Two amateur players will collide for a place in the World Snooker Championship for the first time after James Cahill and Michael Judge each won through to the final qualifying round in Sheffield on Sunday.
The duo will lock horns for the right to feature in the sport’s blue riband event and pick up a guaranteed £20,000 in prize money in the biggest match of their respective careers.
Cahill, who has featured in a number of ranking tournaments this season, continued his clinical form at the English Institute of Sport by defeating two-time ranking finalist Michael Holt 10-7.
The 23-year-old had edged out Andrew Higginson in a deciding frame in Round One and pulled off another scalp as he clinched four of the last five frames to stun eight-time qualifier Holt.
Judge was initially handed a place in the Crucible qualifiers for the first time since 2011 due to the late withdrawal of Zhang Jiankang due to visa issues.
He began by ousting Peter Lines in a dramatic decider and incredibly repeated the feat to deny world number 23 Xiao Guodong – who had fought back from 8-4 down to go the distance.
The 44-year-old Irishman was a professional from 1992-2011 and has appeared in three World Championships, notably reaching the Last 16 on his debut in 2001.
Elsewhere, 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon was denied a place in his 25th World Championship by Michael Georgiou – who moved through to the final qualifying round for the first time thanks to a late-night 10-8 success.
Georgiou will now face Yan Bingtao in the play-off round on Tuesday and Wednesday after the 19-year-old overcame fellow countryman Mei Xiwen 10-8.
Welsh Open semi-finalist Joe O’Connor, 23, continued his remarkable start to 2019 by edging past European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson in a deciding frame.
O’Connor, who thrashed Joe Swail 10-1 in his opener, displayed maturity beyond his years as he fired in a priceless break of 62 in the decider to deny the Hastings ace.
Liang Wenbo, Crucible quarter-finalist in 2008, proved too strong for in-form amateur David Grace as he wrapped up a 10-7 victory to set up a show-down with Gary Wilson.
Tyneside cueist Wilson was the first man to book his place in the Third Round after thrashing Dominic Dale 10-3 with a high break of 80 in the last frame.
Daniel Wells produced a sensational scoring spree as he came from 6-5 down to defeat Iran’s Hossein Vafaei 10-6.
Welsh ace Wells crashed in consecutive breaks of 107, 83, 113, 100 and 65 to complete a terrific triumph and secure a clash with Martin Gould.
Championship League winner Gould had safely seen off Northern Ireland’s Gerard Greene 10-6 to remain on course for a ninth Crucible appearance since 2009.
Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh moved a step closer to successive World Championship qualifications after a 10-5 victory over Mark Joyce in which he reeled off eight of the last nine frames.
Indian Open champion Matthew Selt is also one win away from a Crucible return after he defeated former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton.
World Championship Qualifiers 2019 Results
Sunday April 14
(First Session Scores)
Robbie Williams 6-3 Luo Honghao
Sam Craigie 5-3 Tom Ford
Sunny Akani 2-6 Robert Milkins
Duane Jones 3-6 Anthony McGill
Ricky Walden 5-4 Eden Sharav
Zhou Yuelong 6-3 Liam Highfield
Fergal O’Brien 3-6 Mark Davis
Jordan Brown 0-9 Lyu Haotian
Zhao Xintong 6-3 Noppon Saengkham
Alan McManus 4-3 Martin O’Donnell
Gary Wilson 10-3 Dominic Dale
Liang Wenbo 10-7 David Grace
Daniel Wells 10-6 Hossein Vafaei
Gerard Greene 6-10 Martin Gould
Michael Georgiou 10-8 Peter Ebdon
Mei Xi Wen 8-10 Yan Bingtao
Mark Joyce 5-10 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Joe O’Connor 10-9 Jimmy Robertson
Xiao Guodong 9-10 Michael Judge
Michael Holt 7-10 James Cahill
Anthony Hamilton 7-10 Matthew Selt