The qualifying rounds of the Betfred World Championship concluded on Wednesday, with 16 players earning a place in the final stages at the Crucible.
Anthony McGill, Craig Steadman, Stuart Carrington and Kurt Maflin earned debuts at the sport’s Theatre of Dreams and go into the random draw for the first round proper, which takes place at 10.30am on Thursday, live on our Youtube channel.
World number 81 Steadman, from Farnworth in Lancashire, made it to the Crucible for the first time, 14 years after turning pro. He beat Jamie Burnett 10-6 with a top break of 66.
“I’ve played pretty well all week and felt comfortable,” said Steadman. “I had a reasonable lead overnight and was trying to match him frame by frame. Then when I got to nine I don’t know what happened. I felt dizzy.
I’ve not spoken to my dad yet. He’s a lorry driver and he’s probably crashed looking at the live scoring.
“My mum’s probably in floods of tears. It’s the biggest stage. It’s where you want to play when you’re a young lad so it’s brilliant.
“I’ve played a few times on TV but none of it will compare to playing at the Crucible. It’s taken me a long time to get there.
“I’ve heard the horror stories about the Crucible, walking down the stairs and your legs start crumbling. We’ll see what happens, I’m just pleased to get there.
“I would have liked to have got there when I was 18 and had a full head of hair and was better looking, but it is what it is.”
Glasgow’s 24-year-old McGill produced the most impressive moment of the day with a break of 127 in the deciding frame to beat Mark King 10-9, after King had fought back from 9-6 down to 9-9.
London-born Maflin, who has lived in Norway for the past decade, edged out Fergal O’Brien 10-9. Maflin came from 6-3 down to lead 9-6 before O’Brien recovered to 9-9. Irishman O’Brien then had a chance in the decider but missed the last green with the rest, and Maflin cleared to the pink for victory.
Grimsby’s 24-year-old Carrington recovered an 8-5 deficit to beat Li Hang 10-9. Carrington’s only previous Crucible appearance was in 2006 when he beat McGill in the final of Junior Pot Black.
World number 17 Rob Milkins is the highest ranked qualifier thanks to a 10-9 defeat of Andrew Higginson. Gloucester’s Milkins let a 9-6 lead slip but then won the decider with a run of 65.
Larkhall’s Graeme Dott, the 2006 World Champion, came through a tricky test against China’s Yu Delu by a 10-7 scoreline. There was never more than one frame in it until Dott won the last four from 7-6 down.
“I don’t care who I play,” said Dott. “Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first game, why not? I’ve played three games and he’s not played any. I don’t think anyone is going to want to draw me. I’m not saying they will be intimidated but there will certainly be easier games than me.”
Two-time Crucible runner-up Matthew Stevens saw off Joe Swail 10-5, coming from 4-3 down to win seven of the last eight frames with a top break of 81.
Finland’s Robin Hull qualified for the second consecutive year by denying Igor Figueiredo the chance to be the first Brazilian at the Crucible. Hull won 10-4 with top breaks of 126 and 139.
World number 98 Zhang Anda became the lowest ranked qualifier this year by beating Liang Wenbo 10-9 in a Chinese derby. Zhang made a break of 134 to make it 7-7, then lost the next two frames, but he hit back to win the last three.
Robbie Williams, who made his debut last year, booked his return by coming from 5-4 down to beat Michael Holt 10-5 with a top break of 101.
Alan McManus, who reached the quarter-finals last year, beat Mitchell Mann 10-6, while Jimmy Robertson edged out Xiao Guodong 10-9 by potting brown, blue and pink in the decider.
Romford’s Matthew Selt scored his third consecutive 10-8 win, making a superb 66 clearance in the 18th frame to beat Tom Ford and earn a second trip to the Crucible.
Amateur Adam Duffy just missed out on becoming the first player from Sheffield to reach the Crucible as he lost 10-8 to Jamie Jones. Neath’s Jones, who reached the quarter-finals in 2012, was hauled back from 8-5 to 8-8 before winning the last two frames.
Ryan Day won a Welsh derby against Jak Jones 10-6, taking the last four frames with runs of 64, 68, 78 and 54.
Mark Davis cruised to a 10-3 win over 1997 Champion Ken Doherty with a top break of 73.