The first Snooker World Championship was played in 1927. A tournament of deep history, there have been some epic encounters in finals over the near-century since it first took place.
The Crucible, which has hosted the world championship since 1977, is among the most famous venues in British sport.
Best Snooker Finals:
Snooker betting online is a popular option for bettors, and the world championship is obviously one of the main events on the calendar.
It presents an opportunity to find value in outsiders and build handsome accumulators during the early rounds. This article takes a trip through the past few decades, recounting some of the world championship’s best finals…
1982 – Alex Higgins vs Ray Reardon
A decade since his first world title and with two final losses since, the 1982 showpiece saw Alex Higgins win his second world championship. Ray Reardon challenged Higgins deep into the match, forcing it to 15-15.
Higgins found another gear for the home stretch. He won three on the bounce to wrap up the match, including a magnificent 135 break to seal it.
Reardon, of course, is a six-time world champion. The 1982 event was the only final he lost.
While Reardon’s legacy is more about snooker, Higgins was an entertainer, a figure who grew the game and popularised it to new audiences.
1985 – Steve Davis vs Dennis Taylor
This was the easiest pick of the lot. Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor’s 1985 world championship final is a piece of British sporting history, an event remembered far beyond the snooker-following community.
A whopping 18.5 million tuned in on the BBC for a match that finished at almost half past midnight. Davis had won the last two world championships, defeating Cliff Thorburn and Jimmy White in the previous finals.
He was the favourite, and had made light work of his route to the final, comprehensively beating Reardon in the last four. The final started in a similar manner – Davis was 7-0 up after the first session.
The then two-time defending champion won two of their first three in the next session. Taylor followed up by winning seven in a row.
Davis held a 13-11 lead entering the final session. He took two of three to start. Taylor took three in a row and Davis won two more, putting him a frame from victory. Taylor wasn’t done yet – he won two more to set up a tense decider.
That final frame, which Davis led 62-44 with only four colours left, was spectacular. Taylor won it on the black – it was his only world title. What a way to win it.
1994 – Stephen Hendry vs Jimmy White
Jimmy White was surely sick of Stephen Hendry by the 1994 world championship final.
It was White’s fifth straight trip to the final, losing three of the previous four to Hendry and being defeated by John Parrott in the other.
White had won the British Open and UK Championship by this stage of his career. He still couldn’t get over the final hurdle in the world championship, however, and 1994 was no different.
While Hendry had outclassed him 12 months previous, it was much more competitive this time around. The match went to a decider and White was at the table.
All looking good, he missed a straight forward black. Hendry cleared the table, winning the fourth of his eventual seven world titles.
2001 – Ronnie O’Sullivan vs John Higgins
Ronnie O’Sullivan had enjoyed success throughout the 1990s, but his appearance in the 2001 World Championship final was his first at the event.
Facing John Higgins, who had been world number one until May the previous year, O’Sullivan had an opponent who could go toe-to-toe with him.
It was the final piece of the Triple Crown for O’Sullivan, having already won the UK Championship and the Masters.
An epic final with Higgins ended in a 18-14 victory for O’Sullivan, and the first of his five world titles.
2013 – Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Barry Hawkins
Always near the top of the World Snooker Championship betting, Ronnie O’Sullivan entered the 2013 tournament as an even harder player to predict than usual.
The Rocket had only played one competitive match all season before the tournament began.
What followed was a record-breaking few days. O’Sullivan didn’t lose a single session throughout the tournament – his 18-12 victory over Hawkins in the final was majestic. Hawkins put up a fight, but he was no match for O’Sullivan on the top of his game.
En route to his fifth title, O’Sullivan became the first player to hit six century breaks in a final and his 103 in the 15th frame of the final was his 128th at the Crucible, breaking Hendry’s record.
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*Credit for the main photo belongs to Elizabeth Dalziel / AP Photo*