Former World Champion John Parrott is backing John Higgins to land a fifth Crucible title in Sheffield this year.
Snooker’s blue-riband event is on the horizon with 32 players competing for the ultimate prize in the sport.
Four-time champion Higgins is a man who knows what it takes to produce the goods on the biggest stage of all, having donned the World crown in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
The Scotsman was also a beaten finalist in three consecutive years between 2017 and 2019, while he made a 147 against Kurt Maflin in the second round of last year’s event.
World number five Higgins arrives at the Crucible having recently captured the Players Championship title; the 31st ranking event success of his glittering career.
During a vintage week in Milton Keynes, the 45-year-old made a whopping eight centuries as he recorded back-to-back whitewashes against Jordan Brown and Mark Selby, before dropping just a single frame against Kyren Wilson and sweeping Ronnie O’Sullivan aside 10-3 in the final.
And should he replicate those performance levels, 1991 World Champion and BBC pundit Parrott fancies Higgins to go all the way in Sheffield.
“I think he’s got a massive chance,” Parrott told Live Snooker.
“He had more than a renaissance at the Players Championship.
“He played unbelievable in that event and demolished everybody through the tournament.
“He lost four frames in the entire tournament and beat Ronnie 10-3 in the final. He was playing as good as he can play, and that’s a lethal combination.
“If he turns up in the same form, he’ll win. It’s a big if to repeat that again, but he’s going to take a lot of beating.
“For me, he’s always been the best match player I’ve ever played.
“I’m sneaking him in front of Steve Davis, and that’s the highest praise I can give him.
“He picks the correct shot every time, and nearly every time does he play it to the best of his ability.”
Parrott is also confident in the chances of runaway world number one Judd Trump.
Having landed the World crown in 2019, ‘The Ace’ racked up an unprecedented six ranking titles during the following season.
However, he was unable to deliver at the delayed World Championship, and became the latest player to fall victim to the notorious Crucible curse after losing 13-9 to Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals.
But after putting his World Championship disappointment behind him, Trump has continued in the same vein this term; adding a further five ranking event successes to his tally.
And Parrott insists the 31-year-old will take some stopping at the Crucible.
“Judd played unbelievable snooker right the way through the season, but the one place he didn’t do it was at the Crucible as defending champion,” he added.
“I think he’s the one to beat. His level of consistency is just tremendous.
“He’s unbelievably dedicated to his sport. Everything about him is geared up to being a champion and it’s going to take a lot to beat him.
“Form is a big thing coming into these events. Those two players are in unbelievable form.”