There are three debutants at the Crucible this year.

Jamie Jones has maintained his excellent recent form. Cao Yupeng is one of a group of emerging Chinese players starting to make strides. And of course there’s young Luca Brecel, just 17 and the youngest ever Crucible competitor.

Debutants rarely do well. Consider the following list of great names for starters: Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, Ken Doherty, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy. All of them lost in the first round on their Crucible debuts.

However, 32 Crucible debutants have won their first match, including Peter Ebdon, Mark Allen, John Parrott and Mark Williams. The last of them to do so was Liang Wenbo in 2008.

It’s nerve-wracking playing at the Crucible for everyone but particularly when it’s your first time there. You will have seen it on television and may have been to watch, but being out in the middle, getting used to the claustrophobic atmosphere generated by this Sheffield theatre-in-the-round, is something you only understand if you experience it first hand.

Doherty says he was 4-0 down on his debut before he could concentrate properly. His fellow Irishman Fergal O’Brien, however, made a century in his very first frame, still the only player to do so on debut.

Terry Griffiths of course won the title on his debut in 1979. It seems unlikely, very unlikely, that Jones, Cao or Brecel will do that. They each have a tough match in the first round.

It’s easy to say they should just enjoy it, but nobody enjoys losing, particularly by a big margin.

What each of them want, aside from obviously winning, is to acquit themselves well, to give a performance consistent with that which got them through the qualifiers.

They know there is suddenly more focus on them than there has ever been. It’s a chance to shine: exciting but also forbidding.

Quite a few promising professionals have never played at the Crucible. This trio’s qualification brings the total number to have played there since 1977 to 182, not that many really.

You never know when you’ll be back. Many players have never been back.

So good luck to our three newcomers in 2012.


John McBride said...

I remember Jimmy making his debut, he gave Steve Davis his closest match that year when he went onto win it for the first time in ’81. 10-8 I think the score line was.

It is a great achievement for the 3 players making their Crucible debuts & it is hard not to get too excited about Luca Brecel qualifying. It’s another & more positive headline for our great game. Watching the young man play, he looks so comfortable on & around the table. His demeanour gives the impression that he is in control of his feelings. Of course, playing at the Crucible for the first time will be his biggest test. Another stern test for the young man will be Stephen Maguire, one of the 5 players I’ve backed & put my money on to win this. You could well see Stephen taking a big lead into the second session & at a guess, it will be here that Luca Brecel will become more relaxed & start to play his free flowing natural game & mount a comeback & gain him many more fans I feel.

All in all, it will be an experience for them that money can’t buy & good luck to them with it, too.

wild said...

Patrick Wallace reached the Quarters on his debut in 2001 Beating World no 8 Alan Mcmanus 10-2 and Mark King 13-5 before Narowly Losing to fellow ulsterman Joe Swail 13-11 and hes never been back since.

so make the most of it as Dave said who knows when you will play there again.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't at the Crucible, but Alex Higgins won not only his first match but also the World Championship at his first attempt!

Anonymous said...

Another great Brit Pop reference, Dave! :D

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen much of Yupeng or Jones but I saw all of Luca Brecel's qualifying matches and was hugely imnpressed with his temperament and talent. He'll be some player in a few year's time and a genuine world class player from continental Europe. Of the three qualifiers I give Jones and Brecel an outside chance of winning their first round encounters but I simply can't see Yupeng upsetting Mark Allen who is one of my tips to win the title. Time is running out for Maguire to win a world title but this could be his best chance to reach at least the semis and a potential match with Trump. He will have looked at the draw and realised that with Higgins in relatively poor form he has a great chance to get some momentum going. Brecel might surprise many who haven't seen him play and he may give Maguire a fright, particularly if he can settle quickly. Jamie Jones has performed brilliantly in the qualifiers and will have a great chance against Murphy if he can capitalise on the chances which come his way and get a good start. If Murphy gets a lead then he could run away with it as he's an excellent front-runner. Yupeng is an exciting player but Allen will have too much firepower and experience for him. Tip for upset - Jones to beat Murphy 10-8!

Colin M said...

Another great article Dave and the title reminds me of the backing music to "Interesting Times, 30 Years of Steve Davis" - the BBC montage on Steve's Crucible career. This article begs another..."Do you remember the LAST time?"..it would be interesting if you could summarise when certain players last appeared at the Crucible....

I can't wait for another snooker extravaganza!

Dr Tim Sandle said...

The players who have won the world championship at their first attempt are a small band: Joe Davis (someone had to win the first staging), John Spencer, Alex Higgins and Terry Griffiths.

Higgins and Griffiths both came through qualifying rounds.

It is not impossible, but highly unlikely, that such a feat will be repeated.

Anonymous said...

nice to see ronnie bumming up luca. sure he bummed up that polish boy as a future WC.

he just opens his mouth and out falls the days rubbish.

KF is a very good young player but theyre two a penny at that level.

luca is a different breed.

someone whos done that rileys comp should know what theyre talking about, but not when theyre uneducated.