Six-time World Champion Steve Davis and Belgian prodigy Luca Brecel were among the stars to book their place in the final stages of the 2012 UK Championship after winning through the qualifying event on Friday.
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The four-day qualifying event, held at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, culminated on Friday with 16 players booking their places in round one of snooker’s second biggest televised ranking tournament next month.
Snooker legend Steve Davis sealed his spot in the main event for the second year running after rolling back the years with two stunning victories.
The Nugget, who has also lifted the UK title six times, recovered from 4-1 down to edge out Indian ace Pankaj Advani 6-5 in a last frame decider, before thrashing Jamie Burnett 6-2 to confirm his progression, wrapping up the win with a majestic 141 break.
The 55-year-old lost out to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round at the venue last year and faces another tough opener against world finalist Ali Carter this time around.
Young sensation Luca Brecel ensured a dream double debut in 2012 by winning four consecutive matches to set up a clash with Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden.
The 17-year-old, who appeared at the Crucible for the first time in April, disposed of Scott Donaldson, Peter Lines and Liu Chuang, before sensationally thrashing a helpless Peter Ebdon 6-1 in the fourth and final qualifying round.
Mark Joyce will appear in the event for only the second time after he defeated Jamie Cope 6-4, and the world number 50 has the task of entertaining reigning champion Judd Trump in round one.
Trump’s flatmate Jack Lisowski capped off a memorable qualifying campaign with a 6-4 victory over Joe Perry; Lisowski fired in a superb 147 break on Thursday and will be hoping to continue in that vein when he faces Stuart Bingham at the Barbican.
Mark King produced a welcomed bout of resurgence as he whitewashed China’s Xiao Guodong to set up a clash with Mark Williams, meanwhile emerging Welsh star Michael White confirmed his debut in this year’s event after seeing off 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty.
Chinese duo Cao Yupeng and Liang Wenbo enjoyed fine results in round four to win though, as did the likes of Michael Holt, Tom Ford and Martin Gould.
The 16 successful cueists will join 16 of the world’s top stars in the star-studded £627,500 event at the York Barbican from December 1-9.
UK Championship Qualifying Results (Round 4 onwards)
49) Jamie Cope 4-6 Mark Joyce
50) Jamie Burnett 2-6 Steve Davis
51) Joe Perry 4-6 Jack Lisowski
52) Fergal O’Brien 6-2 Dave Gilbert
53) Mark King 6-0 Xiao Guodong
54) Peter Ebdon 1-6 Luca Brecel
55) Martin Gould 6-3 Ben Woollaston
56) Robert Milkins 6-5 Rory McLeod
57) Michael Holt 6-1 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
58) Marcus Campbell 4-6 Cao Yupeng
59) Dominic Dale 6-2 Ian Burns
60) Marco Fu 6-2 Rod Lawler
61) Tom Ford 6-1 Yu Delu
62) Andrew Higginson 0-6 Liang Wenbo
63) Ryan Day 6-3 Matthew Selt
64) Ken Doherty 3-6 Michael White
William Hill UK Championship First Round Draw
Judd Trump Mark Joyce
Ali Carter v Steve Davis
Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien
Mark Williams v Mark King
Ricky Walden v Luca Brecel
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould
Shaun Murphy v Robert Milkins
John Higgins v Michael Holt
Mark Davis v Cao Yupeng
Matthew Stevens v Dominic Dale
Mark Allen v Marco Fu
Neil Robertson v Tom Ford
Barry Hawkins v Liang Wenbo
Ding Junhui v Ryan Day
Mark Selby v Michael White