THIS year’s World Championship will have a fresh look after four players earned Crucible debuts in an exciting day of action.
Jack Lisowski, Dechawat Poomjaeng, Michael White and Ben Woollaston will compete for snooker’s biggest prize for the first time after winning their final qualifying matches.
Lisowski, who impressed in the China Open last month by making the quarter-finals, recovered from a slow start to beat the Irishman 10-4.
After trailing 3-1, the Cheltenham born star showed the kind of form which has seen him beat snooker’s big guns Judd Trump and Mark Selby in recent weeks as breaks of 114 and 131 helped him to a 6-3 lead going into the evening session.
And Lisowski booked his placed into the first round of the World Championship by the winning four frames he needed on the bounce after O’Brien won the session’s first frame.
Leicester’s Ben Woollaston hit four centuries in a thrilling 10-9 deciding victory over Ryan Day. In a close contest throughout, Woollaston came back from 9-8 down to win the final two frames of the contest.
Thailand’s Poomjaeng secured his first appearance at the famous Sheffield venue after beating Jamie Cope 10-3.
Ranked number 70 in the world, Poomjaeng will go into the tournament having won four matches to get there following previous wins against Michael Leslie, Liu Chuang and Anthony Hamilton.
And Welshman Michael White recorded possibly his biggest win of this career by beating Andrew Higginson 10-4 to secure a first round spot in snooker’s biggest event for the first time.
A brave second session fightback from mark Joyce proved not enough as he fell to a 10-7 defeat to Michael Holt. Joyce at one stage was facing the embarrassment of a whitewash when the Nottingham potter took a huge 8-0 lead.
But Joyce, to his credit, refused to give in and turned the pressure on Holt after a great run saw him win seven out of eight frames – which reduced his deficit to 9-7. But Holt showed plenty of nerve to halt Joyce’s momentum in frame 17 and secure his first place at the Crucible since 2010.
German Masters runner-up Marco Fu booked his place in Monday’s anticipated first round draw beating David Gilbert 10-6.
Elsewhere, former world champion Ken Doherty is in danger of not qualifying for this year’s showdown as he trailed 6-3 overnight to Matt Selt.
Liang Wenbo kept in the hunt after he reduced his deficit to just a single frame in his qualifier against ‘unlucky’ 16th seed Mark Davis. Wenbo trails 5-4 overnight.
Alan McManus is on course for his appearance at the Crucible in seven years after he edged his first session against Tom Ford, leading 5-4. And Rod Lawler secured a 4-2 overnight lead against Martin Gould in a long-winded match.
Sunday sees the spotlight on six-times World Championship runner up Jimmy White as he takes on Robert Milkins for another appearance at the World Championship. And former world champion Peter Ebdon is in action against Norway’s Kurt Maflin as the qualification stages come to an end.