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World Snooker Championship 2023 Draw | O’Sullivan starts title defence against Pang

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Ronnie O’Sullivan v Pang Junxu live stream | World Snooker Championship 2023 preview

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the defending champion (Photo by Zhai Zheng/Xinhua)

The draw for the 2023 World Snooker Championship has been confirmed, with reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan set to face debutant Pang Junxu.

The sport’s annual show-piece features the world’s top 16 ranked players alongside a further 16 qualifiers as they battle it out for £2.4 million in prize money from April 15 to May 1.

A host of decorated stars and exciting emerging talents lock horns at the sport’s spiritual home for the 47th consecutive staging in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan sets out on a quest to make history by becoming an eight-time World Champion to eclipse the joint record he currently holds with Stephen Hendry.

The Rocket defeated Judd Trump in an emotional final last May and is vying to retain the title for the second time, having done first so in 2013.

O’Sullivan has been drawn to face 23-year-old Pang in Round One, with the Chinese youngster one of five debutants in this year’s field.

Last year’s runner-up Trump, who triumphed at The Crucible in 2019, will open up against former semi-finalist Anthony McGill in one of the stand-out ties of the First Round.

Mark Selby will begin his pursuit of a fifth world title against former Indian Open champion Matthew Selt, while three-time World Champion Mark Williams faces former European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson.

Four-time World Champion John Higgins, the number ten seed, will open up against Yorkshire’s David Grace – making his first Crucible appearance since 2017.

Ding Junhui, the 2016 runner-up and number 16 seed, faces a tough opener against former Shoot Out champion Hossein Vafaei – making his second successive appearance in the main event.

Shaun Murphy, the recent Players Championship and Tour Championship winner, meets debutant Si Jiahui in a repeat of their controversial clash at the 2021 UK Championship.

Kyren Wilson, the 2020 runner-up, will start out against British Open champion Ryan Day, while reigning UK Champion Mark Allen launches his latest quest for a maiden world title against former European Masters winner Fan Zhengyi.

2010 World Champion Neil Robertson will play 19-year-old Wu Yize, while 12th seed Jack Lisowski takes on Thai qualifier Noppon Saengkham.

Stuart Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, faces a formidable opening test against former semi-finalist David Gilbert, as two-time finalist Ali Carter plays Welsh newcomer Jak Jones.

Current Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins takes on 2022 Welsh Open winner Joe Perry, while Belgian ace Luca Brecel faces former semi-finalist Ricky Walden.

Gary Wilson, semi-finalist in 2019, has been drawn to face his close friend and fellow North East cueist Elliot Slessor.

The full schedule of play will be confirmed in due course.

World Snooker Championship 2023 Draw

First Round

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Pang Junxu
Ding Junhui (16) v Hossein Vafaei
Luca Brecel (9) v Ricky Walden
Mark Williams (8) v Jimmy Robertson
Judd Trump (5) v Anthony McGill
Jack Lisowski (12) v Noppon Saengkham
Robert Milkins (13) v Joe Perry
Shaun Murphy (4) v Si Jiahui
Mark Allen (3) v Fan Zhengyi
Stuart Bingham (14) v David Gilbert
Ali Carter (11) v Jak Jones
Neil Robertson (6) v Wu Yize
Kyren Wilson (7) v Ryan Day
John Higgins (10) v David Grace
Gary Wilson (15) v Elliot Slessor
Mark Selby (2) v Matthew Selt

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