World Championship 2010: Tournament Preview – Part Four

Here is the final part of my 2010 World Championship preview and we are down to the bottom quarter of the draw, nicknamed by some the quarter of death and for good reason…

Before I get onto the matches themselves, a quick word of thanks to Jim who has provided me with the head to head statistics for each of the matches.

To view my the previous parts, please click the here:


Match Thirteen: Mark Selby (7) vs Ken Doherty (44)

One of the most intriguing ties of this year’s opening round is that which sees former finalist Mark Selby come up against the 1997 champion Ken Doherty in a repeat of their Grand Prix clash earlier this season…

Head to Head

Mark and Ken have met nine times to date, more times than any of the other pairings at this year’s World Championship and it is Ken Doherty who holds the advantage having won six of those matches.

Their first meeting came at the Regal Scottish Open during 2002/3 as the pair traded 130+ breaks and Mark managed to come through a 6-5 winner. Their next three matches however all went the way of the Irishman as Ken won 4-0 during the Swiss Open in 2005/6, 5-1 at the 2007 China Open and 3-1 during the Championship League winners group in 2008.

During 2007/8 though Mark was to hit a rich vein of form as he broke through into the top 16 for the first time and this was reflected in his matches with Ken as he triumphed 6-5 at the Wembley Masters en route to his first major title before repeating the victory at the subsequent Welsh Open, another tournament that he was able to win.

Since then however the pendulum has swung back in Ken’s favour with victories at the Sangsom 6-Red International, World Series Event 3 and most importantly the Grand Prix as Ken marked his return to form with a notable victory and confirm a 6-3 lead over Mark.

Crucible History


  • 2005 – R32, lost 10-5 to John Higgins
  • 2006 – R16, lost 13-8 to Mark Williams
  • 2007 – F, lost 18-13 to John Higgins
  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-8 to Mark King
  • 2009 – QF, lost 13-12 to John Higgins


  • 1991 – R32, lost 10-8 to Steve Davis
  • 1994 – QF, lost 13-10 to Jimmy White
  • 1995 – R32, lost 10-7 to Mark Davis
  • 1996 – R16, lost 13-5 to Darren Morgan
  • 1997 – WINNER, defeated Stephen Hendry 18-12
  • 1998 – F, lost 18-12 to John Higgins
  • 1999 – QF, lost 13-9 to Mark Williams
  • 2000 – R16, lost 13-12 to Anthony Hamilton
  • 2001 – QF, lost 13-6 to John Higgins
  • 2002 – QF, lost 13-12 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2003 – F, lost 18-16 to Mark Williams
  • 2004 – R32, lost 10-5 to Joe Swail
  • 2005 – R16, lost 13-11 to Alan McManus
  • 2006 – QF, lost 13-10 to Marco Fu
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-7 to Mark Allen
  • 2008 – R32, lost 10-5 to Liang Wenbo

Season So Far

Mark Selby has struggled for form this season during ranking events, quarter finals of the UK Championship and Welsh Open representing his best results as his provisional ranking has fallen to number 12 heading into the World Championship. He did however win his second Masters title this January with that memorable comeback against world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ken Doherty meanwhile has enjoyed a real return to form this season, winning all six of his opening round matches and qualifying for three venues, lifting himself up back inside the top 32 provisionally and up to 13th on the one-year list. Notably for this particular match-up he defeated Mark at the same stage of the Grand Prix back in October.

Why Mark Will Win

Despite his form in ranking events, Mark is a player who revels in the big occasion as demonstrated by his performances at the Masters during the last three years and also here at the Crucible. Although he did lose out to Mark King early in 2008, a year previously he had gone all the way to the final while last year he was incredibly unfortunate to run into an inspired John Higgins. In all honesty I don’t think that I have ever seen someone play as well as Mark did during that match and actually lose!

Well suited to the longer matches in particular, he therefore enters this event as one of the favourites and despite Ken’s improvement, could be tough to stop. Tactically I don’t think there is much between the players, both are excellent in that department as Ken demonstrated during the recent World Championship qualifiers against Joe Swail and Mark has shown on numerous occasions recently. In terms of break building however I do feel that Mark now has a distinct edge in this department, indeed Mark has made 16 centuries this season to just 6 from Doherty.

I also feel that Mark has a significant advantage as far as their long-game is concerned. While Ken looked to be almost back to his best during the recent qualifiers, his long-game was poor nevertheless and I can imagine Mark being able to take advantage of this in Sheffield.

Also while Ken does hold a 6-3 head to head advantage, in terms of major events the figure stands at 2-2 and so the gap is perhaps not as significant as it might first appear.

Why Ken Will Win

A qualifier he may be but Ken is a former world champion and a player that few will have wanted to draw. His form this season has been much improved and he remains capable of challenging the best, just ask Mark Selby who Ken soundly defeated at this year’s Grand Prix. Ken will take take confidence from that win and with other recent victories over the man from Leicester, feel that he can spring a surprise.

As Mark King demonstrated a couple of years ago, whilst Mark is well-suited to the longer frame matches, he can be beaten at this stage nonetheless. Ken has the experience and the know how to exploit any weakness in Mark’s game and if the man from Leicester is “rusty” as he appeared to be when they met in the Grand Prix, he could be punished.

Also while Mark is one of the fancied men for this tournament, it must be said that Masters apart, he has not consistently shown the form that makes him so highly rated for a couple of seasons now. Perhaps with the expectation that will be placed upon him following his Masters triumph will cause him problems…

My Prediction

This is close to being a genuine 50-50 tie for me with both players capable of going on a run at the Crucible this year. Ultimately however I fancy Selby to run deep this year, at least to the quarter-finals and I think that his formidable all-round game should just see him through against Ken. 10-8.




Match Fourteen: Stephen Hendry (10) vs Zhang Anda (U/R)

One of the more intriguing clashes of the first round is that between seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry and the little known Chinese youngster Zhang Anda. Many will expect this to be a walkover for Stephen but having seen Zhang in action for myself I would not be so sure…

Head to Head

Unsurprisingly this will be the first meeting between Stephen and Zhang. 0-0.

Crucible History


  • 1986 – R32, lost 10-8 to Willie Thorne
  • 1987 – QF, lost 13-12 to Joe Johnson
  • 1988 – R16 lost 13-12 to Jimmy White
  • 1989 – SF, lost 16-9 to Steve Davis
  • 1990 – WINNER, defeated Jimmy White 18-12
  • 1991 – QF, lost 13-11 to Steve James
  • 1992 – WINNER, defeated Jimmy White 18-14
  • 1993 – WINNER, defeated Jimmy White 18-5
  • 1994 – WINNER, defeated Jimmy White 18-17
  • 1995 – WINNER, defeated Nigel Bond 18-9
  • 1996 – WINNER, defeated Peter Ebdon 18-12
  • 1997 – F, lost 18-12 to Ken Doherty
  • 1998 – R32, lost 10-4 to Jimmy White
  • 1999 – WINNER, defeated Mark Williams 18-11
  • 2000 – R32, lost 10-7 to Stuart Bingham
  • 2001 – QF, lost 13-5 to Matthew Stevens
  • 2002 – F, lost 18-17 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2003 – QF, lost 13-7 to Mark Williams
  • 2004 – SF, lost 17-4 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2005 – QF, lost 13-11 to Matthew Stevens
  • 2006 – R32, lost 10-9 to Nigel Bond
  • 2007 – R16, lost 13-6 to Ali Carter
  • 2008 – SF, lost 17-6 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2009 – QF, lost 13-11 to Shaun Murphy


  • N/A

Season So Far

Stephen’s season so far has been solid but not spectacular as he has won his opening match at all five rankings events so far but has been able to progress beyond the last 16 just once at the recent China Open. While this has seen him accumulate enough ranking points to be sure of a place in the top 16 for a 23rd consecutive season, Stephen will be hoping for better at the Crucible.

Before the World Championship qualifiers, Zhang Anda’s season had been largely unremarkable, his best showing being a third round exit at the Grand Prix back in October. Wins over Craig Steadman, John Parrott, Andrew Higginson and Ricky Walden to reach the Crucible however have been enough to secure his position on the main tour for next season and set up what promises to be the biggest match of his career to date.

Why Stephen Will Win

While at 41 years of age Stephen Hendry might not be the player that he once was, he remains a fiercely competitive player who on his day is still capable of playing top class snooker as he demonstrated against Shaun Murphy at this year’s Wembley Masters tournament.

Also while his performances at some of the ‘lesser’ events have sometimes left something to be desired, during the last two seasons he has excelled at the season-ending World Championship, reaching the semi-finals in 2008 and last year making his ninth career 147 break whilst playing as well as I have seen him since 2002. He is as comfortable as anyone at the Crucible and against a young opponent making his debut there this could be a significant advantage.

As far as Stephen’s more recent form is concerned, he might not have been able to find the form required to defeat the likes of Murphy and Mark Selby in recent tournaments but he has been ruthless against the qualifiers this season, something that he will be hoping to continue in Sheffield.

Stephen’s game is also looking to be in particularly good shape following a recent change of cue, his first since shortly before this tournament in 2007 when he looked out of sorts as he lost to Ali Carter at the last 16 stage. Although he did lose out to Mark Allen at the recent China Open, he did record an impressive 5-0 victory over Ryan Day to make it that far and should take confidence from that.

Why Zhang Will Win

A relatively unknown player, few will give Zhang a hope against Stephen but based on what I saw at the qualifiers in Sheffield I do not see this as being the 10-2 match that many are predicting. You can read my report of his sensational victory over Ricky Walden for yourself here but to summarise, I was extremely impressed with how Zhang handled the occasion and in particular the set-backs that he suffered in the match as Ricky won a couple of frames courtesy of some outrageous flukes.

Zhang therefore seemed to handle pressure very well and by finishing the match in style with two century breaks, demonstrated a maturity beyond his years. This quality could prove to be useful against Hendry and if he can produce the type of fearless snooker that countryman Liang Wenbo brought to the Crucible on his debut back in 2008 then who knows…


As impressed as I was with Zhang at the qualifiers, performing that well in a cubicle in front of around 50 people and repeating the feat at the World Championship in front of 1,000 people and millions of viewers on TV is a different thing entirely. Although Liang Wenbo was excellent on his debut, at the time he had gained at least some experience of playing at a venue having done so at the Grand Prix previously while Zhang has none at all as a professional. As a result I will back Hendry to come through 10-5.




Match Fifteen: Mark Williams (15) vs Marcus Campbell (45)

Back amongst the top 16 and looking far more like his old self than he has done for some time, double world champion Mark Williams faces Marcus Campbell first up in 2010…

Head to Head

Mark and Marcus have met three times down the years and on each occasion it has been the Welsh Potting Machine who has come through as a comfortable winner. Their first two matches both came at the China Open, first in 2001 and more recently in 2008. Their subsequent Northern Ireland Trophy qualifier proved to be their closest match to date as Williams adapted to life at Pontin’s Prestatyn but he was nevertheless able to progress with a 5-3 victory. Their head to head therefore is 3-0 to Williams.

Crucible History


  • 1997 – R16, lost 13-8 to Stephen Hendry
  • 1998 – SF, lost 17-14 to Ken Doherty
  • 1999 – F, lost 18-11 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2000 – WINNER, defeated Matthew Stevens 18-16
  • 2001 – R16, lost 13-12 to Joe Swail
  • 2002 – R16, lost 13-9 to Anthony Hamilton
  • 2003 – WINNER, defeated Ken Doherty 18-16
  • 2004 – R16 lost 13-11 to Joe Perry
  • 2005 – R16 lost 13-12 to Ian McCulloch
  • 2006 – QF, lost 13-11 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2007 – R32, lost 10-9 to Joe Swail
  • 2008 – R16, lost 13-7 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-7 to Stephen Hendry

Marcus Campbell:

  • 2001 – R32, lost 10-4 to Anthony Hamilton

Season So Far

There were signs during 2008/9 that Mark was on the way back to form and this has been confirmed during this season as he has reached one ranking event semi-final, two quarter-finals and most recently won the 2010 China Open, his first tournament win since he won the same event back in 2006.

Marcus meanwhile has enjoyed a solid season, qualifying for four venues and doing enough to retain his place inside the world’s top 48. Highlights include two early season victories against Judd Trump as well as a dramatic 10-9 win over another Welshman, Matthew Stevens to qualify for this event.

Why Mark Will Win

Coming into the event having won the last ranking event, Mark is officially the form player on the tour at the moment and this is reflected by his rise to number three on the one-year ranking list behind Ding Junhui and John Higgins. His performances in China were genuinely reminiscent of when he was at his Grand Slam winning best of 2003. If he can continue to perform like that then I would back him against anybody in the world and that would include Marcus.

It also goes without saying that Mark is a vastly experienced player who knows how to win at the Crucible Theatre. He not only has the quality but he is also starting to get that winning mentality back and he is not a player who loses too often to qualifiers early in tournaments.

While Marcus has had an excellent season at the qualifiers, winning eight matches, it is notable that he has not been able to win yet at the venue stages, although he did come close against Stephen Hendry in Shanghai having led 4-0.

Mark also has an excellent head to head record against Marcus as detailed above, which could give him the upper hand mentally coming into this match.

Why Marcus Will Win

Although Marcus has not won on TV during a ranking event this season, he was able to defeat Stephen Hendry in front of the cameras at the 6-Red World Championship and has experience of winning big matches, after all who can forget that 9-0 victory over Hendry at the UK Championship.

Also while Mark is undoubtedly playing well at the moment, could his exertions over in China have taken something out of him? After all Peter Ebdon played brilliantly to win the event last season and had nothing left for Nigel Bond at the Crucible, perhaps the same could happen to Mark and give Marcus a real chance of causing a surprise here.

My Prediction

While the winner of the China Open does not always do well at the World Championship, I would be very surprised to see Mark fall at the first hurdle of this year’s tournament given how he has played during this season and expect him to progress a 10-4 winner.




Match Sixteen: Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) vs Liang Wenbo (27)

At first glance this would appear to be a nightmare draw for world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan but at the same time I cannot imagine that Liang Wenbo is too happy with coming up against the man who defeated him here in 2008 either…

Head to Head

During the past couple of years Ronnie and Liang have met on three occasions now and each time it has been the world number one who has been able to come through with relative ease. As alluded to above their first meeting came at the World Championship as Liang made a name for himself with a fabulous run to the quarter-finals. Ronnie though was always likely to be a match too far and so it proved as the eventual winner came through 13-7. Their next meeting came just a few months later during the Grand Prix as Ronnie won 5-2 before they then met at the start of this season in the final of the Shanghai Masters. Although O’Sullivan did not score as heavily as he might, he nevertheless came through 10-5 to win his latest ranking event title and secure a 3-0 record over his young opponent.

Crucible History


  • 1993 – R32, lost 10-7 to Alan McManus
  • 1994 – R16, lost 13-3 to John Parrott
  • 1995 – QF, lost 13-8 to Stephen Hendry
  • 1996 – SF, lost 16-14 to Peter Ebdon
  • 1997 – R16, lost 13-12 to Darren Morgan
  • 1998 – SF, lost 17-9 to John Higgins
  • 1999 – SF, lost 17-13 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2000 – R32, lost 10-9 to David Gray
  • 2001 – WINNER, defeated John Higgins 18-14
  • 2002 – SF, lost 17-13 to Stephen Hendry
  • 2003 – R32, lost 10-6 to Marco Fu
  • 2004 – WINNER, defeated Graeme Dott 18-8
  • 2005 – QF, lost 13-11 to Peter Ebdon
  • 2006 – SF, lost 17-11 to Graeme Dott
  • 2007 – QF, lost 13-9 to John Higgins
  • 2008 – WINNER, defeated Ali Carter 18-8
  • 2009 – R16, lost 13-11 to Mark Allen


  • 2008 – R16, lost 13-7 to Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • 2009 – R32, lost 10-8 to Ding Junhui

Season So Far

Ronnie’s season started well with a victory over in Shanghai but since then he has found himself on the wrong end of three deciding frame defeats to Scotland’s John Higgins which has ensured that he will not remain at the top of the rankings next season. Ronnie also tasted defeat in the final of the Premier League for the first time since the shot clock was introduced and let slip a 9-6 lead against Mark Selby during the final of the Wembley Masters to lose his grip on that title. Nevertheless Ronnie stands in 4th place on the one-year list and remains the favourite with the bookies to take home the World Championship trophy for the fourth time this May.

Liang Wenbo meanwhile has experienced an excellent season, reaching the final of the Shanghai Masters where he lost out to Ronnie before following this up with a run to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship to leave himself on the verge of breaking into the top 16 for the first time in his career. Defeats in qualifying for the Welsh and China Open tournaments have however left him needing to win here to make absolutely sure…

Why Ronnie Will Win

While Ronnie might not always be complimentary about the state of his own game, he remains the tournament favourite and has enough experience of playing at the Crucible to know how to handle the occasion. It has been seven years since he lost at this stage of the tournament and in truth he has rarely looked like slipping up at this stage in recent years.

The world number one has not enjoyed the best of years so far (by his own very high standards at least), as demonstrated by his loss to Tian Pengfei at the recent China Open but in the past he has shown that he is capable of reacting well to adversity. Two years ago for example having lost at the same stage of the China Open and followed his performance with that infamous press conference, he bounced back in style to win his third world title at the Crucible and it would not be a surprise to see him do so again.

O’Sullivan also has an excellent record against Liang having defeated him comfortably in all three of their previous meetings including their first here at the Crucible in 2008. The Chinese number two has undoubted improved greatly as a player since then but he had little answer to O’Sullivan during their Shanghai Masters final earlier this season and this could be an important factor again.

Tactically Ronnie is comfortably the stronger of the two players and this should also prove decisive as I feel it has done in the past when the two have met.

Why Liang Will Win

Having lost out to Ronnie in each of their previous meetings, Liang Wenbo will be keen to set the record straight today and if he can repeat the form that he has shown at times this season to put himself into contention for a top 16 place, has the talent to give O’Sullivan a headache in Sheffield. His trademark long-game is as good as ever and combined with a slightly less reckless approach to the game than he employed when he first broke through, is capable of winning frames in one-visit.

Also while Ronnie has in the past shown that he can recover from a poor performance in China to succeed at the Crucible, the form of the world number one has not quite been there all season. Yes he has won one ranking event title and remains provisionally ranked at number two, but under pressure he has missed balls and lost matches that you would not expect him to. If Wenbo can take an early lead and not let O’Sullivan build up a lead, could he do so again?

Finally Liang knows that if Peter Ebdon were to win his opening round match, he would have to defeat Ronnie to secure that elusive place inside the world’s top 16. While this will inevitably create added pressure for Liang, could it also serve as an additional source of motivation for the Chinese player?

My Prediction

As part of an intriguing tie that will no doubt gain a significant amount of media attention, Ronnie will have to be at his best from the start this year if he is to come through and book his place in the last 16 and another potentially tough tie with Mark Williams. Liang Wenbo is certainly a talented player and one capable of punishing O’Sullivan if he is not at his best but ultimately I expect the Rocket to win by virtue of his superior tactical game, as was the case over in Shanghai. 10-6 to Ronnie.