Two multiple world finalists collide on Monday for the right to move within touching distance of a Crucible return as Ali Carter takes on Jimmy White.
Less than three miles from the hallowed Crucible Theatre itself, two of the sport’s most experienced stars will battle it out for a place in the third and final qualifying round at the English Institute of Sport.
Carter, runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2008 and 2012, has appeared in snooker’s blue riband event every year since 2003 and is the third highest ranked player (19) involved in the qualifying phase.
A four-time ranking event winner, Carter knows what it takes to come through the three gruelling qualifying rounds, having done so in 2016, and starts out as the huge odds-on favourite to deny ‘The Whirlwind’ a fairy-tale win.
Carter began his qualifying campaign ruthlessly with a 10-1 demolition of Yorkshire’s Paul Davison, in which he produced three century breaks, and will look to continue his clinical run of form.
The Essex ace, however, has lost his last three meetings with White, most recently a 6-2 banana skin in the opening round of the 2017 UK Championship, with The Captain’s last head-to-head triumph coming a decade ago.
White is eyeing four wins on the spin against this season’s World Grand Prix runner-up, but knows he will require a vast improvement on his First Round showing.
The 56-year-old recovered from losing the opening two frames to defeat Irish youngster Ross Bulman 10-5 and kick-start his quest for a first World Championship appearance since 2006.
The former UK and Masters Champion also has his tour survival at stake, with his best run this season a Last 32 appearance in the Shoot-Out.
Crowd favourite White has not been beyond the second qualifying round in Sheffield since 2013 but will look to roll back the years and keep his comeback dream alive.
The match gets underway from 10am BST on Monday for a maximum of nine frames before resuming to a finish over the best of 19 from 7pm.
Either Welsh ace Michael White or in-form John Astley will await the winner in the final qualifying round on Tuesday and Wednesday.