FORMER world champions Mark Williams and Graeme Dott will not compete in this year’s World Championship after falling to surprise defeats in the final qualifying round.
Williams, who lifted snooker’s biggest prize in 2000 and 2003, suffered a 10-8 defeat to Scotsman Alan McManus. The defeat meant it is the first time since 1996 the Welshman has not reached the Crucible stages of the World Championship.
And Dott, who beat Peter Ebdon in 2006 to lift the world crown, lost out 10-7 to impressive young potter Kyren Wilson from Kettering. Snooker fans have to go back to 1999 when Dott last failed to make it through to the last 32 stage of the sport’s biggest event.
In a topsy-turvy contest Williams battled his way to an 8-7 lead before McManus battled back taking the next three frames to secure victory.
Things were looking good early on for Dott when an impressive start saw him take a 4-1 lead. But top breaks of 61 and 64 helped 22-year-old Wilson back into the match as he reduced his arrears to 5-4 at the interval.
The first four frames after the restart were shared giving Dott a 7-6 lead but what followed was one way traffic as Wilson steered his way to his biggest career win with breaks of 76, 64, 58 and 81.
Elsewhere, more shocks were in store as Leicester’s Tom Ford fought his way to a 10-8 win over two-times finalist Matthew Stevens.
Stevens, who reached the semi-finals at the Crucible two years ago, mounted a strong fightback from 8-4 down but Ford held his nerve as breaks of 25 and 44 in the 18th frame saw him make the winning post.
Former world champion Ken Doherty secured his place at the Crucible with a 10-5 win over Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng with top breaks of 100, 97 and 78.
Jamie Cope will play at the famous Sheffield venue for the first time in three years after he defeated Mark King 10-7.
The night also saw wins for Michael Holt, Dominic Dale and David Gilbert who each recorded 10-6 wins over Jamie Jones, Andrew Higginson and Jimmy Robertson respectively.
The eight qualifiers join the world’s top 15 players as well as defending world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the World Championship starting on Saturday (April 19).
Eight more players will qualify tomorrow (Wednesday) before the first round draw for the big event takes place on Thursday at 12pm.