Ding and Maguire make it to Crucible

Ding and Maguire make it to Crucible

The final day of qualifiers takes place on Wednesday with some big names securing their places in the final 32 on Tuesday evening, in a tense day of action.

16 took to the baize on Tuesday with eight players leaving happy and another eight leaving dejected.

Ding Junhui will keep up his run of appearing at every World Championship since 2007 as he overcame amateur David Lilley, denying him a debut in the process.

Things were looking tricky for “Enter The Dragon” as he went 7-4 down to the 46-year-old, but he rattled off six consecutive frames to take his place in the tournament which begins on Saturday.

Stephen Maguire, multiple World Championship semi-finalist, is also in the hat for Thursday’s draw following a hard-fought win against China’s Zhou Yuelong.

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Speedy Thai star Thepchaiya Un-Nooh returns to the Crucible for the fourth time as he defeated Matthew Selt, and says he would like to face one of the big names in round one.

“I prefer to play against Ronnie O’Sullivan because it’s really going to be a good match and he’s my idol too.” he said.

Former quarter-finalist Michael White has qualified as an amateur – only the second-ever player to do so after James Cahill in 2019 – while there will be a Crucible debut for York potter Ashley Hugill.

On Wednesday, eight more names will complete the 32-player field with world number 18 Hossein Vafaei the highest-ranked player to be taking part.

The Iranian, who won this year’s Shoot Out, will play Lei Peifan (Match betting – Lei 10/3, Vafaei 2/9), the lowest-ranked player left.

David Gilbert, a semi-finalist from three years ago, faces the experienced Anthony Hamilton (Match betting – Gilbert 3/10, Hamilton 13/5).

There is a clash of two former runners up as Ali Carter plays Matthew Stevens (Match betting – Carter 4/9, Stevens 9/5) while Graeme Dott, fresh from his 147 heroics, faces Jamie Clarke (Match betting – Dott 3/10, Clarke 5/2).

Player profile – Ronnie O’Sullivan (Outright 6/1)

They say no player is bigger than the sport itself, but O’Sullivan certainly isn’t far off.

Most snooker players are retired and on the exhibition circuit by the time they’re 46 but O’Sullivan is no ordinary player.

The “Rocket” has been snooker’s box office draw for over 20 years and is widely regarded as the greatest player to ever pick up a cue.

A snooker prodigy as a child, O’Sullivan launched himself on the world stage when winning the UK Championship in 1993 as a 17-year-old, still to this day the youngest ranking title winner.

His rapid-fire playing style and tendency to speak his mind make him one of the most popular players in the history of the sport.

O’Sullivan is a six-time world champion and has won more ranking titles, hit more centuries and more 147s than any other player to play the sport.

All of that is in spite of his general apathy towards the sport and criticism for the way it is run.

The most striking example was when he decided to walk away for the entire 2012-13 season before coming back and winning the world title against Barry Hawkins.

It’s rare to find such a mercurial talent in any sport who also has longevity, but O’Sullivan continues to shine and enters this year’s championship second in the rankings.

As ever, he will be one to watch.

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Author: Lucille White