I have the players as most likely to win the tournament as Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Mark Allen. I think Judd Trump has been going into his shell a bit recently so he has slipped from my list of pre-tournament favourites.
In last year's blogs I commented on who I regarded as the greatest player of all time, concluding that it was between Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan (I think Hendry has the edge as things currently stand, but O'Sullivan still has time to change that, if he can pick up some more ranking titles in the next 5 years or so).
My top 10 all-time favourite players are:
[b]#1- Jimmy White[/b]- found his all-out attacking style very entertaining in the early to mid 1990s in particular, shame he never won any of his world finals.
[b]#2- Judd Trump[/b]- entertained me a lot during the 2011 World Championship, though if he keeps going into his shell (as he has in some recent matches) he might slip a few places on the list.
[b]#3- Steve Davis[/b]- marvellous ambassador for the sport
[b]#4- Stephen Hendry[/b]- admirable for his achievements, and entertained me with his attack-minded approach and desire to clear the table at every opportunity
[b]#5- Ronnie O'Sullivan[/b]- a genius on the table, especially at break-building, the best "A" game that I've ever seen. I don't think he's quite as attacking as Jimmy White/Alex Higgins these days, but certainly up there with Hendry. Marred by attitude and off-table antics, but nothing like as bad for this as Alex Higgins.
[b]#6- Mark Williams[/b]- for his laid-back attitude and ability to pull off spectacular long pots, always remembered for the black-ball final between him and Hendry in the 1998 Masters
[b]#7- Mark Selby[/b]- involved in a lot of great matches, sometimes pulls off great shots
[b]#8- Paul Hunter[/b]- sadly died of cancer at age 27, another attacking player, involved in some great matches in the Masters in particular
[b]#9- Peter Ebdon[/b]- No, I haven't taken leave of my senses! He can certainly be dull to watch when he plays very slowly, but he has an unorthodox shot selection and intensity which, for me, has made him entertaining to watch in the past when playing relatively fluently, as he did when he won the 2002 World Championship.
[b]#10- Dennis Taylor[/b]- for his role in that 1985 black-ball final, and as a pundit and commentator
[b]Alex Higgins[/b]- almost as entertaining as Jimmy White but his off-table antics kept him out of my Top 10
[b]John Higgins[/b]- involved in numerous exciting matches (e.g. 2006 Masters vs. Ronnie O'Sullivan)
[b]John Virgo[/b]- I'm a fan of his commentary, but don't remember him as a snooker player