Anthony McGill believes that his style of play is suited to the World Championship and admits he does not fear any player ahead of what will be his third appearance at the Crucible.
The world number 15 has given a good account of himself on both of his previous journeys to the Theatre of Dreams, where he has become something of a crowd favourite with his impressive performances and humorous personality.
He knocked out Stephen Maguire and defending champion Mark Selby on the way to reaching the quarter-finals on his debut in 2015, before sending 2005 winner Shaun Murphy packing in the opening round the following year.
And it was that victory over fellow countryman Maguire that McGill feels was the catalyst towards his strong showings.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing at the Crucible," he told Livesnooker.com. "I think it was key that my first experience was a positive because I beat Stephen 10-9 in a decider."
“I was 9-5 up and he came back to 9-9 so, if I’d lost that, I’d probably be saying how much I hate the Crucible!
“I’m going back there with good memories. I’ve only played there twice and taken out a couple of World champions already. My game seems to be suited to the World Championship and the Crucible is not a bad venue to enjoy playing at.
“I feel really excited about it. I think my game’s in really good shape, my practice has been great and I can’t wait to start.”
McGill beat Shaun Murphy (L) 10-8 in the opening round last year (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Ranked world number 28 at the start of the season following a disappointing 2015/16 campaign, McGill has risen 13 places to a career high of 15th after claiming his first two ranking titles at the Indian Open and Shootout, as well as enjoying further deep runs that have cemented his position.
Although the Scotsman has also endured a few early tournament exits, he is understandably delighted with his general upturn in fortune that has culminated in him achieving automatic qualification for snooker’s blue-riband event.
“Winning two tournaments is pretty good and I’ve also had three quarter-finals, which has been good for my ranking. Although, I’ve had a few early exits as well, so I’d like my consistency to be a little bit better,” he added.
“On last season’s one-year list, I was ranked in the 40s so, if anything, I was just focused on keeping my place in the top 32.
“But to come into the end of the following season in the top 16 shows it’s been a first-class campaign for me, and I’m over-the-moon to be in the 16 for the Crucible.
“I’m really happy with my season but it’s not finished yet – there’s still the biggest one to go so, hopefully, I can finish well.”
This is the first time that the 26-year-old finds himself among the top 16 seeds at the Crucible and, therefore, avoiding three gruelling qualifying rounds just around the corner at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.
However, given his previous exploits as a giant-killer on the sport’s greatest stage as well as the surprise high-profile exits of Joe Perry and Ricky Walden during this year’s qualifying stages, McGill insists that he cannot take anything for granted in his opening match on Saturday.
“I don’t believe it matters too much about being a seed. I’ve beaten seeds as a qualifier over the last two years so, just because I’m a seed, I don’t think my first match is going to be a walkover,” he outlined.
“Everyone would’ve thought that Joe and Ricky were certainties to qualify for this year, so it shows that nothing’s guaranteed in these matches.
“I need to be trying my hardest to win that first-round match regardless of my ranking.”
McGill enjoys a laugh with Mark Selby (L) during their second-round clash in 2015 (Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Despite the majority of competitions on the tour being contested over the best of seven frames nowadays, the World Championship remains the only tournament in which the traditional longer-frame formats are adapted and is a survival of the fittest over 17 days.
Although the free-flowing adrenaline and excitement is a certainty to keep the players motivated and inspired, the consistent high levels of performance and concentration required do inevitably take their toll over two-and-a-half weeks.
However, it is evident that the saying ‘a wise head on young shoulders’ is a perfect match for McGill, who insists that his preparation will not differ from any other event and takes a very philosophical approach towards the matter.
“People say it’s a marathon, which it is, but it’s only a game of snooker at the end of day. You’re getting paid a fortune to do something that you’d do for free,” he said.
“I’ve never been to the semi-final stage, so maybe that’s when you start feeling the fatigue, but it’s only for two weeks every year, so you should be able to get yourself up for it.”
An unprecedented run to the one-table set-up in the semi-finals is the minimum target for an ambitious McGill this year, as he aims to continue his success story at the great venue.
Although, like the rest of the 32-man field, his ultimate objective is to go all the way and lift the trophy on May 1.
All in all, there is plenty for McGill to be optimistic about as he looks to emulate fellow countrymen Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.
“I’d love to get to the semi-finals at least. I’ve already been to the quarters, but you should always aim for a personal best,” he added.
“It’d be a really good experience to play in the one-table set-up because that, in itself, feels like a final.
“Ultimately, the goal is to go out and win it – I don’t see any reason why I can’t. It’d mean everything – it’s the reason I started playing and, with each year that goes by, I feel like I’ve got a better chance.
“It’s going to be difficult but I don’t fear anyone and I’m really excited for the challenge.”