Thursday, 19 April 2012

Crucible Countdown: Blogger verdicts

There are plenty of committed snooker bloggers out there today giving the game a greater online presence than its ever had.

Their views on the game vary and their style of reporting polarise but they all have their different qualities.

With the World Championship now only a stone's throw away, OnCue asked them for their Crucible verdicts...

Dave Hendon, Snooker Scene

Winner: Neil Robertson
Runner-up: Judd Trump
Dark horse: Stephen Maguire (if he counts as a dark horse)
Qualifier to watch: Marco Fu
Tournament plans: I will be commentating on all 17 days for Eurosport
Greatest Crucible moment: Stephen Hendry setting a modern record by winning his seventh world title. I was there that day and it felt historic.
Why I love the Crucible: Its continuity, its history and its importance. A very special place and a very special time of year.

Matthew Huart, Pro Snooker Blog

Winner: Neil Robertson
Runner-up: Judd Trump
Dark horse: Peter Ebdon
Qualifier to watch: Peter Ebdon
Tournament plans: I'm booked in for the first nine and last three days. I will have to see about the other five but, knowing me, I'll find a way to be there.
Greatest Crucible moment: Of the matches that I have attended, Stephen Hendry's 10-9 win against Mark Allen in 2008 stands out as a particular favourite.
Why I love the Crucible: The people, the snooker and the drama.

Roland Cox, Snooker Island

Winner: Mark Selby
Runner-up: Stephen Maguire
Dark horse: Peter Ebdon
Qualifier to watch: Luca Brecel and Liu Chuang
Tournament plans: I'll be there in bursts of two or three days at a time. 17 days is a long time. I live nearby and was at the latter stages a lot last year so this time I'm focusing more on the first 10 days, but I'll watch the rest on the box.
Greatest Crucible moment: It's impossible to narrow it down to one moment. But at the time of writing, I will go with Mark Williams coming back from 13-7 down against Matthew Stevens in the 2000 final. He was my favourite player at the time and it made up for all the heartbreak of being a Jimmy White fan throughout my childhood. He played absolutely awesome to win from six frames down.
Why I love the Crucible: It's synonymous with spring, the weather getting warmer, the new leaves on trees being lush green and having time off work or skiving from school. For as long as I can remember, there are so many great memories. The venue itself is awesome. Once you're inside and focused on the snooker, there is no place like it. Every spectator seat has a good view and the snooker on display is the most dramatic you will ever see. The atmosphere makes the hairs stand up on your neck. 


Winner: Neil Robertson 
Runner-up: Probably Stephen Maguire but his price puts me off backing him  
Dark horse: Not that dark but Mark Allen is still a decent price and has a big chance 
Qualifier to watch: David Gilbert as I think he has the best chance of getting beyond the last 32. I'd like Luca Brecel to make an impact on the tournament as well. 
Tournament plans: I'm going up to Sheffield on Crucible Eve to soak up the atmosphere and then pressing it for week one. I'll probably return home on week two as I've always preferred the first week. There's more of a buzz about the place.
Greatest Crucible moment: Alex Higgins against Jimmy White in the 1982 semi-final.
Why I love the Crucible: It's part of my life. I grew up watching it on the TV and now I am lucky enough to see behind the scenes. The improvements to the area surrounding the arena are also staggering and the Olympic village feel it has is addictive. I also enjoy watching the local nutter who turns up every year and swears at the BBC vans and shouts about a murder in Doncaster. It's all part of the magic.

Steve Kent, Maximum Snooker

Winner: Neil Robertson
Runner-up: Stephen Lee
Dark horse: Stephen Maguire
Qualifier to watch: Peter Ebdon
Tournament plans: I will be attending most of the first week and reporting from home for the rest. I'll be going to the final as well because I managed to buy tickets on the morning they went on sale.
Greatest Crucible moment: Ronnie O'Sullivan's brilliance, fluency and speed around the table in his fastest 147 in 1997.
Why I love the Crucible: Being able to get right up close and personal to the action. No other venue offers the same atmosphere. It's also the most important event to the players.

David Caulfield, Snooker HQ

Winner:  Neil Robertson
Runner-up: Shaun Murphy
Dark horse: I don't think any complete outsider will challenge for the title so I'll be watching out for Ding Junhui and Ronnie O'Sullivan. 
Qualifier to watch: Peter Ebdon 
Tournament plans: I'll be watching and writing from home in Dublin for most of the event. I'm over for the quarter-finals though. This will be my first time at the Crucible after watching it on TV for 20 years. 
Greatest Crucible moment: My greatest moment will probably be this year when I go. From behind the TV, my favourite moment is a toss up between Ken Doherty winning the title in 1997 or the standing ovation John Higgins and Judd Trump received before the final session of last year's final. I wasn't even there and it was spine-tingling. 
Why I love the Crucible: It's a cliche but the atmosphere is unique. No other sport would have its World Championship played in such a confined setting.

Monique Limbos, photographer

Winner: Stephen Maguire 
Runner-up: Ding Junhui 
Dark horse: Ronnie O'Sullivan 
Qualifier to watch: Peter Ebdon 
Tournament plans: I'll be there for the duration of the tournament. 
Greatest Crucible moment: Steve Davis beating John Higgins in 2010. I was taking pictures from the commentary box. The atmosphere in the Crucible was just unreal. It's hard to describe the tension and the emotion. Most viewers were living it with Steve. 
Why I love the Crucible: Just because it's the Crucible. You have to live it to fully understand what it means.

And, now it's my turn.... 

Gary Moss, OnCue

Winner: Ding Junhui 
Runner-up: Judd Trump 
Dark horse: Graeme Dott 
Qualifier to watch: Marco Fu 
Tournament plans: I will be at the tournament for eight days and watch the rest on TV. 
Greatest Crucible moment: My first trip still ranks as my best because I've been hooked ever since. I had been watching snooker for a few years as a boy before my Dad took me to Sheffield for the first time in 2001. We arrived at the hotel late on the Friday night of the second weekend where I got an autograph and had a chat with Steve Davis. That was a dream come true and then as soon as I walked into the venue the following morning, I could feel it was a special place. In my first session I watched Joe Swail come from behind to beat defending champion Mark Williams. Joe made a break of 140 along the way and I was pictured on the news that night on the BBC sports report. That was a sensational experience. I get excited going back ever year. 
Why I love the Crucible:The length of the tournament and its matches make for plenty of twists and turns. The Crucible is the World Championship. All the greatest moments in the sport's history have happened under this roof. I also love the buzz around the venue. All snooker fans come together and unite.

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