World Snooker Championship
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|Organisation(s)||World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association|
|Total prize fund||UK £1,364,000|
|Current champion(s)||Stuart Bingham|
The World Snooker Championship is the leading professional snooker tournament in terms of prize money, ranking points and prestige. It is one of the Triple Crown events along with the UK Championship and the Masters. The first championship was held in 1927, and since 1977 it has been played at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. In the modern era, the best record is that of Stephen Hendry, who has won the title seven times, while Steve Davis and Ray Reardon have both won six times. The current champion is Stuart Bingham in his first reign.
The first championship was held in 1927 and Joe Davis helped to organise the event. Matches were held at various venues, and the final took place at Camkin's Hall, Birmingham. Joe Davis won the event, beating Tom Dennis 20–11. His prize money was £6.10s. The highest break of the tournament was 60 by Albert Cope.
In subsequent years, finals were held at various venues. Joe Davis won every year until 1940. Despite an upsurge in interest in snooker there were only two entrants for the 1931 professional championship. The event was staged in the back room of a Nottingham pub, owned by Tom Dennis. The fact that he was playing on his own table didn't help as Joe Davis ran out a 25–21 winner for his fifth consecutive victory.
In 1940, Joe Davis just beat his younger brother Fred 37–36. No tournaments were organised during the remaining years of World War II and it only resumed in 1946 when Joe Davis won again for the 15th time, a record that still stands. Joe Davis never contested the World Championship again, though he continued to play professional snooker.
In 1952, as a result of a disagreement between some of the players and the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC), two tournaments were held. The Professional Matchplay Championship, organised by the players and widely viewed as the "real" world championship, continued until 1957. The BACC event only lasted one more year. Meanwhile, the 'official' World Championship did attract only two entrants, Horace Lindrum from Australia beating New Zealand's Clark McConachy – and Lindrum's name is inscribed on the familiar trophy. However, his victory is often ignored due to the dispute, and Cliff Thorburn is usually referred to as the first overseas player to win the world title, while Neil Robertson was generally referred to as the first Australian-born world champion when he won in 2010.
Snooker then went into a period of decline, and no tournament was held between 1958 and 1963. In 1964, with the approval of the BACC, Rex Williams revived the championship on a challenge basis, a format which lasted until 1968. This meant that matches took place on an irregular basis, sometimes more than once a year. John Pulman completely dominated during this period, overcoming all challengers in a total of seven matches.
Following the formation of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association which took over regulation of the professional game from the BACC, the championship has been staged as a knockout tournament since 1969 on an annual basis, with all the seeded players coming in at the same round. That year it was won by John Spencer, but it was Ray Reardon who was to dominate over the coming years, winning six times between 1970 and 1978.
1976 was the first year the championships were sponsored by the cigarette brand Embassy. The following year, the event moved to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and the BBC started providing major television coverage. The Crucible seats fewer than a thousand people with the front row of seats only a few feet from the players. This was about the time snooker started attracting very large television audiences and for many fans it is synonymous with snooker. The most successful players at the Crucible are Steve Davis, who won six times in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry, who won seven times in the 1990s. Recently, the tournament has been more open, with six different players winning in the 2000s. In the 1985 final, Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis 18–17 on the final ball of the final frame, in one of the most closely contested matches of all time. It finished at 00:19 but was superseded as the latest finish first by the 2006 final (00:52 BST), then the 2007 final (00:55 BST). However, with an audience of 18.5 million, it remains the most watched programme in the history of BBC2, as well as the record post-midnight audience for any channel in the United Kingdom.
Legislation in 2003 placed restrictions on tobacco advertising, including sponsorship of sporting events. Embassy received special dispensation to continue snooker sponsorship until 2005. In 2006 888.com took over the sponsorship of the event, and they signed a five-year deal, but pulled out after just three years. On 15 April 2009, the World Snooker website announced that Betfred.com would be the new sponsor of the World Championship for the next four years. The event was sponsored by Betfair in 2013, and by Dafabet in 2014. In March 2015, it was announced that Betfred would sponsor the World Championships for the next three years.
On 27 April 2009, it was confirmed that the World Championships would stay at the Crucible for at least another five years (until 2014). On 30 April 2010 it was announced that this agreement had been extended to 2015.
On 23 April 2014, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn announced a number of changes that would come into effect for the 2015 championship. All living world champions would be extended an opportunity to play in the qualifying rounds. The top 16 seeds would still qualify automatically for the first round at the Crucible, but all non-seeded players would have to start in the first of three qualifying rounds. The overall championship would increase from 128 to 144 players, with the additional places made available to former world champions and players from emerging countries.
On 18 January 2015, it was confirmed that a new deal had been signed by Sheffield City Council and World Snooker, that means the Crucible will continue to host the World Championships until at least 2017. Barry Hearn has stated on a number of occasions that he wishes for the tournament to remain at the Crucible forever, providing it continues to draw large numbers of visitors and revenue to the city of Sheffield. 
Champions by country (modern era)
|Country||Players||Total||First title||Last title|
|Republic of Ireland||1||1||1997||1997|
Champions by country (all-time)
|Country||Players||Total||First title||Last title|
|Republic of Ireland||1||1||1997||1997|
Top performers of the modern era
The 'modern' era is considered to start in 1969, when the championship reverted to a knock-out tournament format from a challenge format. In the modern game, the best record is that of Stephen Hendry, who won seven times in the 1990s. Steve Davis won six times in the 1980s, as did Ray Reardon in the 1970s.
|Rank||Name||Nationality||Winner||Runner-up||Semi-final or better||147s||Appearances|
|1||Hendry, StephenStephen Hendry||Scotland||7||2||12||3 (1995, 2009, 2012)||27|
|2||Davis, SteveSteve Davis||England||6||2||11||0||30|
|3||Reardon, RayRay Reardon||Wales||6||1||10||0||19|
|4||O'Sullivan, RonnieRonnie O'Sullivan||England||5||1||11||3 (1997, 2003, 2008)||23|
|5||Higgins, JohnJohn Higgins||Scotland||4||1||7||0||21|
|6||Spencer, JohnJohn Spencer||England||3||1||6||0||18|
|7||Higgins, AlexAlex Higgins||Northern Ireland||2||2||7||0||19|
|8||Williams, MarkMark Williams||Wales||2||1||5||1 (2005)||18|
|9||Thorburn, CliffCliff Thorburn||Canada||1||2||6||1 (1983)||19|
|10||Ebdon, PeterPeter Ebdon||England||1||2||4||0||22|
|10||Murphy, ShaunShaun Murphy||England||1||2||4||0||13|
|12||Doherty, KenKen Doherty||Ireland||1||2||3||0||19|
|12||Dott, GraemeGraeme Dott||Scotland||1||2||3||0||16|
|14||Taylor, DennisDennis Taylor||Northern Ireland||1||1||5||0||21|
|15||Griffiths, TerryTerry Griffiths||Wales||1||1||3||0||19|
|15||Parrott, JohnJohn Parrott||England||1||1||3||0||23|
|15||Selby, MarkMark Selby||England||1||1||3||0||11|
|18||Johnson, JoeJoe Johnson||England||1||1||2||0||8|
|19||Robertson, NeilNeil Robertson||Australia||1||0||3||0||11|
|20||Bingham, StuartStuart Bingham||England||1||0||1||0||9|
|21||White, JimmyJimmy White||England||0||6||10||1 (1992)||25|
|22||Charlton, EddieEddie Charlton||Australia||0||2||8||0||22|
|23||Stevens, MatthewMatthew Stevens||Wales||0||2||6||0||15|
|24||Carter, AliAli Carter||England||0||2||3||1 (2008)||13|
|25||Hawkins, BarryBarry Hawkins||England||0||1||3||0||10|
|25||Trump, JuddJudd Trump||England||0||1||3||0||6|
|27||Bond, NigelNigel Bond||England||0||1||2||0||15|
|27||Mans, PerriePerrie Mans||South Africa||0||1||2||0||13|
|27||Owen, GaryGary Owen||Wales||0||1||2||0||7|
|27||Pulman, JohnJohn Pulman||England||0||1||2||0||11|
|31||Miles, GrahamGraham Miles||England||0||1||1||0||12|
|32||Mountjoy, DougDoug Mountjoy||Wales||0||1||1||0||17|
|33||Simpson, WarrenWarren Simpson||Australia||0||1||1||0||4|
- Active players are shown in bold.
- Only players who reached the final are included.
General records and statistics
- The greatest number of wins of all time is fifteen by Joe Davis. This was in an era when there were few professional players and far fewer matches required to win.
- The first maximum break in the championship was achieved by Cliff Thorburn in 1983. Ronnie O'Sullivan (1997, 2003, 2008) and Stephen Hendry (1995, 2009, 2012) are the only players to achieve the feat more than once. Jimmy White (1992), Mark Williams (2005) and Ali Carter (2008) are the other players to have made a maximum break at the televised stage of the World Championship.
- O'Sullivan's maximum in 1997 was, at 5 minutes 20 seconds, the fastest ever recorded in the professional game.
- The 2008 event was the first ranking tournament to produce two 147 breaks in the latter stages. They were scored by Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ali Carter.
- Fergal O'Brien is the only player to score a century in his first frame at the Crucible, which he did in 1994.
- The longest ever frame at the Crucible lasted 74 minutes 58 seconds, and was played between Stephen Maguire and Mark King in 2009.
- Cliff Thorburn's 13–12 second round victory over Terry Griffiths in the 1983 championship was completed at 3:51 am, the latest ever finish for a match at the Crucible. The 2007 final between John Higgins and Mark Selby was completed at 00:54 am, the latest finish for a final.
- Luca Brecel was the youngest ever player to reach the final tournament in 2012 at the age of 17 years and 35 days. He was also the youngest player to score a century break (116).
- Stephen Hendry was the youngest ever champion when he won in 1990 at the age of 21 years and 106 days.
- In the 2009 event, Stephen Hendry won his 1000th frame at the Crucible Theatre, against Ding Junhui.
- There have only ever been four champions from outside the United Kingdom: Horace Lindrum of Australia in 1952; Cliff Thorburn of Canada in 1980; Ken Doherty of Ireland in 1997 and Neil Robertson of Australia in 2010. Lindrum's official title is often discounted, as most of the best players did not compete.
- Surprise winners at the Crucible include Joe Johnson and Shaun Murphy, who won in 1986 and 2005 respectively against odds of 150–1 each, and Terry Griffiths, whose 1979 victory came in only his second professional tournament.
- Terry Griffiths (1979) and Shaun Murphy (2005) are the only two players who have won the Championship as qualifiers for the tournament.
- Jimmy White has reached six finals, but has never won. The closest he came was 17–18 in 1994 against Stephen Hendry, on his 32nd birthday.
- Ken Doherty is the only player to have won the world title at junior, amateur and professional level. Doherty and Stuart Bingham are the only two players to have won both the amateur and professional world championships.
- Stephen Hendry holds the record for the longest unbeaten run at the Crucible Theatre. He won the Championship every year between 1992 and 1996, and continued unbeaten until the 1997 final.
- John Parrott is the only player to have recorded a whitewash in the final tournament. He beat Eddie Charlton 10–0 in the first round in 1992.
- Since the tournament has been held at the Crucible only three players have successfully defended the world title: Steve Davis in 1984, 1988 and 1989, Stephen Hendry from 1993 to 1996 and Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2013. No player has successfully defended his first title at the Crucible, an anomaly often referred to as the Crucible Curse.
BBC coverage of the competition was hosted from 1976 until 2000 by David Vine, with commentary by Ted Lowe, John Spencer, Clive Everton, Jack Karnehm, Ray Edmonds and others. From 2000–2009 the BBC coverage has been hosted by Hazel Irvine or Ray Stubbs. Since 2010 Hazel Irvine has taken over with highlights presented by Rishi Persad. In February 2013, the BBC announced that Rishi Persad had been replaced by Jason Mohammad. Commentary is by a raft of ex-pros and current pros including Willie Thorne, Dennis Taylor, John Virgo, John Parrott, Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Stephen Hendry, Terry Griffiths and Neal Foulds. In January 2013, it was announced that the BBC had renewed their contract to broadcast the three major snooker tournaments up until the end of the 2016/2017 season, with the option to add a fourth event in 2014. Eurosport also provides coverage of the event, with ex-pro commentators Joe Johnson, Mike Hallett, Neal Foulds and Alan McManus. Often Eurosport cover both matches simultaneously on their 2 British Eurosport channels.
- Kalb, Rolf (10 April 2015). "Weltmeisterschaft – Turnier-Infos zu Weltmeisterschaft" (in German). Eurosport Deutschland. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
- Turner, Chris. "World Professional Championship". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "1985: The black ball final". BBC Sport. 18 April 2003. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- "Snooker: Steve's defeat is a right sickener.". Daily Record on HighBeam Research. Retrieved 6 April 2013.(subscription required)
- "Huge financial blow hits snooker". BBC Sport. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "Betfred review". Retrieved 27 October 2015.
- "Betfair Sponsor World Championship". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Dafabet To Sponsor World Championship". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
- "Betfred to sponsor World Championship". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
- "Snooker Showpiece Stays At The Crucible". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "World Snooker increases commitment to Sheffield". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "World Snooker: Stephen Hendry and other champions could return". BBC Sport. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
- In addition, John Pulman won the (unsanctioned) World Matchplay Championship in 1957 and defended his title in BACC sanctioned challenge matches seven times between 1964 and 1968, effectively making him world champion 8 times over an 11 year period.
- Turner, Chris. "Various Snooker Records". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
- "Crucible frame is a slow-burner; shorts sport.". Coventry Evening Telegraph at HighBeam Research. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2014.(subscription required)
- Higgins seals second world title
- "Snooker World Records". Snooker.org. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- World Snooker News: Vintage Hendry Downs Ding[dead link]
- "BBC retains world snooker rights". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 February 2013.