The 16 Seeds: Stuart Bingham
Continuing our series of Cazoo World Championship previews.
By Phil Yates
Seed 14: Stuart Bingham
After winning the 1996 World Amateur Championship it took Stuart Bingham 15 years to become an overnight sensation.
It was fitting Bingham’s amateur highlight was achieved in New Zealand as the Essex cueman epitomises the ‘have cue will travel’ philosophy, a seasoned professional with a Corinthian love of his sport.
Bingham’s breakthrough in the paid ranks came late. The first of his six ranking titles, his transformation from journeyman to champion, arrived when he came out on top down under aged 35 at the Australian Open.
Now, he is a UK Championship triumph short of completing the Triple Crown, having won the 2020 Masters.
Given his pedigree, career record and continued ability to produce excellent performances, the over-riding negative for Bingham heading to Sheffield is a decidedly low-key season.
By his standards, a semi-final at the Masters, admittedly ousting Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy, plus a lone ranking quarter-final appearance, at the recent WST Classic, qualifies as slim pickings.
Peak form prior to the Crucible, while not imperative, is a huge plus. Walking down those stairs low on confidence is never recommended.
There is a cogent argument to suggest Bingham’s lack of form could be offset by his deserved status as a Crucible specialist.
Inevitably, we focus on 2015, when Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump were defeated prior to Bingham’s most golden moment, his 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy in a high quality final to earn snooker immortality.
Yet, of nigh on equal importance, Bingham has impressed on the game’s biggest stage of late.
A quarter-finalist last year, Bingham fought his way to the semi-finals in 2021, compiling 13 centuries – three more than he totalled in his glory year.
Previous Crucible appearances: 16
Matches played: 33
Matches won: 18
Crucible centuries: 44
Bingham’s best, seen only in limited supply this season, remains more than good enough for him to make an impact.
Yet, with the 100,000 ranking points secured in Sheffield two years ago about to be wiped from his total, and his coveted place in the elite top 16 therefore in serious jeopardy, pressure will be considerable.
Bingham has the credentials to cope but would rather not have to.
Experience counts at the Crucible. Having contested 33 matches there, of every distance, Bingham possesses the know how to prosper again.
When he graced the one-table set up for the first time in 2015, Bingham cried with pride.
Tears of relief might flow if he returned this time but, unless form is upgraded, that is unlikely.
Bookmakers’ odds on Bingham: 40/1