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Remind me next time

The stars of the green baize are out in force over the next 17 days for the £500,000 snooker world championship.

As ever, defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan will be many people's idea of the star to burn brightest at the Crucible in Sheffield and 'The Rocket' is in action in one of two opening matches on Saturday morning as he takes on tournament debutant Mark Joyce.

Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the World Championship - BET NOW


The enigmatic and sensational O'Sullivan is among the market leaders to win the event this year and he is chasing a seventh Crucible crown to tie with Scottish legend Stephen Hendry.

By contrast, after 15 years as a professional, Walsall's Joyce takes to the baize at the biggest tournament of the season for the first time in his career.

Joyce saw off the experienced Anthony Hamilton and Brazilian Igor Figueiredo to qualify, but the world number 46 turns up after a hugely disappointing season.

A run to the third round of the Scottish Open has been his best effort in this campaign, the 37-year-old reached the final of the Riga Masters in 2019.

Despite not lifting any silverware this season, O'Sullivan has performed well to reach five ranking event finals.

He has collected 37 ranking event titles since turning professional in 1992 and is currently ranked at number two in the world behind Judd Trump.

Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mark Joyce Betting Odds

Ronnie O'Sullivan to beat Mark Joyce - BET NOW


Unsurprisingly O'Sullivan has been chalked up as one of the shortest-priced favourites in the 16 first-round matches at 1/20.

'The Rocket' has lost in the first round just once in his last 17 appearances at the Crucible. Joyce is 10/1 to achieve what amateur James Cahill did in 2019 and dump the six-time champion out at this stage.

The handicap line is set at 5.5 frames, while O'Sullivan is a very short price to compile the highest break.

He has picked up 15 maximum breaks in his career and it is 18/1 that either player hits that mark during this best-of-19-frames contest.

Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mark Joyce H2H

Ronnie O'Sullivan highest break in match  - BET NOW


These two players met in a minor event last month - WST Pro Series - and it was O'Sullivan who emerged victorious 2-1.

It was only the third time the two had done battle and outsider Joyce won their most notable recent previous match 5-4 at the 2017 China Open in Beijing.

The first tussle on the green baize in a professional event was in the group stage the 2007 Grand Prix, an event which O'Sullivan reached the final in, beating Joyce without dropping a single frame 4-0.

Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mark Joyce Prediction

Ronnie O'Sullivan -4.5 frames - BET NOW


A look back on the last two years at the world championship for O'Sullivan provides an incredible contrast in results - in 2019 he was knocked out in the first round by qualifying amateur James Cahill and just eight months ago he was crowned the king of the Crucible for a sixth time in his career drawing level with Steve Davis.

Despite his experience as a professional for 15 years, this is a huge ask for Joyce on his first-ever visit to the iconic theatre and handicap backers should be confident that 'The Rocket' can cruise home with plenty to spare.

At this stage last year, O'Sullivan set a new record for the fastest win in a best-of-19-frames match beating Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in just 108 minutes.

He averaged just 14 seconds per shot and beat the previous record by 41 minutes.

MC Rob Walker will introduce him as the "Defending world champion" and will also use his trademark phrase "Blink and you'll miss him", punters should expect another rapid-fire demolition job and get stuck into O'Sullivan in the handicap markets.

Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mark Joyce Betting Tips

1. Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the World Championship - BET NOW

2. Ronnie O'Sullivan to beat Mark Joyce - BET NOW

3. Ronnie O'Sullivan highest break in match  - BET NOW

4. Ronnie O'Sullivan -4.5 frames - BET NOW

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Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Mark Joyce Betting Tips