The qualifiers for the Betfair World Championship have finished and a varied group of players have made it to the Crucible, easily digestible in three groups...

By far the most exciting group, the debutants number six this year, the most since 1999.

Leading the pack for me is Jack Lisowski, who we saw come good at the China Open, where he beat Judd Trump en route to the quarter-finals. Lisowski no longer deserves to be known as Trump’s friend and practice partner. He’s a considerable talent in his own right. He looks like a star to me and can realise that potential on the biggest stage of them all. It won’t be easy because the pressure will be all new to him, but Lisowski could cause some real damage.

Michael White is similarly deadly in the balls and has qualified this year as his good friend Jamie Jones did last year (Jones reached the quarter-finals). White doesn’t have much TV experience but is a dangerously talented potter.

Ben Woollaston has quietly been improving these last couple of years. He held himself together well to edge Ryan Day in a decider on Saturday night.

Matt Selt also came through in a decider after his 9-4 lead over comeback king Ken Doherty was wiped out. Selt is a confident, disciplined player. In some ways his scare against Doherty may help prepare him for the pressures to come.

Dechawat Poomjaeng is a bit of an unknown quantity. He has qualified from round one and becomes the third Thai, after James Wattana and Tai Pichit, to play at the Crucible. His style is methodical and he has an inscrutable manner which could help him get under a players' skins.

Sam Baird, relegated last season but a returnee through Q School, reached the last 16 of this season’s Welsh Open and, like Poomjaeng, won four matches to qualify, a considerable effort. He will also be taking a step into unchartered territory, a sink or swim environment with the game’s big fishes.

Some familiar faces are once again at the Crucible this year. Peter Ebdon grafted long into the night to beat Kurt Maflin 10-8 and secure a 22nd successive appearance, a fine achievement by the 2002 champion.

Dominic Dale makes his eighth appearance and third in succession after easing past Alfie Burden. Mark Davis, Martin Gould, Marcus Campbell and Mark King are no strangers to the treading the Crucible carpet, whatever colour it is.

The real dangerman from this group is Marco Fu, a World Championship semi-finalist in 2006 and runner-up in the German Masters this season. Fu is right up there as one of the qualifiers the top 16 seeds will want to avoid.

There are some players returning to Sheffield after absences since their last visit. Michael Holt is back for the first time since 2010 after holding off Mark Joyce 10-7 having led 8-0.

Alan McManus, a semi-finalist in 1992 and 1993, won three matches to qualify for the first time since 2006. Robert Milkins ended Jimmy White’s hopes 10-5 and is back for the first time since 2005.

The draw for the first round takes place on Monday from 1.30pm UK time on Talksport, the commercial sports station.


Colin M said...

I for one am looking forward to it. Surely it can't be Ebdon vs. the Rocket in round one??!!

Anonymous said...

Dave, was there an Indian qualified for the Crucible before? Who was that?

Andre said...

I have a strange feeling Ronnie will be drawn against Michael White, a tough game that would be for sure for him. Only guessing of course, let's see if I'm correct tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

i would take.

better than ronnie vs. marco fu. this would be a toughie. fu has a very good record against him

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Selby v Ebdon! Fu must be the player the top 16 least want to draw.

Anonymous said...

I tell you what no one wants to draw marco fu he's a dangerous player always brings his A game against the top players especially against ronnie.

S Tereotpye said...

Far eastern player with inscrutable manner???? Never....at least you didn't describe Mcmanus as a 'dour' Scot.

Anonymous said...

Gutted that Jimmy White didnt make it but then, having watched the match, not even the Whirlwind's most ardent fans would deny Robert Milkins was just far too sharper on the day itself.

Still hoping there is one last Crucible appearance left in Jimmy's tank. Certain parts of the match he was cueing well but he just couldnt hold it together and he lost a lot of close frames as well.