The pre-qualifying stages of the 2013 Welsh Open conclude at the World Snooker Academy on Saturday as a host of big names aim to seal their spot in next week`s main event.
Watch and bet on the Welsh live at Bet365 > Sports > Snooker live streaming
Friday saw six-time World Champion Steve Davis set-up a mouth-watering second round qualifying clash with world number one Mark Selby after a 4-2 defeat of Kurt Maflin, while Jimmy White missed out as he went down 4-2 to Zhang Anda.
As with the recent German Masters, won by Ali Carter, this year’s Welsh Open will offer a snippet of things to come, with a flat 128 draw format, featuring the majority of players having to battle through qualifying rounds in order to reach the first round proper.
A significant shake-up to the structure of the tournament means that there are only two qualifying rounds instead of the traditional four – not to mention the fact that members of the top 16 are to play in one of those qualifying rounds themselves.
This has led to criticism from some circles of the elite bracket, but is a regime that will be enforced fully from next season onwards, and offers the chance for some lower ranked players to play in front of the television cameras in a major ranking event.
A selection of eight second round qualifying ties have been held back to be contested at the venue on Monday February 11, signalling the official start of the major ranking tournament.
Former World Champion Neil Robertson faces youngster Duane Jones in one of six tasty ties in Saturday’s morning session, while Premier League Champion Stuart Bingham looks to re-capture the scintilating form he showed at the back end of 2012 as he takes on two-time Australian Open Quarter-Finalist – Matthew Selt.
Wuxi Classic winner Ricky Walden faces the in-form Martin O’Donnell, meanwhile Ali Carter will return to action for the first time following his superb German Masters win, as he hosts Gerrard Greene in a somewhat contrasting venue.
1997 World Champion Ken Doherty looks to seal his place in the final stages of another major, but must first overcome a tricky obsticle in David Gilbert in the afternoon session.
Two methodical veterans face-off as 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott takes on Liverpool’s Rod Lawler, as 2002 Crucible King Peter Ebdon looks to grind out victory against India’s Pankaj Advani, a man aiming to reach his first televised major.
Shaun Murphy is among a host of top 16 stars battling in the qualifiers, and ‘The Magician’ must overcome Thailand’s vastly improving Thepchaiya Un-Nooh if he is launch another title challenge in Newport next week.
Formidable break-builder Stephen Maguire faces UK Championship giant-killer Mark Joyce, while Australian Open Champion Barry Hawkins aims to continue his fine form of late when he takes on Zhang Anda.
The winners will progress to the first round proper of the Welsh Open, which runs from February 11-17.
The action begins at 10am BST, with selected matches from each session being streamed live over the best of seven frames from the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.
BetVictor Welsh Open Qualifiers Match Schedule
Saturday February 9
Craig Steadman v Jamie Burnett
Tom Ford v Justin Astley
Neil Robertson v Duane Jones
Stuart Bingham v Matthew Selt
Ricky Walden v Martin O’Donnell
Ali Carter v Gerard Greene
Ken Doherty v David Gilbert
Andrew Higginson v Adam Duffy
Mark Davis v Michael Wasley
Graeme Dott v Rod Lawler
Fergal O’Brien v Nigel Bond
Peter Ebdon v Pankaj Advani
Shaun Murphy v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Stephen Maguire v Mark Joyce
Marcus Campbell v Anthony Hamilton
Barry Hawkins v Zhang Anda
Michael Holt v Alan McManus
Joe Perry v Jimmy Robertson
A £10 acummulator for Robertson, Bingham, Dott, Hawkins, Murphy and Maguire to win pays £45 with title sponsors BetVictor