The 2021 World Snooker Championship (also referred to as the 2021 Betfred World Snooker Championship for the purposes of sponsorship) is an ongoing professional snooker tournament, taking place from 17 April to 3 May 2021 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. It is the 45th consecutive year that the World Snooker Championship has been held at the Crucible Theatre, and it is the 15th and final ranking event of the 2020–21 snooker season. The tournament is organised by the World Snooker Tour, a subsidiary of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. The event is sponsored by sports betting company Betfred and broadcast by the BBC, Eurosport and Matchroom Sport.
Qualifying for the tournament took place between 5 and 14 April 2021 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. There were 128 participants in the qualifying rounds, with a mix of professional and invited amateur players, 16 of whom reached the main stage of the tournament where they will play the top 16 players from the snooker world rankings. Ronnie O’Sullivan was the defending champion, having won his sixth world title at the previous year’s event, defeating Kyren Wilson 18–8 in the final. However, O’Sullivan lost in the second round to Anthony McGill 12–13.
The World Snooker Championship features 32 professional players competing in one-on-one snooker matches in a single-elimination format, each match played over a number of frames. The 32 players for the event are selected through a mix of the snooker world rankings and a pre-tournament qualification round. The first World Snooker Championship took place in 1927, with the final held at Camkin’s Hall in Birmingham, England, and the title was won by Joe Davis. Since 1977, the event has been held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. Stephen Hendry is the event’s most successful participant in the modern era, having won the championship seven times. The 2020 championship was won by England’s Ronnie O’Sullivan, who defeated compatriot Kyren Wilson in the final 18–8 to win his sixth world title. The winner of the 2021 championship will receive £500,000, from a total prize fund of £2,395,000. The event is organised by World Snooker in partnership with the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
The 2021 World Snooker Championship takes place between 17 April and 3 May 2021 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. The event features a 32-player main draw that is contested at the Crucible Theatre, as well as a 128-player qualifying draw held at the English Institute of Sport. Qualifying for the event were played between 5 and 14 April 2021, finishing three days prior to the start of the main draw. The qualifying were played over four rounds, with players higher in the snooker world rankings being seeded and given byes to the later rounds. The tournament is the last of 15 ranking events in the 2020–21 season on the World Snooker Tour. This is the 45th consecutive year that the tournament is held at the Crucible, and the 53rd successive world championship to be contested through the modern knockout format. The tournament is sponsored by sports betting company Betfred, as it has been since 2015.
The top 16 players in the latest 2020–21 snooker world rankings automatically qualified for the main draw as seeded players. Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was automatically seeded first overall. The remaining 15 seeds were allocated based on the latest world rankings, released after the 2021 Tour Championship which was the penultimate ranking event of the season. Matches in the first round of the main draw are played as the best of 19 frames, second-round matches and quarter-finals played as the best of 25 frames, and the semi-finals are played over a maximum of 33 frames. The final is played over two days as a best-of-35-frames match.
The tournament is broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Television and BBC Online, as well as Eurosport. Internationally, the event is broadcast by Eurosport in Europe and Australia; who also covered the qualifying rounds. The tournament is also broadcast internationally by Superstars Online, Zhibo.tv, Youku and CCTV in China; by NowTV in Hong Kong; and by DAZN in Canada, the United States, and Brazil.
On 13 March 2021, World Snooker announced that the event would welcome a limited number of fans, as part of an Events Research Programme run by the government in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It marks the first event of the season not to be staged behind closed doors. Details were announced on 7 April, beginning with crowds of 33% of capacity for the first round and increasing through the tournament until a full capacity crowd will be admitted for the final. Spectators are tested for COVID-19 before and after attending the event.
The winner of the event will receive £500,000 from a total prize fund of £2,395,000. The breakdown of prize money for the event is shown below:
- Winner: £500,000
- Runner-up: £200,000
- Semi-finalists: £100,000
- Quarter-finalists: £50,000
- Last 16: £30,000
- Last 32: £20,000
- Last 48: £15,000
- Last 80: £10,000
- Last 112: £5,000
- Highest break (qualifying stage included): £15,000
- Maximum break (main stage): £40,000
- Maximum break (qualifying stage): £10,000
Qualifying for the event was held between 5 and 14 April over four rounds with 16 players qualifying for the main stage. Seven-time champion Stephen Hendry was playing in the World Championship for the first time since announcing his retirement after the 2012 event. He met six-time runner-up Jimmy White in the first round, with the pair having met in four previous finals. Hendry defeated White 6–3, but lost his second-round match 1–6 to Xu Si. The defeat for White meant he was not ranked high enough to remain on the World Snooker Tour, but he was later given an invitational place for the following two seasons.
Three-time World Championship semi-finalist Alan McManus announced his retirement after his second-round loss to Bai Langning. Bai reached the final round of qualifying by defeating Ben Woollaston 6–5. Two amateur players progressed through the first round. Julien Leclercq defeated Soheil Vahedi 6–5 in the first round, but lost 2–6 to Chang Bingyu. Florian Nüßle defeated world number 111 Ben Hancorn in the first round 6–2, but lost to world number 50 Mark King 3–6 in the second round. World number 84 Jamie Clarke was trailing 0–5 in his second-round match against Jamie O’Neill, but won six frames in a row to win the match. He then defeated world number 20 Joe Perry 6–2 to reach the final round of qualifying.
The fourth and final round of qualifying, nicknamed “judgement day”, took place on 13 and 14 April, with the winners qualifying for the main stage. Matches in this round were played over the best of 19 frames. Four players were competing having started in the opening round: Bai Langning, Jamie Clarke, Igor Figueiredo, and Steven Hallworth, but all four lost their final qualifying match. Bai led his match 5–4 after the first session, but lost 5–10 to Martin Gould; Clarke led 7–2, but won just one more frame, as he lost 8–10 to Mark Davis; Figueiredo lost 7–10 to Mark Joyce and Hallworth lost to 2019 semi-finalist Gary Wilson 3–10. The lowest-ranked player to make it through to the Crucible was Jamie Jones, ranked 69 before the tournament.
The draw for the main stage of the tournament was held at 11 a.m. on 15 April. The opening round was played as the best of 19 frames, held over two sessions between 17 and 22 April. Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan played debutant Mark Joyce in the opening match. O’Sullivan led 3–1, before Joyce made two half century breaks to trail by a frame. The final two frames were won by O’Sullivan who led 6–3 into the second session. Joyce won the first frame in the second session before O’Sullivan took the next to lead 7–4 before scoring three century breaks of 124, 137 and 112 to win 10–4. Masters champion Yan Bingtao and Martin Gould only played eight frames in their opening session, with the score tied at 4–4, with Yan making five breaks higher than 50. Yan made two century breaks to lead 8–5, and won the match 10–6. David Gilbert, the 2019 semi-finalist, played Chris Wakelin, and won seven of the first eight frames and won the first session 7–2. Gilbert won the match 10–4. The 2010 champion and third seed Neil Robertson led 6–3 over Liang Wenbo after their first session. Robertson won all four frames in the second session to progress with a 10–3 victory.
Jamie Jones had returned to the tour for the season having lost his professional status in 2019 after serving a year-long ban. Jones trailed Stephen Maguire 0–3, but led 5–4 after the first session, and won all five of the second session frames to win 10–4. He commented that he felt the ban had caused him to “lose everything”, whilst Maguire commented that he would be fined for using bad language at the quality of his play. Previous year’s semi-finalist Anthony McGill led Ricky Walden 5–4 in the first session, and won five of the next six to win 10–5. Four-time winner John Higgins played qualifier Tian Pengfei. The pair played just seven of their nine allotted frames in their opening session due to slow play, as Tian won four of the first five to lead 4–3. The second session opened with Tian taking three of the first four frames to lead 7–4. Higgins, however won five frames in a row to lead 9–7 before the match was halted to allow a later session to go ahead on time. When the match resumed, Higgins won frame 17 to win the match 10–7. After the match, Higgins commented Tian would be “kicking himself” for not taking advantage of his own “soul destroying” performance.
The previous year’s runner-up Kyren Wilson trailed 1–5 to Gary Wilson, but recovered by winning the next three frames of the opening session to trail 4–5. The second session opened with Kyren winning the opening three frames to lead 7–5. Gary made two half century breaks to tie the match 7–7, before Kyren scored a half century and a break of 119 to lead 9–7. Gary won frame 18, but Kyren won the match with a break of 73. Jack Lisowski trailed Ali Carter 3–1, but led 5–4 after the first sessions play. The pair were later tied at 8–8, before Carter won frame 17 and Lisowski won the next with a break of 82 to force a deciding frame. Lisowski made a break of 60 win the final frame. Post-match, he commented that Carter was the “worst draw”, but that “I’ve never won a tournament so why not make the World Championship the first one?” Mark Allen defeated Lyu Haotian, having led 7–2 after the first session, won three straight frames to win 10–2. Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham‘s first session was completed with a fluke on the final black ball, with Ding attempting a pot, for it to end in the opposite corner to lead 5–4. Bingham made breaks of 60, 92 and 104 en route to lead 9–8, before Ding took frame 18 to tie the match and force a deciding frame. The deciding frame was delayed until after the next session ended, with Ding making a break of 45, but misjudging a pot on a red ball, allowing Bingham to make a break of 70 to win the match.
World number one Judd Trump defeated Liam Highfield 10–4, having won the opening session 7–2. Barry Hawkins took a 6–3 lead after the first session over Matthew Selt, and won four of the five frames in the second session to win 10–4. Three-time winner Mark Williams trailed 0–2 behind Sam Craigie, but won five of the next seven to lead 5–4. On the resumption, Williams won five straight frames and won 10–4, commenting that he would “go for everything”, indicating he would not turn down any opportunity to pot a ball. The 2005 champion Shaun Murphy trailed 3–5 in his match against Mark Davis, but won the final frame of the session with a break of 114. This century was cited by Murphy as giving him the additional motivation as he won six of the eight frames in the second session to win 10–7. The final first round match was contested between Mark Selby and Kurt Maflin. Selby won the first three frames, before Maflin won frame four with a break of 91. Maflin only scored six points across the next four frames as Selby won the first session 8–1. He then won the next two frames to win the match 10–1.
The second round was played from 22 to 26 April, as the best of 25 frames over three sessions. O’Sullivan met McGill, who had never defeated him in their six professional matches. O’Sullivan made breaks of 81, 105 and 138 as he led 4–1, but McGill won the final three frames to tie the match 4–4 after the first session. McGill also won the next four frames (seven in total) with breaks of 71, 126 and 89. O’Sullivan won frame 13, before McGill won the next two. The final frame of the second session was won by O’Sullivan to trail 6–10. The third session saw O’Sullivan win the first five frames to lead 11–10. McGill won the next frame, before O’Sullivan won frame 23. McGill forced a deciding frame tying the scores at 12–12 with a break of 136. O’Sullivan had the first chance to score points in the frame, but missed a pot on a red, allowing McGill to win the frame and match.
Robertson met Lisowski and led 5–3 and then 9–7 after the second session. He made breaks of 126 and 87 to go 11–7 ahead, before going in-off in the next allowing Lisowski to win the frame. He made a break of 71 in frame 20 and won the match two frames later – a 13–9 victory. This was Robertson’s sixth successive victory over Lisowski. Robertson, however, praised Lisowski’s play saying “Jack did really well throughout the whole match… I really want to see [him] do well. He’s such a nice guy and so talented”. Wilson led Hawkins 9–4 before Hawkins won the final three frames of the second session to trail by two. Hawkins made breaks of 107 and 53 to tie the match at 9–9, but Wilson won four more frames to win 13–10. The match contained 22 breaks of 50 or above in the 23 frames played. In a replay of the 2018 World Snooker Championship final, Williams played Higgins. Williams lost three of the first four frames, but won nine successive frames to lead 10–3. Higgins won the final three frames of the second session, but Williams won three of the next four frames, all with breaks over 70 to win 13–7. Williams commented after the win that he felt he was playing as well as he had during the 2002–03 snooker season, where he won all three Triple Crown events.
The two remaining qualifiers left in the competition – Bingham and Jones – met in the second round. The pair were tied after the first session 4–4, with seven breaks over 50. During the second frame, with Bingham leading 109–0 with just two balls remaining, the referee awarded him the frame. Jones, however, revoked the concession to pot the pink ball, as he had not potted a ball to that point, but still lost the frame 106–6. Bingham won the second session, leading 10–6, before winning three frames in the third to win 13–6. Gilbert led Trump 3–1, but missed a black ball, allowing Trump to win the next four frames to lead after the first session. Gilbert won just two of the frames in the second session as Trump led 11–5, who won 13–8. Murphy faced the last Chinese player remaining Yan, and won the opening session 6–2, making the highest break of the tournament, a 144. Murphy also led by four frames after the second session 10–6, and won three of the four frames in the third session to win 13–7. Despite the loss, Yan made more half century breaks than Murphy. Fourth seed Selby faced thirteenth seed Allen, and led 6–2 after the opening session, making six breaks over 50. Selby’s lead was cut to 8–6, but won the final frame of the second session to lead by three. He won the match winning four of the next five frames to win 13–7.
The quarter-finals were played on 27 and 28 April as the best-of-25 frames held over three sessions.
The results for the main draw are shown below. Numbers given in brackets are the players’ seedings. Match winners are denoted in bold.
Qualifying for the main stages of the tournament were held from 5 to 14 April 2021 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. The WPBSA selected 16 amateur players to participate in the qualifying rounds together with the 112 professionals outside the top 16 of the world rankings. The amateur players were selected based on performances in the 2020–21 season, and due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, performances in the 2019–20 season were also included.
Antoni Kowalski and Wu Yize were initially invited, but withdrew and were replaced by Hamim Hussain and Julien Leclercq. Three tour players: Mei Xiwen, Marco Fu and Steve Mifsud withdrew, and were replaced by the top three players on the Q School Order of Merit who were not already participating in qualification: Michael White, Paul Davison and Leo Fernandez. Noppon Saengkham who was scheduled to enter in the third round was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Finally, the 16 amateur players selected to participate in the qualifying rounds were: Connor Benzey, Dylan Emery, Reanne Evans, Hamim Hussain, Ivan Kakovskii, Rebecca Kenna, Julien Leclercq, Mark Lloyd, Robbie McGuigan, Ben Mertens, Ross Muir, Florian Nüßle, Brian Ochoiski, Fergal Quinn, Hayden Staniland, and Dean Young.
The results from qualifying are shown below. Numbers given before players’ names show seedings in the qualifying draw, whilst “a” is for the amateur players in the draw. Bold text denotes match winners:
A total of 93 century breaks have been made during the main event. The highest so far is a 144 made by Shaun Murphy in his second round win over Yan Bingtao.
- 144, 131, 124, 113, 109, 104 Shaun Murphy
- 142, 135, 134, 132, 121, 101 Mark Selby
- 139, 133, 127, 121, 119, 115, 110, 107, 102 Kyren Wilson
- 139, 116, 102 Mark Allen
- 138, 137, 124, 112, 105 Ronnie O’Sullivan
- 138 Liam Highfield
- 137, 135, 126, 126, 113, 110, 108, 105, 100, 100 Neil Robertson
- 137, 126, 123, 107 Barry Hawkins
- 136, 130, 130, 126, 126, 119, 106, 105 Anthony McGill
- 135, 127, 113, 107 John Higgins
- 132, 111, 100 David Gilbert
- 131, 129, 125, 122, 120, 119, 117, 108, 104, 102 Stuart Bingham
- 130, 116, 101, 100 Yan Bingtao
- 126 Liang Wenbo
- 121, 116 Jack Lisowski
- 121 Jamie Jones
- 116, 114, 111, 111, 107, 105, 105 Judd Trump
- 112, 105 Ricky Walden
- 111, 108, 102, 101 Mark Williams
- 111 Tian Pengfei
- 109 Martin Gould
- 105 Ding Junhui
A total of 106 century breaks were made during the qualifying rounds. The highest was a 143 made by Mark Davis in his third round win over Stuart Carrington.
- 143 Mark Davis
- 142, 137, 135, 110, 110, 106 Matthew Selt
- 140, 140, 120, 108 Stuart Bingham
- 140 Fergal O’Brien
- 139 Ali Carter
- 139 Alexander Ursenbacher
- 138, 131 Li Hang
- 138 Lei Peifan
- 137, 134, 125, 122 Oliver Lines
- 137, 114, 114, 104 Joe O’Connor
- 137, 112, 103 Duane Jones
- 136, 113, 102 Bai Langning
- 136 Gerard Greene
- 135, 125, 111, 110, 100 Chang Bingyu
- 135 Mark Joyce
- 134, 134 Lukas Kleckers
- 133, 120 Xiao Guodong
- 133, 105, 104 Igor Figueiredo
- 132 Liam Highfield
- 132 Michael Holt
- 131, 114, 100 Lyu Haotian
- 131, 108 Gary Wilson
- 130, 123 Jak Jones
- 130, 106 Liang Wenbo
- 130 Lu Ning
- 126, 120, 107, 100 Chris Wakelin
- 126, 117, 106 Sam Craigie
- 125 Robbie Williams
- 124, 116, 100 Stuart Carrington
- 124, 104 Dominic Dale
- 123, 113, 104 Zhao Jianbo
- 122 Nigel Bond
- 122 Si Jiahui
- 121, 114, 110, 108 Tian Pengfei
- 120, 111 Mark King
- 119, 106, 104 Kurt Maflin
- 117, 103, 101, 100, 100 Jamie Jones
- 114 Julien Leclercq
- 114 Michael White
- 110 Chen Zifan
- 109 Ricky Walden
- 108, 103 Fraser Patrick
- 108 Dylan Emery
- 106 Pang Junxu
- 105 Ashley Hugill
- 105 Yuan Sijun
- 104, 100 Louis Heathcote
- 103, 102 Steven Hallworth
- 103, 100 Martin Gould
- 103 Elliot Slessor