The World Snooker Championship qualifying action continues and there has been no shortage of drama at the English Institute of Sport.
The main event gets under way at the Crucible Theatre on 20th April and there is still plenty to be decided before the start of the Sheffield showpiece.
The English Institute of Sport saw 128 Crucible hopefuls compete in the first-round of qualifying action, and we now move into the final two rounds which will complete on Wednesday.
With the qualifying contests played over the best-of-19-frame format, the action at the English Institute of Sport is almost a tournament in itself, and we are assured of some late night baize battles.
Players ranked 17-32 enter the fray in the upcoming third round and here we take a look at what has gone before and what we might expect to see in the remainder of the competition.
|What||Snooker World Championship qualifiers|
|Where||English Institute of Sport, Sheffield|
|When||10:00, Sunday, 9th April, 2023|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming Service|
|Odds||(Outright) Ronnie O’Sullivan 4/1, Judd Trump 5/1, Mark Selby 11/2, Neil Robertson 15/2|
After a run to the fourth round of the recent WST Classic, Jimmy White would have had high hopes of making an impact at the World Championship qualifiers.
The Whirlwind is a six-time World Championship finalist, but the south Londoner last made the journey to the Crucible in 2006.
White was beaten 10-4 by Martin O’Donnell in the second round and the 36-year-old followed that victory up with a 10-5 win over Marco Fu.
Stephen Hendry, a record seven-time world champion, started his campaign with a contest against James Cahill.
The signs were bright for the South Queensferry cueman, after rattling in an early century break, but his chances then unravelled and Cahill progressed as a 10-4 victor.
Ken Doherty, the 1997 World Champion, hasn’t made it to the World Championship proper since 2014, but the Irishman put in an excellent display to get past 12-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 10-5.
Round three of the English Institute of Sport qualifiers has players ranked in the 17-32 bracket joining the field.
The likes of five-time World Championship semi-finalist Barry Hawkins starts his campaign with a last-32 tie against David Lilley at 10am on Sunday.
Clearly, Hawkins isn’t operating at the consistent high-level we associated with the Hawk, but the fact the Kent cueman is only a 40/1 shot to lift the Crucible crow before qualifying shows that the quality is there.
Former UK Championship winner Stephen Maguire gets his bid for a 20th successive crucible appearance underway in what could be a high-quality contest against Alfie Burden.
The Scot has slipped down the rankings in recent times, while Burden has dropped off the tour, but both cueman are capable of excellent break-building performances. Mags is 2/7 to win the match and progress to the final round of qualification and 1/2 to make the highest break.
Ryan Day, fresh from hitting a magnificent 147-break at the Tour Championship, joins the field on Monday morning and a clash against Lukas Kleckers or Ashley Hugill awaits the Welshman.
There’s a slightly depleted field in this year’s World Championship, but there is no shortage of talent in the qualifiers.
The aforementioned Day, Hawkins and Maguire are all more than capable of making their mark at the Crucible theatre and that trio aren’t alone.
David Gilbert was only a frame away from making the final of the 2019 Sheffield showpiece and there is no doubt that the 41-year-old has the ability to put together another big run.
The Tamworth potter should progress past veteran Barry Pinches in round three and that would set up a qualification clash with either Jamie Clarke or two-time World Championship runner-up Matthew Stevens.
Anthony McGill seems to save his best performances for the Crucible and it would be no surprise if the Scot put on a show. The 2020 World Championship semi-finalist is an 80/1 chance to lift the Crucible crown.
Tom Ford has only reached the World Championship first round on four occasions and the Leicester cueman is yet to win a match at the Crucible.
However, Model T performed extremely well when losing 10-8 to Judd Trump in his last Sheffield appearance and the 39-year-old is a seriously talented performer. Ford is an 8/15 chance Si Jiahui when they get underway at 10am on Sunday and a victory for the Leicester potter would set up a judgment clash with either Jordan Brown or Dominic Dale.
There will be 16 players added to the main draw on Wednesday, it remains to be seen who will book their spot, but we are assured of some terrific baize battles to decide the World Championship qualifiers.