Qualification for the 2023 Snooker World Championships is underway, and Liam Highfield continues his quest to bring the title back to Swindon.
The 32-year-old will go into this phase as the number 43 ranked player in the world, and he receives a bye into the third round of the qualification stage.
April began in some style for Highfield as he completed his 100th career century break at the start of the month. He’ll need to build on that momentum if he wants to compete among the best cuemen at the Crucible.
The size of the task facing Liam Highfield is reflected by the neutral verdict. Current snooker betting odds for the world championships show Ronnie O’Sullivan as the clear 4/1 favourite. Judd Trump is next at 11/2 followed by Mark Selby at 6/1.
Anyone looking to get behind Liam Highfield will need to be optimistic ahead of the tournament. Snooker World Championship betting markets list the Swindon man among the outsiders at 500/1.
Highfield has to progress through those qualifying rounds first. It will be a major achievement just to get to the Crucible for the main tournament, but does he have the quality to make a sustained challenge in future tournaments?
Highfield’s High Points
Liam Highfield had a chance to secure his first ever ranking title at the 2023 Snooker Shoot Out as he reached the quarter final. The nature of this event means that lower ranked players can often come through to the later rounds, and there is some debate as to whether it should be on the official ranking circuit.
The Shoot Out remains an important tournament for those taking part and, while the Swindon man couldn’t quite get over the line, he will have been satisfied with a place in the last eight.
That was the high point of what has been another difficult season. At the WST Classic in March, Highfield looked impressive as he overcame Marco Fu in the first round, but he slumped to a 2-4 defeat against Zhou Yuelong at the next stage.
There have been some first round exits in that list of tournaments for 2023. Getting to the Crucible would be an accomplishment for the Swindon potter, but current form suggests that Liam Highfield won’t be going deep into the world championships.
Rocket Ronnie Aiming for Record
For the majority of spectators watching the 2023 Snooker World Championships, the focus will be on one man. Ronnie O’Sullivan won his seventh title at the Crucible 12 months ago, thereby equalling Stephen Hendry’s record of seven wins in the modern era.
Rocket Ronnie has not always been at his best this season, but he has that capacity to raise his game for the biggest tournament of all. As always, there will be some serious challenges from among the chasing pack, with Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson likely to pose the biggest threats.
Liam Highfield may not be able to compete with those at the top, but the Swindon cueman will be aiming to make a mark at the Crucible in 2023.