Next year's Snooker World Championship will get under way on April 18th, and things are set to change slightly this time around. Back in April, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn announced that the top sixteen seeds will automatically qualify for the first round of the tournament, but non-seeded players would need to compete in three qualifying rounds to make it through to the Crucible on April 18th.
The number of players taking part has also been increased, from 128 to 144, and all living World Champions will now be invited to take part in the qualifying rounds. The contract for the World Snooker Championship taking place at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre comes to an end in 2015, and it will be very interesting to see if things are extended. Barry Hearn is very keen for the game to continue to thrive in the Far East, and I would not be surprised if this prestigious tournament went on the road for one season at least.
Ronnie O'Sullivan has been in sterling form in recent times, and he will be a popular choice to capture what would be a sixth Snooker World Championship crown in 2015. Currently ranked at number four in the world, Ronnie O'Sullivan is arguably the best snooker player of all time. In recent years, Ronnie has been able to control his emotions on and off the table a lot better and his consistency has improved as a result. The Rocket will continue to be the biggest draw in the game for many years to come, and having recently won the Champion of Champions event for the second year in succession, Ronnie is still at the very top of his game.
Having got the better of Ronnie O'Sullivan in last year's World Championship final, Mark Selby will be desperate to retain his crown. The Jester from Leicester is the current world number one and has now compiled over 350 century breaks during an illustrious career. Since his defeat in the 2007 World final, Selby had been unable to replicate that level of form at the Crucible, until last season's dramatic triumph. Initially, Selby had a seriously tough match in the first round of the tournament when getting the better of Michael White by ten frames to nine, but his confidence grew throughout the event.
Subsequent victories over Ali Carter and Alan McManus set up a semi final against then world number one Neil Robertson. Selby had been beaten by Robertson a few months prior in the UK Championship, but made no mistake this time around, seeing off the Aussie by a score of 17-15. Having been 10-5 down in the final, Selby showed his grit and determination to make a superb comeback. He used tactical play to frustrate O'Sullivan and eventually run out the winner by eighteen frames to fourteen. Mark Selby became only the ninth player to win the Triple Crown in the process, as well as taking the world number one spot.
The Snooker World Championship 2015 could well feature some of the legends of the game, should they make it through qualifying. That's something which gives this tournament the potential to be one of the very best in the history of the event.