Mark Joyce and Sam Craigie will make their debuts in the 2021 World Snooker Championship after coming through the qualifying rounds in Sheffield on Wednesday.
Joyce, who turned professional in 2006, has been widely regarded as one of the best players yet to feature in the sport’s show-piece event, but finally booked his place at The Crucible by denying Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo.
Figueiredo, bidding to become the first South American to appear at The Crucible, led 2-1 before Joyce reeled off five frames in a row to take command.
Figueiredo closed the gap to just 9-7 behind in the evening session, but Joyce fended off any hopes of a comeback as he clinched his spot in Thursday’s First Round draw.
“I’m delighted to finally get there,” said Joyce. “I’ve got to the final day a few times before but I didn’t believe in myself – I’m a different player now.
“I know the ability’s there, you just get it in your head, it’s more of a mental hurdle.”
Newcastle’s Craigie sealed his place in the main event with a nail-biting 10-9 victory over Zhao Xintong.
The only match to go to a deciding frame saw 27-year-old Craigie hold his nerve to prevail in a high quality contest with three centuries to his name, having trailed 3-0 early on.
“I’m over the moon and I’m glad with the way I’ve held myself together in the last frame,” admitted Craigie.
“It’s been my B and C game in all three games so to get over the line is brilliant.”
Craigie will be joined in the First Round draw by his fellow Tyneside cueist Gary Wilson after the 2019 semi-finalist swept aside Steven Hallworth 10-3.
Wilson put an otherwise below-par season behind him as he stormed to victory with high breaks of 82, 86, 84, 76, 79, 79 and 131.
“I’m just relieved,” said Wilson. “I’ve felt so nervous the last couple of days and it’s not like me normally.
“I’ve just felt so desperate to get back. It means everything, I’ve had a very tough year and I just want to end the season on a high note.”
Former World Champion Stuart Bingham was the most high-profile player to come through qualifying as he overcame Belgium’s Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final round.
Bingham, who triumphed in 2015, produced a brilliant brace of 140 breaks on his way to a commanding victory from 3-1 behind.
“I’m so happy to get through and finish the season at The Crucible, I can’t wait,” said Bingham.
“These two matches have kept me really sharp, it’ll be weird coming out of the draw to face a seed, it’s going to be tough.”
Ricky Walden, semi-finalist in 2013, secured his return to the sport’s most iconic venue by defeating three-time quarter-finalist Ryan Day 10-5.
Walden stormed into a 6-1 lead and did not relent as he denied Day a first Crucible berth since 2018.
“I’m really pleased, that’s as tough a draw as you’re going to get,” admitted Walden. “Ryan’s different class and I had to be on my game all day.
“I’m playing good in general, I just need a bit of confidence at the venues.”
Two-time world finalist Ali Carter atoned for last year’s disappointment of missing out on the main event by defeating Alexander Ursenbacher 10-4 to rubber-stamp his return.
Carter began the match with a stunning break of 139 and added further efforts of 95, 79, 88 and 69 on his way to a comprehensive victory.
“I was solid all day today, my temperament was good and I played very good match snooker,” said Carter.
“I’m delighted to be in the draw tomorrow, it’s just relief really.”
Martin Gould produced a blistering eight-frame burst to deny 18-year-old Bai Langning a place in his first World Championship.
Gould recovered from 5-2 down to reel off eight consecutive frames with breaks of 82, 103, 100, 66 and 83 to storm through.
“This evening I just said to myself I’ve got to go out there and do what I’ve been doing on the practice table last few weeks, and it came out,” said Gould.
“It was nice to know it was in the locker. You define your season on qualifying for the World Championship.”
Chris Wakelin sealed his second appearance at The Crucible courtesy of an impressive 10-7 win over Xiao Guodong.
Wakelin, who made his debut in 2018, produced breaks of 74, 100, 80, 120 and 96 en route to a high quality win which also maintained his place on the tour.
“It’s not been a nice experience, put it that way,” admitted Wakelin. “I had to win to stay on the tour and I’ve never felt pressure like that.
“I’ve been working so hard the last few months and I’m just delighted I can do myself justice.”
The draw for the First Round will take place from 11am GMT on Thursday, with the 16 qualifiers each drawn to face one of the 16 seeds.
World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2021 Results
Wednesday April 14
Igor Figueiredo 7-10 Mark Joyce
Ryan Day 5-10 Ricky Walden
Bai Langning 5-10 Martin Gould
Steven Hallworth 3-10 Gary Wilson
Ali Carter 10-4 Alexander Ursenbacher
Zhao Xintong 9-10 Sam Craigie
Chris Wakelin 10-7 Xiao Guodong
Luca Brecel 5-10 Stuart Bingham