Good initial piece Snooker Overdrive, think you're right in most of what you say. I had to laugh at the "x has got no chance of winning" summaries - blunt but accurate I'd say. Although I think maybe you under estimate Hawkins.
My personal feeling / preference is that my ideal final would be Selby v Ding because I think these are the two outstanding players yet to win a world championship, and if either did everyone would accept that given their standing in the game already, they deserve to win it and complete the triple crown set. Also it would be good to have a final without a previous winner just to balance it out so one doesn't have an advantage of already having won it. We've not had one since Murphy v Stevens and before that Williams v Stevens and both ended up 18-16.
Ronnie is the favourite, I don't think he's unbeatable by any means though. This time he's firmly installed as the favourite and that will give him different pressure to the previous 2 wins, this time everyone EXPECTS him to win. If he is to win it again I think it would be fitting in an ideal world that along the way he beats Murphy, Ding and Selby because then he'd have beaten all his main rivals (bar Higgins who on current form you'd expect him to prevail) in his last 3 wins.
I think Ding has more than just a good chance to win this year. For me he is the favourite outside of Ronnie. Yes Ronnie beat him in Wales, but Ding took that experience and dominated Robertson in the China final. I've a feeling Ding will settle quicker and play better against Ronnie than he did last time, and staying with Ronnie, swapping the lead with him and standing up to him is what it will take to beat him and I think Ding has got what it takes. His snooker is too good this season for it not to click in and pressure Ronnie in a 4 session match (they are seeded to and will probably meet in the semi-final). By that I mean his shot selection and tactical nous and ability to play the most difficult of shots with perfect control is something that this version of Ding has that the previous one who lost to Hendry twice didn't. And he's won 5 tournaments this season and knows he played poorly in the Welsh final but also must know if he played his usual game that day he may have won. You may disagree with that, but that's what he has to be thinking.
Selby did look a bit jaded recently but I think his scoring game comes when he needs it, and facing Carter and Higgins possibly would sharpen him up for the one table situation so if he can get that far then he becomes a serious contender. I do think his lack of scoring is down to a mental problem because it's there when he calls on it and gets in the right frame of mind. In the UK and World Open finals he had one good session and one very poor session and one was in session 1 and the other in session 2. What's telling is that in one he raced to a 5-1 lead and was playing the sort of snooker which wins world titles, then his opponent escaped only 5-3 down after that session and immediately went to 5-5 on resumption and he lost all confidence his game from blowing the lead. In the other final he fell massively behind playing awful, then in the second session his instinct kicked in and just when you thought he was going to get pumped he made of game of it and at one point looked like he was going to win.
Like everyone else, I can't help feeling that if he was coming in having not played since say February, I'd be a lot more confident of his chances to hit that zone. If he's snookered out and feels flat like last year then he'll be out first or second round and to be honest would deserve it for over playing. But then again you could argue that about Ding, and he concentrates a lot when he plays so could pick up the drain factor although for some reason I think this time he'll be alright.
Apart from those, well there are other contenders like Hawkins, Robbo (I really really hope he gets that 100th century), Murphy, Fu but I wouldn't look outside those and yes that includes Judd. It would be great if Judd did win, I'm a fan of how he plays and it's bloody great to watch. I just don't see it this year from him.
Wildey wrote:Andy Spark defines best by how many balls is potted multiply how many hours in the day divide by speed of play
That did make me laugh so worth a quote. No offence Andy, just Wild being a grumpy old mod.