World Championship Q&A with Paul Collier

Who could cause a shock this year?

There have been nine winners this year, so no-one would completely surprise me!

How soon do you think the World Championships will be held in China?

That’s a difficult one. There are long-term contracts with Sheffield and the BBC, so I can’t see anything changing for the next three years. After that, we will have to wait and see. But it is only a matter of time before a major event has to be staged there. You have to be fair to China, they are putting a lot of investment into the game and it is hugely popular there.

Would this year’s tournament have been devalued if Ronnie O’Sullivan had not entered?

I don’t think it would have been devalued, but I think it would have been sad, had he not. I’m glad he has entered. I think you always want to see a champion defend his title. I think Ronnie is good for snooker.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen at the World Championships?

Well, at the time I found this very strange – I walked into a practice room and saw Ray Reardon picking balls out of the pockets for Ronnie. Obviously, I didn’t know at that stage that Ronnie had been working on his game with Ray, and to see someone of Reardon’s stature picking out balls on a practice table was very strange!

Who’s the greatest player to have never won the world title?

I think it has to be Jimmy White.

What’s your best memory of the Crucible?

Aside from refereeing the final in 2004, I think it has to be my first match in 2002. It was a Saturday morning and I walked out with John Williams in his last year there. John helped me a lot during my early days and that was very special for me.

Can you see Stephen Hendry’s record of seven titles ever being beaten?

No. That was a very special achievement. I think there are so many quality players playing at a similar standard, it will be almost impossible to match Stephen’s incredible record.

Who do you think is the favourite to win the title?

I’m glad I’m not a betting man, that’s all I will say! There are so many who could win it. You have the Ronnie factor. Mark Selby is playing some good stuff, and Neil Robertson was superb in his China Open win. Like I said, my money’s staying in my pocket!

Keep an eye out for more World Championship Q&As with our other Living Snooker bloggers during the Crucible fortnight.

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