire’s season has produced plenty of poor results as well.
Failure to qualify for the Riga, European, and German Masters were only slightly improved upon with early exits in the likes of the China and International Championships.
Maguire’s consistency isn’t great, and his feisty temperament can often get the better of him when things start to turn in favour of his opponent.
The lack of a crowd at the Marshall Arena seemed to aid his focus, so he could be one of the few competitors who actually wishes for an empty Crucible arena.
In 16 previous appearances in Sheffield, Maguire has lost in the first round an eye-opening eight times.
Which qualifier he ends up getting could prove vital in terms of whether or not he can get off to a positive start.
Maguire could potentially face Kyren Wilson in the second round, with a possible last-eight clash with world number one Trump after that.
There have been numerous battles between the pair in the last year or so, including at the Crucible in 2019 when Trump beat Maguire en route to securing a maiden world crown.
The latter’s subsequent 9-6 victory over Trump in the Tour Championship last month proved his undoubted pedigree, and if he can continue that kind of form he’ll certainly be a match for anyone.
With so many sessions of snooker to play, though, a lot will inevitably depend on whether he can keep his emotions under control.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA