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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Sorcery in Sheffield strikes once more – what’s the Crucible Curse?


The Curse of the Crucible raised its ominous head as soon as once more on Saturday because the 2024 World Snooker Championship commenced in Sheffield.

No first-time world champion on the Crucible has ever returned the next 12 months to efficiently defend the crown on the first time of asking.

On day certainly one of this 12 months’s event, 2023 winner Luca Brecel seemed to be at the very least on target to barter his opening hurdle.

But the snooker gods had different concepts, and the Belgian Bullet duly squandered a late three-frame lead in an eventual 10-9 first-round defeat to David Gilbert.

Brecel, who was unable to fireplace on all cylinders having struggled with sickness, joins an illustrious group of names who’ve succumbed to the Curse of the Crucible.

John Spencer and Ray Reardon

Though not first-time world champions, John Spencer and Ray Reardon’s respective triumphs in 1977 and 1978 had been their maiden victories on the Crucible Theatre.

Spencer, the primary Crucible champion after the event moved to Sheffield, misplaced to Perrie Mans within the first spherical in 1978.

Reardon’s victory that 12 months was his sixth world title total albeit a primary in Sheffield, however the Welshman was defeated by Dennis Taylor within the 1979 quarter-finals.

Most statisticians don’t rely Spencer and Reardon as having surrendered to the voodoo, however maybe it’s the defeats of those confirmed snooker champions the place the dreaded curse really originated from.

Terry Griffiths

Terry Griffiths was the unique first-time world champion who didn’t return to the Crucible Theatre the falling 12 months and defend his title.

Famously a winner as a qualifier in 1979, Griffiths misplaced to Steve Davis in his first outing of the 1980 event on the last-16 stage.

Cliff Thorburn

In 1981, Cliff Thorburn was again having triumphed a 12 months earlier on the expense of Alex Higgins within the last.

The Canadian carried out admirably, reaching the semi-finals earlier than being downed by rising star Steve Davis – the eventual champion that 12 months.

Steve Davis

If anyone thought that Davis, a profitable machine of the period, might muster up the energy to interrupt the Curse of the Crucible, assume once more.

In truth, the Nugget carries the stigma of possessing the worst file as a returning champion and was thrashed 10-1 by a relentless Tony Knowles within the 1982 first spherical.

Dennis Taylor

Davis recovered in 1983 and 1984 to assert back-to-back titles and seemed like making it a hat-trick earlier than Dennis Taylor gained that last in 1985.

The bespectacled Ulsterman was duly blinded by the jinx in 1986 when he misplaced 10-6 to Mike Hallett within the first spherical.

Joe Johnson

A 150/1 outsider, few predicted Joe Johnson profitable a world title and doubtless even fewer thought that he would go so near a repeat.

The Bradford potter is certainly one of solely two gamers to achieve the ultimate the subsequent 12 months, and Johnson’s 18-14 loss to Steve Davis means he has come the closest of anybody to breaking the Curse of the Crucible.

Stephen Hendry

Steve Davis rampaged for the remainder of the Eighties till a fair youthful hotshot by the identify of Stephen Hendry burst onto the scene.

Hendry might have the “King of the Crucible” moniker, however even royalty is fallible to the devilry of the curse, with Hendry relinquishing his 1990 title a 12 months later in a quarter-final reverse in opposition to Steve James.

John Parrott

John Parrott took benefit of Hendry’s demise to win the 1991 title, however the Curse was so sturdy with the Liverpudlian that he might by no means get again to the only desk setup once more.

In 1992, Parrott misplaced on the quarter-final stage after a decent 13-12 loss to Alan McManus.

Ken Doherty

Irishman Ken Doherty delighted the snooker world in 1997 by ending Hendry’s five-year reign in Sheffield.

The Darlin’ of Dublin launched into one other run to the ultimate in 1998 however couldn’t stop one other Scot from touchdown his maiden world trophy – dropping 18-12 to John Higgins.


The Curse of the Crucible

When did they lose?

Ultimate: 2
Semi-Ultimate: 3
Quarter-Ultimate: 5
Final 16: 3
Final 32: 6

(Stat doesn’t embody Spencer and Reardon)


John Higgins

The 1999 semi-final lineup was one for the ages, that includes high seed Higgins, his Class of ’92 contemporaries Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams, and the nonetheless formidable Hendry.

Williams was the one to disclaim Higgins within the final 4, however the Welshman must wait just a little longer to etch his personal identify onto the silverware as a powerful seventh transpired for King Hendry.

Mark Williams

Williams bounced again from dropping the 1999 last by claiming the 2000 title on the expense of countryman Matthew Stevens.

In 2001, he was among the many favourites once more however misplaced a second-round thriller to Joe Swail in a deciding body.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Even the nice Ronnie O’Sullivan has fallen for the enchantment of the Crucible Curse.

After profitable a protracted overdue maiden world title in 2001, O’Sullivan was downed within the 2002 semi-finals by long-term rival Hendry.

Peter Ebdon

In 2003, Peter Ebdon returned because the champion having denied Hendry an eighth success a 12 months earlier in a dramatic deciding body – the final World Championship last to require all 35 frames.

Regardless of coming into the occasion off form, Ebdon carried out fairly nicely throughout his protection and reached the quarter-finals the place he was overwhelmed 13-12 by Paul Hunter.

Shaun Murphy

Shaun Murphy turned solely the second qualifier to win on the Crucible along with his triumph on the 2005 event.

Twelve months on, Murphy was denied on the quarter-final stage by, considerably sarcastically, the final participant to succumb to the Curse – Ebdon.

Graeme Dott

Like Murphy earlier than him, Graeme Dott represented a shock world champion in 2006.

The Scot proved greater than able to having fun with deep runs in Sheffield, however a type of was not within the 12 months of his protection, with Dott dropping to Ian McCulloch within the 2007 opening spherical.

Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson beat Dott in 2010 to assert what has confirmed to be the Australian’s one and solely world title up to now.

Robertson relinquished the crown within the first spherical in 2011, dropping to an up-and-coming younger prodigy by the identify of Judd Trump.

Mark Selby

Mark Selby gained world titles in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Everyone knows why he didn’t handle to emerge triumphantly in 2015, proper?

Selby struggled previous opening-round opponent Kurt Maflin however the Curse, taking the type of Anthony McGill, ended his hopes within the final 16.

Stuart Bingham

An emotional Stuart Bingham beat three former world champions and a future one throughout his memorable glory of 2015.

There have been tears of despair a 12 months later when the defending champion misplaced 10-9 to Ali Carter within the first spherical.

Judd Trump

Judd Trump dismantled the sector to lastly seize his first World Championship in 2019, and he was undoubtedly the participant to beat in 2020.

Trump had gained a file six rating titles through the 2019/20 season, however proceedings on the Crucible had been delayed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic and Trump misplaced his profitable contact in a quarter-final reverse to Kyren Wilson.

Luca Brecel

Add Luca Brecel to the record of names who’ve been stunned by the Curse of the Crucible.

The 29 year-old’s loss to Gilbert on the opening day of the 2024 version implies that the hex lives on.

Will it ever be damaged?


2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Click on right here for reside scores and session instances.

Spherical 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) vs Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) vs Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) vs Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) vs Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) vs Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) vs Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) vs Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) vs Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) vs Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) vs Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) vs Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) vs Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) vs Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) vs Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) vs Jackson Web page

Spherical 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert vs Milkins/Pang
Carter/Maguire vs Murphy/Lyu

Selby/O’Connor vs Okay. Wilson/Dale
Higgins/Jamie Jones vs Allen/R. Williams

Trump/Vafaei vs Ford/Walden
Zhang/Jak Jones vs M. Williams/Si

Ding/Lisowski vs G. Wilson/Bingham
Hawkins/Day vs O’Sullivan/Web page

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

TBC vs TBC
TBC vs TBC
TBC vs TBC
TBC vs TBC

Semi-Finals (bo33)

TBC vs TBC
TBC vs TBC

Ultimate (bo35)

TBC vs TBC


Featured picture credit score: WST

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