In ranking event terms, the UK Championship has always been secondary to The Crucible and the World Snooker Championship across Yorkshire in Sheffield. The Masters – an invitation only event usually reserved for the year end’s top 16 – completes the Triple Crown.
What would winning the UK Championship, held from 27 November to 9 December 2018, mean to some of the leading contenders in the betting? Let’s take a look…
Trump needs titles to be taken seriously
Victory in York for snooker’s long-time crown prince Judd Trump is much-needed. The Bristol break builder has won just five ranking events since rounding out 2011 with victory in the UK. Thereafter, the Juddernaut has more often than not come to a juddering halt with early exits from the Barbican in each of the last three years.
At a standout 11/1 with bet365 in this edition of the UK Championship, Trump needs another Triple Crown success sooner rather than later. He turns 30 in 2019 and talk of unfulfilled potential is on the lips of many commentators about this former Crucible finalist.
Rocket can make history
Nobody has won more UK titles than Ronnie O’Sullivan with six, but the motivation for The Rocket is to hold the record outright and surpass Steve Davis. The baize’s modern genius can be mercurial at times, but is always respected. For evidence of that, see his Shanghai Masters triumph over solid matchplay opponent Barry Hawkins back in September.
It won’t be much of a surprise for any follower of snooker to see O’Sullivan as the subject of bookies offers as the 7/2 market leader with Unibet to make history and become a seven-time UK champion. Backing the Rocket outright is always a sink or swim exercise, but half of his half-dozen twins in this tournament have come at the Barbican including last year.
Selby seeks success to stay top
There’s arguably not a more consistent player on the snooker tour than Mark Selby, and another win in York for The Jester from Leicester would mean he’s landed each of the Triple Crown events three times in a glittering career.
He’s not in the devastating form of a couple of seasons ago, though, and needs a strong showing if he’s to remain world number one. Selby remains respected by bookmakers, however, and is a 6/1 shot with Ladbrokes to land his UK hat-trick following previous successes in 2012 and 2016.
Higgins hopes to bounce back
Scotland’s top snooker star is still veteran potter John Higgins, who has just come up short in the last two World Championship finals. It’s also been eight years since The Wizard of Wishaw last lifted the UK title and he’s noticeably had a light campaign so far presumably with the aim of a serious tilt at Barbican bragging rights.
Higgins’ hopes of a fifth Crucible crown were crushed by fellow old stager Mark Williams rolling back the years back in May, but the market may be underestimating him somewhat here. He’s a best-price 10/1 with Betfair for an overdue fourth win in the UK Snooker Championship.