The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has been dusted down, spruced up and is ready to host the 76th World Snooker Championship. Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan (pictured, above) begins the defence of his title on Saturday morning against Scotland's Marcus Campbell. The Rundown decided to take a light-hearted look at what you can expect to hear from pundits, players, punters and anybody else who fancies themselves as an expert during another 17 days of hectic action on the green baize.
1. Willie Thorne is snooker's 'Mr Maximum'
This one is utterly hopeless as it seems to be Thorne - also known as the great Willie Thorne and now a TV pundit having won the Mercantile Credit Classic in 1985 - who gave himself the moniker. The Leicester man claims to have made close to 200 maximum breaks in practice, but has never made a 147 in competition on live television. And not one at the Crucible. One apparently came in tournament play with the rest in practice. The retired seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry or Ronnie O'Sullivan - who refuses to pot the black when he is on a 147 in practice - should see trading standards about Thorne's breach of copyright. Both have 11 apiece in competition at the last time of counting.
2. Alex Higgins was an all-time great
Alex Higgins was one of the all-time great entertainers, and a character with his hats, boozing, smoking and wild shenanigans away from the table. The Northern Irishman also perhaps paved the way for the nature of the attacking snooker we see in the modern game. But with only seven century breaks made in 14 appearances at the Crucible, it is a point of some dubiety whether or not he would have lived with men like Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan or John Higgins at the peak of their powers on such a stage. To put this into some kind of perspective, Sullivan has made 118 tons in 20 appearances at the event.
3. Jimmy White was unlucky never to win the world title
Jimmy White was not unlucky. He was not good enough. After losing the 1984 final 18-16 to Steve Davis, he went down in the 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994 finals to Stephen Hendry and the 1991 final to John Parrott. He could have won the 1994 final, but seemed to choke on the tension of it all. He should have slotted a black with the white on the cushion when at the table in the deciding frame. Hendry cleared up to claim the title. It was White's last appearance in a world final. Also, look out for "luck evens itself out" during matches. In White's case, it certainly didn't.
4. Snooker is not as popular since 18.5 million watched the 1985 Steve Davis-Dennis Taylor black ball final
One of our personal favourites. The critics who come out with this one have not watched snooker since 1985. The World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn is hoping a global audience of 300 million will watch this year's tournament. It may not be as popular in the UK as it once was, but that is also down to the fact viewers are not force-fed only four terrestrial channels. The former comedy duo Little and Large were dropped by the BBC with figures of over eight million in 1991. Life has changed a lot, and snooker's largest audience tends to be found outside of its traditional base in the UK these days. Yet it still pulled in over six million British viewers on BBC2 in 2011 for the final between John Higgins and Judd Trump. Over half of the UK population watched that final at some stage.
5. Ronnie O'Sullivan is the most naturally talented figure to play the game
Very much a standard line here. O'Sullivan is easily the best player to watch with four world titles to his name, but his success has been based on hard work. His titles are not down to being solely a genius. An aptitude and a work ethic has enabled him to flourish. He had a full side table at his home as a kid and played leading amateur and professionals as a junior. How many other kids can say that?
6. Celebrities love their snooker
You will hear a commentator spot the artist Damien Hirst, a friend of O'Sullivan's, in the crowd and somebody like Dennis Taylor or fellow pundit John "Where's the cue ball going?" Virgo will say "all the stars love their snooker" or something along those lines. Apart from CJ de Mooi from the BBC programme Eggheads turning up now and again, there are few real 'A-list' celebrities inside the Crucible. The boxer Prince Naseem Hamed used to watch his mate Stephen Hendry back in the day, and rocker Ronnie Wood followed Jimmy White. Martin 'Wolfie' Adams was in the crowd last year. He is a former BDO world darts champion. Oh, and the former England cricketer Jack Russell once painted the Crucible. But it is hardly Centre Court at Wimbledon on finals day. There is no Tom Cruise or David Beckham showing up here.
7. No characters left in the game
This is an old one that suggests the days of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and Jimmy 'Whirlwind' White was the golden era of snooker in the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps the biggest cliche going because the players of yesteryear were only semi-professional when you consider they were allowed to smoke and drink. It seemed like one big party back then compared to these days when the standard has never been higher and players are addicted to practice. There used to be a joke that 'big' Bill Werbeniuk (pictured, below) drunk 'Canada Dry' such was his ability to sink vast quantities of lager. He said it was for a medical condition to calm the nerves. When you look at Mark Allen calling Chinese players "cheats", Ali Carter reaching two out of the past five world finals battling Crohn's Disease and Mark Williams describing the Crucible as "s***hole" on the eve of last year's tournament, it is wrong to say snooker doesn't have "characters".
8. Mark Williams is the best single ball potter in the game
This is one the 1985 world champion-turned-television pundit Dennis Taylor often comes out with. It doesn't seem to make much sense. Anybody can pot a single ball. Especially a professional snooker player. Taylor explains it with something like "if you had to put your life on somebody potting a single ball from distance, Williams would be your man". Which still doesn't make any sense. If the mortgage was riding on it, we'd opt for Ronnie O'Sullivan.
9. China is taking over the game
There are plenty of tournaments in China, but where are their players? Ding Junhui has won the UK Championship and the Masters in previous years, but has never claimed the World Championship. He is the only man from China ranked inside the world's top 16 at number nine. The next is Liang Wenbo at 33. And he hasn't qualified for the Crucible this year. Ding is China's only real hope of winning the game's biggest prize, but the sport remains dominated by players from the UK and Ireland. Plus Neil Robertson from Australia.
10. Judd Trump is a future world champion
You will hear this line from Thorne or John Virgo talking about "this young man". Trump has the game for it, but so do plenty of others who have yet to land the big one. We have heard this so many times over the years. Jimmy White was always tipped as a future world champion, but never made it. As has the game's top ranked player Mark Selby, who has yet to carry off the world crown despite his game constantly hinting at it. Trump could make it, but there are no guarantees.
11. It is a young man's game
This is obviously not true. O'Sullivan is 37 and is targeting winning at least one world title in his 40s. Higgins won his last one at the age of 35 two years ago. Since Shaun Murphy became the second youngest player to win the world title at the age of 22 in 2005, players in their teens and 20s have been well off dominating the World Championship when you consider the recent list of winners. Since Murphy's success, Higgins and O'Sullivan have won five of the past seven championships.
12. The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield is the home of snooker
Some players like to compare it to Wimbledon in tennis or Augusta in golf, but it is only ever a snooker table planted in a large room. It could be anywhere in the world when you are watching it on television. Steve Davis pointed this out to us before last year's Masters. Good drama, but hardly distinguishable from other full-size tables in other venues.
13. Nerves set in when we move to the one-table format
Not really sure what this means. Nerves probably increase when you reach the semi-final stage, but there is no reason why you should be more or less nervous playing on the same size of snooker table. It is also over the longer distance so players have plenty of time to bed themselves in. Also at this stage, watch out for the line "this is what separates the champions from the contenders".
14. We always have a "knowledgeable crowd" inside the Crucible
This usually applies when the crowd applaud a telling safety shot or unfurl some applause when a player pots a ball to leave the other player needing snookers in a frame. But the crowd all have earpieces in with commentary so they know what is going on because the commentators, experts like Thorne, Virgo and Taylor, are keeping them up to speed from their booth in the Crucible.
15. "He didn't use to miss those.."
This one tends to be reserved for a Steve Davis. But he didn't qualify this year. Look out for it being applied to an Alan McManus or Mark Williams when they miss a straight red. When a younger player like Trump misses it is down to inexperience or carelessness. Davis reached the qurater-finals at the age of 52 three years ago "not by missing those". He probably did use to miss those when winning his six world titles in the 1980s, but wasn't punished as heavily for missing. When the standard wasn't as high back when the game had "characters".
16. You have to be fit to last the distance over the longer frames
John Higgins admits he isn't really into being buff for the baize and it hasn't affected his standing as one of the most successful players in the sport. Stephen Lee was reaching finals last season when he seemed to be eating cakes between frames. Look at Marcus Campebll when he meets Ronnie O'Sullivan in the first round. The 'Pride of Dumbarton' is a pieman. Mental stamina does not accompany physical fitness. General fitness does help, but you do not need to be Usain Bolt to win the world snooker title.