In the build-up of the World Championship, Worldsnooker has published this article, with a selection of the “best Crucible finals” and some old footages.
With the world’s greatest players descending on Sheffield for 2018 Betfred World Snooker Championship, we take a look back at ten of the all-time great Crucible finals.
1977 saw the World Championship held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for the very first time – a venue which would go on to establish itself at the very heart of snooker for the next 39 years. John Spencer became the first ever player to lift the trophy in the legendary arena after beating Cliff Thorburn 25-21 in the final, claiming his third world title and the £6,000 winner’s cheque.
- 1977 was the World Championship since the world ranking system was introduced
- Spencer became the first player to win a world title with a two-piece cue
- John Virgo, Willie Thorne Patsy Fagan and Doug Mountjoy made their World Championship debut that year
Steve Davis won his first of six world titles in 1981, taking home the silverware in Sheffield on his third attempt. Having already claimed the scalps of Jimmy White, Alex Higgins, Terry Griffiths and defending champion Cliff Thorburn in the earlier rounds, Davis went on to beat Doug Mountjoy 18-12 in the final to become champion of the world.
- There were 13 century breaks in the tournament, equalling the all-time record set at in 1979
- Mountjoy made a 145 break to set a new World Championship high break record, beating the 142 of Rex Williams in 1965 and Bill Werbeniuk in 1979.
- Making their world championship debuts were Jimmy White, Tony Knowles and Dave Martin
Ten years on from his first World Championship title, Alex Higgins made an emotional return to the top after beating Ray Reardon 18-15 in a spectacular 1982 final. At 15-15 in the final session, Higgins went on to win the next three frames, sealing the victory with a 135 break to claim his second world title. A tearful Higgins then summoned his wife and baby daughter from the crowd after the victory.
- The previous three world champions – also the top three seeds – were all defeated in the opening round: defending champion Steve Davis, 1979 champion Terry Griffiths and 1980 champion Cliff Thorburn
- Jim Donnelly became the first Scottish player to play at the Crucible
We couldn’t possibly leave this out, could we?
Finals don’t come better than this – Dennis Taylor won his only World Championship in 1985 after beating Steve Davis 18-17 on the last black in a final that would become one of the most famous sporting moments in history. Davis led 62–44 in the decider, with only the last four colours on the table… We’ll let the video tell the rest!
- The final attracted 18.5 million viewers on the BBC, finishing at 12:25am
- The 35th and final frame lasted 68 minutes
Stephen Hendry became the youngest player ever to win a World Championship in 1990, winning the first of seven titles at at the Crucible at just 21 years and 106 days. Hendry beat Jimmy White in the final, with the Scotsman holding just a two frame lead after the first day’s play at 9-7 up. Hendry then pulled away into a 13-7 lead, with White closing the gap to within four frames during the final session. At 16-12 up, Hendry then sunk 81 and a final 71 to seal his maiden world title and make his mark in the history books.
Another notable World Championship triumph for Stephen Hendry came in 1994 when he won his fourth world title, beating Jimmy White 18-17 in the deciding frame. This was White’s fifth consecutive world championship final – his fourth against Hendry – and he had first chance in the decider only to miss the black off the spot. Hendry then cleared to take home his fourth world title in five years.
- Losing 14–16 to Jimmy White in the semis, Steve Davis Davis failed to reach the final for the first time since 1982
- After losing in the opening round, Alex Higgins punched an official in the stomach at the post-match press conference. This, along with a threat to have Dennis Taylor shot at the 1980 World Cup, led to Higgins being banned for the 90/91 season.
It was John Higgins’ time to shine in 1998 as he won his first of four World Championship titles, beating the then-defending champion Ken Doherty in the final 18-12. In doing so, Stephen Hendry’s eight-year reign as world number one was ended, Higgins rising to the top after a first round exit for his fellow Scotsman.
- 1998 saw Hendry lose in the first round for the first time since his Crucible debut in 1986
- Ken Doherty came closer than any other player bar Joe Johnson to breaking the ‘Crucible Curse’
2001 was the year that Ronnie O’Sullivan won the first of five world titles in Sheffield, overcoming John Higgins 18-14 in a spectacular final to take home the £250,000 top prize. Having already won the UK Championship twice and the Masters, O’Sullivan completed the Triple Crown.
- Both Steve Davis and Jimmy White failed to qualify for World Championship for the first time in their careers since 1979 and 1981 respectively
Widely regarded as one of the greatest World Championship finals in recent history, 2013 saw Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Barry Hawkins 18-12 in the final to clinch his fifth world title. Despite having only played a single competitive match all season, O’Sullivan did not lose a session throughout the World Championship. The victory also meant O’Sullivan joined Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry as the only players to successfully defend their titles at the Crucible.
- O’Sullivan became the first player to make six centuries in a World Championship final
- O’Sullivan’s 103 break in frame 15 was his 128th century at the Crucible, breaking Stephen Hendry’s record of 127
The 2015 Betfred World Championship undoubtedly goes down as one of the most exciting in recent years. Stuart Bingham – a 50-1 outsider at the start of the tournament – rattled through a tough field including Graeme Dott, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and eventually Shaun Murphy to win his first world title in his 20-year career as a professional.
The tournament itself set a new record for the most century breaks at the Crucible – 86 beating the record set in 2009 of 83. The final was a strong reflection of this high standard, with six century breaks and 24 more over 50 in 33 frames.
In the opening session Murphy led 3-0, only for Bingham to fight back at 4-4. In the second, Murphy pulled away to move 8-4 up, but again Bingham came back to win four of the next five frames and reduce his lead to 9-8 overnight.
In the third session, Bingham led by 14-11 only for Murphy to level at 15-15 into the concluding session. Bingham eventually added three frames to seal the victory, making him the oldest player to win the world title since Ray Reardon in 1978, and take him to a career-high second in the world rankings.