Mark Davis came through the qualifiers for an 11th time this week, a remarkable feat considering he’s just over a year away from his 50th birthday.
The former six red world champion came from 7-2 down to stun Jamie Clarke on Judgement Day, and his 12th appearance in total comes an impressive 27 years after his first when he lost to Terry Griffiths in the opening round.
On this occasion, Davis is up against Shaun Murphy, who oddly enough is the only other qualifier alongside Griffiths to win the title in Sheffield.
It has been a quiet enough season for Murphy with only one semi-final appearance in a ranking event to his name, and that was all the way back in the season-opening European Masters.
But one would expect him to overcome the challenge of Davis in the last 32 here.
When: Wednesday, April 21st – 10am; Thursday, April 22nd – 1pm
An intriguing fixture that pits the reigning Masters champion Yan Bingtao against the Pinner Potter, Martin Gould.
Gould has never been beyond the second round in Sheffield but he always seems to qualify, missing out on the venue stages only twice since 2009.
The former German Masters winner has openly admitted that he has preferred playing without fans during this campaign, so whether or not the reintroduction of an audience hinders his play remains to be seen.
It could be argued that Yan too benefited from a lack of a crowd during his steely triumph at the Masters, but that’s not trying to detract from what was obviously a fantastic, breakthrough glory for the young Chinese.
Should Yan reproduce that standard again he’ll be difficult to beat, but the problem is he hasn’t played in that fashion since January and Gould, by contrast, has shown glimpses of a return to his best.
When: Saturday, April 17th – 10am; Sunday, April 18th – 10am
Unless he goes on another dream run at the Crucible in 2021, Gilbert is almost certain to finish this campaign outside the world’s top 16 in the rankings.
There’ll be pressure on him to perform in what could be the last time in his career that he’ll qualify automatically for the sport’s flagship event.
By contrast, Wakelin will be on cloud nine after safeguarding his tour survival in style by matching his 2018 visit to the Crucible Theatre.
In Judgement Day, Wakelin scored heavily in an impressive triumph against Xiao Guodong, and if the 29 year-old can rely on those big breaks Gilbert could be in a spot of bother.
When: Saturday, April 17th – 7pm; Sunday, April 18th – 2:30pm
The draw that most qualifiers would have wanted to avoid the most was surely Judd Trump, the runaway world number one.
Another stellar season featuring five ranking successes has come and gone for Trump, par for the course for the brilliant Bristol potter at this stage.
Liam Highfield is Trump’s first opposition and it’s hard to see how it could possibly be his last in the 2021 World Snooker Championship.
The 31 year-old inevitably succumbed to the Curse of the Crucible last August, but he won’t quite have that same level of scrutiny this time around.
Trump’s the favourite not only in this match, but for the entire championship, and rightly so.
When: Tuesday, April 20th – 2:30pm; Wednesday, April 21st – 2:30pm
Quarter 4 Prediction: Trump
2021 World Snooker Championship Final Prediction: Trump to beat Selby
Featured photo credit: WST