Seven players will make their debut in 2019 World Snooker Championship after coming through the qualifying rounds in Sheffield on Wednesday.
The 32-man field for snooker’s blue riband event has been confirmed, with 16 qualifiers joining the world’s top 16 ranked players in the main event from April 20 to May 6.
A dramatic final day of qualifying at the English Institute of Sport saw a mixture of Crucible veterans and exciting newcomers secure their place in Thursday’s First Round draw.
James Cahill created a slice of history by becoming the first amateur ever to qualify for the Betfred World Championship after he defeated fellow amateur hopeful Michael Judge 10-6.
Cahill, nephew of seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, pressed home a 6-3 overnight lead to secure a dream debut in the sport’s show-piece and with it his Tour Card for the next two seasons.
“I’m not really sure what to say, to be honest!” said a speechless Cahill. “This is what I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid, I’m so pleased to get through that match and finally play at The Crucible, it’s a massive stepping stone.”
Another first saw Michael Georgiou become the first Cypriot to win through to the World Championship after he overcame world number 20 Yan Bingtao 10-8.
“I don’t know what to say, it hasn’t sunk in yet!” admitted the former Shoot-Out winner. “It’s a huge thanks to Barry Hearn and what he’s done for the game, there’s so many tournaments to play in now and I took the plunge.”
A watershed moment for 19-year-old Luo Honghao saw him secure a maiden Crucible campaign at the expense of UK Championship semi-finalist Tom Ford, with the Chinese prodigy progressing a 10-8 winner.
Honghao was one of five Chinese players to prevail on ‘Judgement Day’, including 28-year-old Li Hang – who dispatched 2013 qualifier Ben Woollaston 10-8.
Zhao Xintong, 22, pulled off a sensational 10-4 scalp of Indian Open champion Matthew Selt to put his name in the hat for the draw with two centuries and an average shot time of under 17 seconds.
Zhou Yuelong clinched a second Crucible berth in his last three attempts by seeing off Eden Sharav 10-6 to prevent a first Israeli from reaching the World Championship.
Tian Pengfei followed up his Second Round rout of top seed Ryan Day by fending off a spirited fightback from Matthew Stevens to close out a 10-8 victory.
Two-time world finalist Stevens had recovered from 8-2 down to claw back to 9-8 behind with a high break of 143 before the Chinese ace stumbled over the line.
Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who holds the fastest average shot time of all tour professionals, made it back-to-back World Championship qualifications by denying Welsh Open semi-finalist Joe O’Connor 10-6 in a high quality contest.
Two-time world finalist Ali Carter maintained his proud record of having featured in every World Championship since 2003 as he swept aside John Astley 10-4 to clinch a 17th consecutive Crucible stint.
“No one wants to come here and have to qualify but it’s a good measure of where your game is at,” said Carter.
“It’s been a long season but I haven’t really done anything, to qualify puts me back in the mix and no one will want to draw me in the First Round.”
Graeme Dott, the 2006 World Champion, continued his formidable form in qualifying this week by thrashing Norway’s Kurt Maflin 10-2 with a top break of 135 to confirm his 20th World Championship appearance.
“I’ve had a bad season but luckily the World Championship is where I always seem to play my best,” said the Scot.
“I’ve played some really good stuff here and this is probably the best I’ve ever played at the qualifiers.”
Mark Davis became the oldest player to come through the qualifying rounds at 46 as he held firm to defeat Lyu Haotian, 25 years his junior, 10-7 and end a four-year wait for a place at The Crucible.
“I was really lucky in the end,” admitted a relieved Davis. “I’m 46 and you don’t know how many chances you’re going to get to play there again.
“I’m really going to enjoy it this time. I’m in the twilight of my career and it’s brilliant to be able to have a go – I can’t wait.”
Scott Donaldson held his nerve in a marathon 75-minute deciding frame to edge out Lu Ning and rubber-stamp his Crucible debut in dramatic fashion.
The recent China Open semi-finalist admitted: “I’ve never felt like that in my life – I could hardly breathe out there. I can’t believe I won that game.”
World number 18 Joe Perry dropped just five frames in his three wins en route to qualification, culminating in a 10-3 drubbing of Martin O’Donnell.
Former German Masters champion Martin Gould wrapped up a 10-8 victory over Daniel Wells with high breaks of 132, 86 and 86 to clinch a ninth Crucible appearance.
Gould insisted: “I’m just enjoying myself when I play snooker. If you win, you win, if you lose, you lose. I just take it on the chin.
“It always means the same to walk into that holy grail, I’m looking forward to it.”
Anthony McGill, quarter-finalist in 2015, produced a stunning comeback from 7-2 down to defeat Robert Milkins 10-8 and progress to a fifth consecutive World Championship.
Gary Wilson, who lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan on his debut in 2017, guaranteed a second bite at the cherry by dispatching 2008 quarter-finalist Liang Wenbo 10-6 in a high quality battle in which he landed three centuries.
“It means everything,” said Wilson. “I was absolutely desperate to get back. I’m just delighted to get through and be in the draw again.”
The draw for the First Round takes place at 11am BST live from The Crucible Theatre.
World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2019 Results
Wednesday April 17
Gary Wilson 10-6 Liang Wenbo
Robert Milkins 8-10 Anthony McGill
Daniel Wells 8-10 Martin Gould
Michael Georgiou 10-8 Yan Bingtao
Eden Sharav 6-10 Zhou Yuelong
Mark Davis 10-7 Lyu Haotian
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-6 Joe O’Connor
Michael Judge 6-10 James Cahill
Tian Pengfei 10-8 Matthew Stevens
Luo Honghao 10-8 Tom Ford
Graeme Dott 10-2 Kurt Maflin
Li Hang 10-8 Ben Woollaston
Ali Carter 10-4 John Astley
Lu Ning 9-10 Scott Donaldson
Matthew Selt 4-10 Zhao Xintong
Martin O’Donnell 3-10 Joe Perry
World Snooker Championship 2019 Field
1. Mark Williams
2. Ronnie O’Sullivan
3. Mark Selby
4. Neil Robertson
5. John Higgins
6. Mark Allen
7. Judd Trump
8. Kyren Wilson
9. Barry Hawkins
10. Ding Junhui
11. Jack Lisowski
12. Stuart Bingham
13. Shaun Murphy
14. Luca Brecel
15. Stephen Maguire
16. David Gilbert