After eight hard fought days, here they are:
Tian Pengfei – China (defeated Soheil Vahedi 10-5, Ryan Day 10-3 and Matthew Stevens 10-8) – Debutant
It’s fair to say that Tian had no easy draw there. He scored really well against Ryan Day and Matthew Stevens, two experienced players, both tournament winners. And Ryan was the highest ranked player in the draw. It will mean a lot to Tian who had some painful defeats in those qualifiers in the past, notably at the hands of Fergal O’Brien.
Gary Wilson – England (defeated Sanderson Lam 10-5, Dominic Dale 10-3 and Liang Wenbo 10-6)
I only saw Gary Wilson in his last match at the EIS but he was impressive, and one that seeds would prefer to avoid. The first two frames did set the tone of this match: Gary won the first frame with a 134, Liang replied with a 141 in the second. Gary had seven breaks over 60 in this match, including three centuries, and whilst Liang was a bit inconsistent Gary was solid from start to finish.
Luo HongHao – China (defeated Marco Fu 10-7, Robbie Williams 10-8 and Tom Ford 10-8) – Debutant – First year as a pro
Where to start? Here is the youngest player in the Crucible draw. He’s only 19 and this is his first year as a pro. He’s the inaugural WSF champion. He defeated three seasoned pros this week, including Marco Fu. He has a very solid temperament. And he’s “multi-gifted”: his command of English is very good, he’s a very talented pianist and a good photographer too.
Anthony McGill – Scotland (defeated Ashley Hugill 10-8, Duane Jones 10-5 and Robert Milkins 10-8)
Anthony McGill qualification is a statement of resilience. Even when not playing that well he’s hard to beat. Back against the wall, you can trust him to find something.
Graeme Dott– Scotland (defeated Hamza Akbar 10-2, Xu Si 10-4 and Kurt Maflin 10-2)
One sentence here: this week Graeme played like the World Champion he was. The game face is on, the gritty “terrier” is back. Beware!
Li Hang – China (defeated Niu Zhang 10-5, Ian Burns 10-8 and Ben Woollaston 10-8) – Debutant
The least that can be said about Li is that he earned it! His last two matches were long and very hard-fought. Some might be tempted to smile at his unusual sense of fashion, his rounded face. The man has an iron will to win. The thing that might play against him next week is that he will be even more tired than most.
Martin Gould – England (defeated Mostafa Dorgham 10-0, Gerard Greene 10-6 and Daniel Wells 10-8)
I didn’t watch Martin Gould at all this week. Going by the scores in his matches he’s in solid form.
Michael Georgiou – Cyprus (defeated Lee Walker 10-7, Peter Ebdon 10-8 and Yan Bingtao 10-8) – Debutant – first time Cyprus is represented at the Crucible
Not many expected Michael Georgiou to play at the Crucible, after an indifferent season (understatement). But look at who he beat! Two very hard match players in Lee Walker and Peter Ebdon were his first victims. Yan Bingtao is not in his best form, and his confidence is low, ok, but his talent remains and Michael still had to beat him. He has every reason to be proud, he made his country proud. I hope he enjoys his debut.
Ali Carter – England (defeated Paul Davison 10-1, Jimmy White 10-4 and John Astley 10-4)
I didn’t watch any of Ali Carter’s matches. I can’t judge how he’s playing. In my opinion he’s not really been tested. His highest ranked opponent was Jimmy White n°79 in the rankings and turning 57 in less than a month.
Zhou Yuelong – China (defeated Robin Hull 10-7, Liam Highfield 10-5 and Eden Sharav 10-6)
Zhou is returning to the Crucible. I only watched his last match, against Eden Sharav. He played a very mature game – it’s easy to forget that he’s only 21.
Mark Davis – England (defeated Rod Lawler 10-6, Fergal O’Brien 10-4 and Lyu Haotian 10-7)
Mark Davis is the oldest man in the Crucible draw. He’s a lovely man, popular with the fans and very, very solid at the table. He got the better of two of the hardest match players in the game before facing young Lyu Haotian. Once “Mavis” got on top of him, there was only one winner. Lyu had very traumatic experiences off the table when he came to play on the tour as a 15 years old rookie. He remains fragile. I do hope he finally gets over it one day and can do his talent full justice.
Thepchaiya Un-nooh – Thailand (defeated Jonathan Bagley 10-4, Mark Joyce 10-5 and Joe O’Connor 10-6)
I watched Theppy’s first and the last match. In round three he played Joe O’Connor. It was very high quality. Joe O’Connor is in his first year as a pro and has done tremendously well. He should be proud. “Theppy” scoring power is just too much for about anybody when he’s on form. And he is. He’s great to watch as well. Jonathan Bagley who is a WSS player and an amateur did very well actually. The match could have been closer had Jon found his ground from the start. But everything was new to him and the fist session was just a learning curve.
James Cahill – England (defeated Andrew Higginson 10-9, Michael Holt 10-7, and Michael Judge 10-6) – Debutant – Amateur
James Cahill was impressive throughout. He came at the EIS an amateur, aiming to secure his return to the pro ranks via the one year list … which he did. Michael Holt was probably one of the favourites to qualify for the Crucible. James denied him. Amazingly, in the last round he faced another amateur: WSS player Michael Judge. Michael Judge himself created a “story”. Before last Monday he didn’t even know that he was playing. He was invited to replace Zhang Jankiang who was denied a visa. He then beat Peter Lines and Xiao Guodong to reach the last round at EIS…
Scott Donaldson – Scotland (defeated Craig Steaman 10-8, Ken Doherty 10-4 and Lu Ning 10-9) – Debutant
Scott Donaldson had reached the semi-finals in Beijing so it is maybe no surprise that he did well at the EIS. What could not be expected is how the last match against Lu Ning panned out. Scott lead 7-2 and 9-4 before Lu Ning fought back to force a decider. And even in that decider, Lu Ning fought to get the snookers he needed, and got them … before Scott eventually fell over the line. By that time he probably didn’t even remember his own name! Lu Ning deserves a lot of credit. In his previous match he had defeated Mark King, which is never easy. Lu Ning is in the first year of a two years card. He’s already climbed to world n°68.
Zao Xintong – China (defeated Adam Lilley 10-2, Noppon Saengkham 10-5 and Matthew Selt 10-4) – Debutant
Zao looked never in trouble last week. Noppon Saengkham was the one who ran him closest and it wasn’t very close. Now, maybe Noppon hadn’t got the best of preparation: getting married just before the WC qualifiers isn’t maybe ideal. Anyway I wish all the happiness in the world.
Joe Perry – England (defeated Simon Lichtenberg 10-1, Zhang Yong 10-1 and Martin O’Donnell 10-3)
I didn’t watch any of Jo Perry’s matches. I can’t judge how he’s playing, although he has obviously been scoring heavily. He may not have been really tested though.
Some interesting “numbers”
There will be six players from China in the Crucible draw this year, the five above and Ding. That’s the most there ever was. With “Theppy” that’s seven from Asia.
The three youngest players in the draw are all Chinese: Luo (19) Zhou (21) and Zhao (22). Amateur James Cahill (23) is the youngest british player. Should Luo or Zhou win the title they would become the youngest ever World Champion. Stephen Hendry is the holder of that record. Zhou woul beat him by 11 days; Luo by two years and 18 days.
It’s the first time that an amateur has qualified to play at the Crucible in the World Championship.
Here are the “Judgement Day” reports on Worldsnooker:
James Cahill will become the first ever amateur to grace the Crucible, after he defeated Michael Judge 10-6 at Betfred World Championship qualifying in Sheffield.
With both players competing as amateurs this week, the historic Crucible first was guaranteed regardless of the result.
Cahill spent four years as a professional on the tour, before dropping off in 2017. However, performances as a Q School top up this term have seen him earn a tour card for next season, when he will regain his professional status.
The Blackpool potter has already highlighted his big match mettle with two giant killing UK Championship wins. In 2014 he came through a final frame decider to beat Ding Junhui 6-5 during a run to the last 16. Earlier this season he downed the then world number one Mark Selby 6-3 in the opening round.
Judge’s remarkable run comes to an end, but he has the consolation of £15,000 of prize money for reaching this stage. The Irishman, who spent 19 seasons as a professional before dropping off the tour in 2011, only found out last Monday he would be playing in this event after Zhang Jiankang pulled out. He went on to record two post-midnight 10-9 victories against Peter Lines and Xiao Guodong.
Cahill looked composed this afternoon in the Judgement Day pressure cooker. From 8-6 up, he showed no signs of finishing line nerves, firing in breaks of 64 and 60 to push his way over the line.
“This is the best buzz I’ve ever had playing snooker. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but I know what I’ve achieved and it is something special,” said 23-year-old Cahill. “I’ve shown a lot of character and bottle this week. There was a lot more at stake than just qualifying for the Crucible. I’ve had to try and get my tour card for the next few years, which I’ve done. The fact that it is my first time qualifying as well added extra pressure, I made two really good 60 breaks to get over the line.
“To be the first amateur at the Crucible is not something I’m proud of as I see myself as a professional. It is a record though and I am happy to break records if I can. It is nice just to get through this year and now hopefully it will now get easier for the rest of my career and eventually I can get into the world’s top 16 and won’t even have to qualify.”
Anthony McGill ensured his place in tomorrow’s draw by summoning a superb fightback to come from 7-2 down and defeat Robert Milkins 10-8.
He fired his way back into contention, making breaks of 97 and 118, as he claimed seven frames on the bounce to establish an unlikely 9-7 advantage. Milkins pulled within one, but a contribution of 52 helped McGill to seal a remarkable victory.
The Scot will now compete at the Crucible for a fifth consecutive season. Although he has struggled to find his best form this term, having not gone beyond the last 16 of any event. He will be hoping today’s fightback acts as a catalyst for a return to top form on snooker’s biggest stage.
McGill said: “Sometimes I maybe just don’t care enough. I’m quite philosophical and sometimes I need a bit more fire in my belly. I had it today and I wish I could get that feeling for every match. I need to pick up my standard, but I’m in the event so I can turn it around.
“Immediately after yesterday’s session I thought I was beat. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that he still had three frames to win. I knew I could make it hard for him. I actually quite fancied it when I woke up today.
“This is the biggest match of the season for everyone outside of the world’s top 16. The pressure of getting to the Crucible is more than most matches you will play. When you come back at someone they feel it regardless of what event you are playing in, but I knew that would be doubled with what was at stake for Rob.”
The tour’s fastest player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was the first player over the line today, beating tour rookie Joe O’Connor 10-6.
Thailand’s Un-Nooh made his Crucible debut 12 months ago, facing eventual finalist John Higgins. Un-Nooh put on a strong showing before succumbing to a 10-7 loss. Following today’s victory he stated he wouldn’t mind being pitted against the illustrious Scot again in tomorrow’s draw.
“I would like to get a rematch with John Higgins and play him again,” said Un-Nooh. “In the first session against Higgins I didn’t play well, but came back in the evening. He was 6-3 up and that was too far for me to get close to him. Hopefully this year I will draw him again.”
Michael Georgiou defeated China’s Yan Bingtao 10-8 to secure his maiden Crucible appearance and become the first ever Cypriot to compete in the final stages of the World Championship.
Prior to this week Georgiou had endured a torrid World Championship record, having suffered three first round exits and one second round defeat. However, he turned that around this week with today’s victory and earlier wins over Lee Walker and 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon.
“I don’t know what to say really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Yan is a fantastic player and he made me work for it. Somehow I have stumbled over the line and the Crucible awaits,” said 2018 Shoot Out winner Georgiou. “It is every kid’s dream to go to the Crucible. There is so much history attached to it and now I am going to get to play there.
“It is a long term goal to inspire more people to play snooker in Cyprus. To be the first Cypriot at the Crucible is great, there is a first for everything. I am just hoping I can do them proud and hopefully this will gain interest for the sport and grow it slowly.”
46-year-old Mark Davis will be the oldest player in the draw tomorrow after he secured his place with a 10-7 win over Chinese prospect Lyu Haotian. Davis is now the most successful player in the history of World Championship qualifying, having negotiated the process ten times.
Zhou Yuelong defeated Eden Sharav 10-6 to secure his second Crucible appearance and end his opponent’s hopes of becoming the first Israeli to reach the final stages. While 2016 German Masters winner Martin Gould came through 10-8 against Welshman Daniel Wells.
Gary Wilson secured his place in the draw with a hard fought 10-6 defeat of Liang Wenbo. It will be Wilson’s second time at the Crucible. His last appearance saw him succumb to a narrow 10-7 loss against Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2015.
There will be four Chinese debutants at this year’s Betfred World Championship after Zhao Xintong, Luo Honghao, Tian Pengfei and Li Hang progressed at qualifying in Sheffield.
They join Asian number one Ding Junhui and Zhou Yuelong in tomorrow’s draw, meaning that there will be a record six Chinese players at the Crucible this year, beating the previous best of five set in 2017.
Zhao Xintong secured his debut with a sensational display to beat Indian Open champion Matthew Selt 10-4.
The 22-year-old has reinvigorated his game this term. He dropped off the tour at the end of last season, before immediately securing his return through Q School. Since then he has enjoyed a superb campaign, reaching a maiden ranking event semi-final at the 2018 China Championship and making the last eight of the 2019 Welsh Open.
Zhao’s improvement hasn’t come at the expense of his quickfire and attacking style of play. He’s second only to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in terms of average shot time this season. He overpowered Selt today with his break building, making contributions of 51, 54, 124, 79, 72, 51, 103, 72 and 56 on his way to victory.
“I played very well in this match. I had more confidence than in the last two rounds. I made a lot of breaks which gave me that confidence,” said Zhao. “It will be very exciting to play at the Crucible, but I’ll maybe a little bit nervous because it is my first time there.”
2018 WSF Amateur Champion Luo Honghao booked his maiden trip to the Crucible with a narrow 10-8 win over Tom Ford.
The talented 19-year-old produced a fine display to secure his progression. Luo composed runs of 57, 64, 61, 54, 60, 106 and 66 on his way to the impressive victory.
Luo had already showcased his ability in an enthralling battle against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals of the English Open earlier this season. He eventually lost out 5-3, but has stated he would like to face the Rocket in his opening match at the Crucible.
Luo said: “Every top 16 player is better than me, so it is no different playing Ronnie O’Sullivan. I just have to learn and enjoy the match. I want to play against my idol. I really love Ronnie, so I want to face him at the Crucible.”
Tian Pengfei survived a Matthew Stevens fightback to progress with a narrow 10-8 victory.
This was 2015 Ruhr Open finalist Tian’s 11th attempt to qualify for the World Championship and it had looked like he may have to wait another year, when two-time finalist Stevens started to cut away at his significant lead.
Tian held a 9-3 advantage, before Stevens crafted breaks of 114, 95, 67, 60 and 143 as he claimed five frames in a row to make it 9-8. However, Tian showed his character by making a contribution of 56 to take the match and prevent a deciding frame.
“I was 9-3 up, but for the next five frames he didn’t really give me any chances. It did give me a lot of pressure. I am really lucky to win this game. Matthew is a good player,” said Tian. “I thought it would go to a decider, there was so much pressure in that last frame. I haven’t ever experienced anything like that before.”
Li Hang came through a hard fought battle with Ben Woollaston 10-8 to book his Crucible debut. The 2017 China Championship semi-finalist won two frames in a row from 8-8 to clinch the victory.
A relieved Scott Donaldson won an epic deciding frame to edge past Lu Ning 10-9 and book his Crucible debut.
The Scot held a 9-4 advantage, before China’s Lu dug deep to force his way back into the tie and take the match to a final frame.
Donaldson appeared to be over the line when he held a 64-24 advantage, with his opponent needing two snookers. Lu managed to get them, but Donaldson held his nerve and composure to pot the final red and a yellow to secure victory. That win means that in total there will be seven debutants at this year’s World Championship.
Donaldson said: “I’ve never felt like that in my life. I could hardly breath out there. I have no idea how I managed to make that break in the last frame. You realise that is why you have to put in hour after hour every day. We can all play well when there is no pressure. I can’t believe I won that game. First of all I can’t believe I nearly lost it, now I can’t believe I won it.”
Graeme Dott won his 15th consecutive World Championship qualifying match, beating Norway’s Kurt Maflin 10-2 to reach the Crucible.
Scotland’s 2006 World Champion will now appear in the final stages of the World Championship for the 20th time in his career. The wins for Dott and Donaldson now mean there will be five Scottish players at the Crucible, as they join Anthony McGill, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire.
41-year-old Dott has shown impressive form this week, dropping just eight of the 38 frames he has played.
“I played really well. This year is probably the best I’ve played at the qualifiers. I had one bad session against Xu Si, but other than that I’ve played really well in the three matches,” said Dott. “When they changed the format to three matches five years ago, I started to think I might never get back because it is a hard three games. To win 15 matches in a row and come through every year is really impressive.”
Joe Perry eased past Martin O’Donnell 10-3 to book his Crucible place. The Gentleman enjoyed an even more dominant week than Dott, losing just five of his 35 frames. He thrashed Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg and China’s Zhang Yong by 10-1 scorelines in the earlier rounds.
Ali Carter booked his place at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams with a 10-4 defeat of world number 102 John Astley.
The Captain has now reached the final stages for 17 consecutive years, having never missed the Crucible since 2002.
The draw for the final stages will take place at 11am tomorrow. You can watch it live on our YouTube and Facebook channels. For further details click here.