Saturday, 14 April 2012

Crucible Countdown: The great shocks

In the pressure-cooker of the Crucible cauldron, there's no such thing as a formality.

Throughout the colourful history of this great venue, some of the greatest moments have been shaped by scenes of the unexpected.

Sometimes it feels like anything can happen at the World Championship.

There have been numerous Crucible shocks down the years, but here are my favourites....

Joe Johnson wins the 1986 title

Three-time Crucible champion Steve Davis was a huge favourite to win the trophy, especially having lost so dramatically a year earlier to Dennis Taylor. Having dominated the entire 1985/86 season including victory at three of the previous four ranking events, this should have been plain-sailing. But, no. Bradford's Joe Johnson - a 150-1 longhsot at the start of the tournament - beat the Nugget 18-12 in the final and would see his life transformed into that of a celebrity. This is one of the true fairytales of the Crucible.

Davis downs Higgins

This time the Nugget was on the other end of a 'David and Goliath' scaling in Sheffield. He beat defending world champion 13-11 in the second round in 2010; a monumental win. Davis is loved at the Crucible and was given a standing ovation after clinching the victory. The whole crowd got behind him and willed him to the winning post. A great of the 1980s rolled back the years for another day in the Crucible sunshine.

Bingham brushes past Hendry

Defending his seventh world title, Hendry lost 10-7 on the first day of the 2000 World Championship to plucky Crucible debutant Stuart Bingham. Ranked at number 92 in the world, he was a complete unknown talent but rode his luck to out a great.

Knowles rocks Davis

Tony Knowles ensured the Crucible Curse was to play tricks on Davis with a 10-1 demolition of the defending champion in round one in 1982. This heavy defeat was made all the more surprising because there was no obvious weakness to Steve's game. He was beaten by a player yet to make his mark on the game.

Murphy marches to title

Shaun Murphy came all the way through the qualifying rounds to lift the World Championship title in 2005. He'd not won a match at the Crucible before this tournament but went all the way with a catalogue of great potting. This made him the second-youngest champion behind Hendry after beating Chris Small, John Higgins, Steve Davis, Peter Ebdon and Matthew Stevens all en route to triumph.

Fred returns

Eight-time world champion Fred Davis reached the 1978 semi-finals 22 years after his latest championship win. This was a great achievement at the age of 64.

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