Historical past of the Betfred World Cup 2021
The 2021 Betfred World Cup at the end of the tunnel has shed light on millions of fans watching from home and thousands of viewers who have finally seen live sport in the flesh after months of lockdown measures.
Fireworks, setbacks, tremors and breathtaking snooker were on the table. Here's the story of how one of the sport's landmark spectator events played out since the coronavirus pandemic began.
A limited audience welcomed defending champion and six-time Crucible king Ronnie O’Sullivan on the opening morning. He closed the horns with debutant Mark Joyce, who after 15 years as a professional had secured a place in the theater of dreams.
The rocket launched its bid for a record equivalent to the seventh world title with a comfortable 4-10 loss to Joyce. Afterward, O’Sullivan admitted that the return of the crowd had motivated him during the first-round win.
"It was great to have a crowd," said O’Sullivan. "It's fantastic for the fans to watch snooker again, I could feel them there. When I have a crowd, I want to find something, that's my natural instinct. It encourages me to play better."
In the only game of the round in which there was a decision, the 2015 world champion, Stuart Bingham, beat Asian number one Ding Junhui 10: 9.
Basildon's Bingham had to qualify for the first time since 2011 this year after being eliminated from the top 16 in the world. On Judgment Day, he defeated Luca Brecel to reach the Crucible.
Bingham and Ding had an excruciating three hour wait after being withdrawn at 9-9 a.m. When the game resumed, Ding had the first chance but collapsed on the 45th. Bingham stepped forward and shot in a stunning run of 70 to claim victory.
Scotsman Anthony McGill made headlines for the last 16, ending O’Sullivan's reign as world champion in an all-time classic.
McGill is no stranger to success on the sport's greatest stage. He inflicted the Curse of the Crucible on Mark Selby in his debut year 2015 and made it to the semi-finals last year. The Glasweger fell back one frame before the final after losing an epic clash with Kyren Wilson 17:16.
O’Sullivan was leading 4-1 before McGill rolled seven frames on the go and went up 8-4. That swing showdown was then turned upside down after O’Sullivan called down from 10-5 six times in a row to lead 11-10.
They exchanged frames and the tie went to a dramatic decision maker. O’Sullivan seemed ready to keep his hopes for a seventh title alive, but collapsed on 42nd. McGill showed off his sizeable steel in the heat of Sheffield's Crucible, making 85 to win 13-12.
McGill said, "I was calm on the last frame, I felt like it wasn't the last frame and we wanted to play all night. I wanted to play all night, it was just so good! It only hit me when I potted the last red we'd made up our minds in. Ronnie told me at the end that I played well and deserved it. Last year's semifinals never crossed my mind – it's over. "
Mark Williams won a repeat of his 2018 world finals against four-time world champion John Higgins.
On this occasion, the Welshman Williams secured his third world title after a nerve-wracking 18:16 triumph.
Once again Williams prevailed against his colleague from Class 92 and scored a 13: 7 win. The victory prepared the apparently difficult quarter-finals with three-time world champion Selby.
Shaun Murphy came to the Crucible after a difficult season in which he had only completed one spot in the semi-finals and one run to the quarter-finals. However, he turned up the style to defeat the world number one Judd Trump in an exciting battle.
In contrast to his opponent's campaign, Trump came to Sheffield after a blistering season of racking up five ranked titles.
Murphy, who became world champion in 2005, had only won two games in his last five visits to the Crucible. However, he doubled that record with wins against Mark Davis and Yan Bingtao in the first two rounds.
The magician took the lead 10-6 after the first two sessions before Trump caught him in the 11-11 draw.
Trump had the first opportunity to move a frame before the win but missed a black and allowed Murphy to step up and shoot during a 70 break to regain the lead. It took only one more, then made 62 the following frame and finally came over the line for a famous win.
Murphy said, “It was epic, it was a really high quality game. I'm just thrilled to take the chance in the last two frames, having previously attempted an attack. "
After his exploits in the preliminary round, McGill found himself on the wrong end of a decisive defeat when Bingham ousted the Scots 13-12.
The much-anticipated meeting between Selby and Williams turned out to be a one-sided affair. Selby was at his best as he stormed to a landslide 13-3 win, while Kyren Wilson defeated the acclaimed Neil Robertson 13-8.
History was made in the semifinals, and the identities of both finalists were first revealed in the Saturday night session.
A grueling battle between Selby and Bingham included two frames that were re-stacked twice and another that lasted 63 minutes as they carved out a spot in snooker's biggest match. The draw was supposed to end on Saturday afternoon, but as the evening event began, the game was interrupted, with Selby leading at 16:15.
At this point, Wilson and Murphy were the center of attention, banned between 12 and 12. It was Murphy who carried the morning's momentum after battling 10-4 down to restore parity.
Murphy produced a near-flawless ad and composed pauses of 78, 91, 117, 77, and 58 in consecutive frames to get five on the rebound in the session and secure a 17-12 win. That sealed a final appearance in the fourth world.
"Aside from winning the tournament, this is the best feeling you get in snooker," said Murphy. "Am I going to sleep tonight? I'm not sure. My game is in really good shape. "
When Selby and Bingham set off again, they had another highly competitive setting. A safety fight ensued on the green, in which Selby eventually won the upper hand. After mingling in green and brown and being perfectly matched to a brown matchstick, he clenched his fists and parted in front of the crowd. The Cuic from Leicester then deposited blue and pink to reserve his place in the final.
Selby said: “It was such a tough game, Stuart is a great player. It's strange to think he came here as a qualifier because if he's like that he's definitely a top 8 player. I just held onto his coat tails all the time and managed to turn him around in the end. "
The stage was ready for a clash of styles at the Snookers Showpiece event, which had been played in front of the first audience with indoor sports capacity for over a year. The ultimate competitor against the ultimate showman. The fool competes against the magician, with the Betfred World Cup trophy and a grand prize of £ 500,000.
The final one
Selby entered the Crucible Arena for a fifth final while Murphy competed in his fourth world title match. Neither player, however, had experienced such an atmosphere.
Selby led 10-7 after the first day and was greeted by Britain's first crowd in a sporting event in over a year on Monday afternoon. A lot of electric crucibles made for an unforgettable reception for two gladiators of the bait.
A hard-fought third session was held in a rough atmosphere. Murphy threw the sink at his English compatriot. However, Selby had all the answers and shared the frames that were crucial to taking the 14-11 lead last afternoon.
In the evening they returned to the crucible to create an even more fiery atmosphere. Selby hit the road and was close to victory at 17-13 before a fearless Murphy returned to the fight. In successive 100 and 103 runs of the century, he made it between 17 and 15 and prepared an exciting finale.
After both players missed the chances, Selby scored a dramatic 33rd frame on the final black. He roared with glee into his family's chest, which was in the midst of the crowd, as he took the title and once again secured the Snooker Holy Grail.
By winning for Selby, he finished 20th and won the World Cup for the fourth time. Significantly, he moves away from Mark Williams and can compete with John Higgins in Crucible victories.
"It's incredible to win it for the fourth time," said Selby. "It's such a tough tournament. Beating O'Sullivan to win my first title in 2014 was a dream come true. To win it tonight with my daughter Sofia, she is now old enough to understand what happens, Shaun played fantastic, he's a great player and a great ambassador.
Tournament centuries: 108 (new record)
Most Centuries: 13 – Stuart Bingham
Highest Break: 144 – Shaun Murphy
140+ breaks: 2
Most centuries of one player in one match: 4 – Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham, Mark Selby, Kyren Wilson
Longest frame: 63 minutes 20 seconds – Mark Selby versus Stuart Bingham
Decision frame: 4 – Stuart Bingham 10-9 Ding Junhui, Jack Lisowski 10-9 Ali Carter, Anthony McGill 13-12 Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stuart Bingham 13-12 Anthony McGill,
Crucible Debutants: 2 – Mark Joyce, Sam Craigie