There have arguably been only four surprise winners of the World Championship title during the 33 years it has been staged at the Crucible.
Terry Griffiths stunned the snooker world in 1979 by winning it at his first attempt as a qualifier.
Joe Johnson was 150/1 in 1986 while Shaun Murphy came through the qualifiers to land the title in 2005.
Graeme Dott had been in a world final but was still a shock winner in 2006 because he had never before won a ranking event crown.
Could anyone conceivably come through the pack to repeat these heroics this year?
As ever in sport, it’s the not knowing that keeps audiences coming back. Who could have believed Tom Watson would have had a putt for the Open title last year or that wildcard Goran Ivanesevic, his body racked with injuries, could win Wimbledon in 2001?
To help discern what registers as a shock winner, I have divided the 32 players in this year’s event into six categories represented by the coloured balls.
The yellows are the players least likely to win and the black category features those with the best chance – in my opinion!
I have taken into account the draw, form, past record and personal prejudice.
Yellow: Steve Davis, Stuart Pettman, Mark Davis, Marcus Campbell
Green: Tom Ford, Zhang Anda, Gerard Greene, Martin Gould, Fergal O’Brien
Brown: Michael Holt, Joe Perry, Stephen Lee, Ken Doherty, Mark King, Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu
Blue: Stephen Hendry, Ali Carter, Jamie Cope, Liang Wenbo, Peter Ebdon, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Ryan Day
Pink: Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire
Black: John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson
I would say that if any of those from the yellow to brown groups won the title it would register as a shock.
To an extent, it would if any of the blues won but not those from the pink or black groups.
(Is anyone still following this?)
Last year, only two of the top 16 failed to get through the first round.
Who looks vulnerable this year?
Certainly Selby doesn’t have it easy against a resurgent Doherty and Carter could come a cropper against Cope.
I think Dott has every chance against Ebdon and Higgins is not by any means nailed on to beat Hawkins.
It would be a huge shock were Ding or Williams to lose given their recent form and despite what a lot of other people say, I think O’Sullivan will be safe against Liang.
The truth is that although we keep hearing how ‘open’ snooker is these days, it is very likely that the world title will be won by one of the usual suspects.
The fun lies in finding out which one...