There’s not much longer to wait in order to discover the first qualifiers this year.
Judgement Day has almost arrived in the World Snooker Championship qualifying draw at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The first eight players who will secure qualification for the venue stages of this year’s tournament at the Crucible Theatre will be determined on Tuesday.
Judgement Day – a somewhat confusing moniker considering it actually takes place over two days and not one – is always one of the most exciting rounds of snooker on the entire calendar.
The remaining players in the qualifying field scramble to join the elite top 16 in the world rankings who have already guaranteed their safe passages through to the first round proper.
Eight more high-stake snooker matches will take place on the second Judgement Day on Wednesday, but first let’s take a brief look at Tuesday’s order of play.
Snooker Draw for Judgement Day 1
All matches are the best of 19 frames. Session 1 – Tuesday, 11am; Session 2 – Tuesday, 5pm.
Zhou Yuelong vs Liam Highfield
Zhou Yuelong fought back from the brink of defeat to deny Xu Si in the penultimate round, and the Chinese 23 year-old, who just missed out on an automatic spot via the world rankings list, is bidding to reach the Crucible for the third time in his career.
Liam Highfield is hoping to make it to snooker’s spiritual home for only the second time after overcoming both Fan Zhengyi and Elliot Slessor in deciders.
Matthew Selt vs Scott Donaldson
Matthew Selt hasn’t qualified for the World Championship since 2015 and the former Indian Open champion will be disappointed with his return of just two Crucible appearances to date.
Against Scott Donaldson, Selt faces a player who, like him, needed all eleven frames to get beyond his opponent in the third qualifying round.
Robert Milkins vs Kurt Maflin
Robert Milkins produced a remarkable clearance at 5-4 down before beating Joe O’Connor in a decider, taking the tour stalwart one win away from a first qualification since 2018.
A difficult draw sees him up against Kurt Maflin, who conjured up a memorable run at the Crucible last August by beating John Higgins en route to the last eight.
Lyu Haotian vs Chang Bingyu
There are seven Chinese snooker players in action on day one of Judgement Day and one of them is guaranteed to reach the main draw here.
Lyu Haotian benefited from Noppon Saengkham’s positive COVID-19 test by receiving a bye in the last round, whereas 18 year-old Chang Bingyu impressed in a 6-4 victory over Tom Ford.
Graeme Dott vs Tian Pengfei
Graeme Dott may not have qualified in 2020, but the former world champion is generally a master when it comes to reaching the venue stages – failing just twice this century.
By contrast, Tian Pengfei has survived the preliminaries just once in his career, two years ago when he made his debut at the Crucible Theatre.
Jamie Jones vs Li Hang
A remarkable comeback campaign for Jamie Jones would be capped off nicely with a return to the World Championship, and the Welshman could even finish the season inside the world’s top 64.
Like a few of his compatriots, China’s Li Hang is another player with a surprisingly poor record of reaching the venue stages and is hoping to make only his second appearance in the last 32.
Lu Ning vs Liang Wenbo
Alongside countryman Chang Bingyu, Lu Ning is bidding to become one of the players who will make a debut in this year’s competition.
There’s always at least one debutant – and often several – but Liang Wenbo has a lot more experience and the former quarter-finalist will be looking to feature at the Crucible for an eighth time.
Mark Davis vs Jamie Clarke
There were a few doubts over Mark Davis’ tour safety coming into these qualifiers, but the veteran former six reds world champion has now done more than enough to guarantee his place on the Main Tour for the next campaign.
Of course, the 48 year-old will next be looking to seal a berth at a venue he first qualified for way back in 1994, but Jamie Clarke will have a lot to say about that – particularly after his fond memories from last year when the Welshman reached the last 16.
Live coverage will be provided via the WST Facebook and YouTube channels in addition to the Eurosport Player.
Featured photo credit: WST