The Championship starts at the Crucible this weekend

Mark Selby is the defending Champion and comes to the tournament with a win in the last ranking event before the worlds, the China Open. This follows a mixed season but he does tend to peak for the end of the season

He is not the favourite for the title, that is Ronnie O’Sullivan. The five time world champion has five ranking event wins and another two finals this season.

The draw for the event, awaiting the 16 qualifiers but with the seedings in place looks quite lopsided. The top half of the draw is very tough and the top quarter especially which contains Selby, Murphy, Allen and Kyren Wilson.

In the second quarter Higgins and Trump are scheduled to meet in the quarter finals.

The bottom half looks more open from a betting perspective. Ding and Hawkins are the top seeds in the third quarter while in the bottom quarter Ronnie has Mark Williams and Neil Robertson.

Outright prices at the top end of the market are
O’Sullivan 2/1
Selby 4/1
Trump 8/1
Higgins 12/1
Ding 14/1

With three of those five players in the top half, which is tougher. Selby looks an interesting price on Crucible record and a style that really suits the longer matches but it is the bottom half that appeals more from a betting perspective
Here I am interested in an alternative to Ronnie for value, but in the third quarter of the draw. Here Barry Hawkins appeals
Hawkins had a disappointing first half of the season but has roared back to form with successive finals at the Welsh Open and then the China Open. At the Crucible he has reached a final and three semi finals. A great temperament, and all round solid game for the long format helps

At 22/1 each way (half the odds, 1-2) with Bet365 he is a sporting price for such a fine player in the right part of the draw.