Betfred World Championship – The Crucible Qualifiers – World Snooker


Some actual hazard lurking amongst this 12 months’s qualifiers for the Crucible

By Hector Nunns

These rising from the brutal qualifying course of for the Betfred World Championship have all the time greater than earned the fitting to stroll down these well-known stairs and into the long-lasting enviornment on the Crucible.

And this 12 months’s crop, with solely two debutants within the type of Mark Joyce and Sam Craigie, seems to have a very troublesome look for a few of the seeded elite high 16 whose passage was assured.

There are some actual Crucible heavyweights together with a former champion in Stuart Bingham, a twice former finalist in Ali Carter and former semi-finalists in Ricky Walden and Gary Wilson.

You discover usually two clear and reverse faculties of thought on how the battle on the English Institute of Sport can have affected these concerned. Both they are going to be completely match-sharp and on the high of their recreation, with a bonus over those that have been practising quite than concerned in aggressive motion.

Or alternatively, there might be some stage of fatigue, significantly when you have been a type of that for instance performed 4 matches after which needed to begin on Saturday morning. That destiny has not befallen any of the gamers this time, although 5 of the qualifiers did have to come back via three rounds.

Usually earlier than the draw the highest gamers might need a non-public inkling about who they might fancy within the first spherical even when they might by no means utter these ideas in public. And expertise on the best stage is one thing they might quite keep away from if potential.

Utilizing this type of evaluation Joyce, Craigie, Liam Highfield, Lyu Haotian, Chris Wakelin and Tian Pengfei – with a complete of simply 4 appearances between the six of them – may at first look have figured excessive on the ‘needed’ record for the likes of defending and six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, and world No1 Judd Trump.

O’Sullivan did certainly get Joyce beginning on Saturday morning, and Trump drew Stoke’s Highfield, a daily opponent going again to junior days being of very comparable age. Highfield, 30, is a really proficient participant at his highest ever rating of world No49, whose profession has virtually definitely hampered by the debilitating Crohn’s illness, as has been the case for Carter.

Trump, the 2019 world champion, will probably be a heavy favorite towards Highfield who misplaced 10-5 to Mark Allen on his solely earlier look in 2018 – as will O’Sullivan towards Walsall’s Joyce on opening day.

Joyce, although, having lastly certified on the 18th try on the age of 37, has baggage of expertise in every single place however in Sheffield and can virtually definitely exit to get pleasure from an overdue event.

Newcastle’s Craigie, 27, is the opposite first-timer. A superb participant and profitable junior, Craigie misplaced his place on tour after a single season in 2012, and after taking years away from snooker obtained again on in 2016 since when he has executed higher. Taking part in the vastly skilled and three-time world champion Mark Williams will probably be an enormous take a look at of his perception and character, in addition to his capability.

The opposite three with a single look to their title all carried out nicely. China’s Lyu Haotian, a very completely different proposition now at 23 to that when first turning professional too early at 15, beat Marco Fu 10-5 earlier than solely taking place 13-10 to Crucible stalwart Barry Hawkins. Allen might have to search out one thing greater than he has proven not too long ago there.

And of the pair who misplaced within the first spherical, each have been battling shows. Wakelin, who faces David Gilbert, misplaced a decider to Trump, and Tian, who should tackle the in-form John Higgins, took Stephen Maguire the entire method.

Past these six, it definitely doesn’t get any simpler for the seeds within the remaining 10 ties. Maguire is prone to have his fingers full with Wales’s Jamie Jones, a former Crucible quarter-finalist earlier than a ban for breaking betting guidelines set his profession again. Since regaining his tour spot final summer season, Jones has regarded an image of dedication.

Kurt Maflin performed some good stuff in attending to the quarters eventually 12 months’s World Championship and if he can emulate that stage of play after taking three months away from competitors this 12 months, he may give three-time winner Mark Selby one other nice recreation, a lot as he did dropping 10-9 in 2015.

The unpredictable Liang Wenbo of China, a former rating occasion winner himself, might discover latest Tour Championship winner Neil Robertson too robust. And Mark Davis, 48, now the record-holder at 11 for the variety of profitable Crucible {qualifications}, goes to have to search out kind not proven all season to beat former champion Shaun Murphy.

However among the many remaining six qualifier there’s little solace to be taken by the seeds. Bingham was arguably the nightmare draw, and that ‘honour’ has fallen to Ding Junhui who has by no means gained this title regardless of such a prodigious expertise. Ding’s focus, often questioned, should be spot on for this one.

And for the remainder, they’re greater than able to giving their higher-ranked opponents an actual recreation and a few scares. Martin Gould takes on the younger Masters champion Yan Bingtao. Walden, who beat Ryan Day so impressively in qualifying, can bother Anthony McGill.

Carter will take full benefit if Jack Lisowski’s focus isn’t on the most, whereas within the match-up of the Wilsons Gary would be the underdog however on no account awed by final 12 months’s runner-up Kyren. Matt Selt, paired with Barry Hawkins, might be taking part in the most effective snooker of his life for the time being…and all of it provides as much as a cracking begin to the event.

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