Bumper Welsh contingent battle for snooker’s World Championship
Six Welshmen have qualified for this year’s Snooker World Championship, which gets underway in Sheffield on Saturday, the largest contingent to qualify for the tournament for 32 years.
Neath’s Jamie Jones will get things underway on Saturday morning in a tough opener against defending champion Mark Selby, who is hoping to become only the fifth player to win five or more world titles.
Jones is joined in the first round by Michael White, also from Neath, who become only the second amateur to reach the Crucible after beating Jordan Brown in the final round of World Championship qualifying earlier in the week.
Loss of form
White has made the main draw on three previous occasions, including reaching the quarter-finals on his debut in 2013, but fell off the tour in 2020 after a sudden loss of form.
Having negotiated four rounds of qualifying, he has now guaranteed his return to the professional tour next season and will face fellow Welshman, the three-time champion and eighth seed ,Mark Williams from Blaenau Gwent, whose most recent triumph in Sheffield came in 2018,
Matthew Stevens has qualified for the first time since 2020 and will face Jack Lisowski, the number 14 seed.
The 44-year old from Carmarthen was beaten in the 2000 and 2005 finals and reached the semi-finals on four further occasions.
Llanelli’s Jamie Clarke has qualified for the third time in a row and will take in the reigning UK Champion and German Masters winner Zhao Xintong in the first round, while the exciting 20-year-old prospect Jackson Page is making his Crucible debut against Barry Hawkins, the 2013 runner-up.
Page, from Ebbw Vale is a former European U-21 champion and the former Under-18 World Snooker Champion.
Elsewhere, Ronnie O’Sullivan, currently top of the rankings, faces a tricky opener against qualifier David Gilbert a semi-finalist at the Crucible three years ago, as he starts his quest to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles.
Williams, Ray Reardon and Terry Griffiths are the only three Welsh players to have won the Word Championship, while Stevens and Doug Mountjoy were both beaten finalist.
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