Want an easy way of making yourself look daft? Try predicting what is going to happen in 16 first-round Betfred World Championship ties when 28 of the top 32 are in action, and Crucible experience abounds. Here is Inside Snooker's match by match guide with a scientifically unproven PSR index as to how the seeds might find the going.
Stuart Bingham v Ali Carter
Bingham’s season isn’t quite as bad now as some have said, and his form has improved this year. Bar the Shanghai Masters win in 2014, his record is remarkably similar this term to when he arrived and shocked the world 12 months ago. But twice runner-up Carter is motivated, playing well, really a top-eight player and might have won this at least once against anyone bar Ronnie O’Sullivan firing on all cylinders. Potential shock rating: 7/10.
Stephen Maguire v Alan McManus
This pair would have practised together on Thursday, but cancelled it after being drawn against each other in the first round. It really is about time Stephen Maguire punched his weight again at the Crucible, the Scot has gone out in the first round for the last three years since reaching the semi-finals in 2012. If Maguire did not possess such talent, he would not be labelled an underachiever – something he himself has admitted. Alan McManus is an awkward opponent and there will be no surprises, but Maguire should win. PSR: 3/10.
Ricky Walden v Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams has qualified for the Crucible for the third year in a row, but has yet to win a match there. Ricky Walden’s season started very badly but he has come back to some decent form in recent weeks, reaching back-to-back finals in Manchester and Beijing. A former World Championship semi-finalist, he is expected to come through. PSR: 2/10.
John Higgins v Ryan Day
John Higgins is a proven Crucible course and distance winner with four world titles, and after a prolonged slump in form that hit his confidence badly was left a frustrated figure. But the renaissance came, and three ranking titles later he is once again a live contender. However Ryan Day is another difficult opponent in a first round featuring so many strong qualifiers with Sheffield experience. PSR: 4/10.
Judd Trump v Liang Wenbo
Judd Trump admitted he bottled it against stablemate Liang Wenbo at this season’s UK Championship, losing 6-4 after leading 4-1, adding it was the worst he had ever felt after a defeat. It led to a December doing some soul-searching and practice, and some of the results were seen with the recent China Open success. Liang is a dangerous and unpredictable opponent, if he gets on a roll anything could happen. PSR: 3/10.
Martin Gould v Ding Junhui
Along with Ali Carter, 11-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui was probably the one player that none of the top-16 seeds wanted to draw. Martin Gould was the unfortunate man, and though he gained huge confidence from winning a first ranking title at the German Masters this season, that might not be enough against Ding who appears relaxed, match-sharp, and not fatigued after dropping just seven frames in three qualifiers. PSR: 9/10.
Mark Williams v Graeme Dott
Graeme Dott was one of the fiercest critics of the qualification system brought in last year that saw players ranked 17-32 face three matches and not one. But in those two years Dott is 6/6 in qualifying, having made it through both times. Despite Mark Williams’ vast experience and two world titles, this is no gimme and he may have his work cut out. PSR: 6/10.
Neil Robertson v Michael Holt
Michael Holt has drawn a high number of top-four players early on in his Crucible excursions and this year was no exception, with many seeing Neil Robertson as second-favourite for the title behind Ronnie O’Sullivan. Holt is a very talented player who is no doubt benefiting at some level from the counsel of Terry Griffiths, but is hard to see him winning this one against a player who won the UK Championship and Champion of Champions. PSR: 2/10.
Shaun Murphy v Anthony McGill
Shaun Murphy ended Anthony McGill’s run last season at the quarter-final stage after the Scot had lit up the tournament, taking out world No1 Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire. Murphy of course went on to lose to Stuart Bingham in the final, and while you would make him favourite it wouldn’t be by too much. Champions have to come through this type of match, and Murphy wants a decent start as he is a good frontrunner. PSR: 4/10.
Marco Fu v Peter Ebdon
Who knows what could happen here – the only likelihood is that it may not be the first match to finish. Peter Ebdon’s achievement in making it through qualifying was considerable, especially the recovery from 9-3 down against Gerard Greene that finished at 2am. Apart from winning in Gibraltar Fu has not had a good season, and looks vulnerable. PSR: 6/10.
Barry Hawkins v Zhang Anda
Barry Hawkins has as good a recent record at the Crucible as almost anyone – in the last three years it reads semi-final, semi-final, final, when he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013. He recovered from the embarrassment of his Masters final thrashing by O’Sullivan to reach the Players Championship semi-finals and should be too good for Zhang Anda. There should be no complacency though, as Zhang pushed Stephen Hendry very close on his first Crucible appearance. PSR: 2/10.
Ronnie O'Sullivan v David Gilbert
This looks a good draw for Ronnie O’Sullivan. It isn’t that David Gilbert is not a fine player – he is. And he should have been further boosted by this season reaching a major final for the first time at the International Championship. But the suspicion lingers that the occasion and stage, even if not O’Sullivan’s form, may be too much for him. PSR: 2/10.
Mark Allen v Mitchell Mann
Mark Allen was extremely upset earlier this season over comments by Steve Davis that suggested he might be ‘Championship’ rather than ‘Premier League’. Stuart Bingham predicted that this might fire up the Northern Irishman to win more titles, and sure enough the Players Championship success arrived not long after. Mitchell Mann is highly rated and has an interesting back story, but this could be the end of the road. PSR: 2/10.
Joe Perry v Kyren Wilson
Kyren Wilson was another dangerous loose cannon in the draw, having already won a major title in Shanghai this season. He held himself together very well in qualifying, and great things have been predicted for him by regular practice partner Peter Ebdon. If anyone is going to become the first qualifier to win the title since Shaun Murphy in 2005, then Wilson, Carter and Ding look to have the best chance. Joe Perry has a match on his hands. PSR: 7/10.
Michael White v Sam Baird
Michael White was the unlucky man not to be at the Crucible last year, finishing in the top 16 but being edged out due to Ali Carter’s (correctly) protected ranking, and then going down in qualifying. He made sure this time, and has a ranking title to his name having won the Indian Open in Mumbai last season. He should be highly motivated this year, and though Sam Baird is a heavy scorer if he gets going White must be a clear favourite. PSR: 4/10.
Mark Selby v Robert Milkins
With Mark Selby having withdrawn from two recent tournaments due to “personal reasons” that have not been divulged as of Thursday evening, it is hard to know exactly how the world No1 comes into the blue-riband event. If anywhere near his best, he should win. Rob Milkins’ Crucible wins have been few and far between, by his own admission even the big victory over Neil Robertson in 2013 did not see him perform to a consistently high level. PSR: 4/10.