What an interesting first round draw for the 888.com World Championship.

Firstly, well done to the sponsors and World Snooker for doing such a professional job in webcasting the draw live on the net earlier today.

Mark Johnston-Allen was especially impressive in hosting it and this seems like the ideal way to conduct such an important occasion in future years.

So, to the draw.

John Higgins will hardly be looking forward to walking out on the first day to face Matthew Stevens.

Their April 19 meeting is too close to call bearing in mind Higgins's poor form this season and Stevens's general habit of playing well at the Crucible.

Stephen Hendry certainly won't be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of taking on the dangerous, aggressive Mark Allen, who beat him 9-4 in this season's UK Championship.

Similarly, Peter Ebdon has his work cut out to hold off the talented debutant Jamie Cope in what promises to be an intriguing clash of styles.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has already played Liu Chuang, who will become the first player born in the 1990s ever to compete at the Crucible.

They met in the first round of last season's China Open. I commentated on it for Eurosport and was very impressed by Liu, who won the first frame before losing 5-1.

I said at the time that we would hopefully see him in the future but could not have envisaged that he would come all the way from the first qualifying round to the Crucible in his very first season.

If - and it is, of course, a big if - he beats O'Sullivan it will be the biggest shock in Crucible history, if not snooker history.

My early tip, Ding Junhui, may well struggle to get past Grand Prix champion Marco Fu, who beat him at the Masters this season.

They are the highlights for the draw of what should, as ever, be a fascinating World Championship.

Who is going to win?

I've no idea, but it'll be fun finding out.

John Higgins v Matthew Stevens
Ryan Day v Michael Judge
Ding Junhui v Marco Fu
Stephen Hendry v Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Liu Chuang
Mark Williams v Mark Davis
Stephen Lee v Joe Swail
Ken Doherty v Liang Wenbo
Shaun Murphy v Dave Harold
Ali Carter v Barry Hawkins
Mark Selby v Mark King
Peter Ebdon v Jamie Cope
Neil Robertson v Nigel Bond
Stephen Maguire v Anthony Hamilton
Steve Davis v Stuart Bingham
Graeme Dott v Joe Perry


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you are praising the amateurish draw.
Mark J-A's only quality was the ability to shout.
The pre draw "entertainment" was a joke.
You couldn't hear,or see,any of the numbers when they were being drawn out by Dickie or the 888.com guy.
I'm sure many people also experienced buffering issues which meant they missed some of the action.
Higgins' mic "issues" were also poor.
This was a great idea but several issues need to be ironed out before the draw is deserving of any praise.

Don said...

Is the draw you've shown "in order"? In other words, will the winner of Higgins v Stevens play the winner of Day v Judge?

If not, any idea where I could get this information?

Fred said...

Here :



Anonymous said...


I didn't catch yesterday's draw as where I work sites such as 888.com are blocked.
It's great to hear that Mark Johnston-Allen was presenting the event, he was always a great presenter and commentator. Do you know if he has any plans to return to commentating/presenting duties for Sky Sports and/or British Eurosport? He was at the forefront of the coverage on both channels for a few years and then disappeared from our screens.
On the draw though, it should be an excellent World Championship. Obviously the John Higgins v Matthew Stevens and Ding Jun Hui v Marco Fu stand out but, after their respective matches at the UK Championship in December Ali Carter v Barry Hawkins and Stephen Hendry v Mark Allen could be interesting encounters.


Dave H said...

Des - all I can say is that I could hear the numbers and didn't suffer from any buffering problems. I realise this isn't to say that nobody else did.

Ryan - Mark will be MC for the first three days of the World Championship as Rob Walker is doing boxing in Las Vegas,