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World Snooker Championship 2024 | Day One Preview and Order of Play

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World Snooker Championship 2024 | Draw, Live Scores and Schedule of Play

Brecel launches the defence of his Crucible crown on Saturday (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Luca Brecel begins his title defence while Judd Trump is also in action as the 2024 World Snooker Championship commences on Saturday.

The waiting is finally over as the latest edition of snooker’s blue-riband event gets under way at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Brecel enjoyed a fairy-tale victory 12 months ago, defeating Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby on the way to becoming the first winner from mainland Europe.

The Bullet now aims to succeed where 16 before him have failed, by breaking the notorious “Crucible Curse” that has prevented any first-time champion from successfully defending their crown.

He faces a tough first test in 2019 semi-finalist Gilbert, who is back for his 10th appearance here – and sixth on the spin.

Although, Brecel will be encouraged by the fact the Angry Farmer has won just one of his five matches at the Crucible since that emotional run to the last four.

Elsewhere, Judd Trump and Hossein Vafaei lock horns at this stage for the second time in three years, with the Ace prevailing 10-4 on the way to reaching his third final in 2022.

The 2019 champion is aiming to avoid a second straight first-round defeat, having fallen to Anthony McGill 12 months ago, though he has reached at least the quarter-finals in each of his five previous appearances.

Vafaei is back for a third straight appearance but the charismatic Iranian will want to let his cue do the talking this time around, after his war of words with Ronnie O’Sullivan backfired last year with the Rocket subsequently storming to a comprehensive 13-2 rout in their last-16 encounter.

Ali Carter is also looking to avert back-to-back first-round exits. The two-time runner-up is seeking his first win here since 2019 when he faces two-time semi-finalist Stephen Maguire, who has fallen at the first hurdle in eight of his last 12 appearances.

Both players are making their 20th Crucible appearances and it is 12 years since they went head to head in the last four, with the Captain prevailing a 17-12 victor.

Zhang Anda and Tom Ford are both making their first appearances as seeds, while seeking maiden victories at the Crucible.

International Championship winner Zhang is back here for the first time since 2016. Standing in his way is Jak Jones, who enjoyed an impressive debut 12 months ago by beating Carter and Neil Robertson to reach the quarter-finals.

As for Ford, who was runner-up to Zhang in Tianjin, he last appeared at the Crucible in 2020. The world number 14 faces another potential banana skin in 2013 semi-finalist Ricky Walden, who is looking to mark his 10th appearance with a first win in six years.

Play gets under way at 10am BST on Saturday with all first-round matches contested over the best of 19 frames – split across two sessions – at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

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World Snooker Championship 2024 Day One Schedule

*Denotes final session

Saturday April 20

First Round

10am
Luca Brecel v David Gilbert
Zhang Anda v Jak Jones

2.30pm
Ali Carter v Stephen Maguire
Judd Trump v Hossein Vafaei

7pm
Luca Brecel v David Gilbert*
Tom Ford v Ricky Walden