World Championship: What makes the perfect snooker player?

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Neil Robertson have won 13 world titles between them
2018 World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 21 April – 7 May
Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Perfect technique, immaculate break-building and clever safety play.

All these assets are required to win the World Championship, which starts at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Saturday.

But what would the perfect snooker player look like? BBC Sport spoke to members of the elite top 16 to build their ideal competitor.

You can watch the features in full on BBC TV during the tournament.

Technique – Neil Robertson

Australia’s Robertson, 36, claimed his only world title win in 2010 but has reached only one semi-final and two quarter-finals since. This season he won the Scottish Open ranking title in Glasgow.

Mark Selby: Robertson has one of the best techniques in the game. It is very, very straight and he fully commits to every single shot he plays.

John Higgins: Every shot is repetitive. He always keeps the same technique and cues through the ball bang straight.

Barry Hawkins: Robertson is textbook with his grip and has a ramrod solid cue action, delivering it in a straight line.

Honourable mentions: Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui, Jack Lisowski.

Break-building – Ronnie O’Sullivan

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan, 42, has been by far this season’s best player and is aiming for a record sixth ranking title in a season. He has made a personal-best 70 centuries in 2017-18, taking his career tally to 944.

Mark Allen: O’Sullivan is never more than one foot away from the next ball. Even when I am playing at my best, I am never as close as what he can play to. That is why the breaks come so easily to him.

Mark Williams: Everyone would agree about O’Sullivan being the best break-builder in the sport. He will probably get to 1,000 centuries in the next 12 to 18 months and there is no better player in this area.

Robertson: For sure, he is the most efficient scorer in the game. He controls the cue ball the best and needs to make very few recovery pots. The difference between his A game and B game in terms of scoring is very close.

Judd Trump: He is a different class to anyone. He is perfect on every shot in his positional play, so he can never miss when he is in among the balls.

Higgins: He has broken all the records with his century breaks and makes the aspect of break-building look ridiculously easy.

Honourable mentions: Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui.

Safety play – Mark Selby

Watch the moment Selby clinched third world title

Leicester’s Selby, 34, has been world number one since 2011. The defending champion goes into the World Championship full of confidence after retaining the China Open this month.

Robertson: Selby is the best defensive safety player I have ever seen. He made the dump shot, where the cue ball rests on a cushion and leaves the object ball safe, into a really good shot tactically and is very good at escaping snookers.

Higgins: His record speaks for itself. He has won the world title in three of the past four years and his safety play is granite. When you get him into difficult positions, he always seems to find a way out of trouble, so he is not easy to play against.

Allen: He will play the most simple safety shot, but he will apply himself in the same way each time. That is something anyone can learn from. Now and again, you get an easy safety and you play it carefree and you mess it up – and your opponent can then gain control. Selby never puts a foot wrong.

Kyren Wilson: He can win when he is playing on his B or C game and not many other players can do that in this era.

Honourable mentions: John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis.

Temperament – Mark Selby

Ronnie O’Sullivan praises Mark Selby’s temperament

Selby also claimed the International Championship this season and beat John Higgins 18-15 in last year’s final in Sheffield.

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Without a doubt, Selby is the king of keeping his temperament. He wins matches and tournaments when not at his best. No other player in the history of the game has been able to do that.

Robertson: You have to have an unbelievable temperament to win the World Championship. To win it three times, you have to say he is the man at the moment.

Wilson: He never knows when to quit or give up. He is a very tough player to beat.

Honourable mentions: Paul Hunter, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Mark Williams.

Tactical astuteness – John Higgins

Scotland’s Higgins, 42, has won four world titles, the most recent in 2011 agains Trump. He failed to win a ranking title last season but claimed the Indian Open and Welsh Open this season.

Wilson: A four-time world champion, Higgins has done that because of his tactical astuteness.

Selby: I have played him so many times – and every time you come to the table, you have so many problems.

Robertson: He is an all-round player. He is the best at escaping any situation and also putting you in a lot of trouble as well.

Honourable mentions: Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty, Alex Higgins.

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