John Higgins begins his 28th successive World Championship campaign when he faces Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the opening round on Tuesday.
Only Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis (both 30) have appeared more times at the Crucible than the Wizard, who launches his quest for a fifth title.
Higgins has triumphed at snooker’s blue-riband event in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011, while also reaching a further four finals – including three on the spin between 2017 and 2019.
The Scotsman arrives in Sheffield off the back on an impressive season in which he has reached six finals – capturing the Champions League title along the way, while narrowly missing out at the Champion of Champions and Tour Championship.
The world number six was a 10-7 winner against Un-Nooh when they met at the same stage of this tournament four years ago.
Un-Nooh is seeking a first victory at the Crucible in four appearances, having also drawn Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump on his previous visits here.
Incredibly, despite beginning the season at 19th in the world rankings, the former Shootout champion came precariously close to suffering relegation from the tour.
Indeed, victories over Andrew Pagett, Jak Jones and Matthew Selt spared him the necessity to regain his professional status via Q School.
One of the most exciting players on the tour – and with his card secured for another year at least – the Thai Rocket has the freedom to express himself, and will be eager to produce his best on the biggest stage of all.
Luca Brecel or Noppon Saengkham awaits the winner in the second round at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Play gets underway at 2.30pm BST on Thursday with the opening nine frames, while a maximum of 10 commence from 10am the following day.
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