Six former champions begin their campaigns on Day Two of the 2021 UK Championship in York on Wednesday.
2008 UK Champion Shaun Murphy was the highest profile casualty of the opening day at the York Barbican, joining the likes of Mark Davis and Scott Donaldson in departing the season’s first Triple Crown event early.
A host of decorated stars aim to avoid suffering a similar fate as the First Round action continues on Wednesday with three sessions.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the record seven-time UK Champion and is bidding to claim his first ranking title since the 2020 World Championship.
O’Sullivan, who most recently lifted this trophy in 2018, was a semi-finalist in the recent English Open and quarter-finalist in last week’s Champion of Champions – losing out to rival John Higgins on both occasions.
O’Sullivan has never lost in the opening round since the UK Championship reverted to a 128-player format and aims to protect that record by overcoming two-time ranking event winner Michael White.
White has lost all four of his previous meetings with ‘The Rocket’, including a 6-1 drubbing here in 2017 – when O’Sullivan went on to claim the title.
Only Steve Davis and O’Sullivan have won more UK Championship titles than Stephen Hendry, and the five-time winner marks his return to the event for the first time in a decade with a clash against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Hendry, who came out of retirement last year, has endured a mixed bag of results so far and is yet to progress beyond the Second Round of a ranking event since his return to the tour.
The 52-year-old, who has featured in a joint-record ten UK Championship finals, lost out to Stephen Maguire in his last appearance in the event in 2011 and now faces a formidable opener against the quick-fire Thai star.
Un-Nooh is a former Shoot-Out champion and is making his ninth consecutive appearance in this event, having famously missed the final black for a maximum break in 2015.
Reigning World Champion Mark Selby begins his bid for a third UK crown with a tie against Scotland’s Ross Muir.
Selby, who is yet to progress beyond the Last 32 stage of a ranking event so far this season, defeated Muir 5-2 in the recent German Masters qualifiers.
Three-time UK Champion Ding Junhui aims to continue his love affair with this event when he faces fellow Chinese cueist Zhang Anda.
Ding, who last triumphed here in 2019, is making only his second ranking tournament appearance of the season and has won all three of his previous meetings with Zhang on home soil in China.
British Open champion Mark Williams starts his quest for a third UK Championship title with a tie against 18-year-old Lei Peifan – who was born the year the Welshman picked up his second world title.
Matthew Stevens, UK Champion back in 2003, starts out against world number 92 Hammad Miah – who reached the Last 16 of this season’s British Open.
Gary Wilson, runner-up at the British Open, has been drawn to face two-time ranking event quarter-finalist Ian Burns, while Championship League winner David Gilbert plays the returning Alfie Burden – who came through Qualifying School this year to regain a Tour Card.
Former world finalist Barry Hawkins opens up against 12-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans – who is seeking her first win as a Tour Card holder.
Xiao Guodong takes on Zhang Jiankang in a promising all-Chinese encounter, while two-time UK Championship semi-finalist Ricky Walden faces Craig Steadman.
Six-time ranking finalist Jack Lisowski faces world number 114 Sean Maddocks, while former Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King meets 20-year-old Welsh ace Jackson Page.
The action gets under way from 9.30am GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
UK Championship Snooker 2021 Day Two Schedule
Wednesday November 24
10 Ricky Walden v Craig Steadman
23 Gary Wilson v Ian Burns
24 Liam Highfield v Jamie Wilson
25 Noppon Saengkham v Aaron Hill
27 Stuart Carrington v Zhao Jianbo
31 Nigel Bond v Robbie Williams
42 David Gilbert v Alfie Burden
62 Xiao Guodong v Zhang Jiankang
11 Anthony Hamilton v Allan Taylor
12 Mark Williams v Lei Peifan
36 Matthew Selt v Chang Bingyu
37 Barry Hawkins v Reanne Evans
40 Jamie Jones v Cao Yupeng
41 Alexander Ursenbacher v Ben Hancorn
53 Ding Junhui v Zhang Anda
64 Mark Selby v Ross Muir
20 Matthew Stevens v Hammad Miah
29 Mark King v Jackson Page
30 Kurt Maflin v Gerard Greene
32 Ronnie O’Sullivan v Michael White
50 Sunny Akani v Steven Hallworth
52 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Stephen Hendry
56 Elliot Slessor v Fan Zhengyi
60 Jack Lisowski v Sean Maddocks