For the second successive season, Neil Robertson has drawn Liang Wenbo in the first round of the World Championship.
In 2020, the Australian beat Liang 10-5 and that was precisely the score when the pair met in the 2015 UK Championship final.
Robertson is 7-3 in front from their prior battles in all competitions, and the 2010 world champion will be a heavy favourite to advance to the last 16.
In fact, the Melbourne man is one of the heavy favourites for the 2021 World Snooker Championship crown alongside O’Sullivan, Selby, and world number one Judd Trump.
Robertson, a serial winner on the circuit, has been guilty of mistiming his Crucible runs but the 39 year was brilliant in the recent Tour Championship and will be a huge threat if he can carry that kind of standard forward to Sheffield.
When: Saturday, April 17th – 2:30pm; Sunday, April 18th – 7pm
Another match in which the two contenders have previously fought one another in the last 32 at the World Championship, Jack Lisowski has been paired with Ali Carter in a repeat of their 2019 showdown.
On that occasion, Carter came through the preliminaries to beat Lisowski 10-6 en route to a sixth career quarter-final appearance.
This duel is one of the harder ones to predict but what it perhaps comes down to is Crucible pedigree, something which two-time finalist Carter boasts in abundance while Lisowski has only won one match at the venue.
In fact, Lisowski has proven himself to be pretty awful in multi-session encounters so far in his career, losing all six of his ranking event title deciders in addition to that infamous 13-1 humiliation he suffered against John Higgins in the 2018 second round.
The seeds can’t all win, and this does look like a match that could go the way of the qualifier.
When: Monday, April 19th – 2:30pm; Tuesday, April 20th – 10am
There have been quite a few saying that it’s surprising that Matthew Selt is only embarking on a run to the last 32 for the third time, but is it really?
Selt is a former ranking event winner, of course, but his consistency has never been that good on the tour to suggest that he’s anything more than a solid mid-table competitor.
Funnily enough, Hawkins was probably labelled by a similar brush a very long time ago, but his entire career was transformed around the time he reached the World Championship final in 2013.
Hawkins has developed an amazing pedigree in Sheffield since then, and three recent semi-final appearances in ranking tournaments would imply that he could be a dark horse again this year.
When: Tuesday, April 20th – 7pm; Wednesday, April 21st – 7pm
The battle of the Wilsons pits Kyren against Gary, but of course there’s no relation between the two.
Gary Wilson’s progress from the qualifiers was as timely as they come after a miserable period both on and off the baize.
With so many points to defend from his 2019 semi-final run, Gary was in danger of an enormous slide down the rankings list but he’s definitely buffered that somewhat by emerging beyond Judgement Day.
Kyren, a unique two-time winner of the Championship League this season, was last year’s Crucible runner-up and he’ll certainly be among the danger men in the 2021 World Snooker Championship.
In the last five years, the 29 year has gone quarter-final, quarter-final, semi-final, quarter-final, and final in Sheffield – so is it only a matter of time before he goes all the way?
When: Monday, April 19th – 10am and 7pm
Prediction: K. Wilson
Quarter 3 Prediction: Robertson