Jimmy White is refusing to buy into the hype that 2010 world champion Neil Robertson is favourite for a second Crucible title despite his spectacular scoring in dominating the Tour Championship last month.
Robertson, the UK champion, produced a scintillating performance at Celtic Manor involving the sport's top eight players on the one-year list with one-sided wins over Jack Lisowski (10-5), Mark Selby (10-3) and Ronnie O'Sullivan (10-4) seeing the Australian player find perfect form ahead of the sojourn to Sheffield.
The Australian enjoyed 11 century breaks at the Tour Championship with five coming in the final as he astonishingly restricted O'Sullivan to only 26 points in rampaging away with the final six frames as the world champion described his potting as "frightening".
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He has been drawn against China's Liang Wenbo in the first round at the Crucible in a repeat of the 2015 UK final that he won 10-5 and is third favourite with tournament sponsors Betfred behind undisputed world number one Judd Trump and holder O'Sullivan.
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Despite being impressed with Robertson's attacking prowess and punishing scoring before the year's biggest event, White feels form does not guarantee who will emerge victorious over 17 days.
The six-times finalist believes there is nothing to separate the sport's top five players ahead of the 45th staging of the Crucible event which sees O'Sullivan begin his title defence against qualifier Mark Joyce on Saturday morning (10am LIVE on Eurosport).
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"Ronnie O'Sullivan has obviously been in five finals this season, John Higgins is in good form after winning the Players Championship, then you have Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson all winning tournaments," White told Eurosport.
"You would have to say that those five players are favourites on form. There is nothing much between the top four or five playing well.
Not one of them is the stand-out favourite. Robertson has been strongly fancied the last few years going to the World Championship in superb form, but came unstuck in the quarter-finals 13-10 against John Higgins two years ago and Mark Selby 13-7 last year.
"It can be such a difficult and unpredictable tournament. Listen, Robertson is a class act, but O'Sullivan is a class act, Trump is a class act and so are Selby and Higgins.
"Those five look to be the likeliest to win based on how the season has gone, but there is not one you'd pick as the outstanding favourite."
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Latest odds with event sponsors Betfred
- Judd Trump 11/4
- Ronnie O'Sullivan 9/2
- Neil Robertson 5/1
- Mark Selby 13/2
- John Higgins 10/1
- Kyren Wilson 20/1
- Shaun Murphy 22/1
- Ding Junhui 25/1
- Yan Bingtao 25/1
- Barry Hawkins 25/1
World Championship first round draw
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Mark Joyce
- Anthony McGill (16) v Ricky Walden
- Ding Junhui (9) v Stuart Bingham
- Stephen Maguire (8) v Jamie Jones
- John Higgins (5) v Tian Pengfei
- Mark Williams (12) v Sam Craigie
- Mark Allen (13) v Lyu Haotian
- Mark Selby (4) v Kurt Maflin
- Neil Robertson (3) v Liang Wenbo
- Jack Lisowski (14) v Ali Carter
- Barry Hawkins (11) v Matthew Selt
- Kyren Wilson (6) v Gary Wilson
- Shaun Murphy (7) v Mark Davis
- Yan Bingtao (10) v Martin Gould
- David Gilbert (15) v Chris Wakelin
- Judd Trump (2) v Liam Highfield
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