Matthew Stevens booked his return to the Crucible with a 10-2 triumph over Ken Doherty in the final round of the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield on Wednesday.
The Welshman, twice a runner-up, coasted to victory against the 1997 world champion to secure his return to the venue stages for the first time in three years.
Stevens boasted a 7-2 overnight lead after dominating the opening session and wasted little time in getting the job done against the Irishman.
The 40 year-old, who has reached four other World semi-finals in his career as well, will be a popular qualifier and someone who each member of the top 16 will want to avoid given the pedigree he boasts at the Crucible.
Indeed, the list of qualifiers that’s being assembled is proving to arguably be one of the finest ever, which should make things very interesting when the draw for the last 32 is made early on Thursday morning.
Three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden compiled four centuries in his 10-6 success against Andrew Higginson and, despite fighting illness this week at the English Institute of Sport, appears to be continuing his comeback to form this season after a prolonged period in the doldrums.
Another former semi-finalist in Joe Perry staved off a sterling comeback from Mark Davis to prevail against his fellow Englishman with a 10-7 scoreline, having at one point raced into a 5-0 lead.
Perhaps an even sterner test for the top 16 will come in the form of 2006 world champion Graeme Dott, who has been enjoying a terrific 2018 so far with runs to the finals of both the German Masters and the Snooker Shoot Out in recent months.
The Scot edged Mike Dunn 10-7 as well, ending the latter’s hopes of what would have been a record-breaking 16-year gap between a first and second appearance at the Crucible.
In fact, London’s Alfie Burden could have even topped that had he come through against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, with the 41 year-old’s maiden bow occurring an amazing 20 years ago, but it was the Thai who held on for a 10-8 glory in what was the match of the final round so far.
The entertaining encounter swung back and forth with an explosive Burden at times letting his emotions run away from him, but it made for thrilling viewing.
Birthday boy Un-Nooh held himself together in great fashion, though, to ensure that he will be only the fifth competitor from Thailand to qualify to play at the venue stages of the World Championship.
Way back at the start of the afternoon’s play, Chris Wakelin completed his 10-1 demolition of Tian Pengfei to become the first debutant to book his place in the this year’s edition.
Elsewhere, Robert Milkins hammered Michael Holt 10-3 while Stuart Carrington edged Zhang Anda 10-8.
Later today, the remaining World Championship qualifiers reach their conclusions with the likes of Ryan Day, Stephen Maguire, Xiao Guodong, Jamie Jones, and Jack Lisowski in strong positions to reach the Crucible.