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World Championship: Quarter-Finals Draw and Preview

There are six former world champions left in the hunt for glory this year.

What began with 144 is now just eight, with the 2021 World Snooker Championship having reached the quarter-finals stage at the Crucible Theatre.

Seven of the top 16 seeds remain in contention, with the sole qualifier already understanding what it takes to go the distance in Sheffield.

Indeed, there’s no shortage of experience right across the board with a staggering 105 ranking titles accumulated between the eight who are left.

Let’s take a look at each of the four World Championship quarter-finals fixtures.

Anthony McGill (16) vs Stuart Bingham

Anthony McGill has continued to show his pedigree for the longer matches, underlining that his run to the semi-finals in last year’s tournament was no fluke.

The Scot knocked out defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in fine fashion on Friday, withstanding his esteemed opponent’s comeback to nervelessly prevail in a decider.

McGill has had plenty of time to recuperate after that emotionally draining affair as he bids to make the single table set-up for the second successive season.

By contrast, Stuart Bingham only wrapped up his second-round tie on Monday, although it was a relatively straightforward 13-6 triumph against Jamie Jones.

This is the first year that Bingham has challenged towards the business end of the competition since capturing the title six years ago, and he perhaps oddly benefited from his appearance in the qualifiers earlier this month.

Both McGill and Bingham have been playing attacking snooker to get to this stage so expect the big breaks to flow again in this encounter.

There isn’t much to separate them from their head-to-head record, but Bingham would probably be the marginal favourite given his overall pedigree for the big occasion.


Mark Williams (12) vs Mark Selby (4)

A battle of the three-time former world champions, Mark Williams and Mark Selby face each other in an interesting tie that again is difficult to predict.

Both competitors secured comprehensive 13-7 victories in the last 16 and will surely be feeling confident of going further in the event.

While Selby has enjoyed a very consistent season in terms of form, winning the season-opening European Masters and adding the Scottish Open crown just before Christmas, Williams has conjured up a somewhat surprising upturn in his standard in the last couple of months.

Few were talking up the Welshman’s chances prior to March, but that has definitely changed after backing up his WST Pro Series victory with a run to the World Championship quarter-finals for the tenth time.

Williams and Selby have been involved in plenty of humdingers in the past, and their head-to-head reads only slightly in favour of the latter.

That said, the Leicester man has enjoyed the better of their recent duels, winning their last three in ranking events including at the Players Championship in February.

Neil Robertson (3) vs Kyren Wilson (6)

For someone who has been a constant force at the top of the game for 15 years, Neil Robertson’s record at the Crucible Theatre doesn’t really make sense.

The Australian’s haul of just three semi-final appearances is a poor representation of the quality he has possessed in that period, but this year he is in as good a place as ever to make a sustained challenge for the title he previously won in 2010.

Robertson has already emerged victoriously from the two other biggest ranking tournaments on the calendar this season, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in last month’s Tour Championship not long after outlasting Judd Trump in a dramatic UK Championship finale.

Trump could potentially be Robertson’s opponent in the last four, but before that the 39 year-old will have to negotiate a difficult hurdle in the shape of Kyren Wilson.

Wilson has been an ever-present in the second week of the World Championship since 2016 – appearing at the quarter-finals point every year since then and culminating in his run to the final last August.

Robertson somehow almost always manages to fall short in this event and this is certainly a possible stumbling block, but you’d still have to give the Melbourne man the edge.

Shaun Murphy (7) vs Judd Trump (2)

Another blockbuster affair pits 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy against world number one Judd Trump, the champion in Sheffield two years ago.

Again, these two players earned comprehensive triumphs in a drawn-out second round that was, McGill’s victory aside, devoid of much excitement and drama.

While Murphy will feature in the last eight of a ranking event for only the third time this term, it’s an incredible 11th quarter-final of the campaign for Trump.

The 31 year-old is undoubtedly the favourite for glory this year, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in order for him to etch his name onto the silverware for a second time.

Taking the Championship League out of the equation, Trump boasts only a narrow head-to-head advantage over Murphy and has actually lost to the Magician the last two times they’ve met each other.

With Murphy, it’s unlikely that he’ll be overawed by the occasion or the opponent so it’s more of a case of whether he’ll be firing at full capacity or not.

If the 38 year-old throws in one of his off days, Trump could pull away like he managed to during his last encounter against David Gilbert.

However, if Murphy were to produce his A-game throughout, the Crucible crowd that increases to 75% capacity could be in for a thriller.

Live coverage continues on the BBC and Eurosport.


Featured photo credit: WST

One Comment

  1. Jamie Brannon

    The second round can often be the most exciting round but hard to disagree with your assessment of the last 16 as a whole.

    The quarters are often great fun but a line-up this fabulous does leave viewers with a number of selection headaches. I’ve just finished watching 11 hours of snooker – this included using I-Player to catch up with certain sessions missed – yet even then I saw not much of Bingham/McGill. It would never happen for obvious reasons but the quarters being a one table affair would be a treat when you’ve got a quartet of matches this tasty to devour.

    I’m estimating a final tally of 108 centuries this year.

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