Qualifiers take cue for Crucible draw

Matthew Stevens. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Matthew Stevens. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Four ranking event winners and two newcomers are among the 16 qualifiers in the hat for the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship first round draw, which takes place at Wembley Stadium next Monday (10.45am).

The 16 qualifiers will be paired against the top 16 seeds to create the line-up for the first round proper at the Crucible, Sheffield for the event which runs from April 16 to May 2.

The qualifying rounds at the English Institute of Sport finished last Sunday. Former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens, four-time ranking event winner Stephen Lee, former Grand Prix and Shanghai Masters champion Dominic Dale and 1993 Asian Open winner Dave Harold were among those to earn a coveted spot at the Crucible, along with Andrew Pagett and Jimmy Robertson who will both make their debut at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams.

But legendary six-time world champion Steve Davis, who reached the quarter-finals last year, won’t be there after his 10-2 defeat to Stephen Lee who said; “It’s a magnificent feeling to beat someone of Steve’s class to get to the Crucible.”

Robertson, a 24-year-old from Bexhill in Sussex, stunned former World Champion Ken Doherty 10-6 in the final qualifying round. “I’m buzzing, it’s unreal to be going to the Crucible,” he said “I’m sure I will be nervous when I first step into the arena but I will be there to enjoy it. I would love to draw one of the big names like Ronnie O’Sullivan.”

Welshman Pagett, 28, saw off Andrew Higginson 10-6 and hopes he will draw practice partner Mark Williams. “That would be a dream come true,” he said. “He’s been texting me saying I’ve been lucky and now I’m going to text that I’m coming to get him.”

Martin Gould, who lost 13-12 to eventual champion Neil Robertson in the last 16 last year, made it back by beating Robert Milkins 10-6. “After what happened last year, I wanted to get back to the Crucible straight away, rather than disappear for a couple of years,” said the Londoner.

The full list of qualifiers are: Rory McLeod, Joe Perry, Jamie Burnett, Mark King, Dominic Dale, Martin Gould, Ryan Day, Judd Trump, Matthew Stevens, Marcus Campbell, Barry Hawkins, Stephen Lee, Dave Harold, Stuart Bingham, Andrew Pagett and Jimmy Robertson.

They will be joined at the Crucible by such famous faces as O’Sullivan, Williams, Robertson, Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

Tickets are now on sale. For details call 0844 6565 147 or visit www.world snooker.com/world