World Snooker Championship 2020 Day Eight preview and order of play: Star names aim to make their move
The Second Round action continues at the 2020 World Snooker Championship on Friday as more titans of the baize collide at The Crucible.
Kurt Maflin became the first player to secure a Quarter-Final spot on Thursday when he sensationally knocked out 147 hero John Higgins 13-11.
The Norwegian has blown his quarter of the draw wide open and has ensured there is now guaranteed to be a qualifier appearing in the Semi-Finals.
Two snooker icons collide in a part one of a three-day thriller in Sheffield as Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Ding Junhui.
O’Sullivan sent out an emphatic message to the field that he means business in this unique staging of the World Championship by thrashing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in the fastest match in the history of the tournament.
The 44-year-old was close to his brilliant best in a free-flowing masterclass, but now faces a much tougher assignment against an opponent who has beaten him on the big occasions of late.
O’Sullivan’s recent relationship with this event remains an indifferent one, having failed to progress beyond the Last 16 stage in three of his last four attempts.
Back-to-back winner in 2012 and 2013, keen runner O’Sullivan returns hoping to stay the distance in this marathon of the mind and pick up what would be a record-breaking 37th career ranking title.
O’Sullivan has dominated this fixture down the years, winning 13 and drawing three of their 21 previous meetings.
Ding, however, won their most recent encounter in the Last 16 of the UK Championship en route to glory in York last December and has experience of downing ‘The Rocket’ in this event, having done so in the Quarter-Finals three years ago.
Ding fell narrowly short of the top prize in his adopted hometown of Sheffield four years ago, losing out to Mark Selby in the final in front of a worldwide television audience of 300 million.
Any sign of rustiness was eradicated in an epic First Round clash with Mark King which went all the way to a deciding frame before the 33-year-old held his nerve to avert an early exit.
Meanwhile, defending champion Judd Trump aims to put a poor first session behind him when he resumes his clash with world number 16 Yan Bingtao.
Trump, who stumbled past Tom Ford in Round One, finds himself 5-3 down following the first session, which saw him fail to find his usual fluency among the balls.
Trump is bidding to become the man to end the infamous ‘Crucible curse’ which has seen no first-time champion retain this crown since the event moved to the venue in 1977.
The world number one has picked up a record six ranking titles this season in 13 tournament appearances and is looking to round it off in dream fashion.
Yan, the 2019 Riga Masters champion, knocked in a century and a further two 90-plus breaks on Thursday and will be keen to continue in that vein as he looks to keep the world number one on the back foot.
Two perfectly-poised contests draw to a close, kicking off with the clash of the former World Champions between Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham.
The duo enter the final session locked level at eight apiece, with Bingham having battled back from 5-2 and 6-3 down to restore parity.
Williams has admitted on social media to being far below his best but will look to time his form to perfection against the reigning Masters Champion.
Meanwhile, three-time champion Mark Selby aims to avoid becoming the latest seeded scalp of Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.
The pair also go in to their third session tied at eight-all, with Noppon having continued the form which saw him thrash Shaun Murphy in Round One.
Selby has been the most successful player in the tournament over the past decade, claiming glory in three of his last six World Championship appearances.
The former world number one, however, has suffered First and Second round exits in his last two outings to the sport’s spiritual home but returned on the back of a fine season which has seen him claim two ranking titles.
Selby came through a scrappy opener against Jordan Brown 10-6 and is renowned for grinding out results when put under pressure, though this has been a high quality contest so far in which both players have produced a brace of centuries.
A fascinating fixture gets underway in the afternoon session as qualifiers Anthony McGill and Jamie Clarke collide for a dream spot in the Last Eight.
McGill is a man who knows what it takes to reach the Quarter-Finals on debut, having done so five years ago, and will look to utilise that experience against a player entering uncharted territory.
McGill held his nerve to come through a dramatic last-frame decider against Jack Lisowski and appears to preserving his best form for the sport’s biggest stage once again.
Prior to this event, he had reached just one ranking Quarter-Final all season and had dropped to 39th in the world rankings.
Clarke is riding the crest of a wave after pulling off a sensational 10-8 scalp of fourth seed Mark Allen on his debut.
The world number 89, the lowest ranked player in the competition, continued the fine form which saw him win three qualifying matches to reach The Crucible and will envisage this as a golden opportunity to mount a further charge.
Clarke defied an incredible five centuries from Allen in an epic contest to record the biggest win of his career, having never previously been beyond the Last 32 stage of a ranking event outside of the Shoot-Out.
The action gets underway from 10am BST, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 25 frames.
The first session of each match will consist of a maximum of nine frames, before being played to a finish in the second session.
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World Snooker Championship 2020 Schedule
*Indicates final session
Friday August 7
17 Judd Trump (3-5) Yan Bingtao
21 Mark Williams (8-8) Stuart Bingham*
20 Anthony McGill v Jamie Clarke
23 Mark Selby (8-8) Noppon Saengkham*
17 Judd Trump v Yan Bingtao*
22 Ding Junhui v Ronnie O’Sullivan