An amateur player is guaranteed a World Snooker Championship spot in Thursday’s main draw after an incredible day of qualifying in Sheffield on Sunday.
Michael Judge and James Cahill upset the order with respective victories over fancied opposition Xiao Guodong and Michael Holt – setting up an amazing winner-takes-all meeting with one another on Judgement Day.
Both cueists are former professionals but haven’t featured on the Main Tour in the last few seasons and are only competing in the 2019 edition of the World Championship as amateur top-ups.
Judge, the reigning Irish national champion who denied Xiao in a dramatic decider, has qualified for the Crucible Theatre three times in the past and reached the last 16 in 2001.
However, the Dubliner is also famed for the number of times he has been denied a World Snooker Championship spot in the final qualifying round, losing seven times at the last hurdle.
Cahill overcame Holt with a coolly compiled 113 century break to go within one triumph of a debut appearance in the sport’s blue riband showpiece.
Victory for either Judge or Cahill on Wednesday will mean that an amateur player will be in the last 32 for the first time.
💬 “To be here as an amateur, one game from the Crucible, is a dream come true.”
Finds out he is in the event on Monday ✅
Earns two 10-9 wins ✅
Moves one match from becoming the first amateur to compete at the Crucible ✅
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 15, 2019
Meanwhile, there were a couple of other notable upsets as the second stage of qualifying got under way at the English Institute of Sport.
Peter Ebdon looked to be in control when he established a 5-2 advantage over Michael Georgiou but the 2002 world champion lost eight out of the next 11 frames to suffer a premature exit.
European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson also bowed out after losing a 10-9 tussle with fast-improving rookie Joe O’Connor.
But Matthew Selt, the recent Indian Open winner, pipped Anthony Hamilton in a hard-fought battle and Yan Bingtao ousted Mei Xiwen in an all-Chinese affair.
Elsewhere, Martin Gould and Liang Wenbo defeated Gerard Greene and David Grace respectively while Snooker Shoot Out champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh recovered from a slow start to power past Mark Joyce.
Gary Wilson was the day’s most comfortable winner, hammering Dominic Dale 10-3, and Daniel Wells managed a 10-6 victory over Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.
Several other ties reached their midway points as the action at the EIS became more intense.
Lyu Haotian was in imperious form, constructing a brace of tons amid a bombardment of heavy scoring to establish a 9-0 advantage over Jordan Brown.
Fellow Chinese youngsters Zhao Xintong and Zhou Yuelong boast 6-3 cushions while the likes of Ricky Walden, Robert Milkins, and Mark Davis are also in control overnight.
However, a lot can still change and there’s sure to be more dramatic conclusions as the second qualifying round wraps up on Monday.
Among the remaining matches to get under way are Jimmy White’s duel with Ali Carter and Ryan Day’s fixture against Tian Pengfei.