While Sunday’s focus will be the rich showdown between Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins in the final of the China Open, attention will immediately turn to the upcoming final tournament of the season.
The World Snooker Championship gets under way at the Crucible Theatre in just under a fortnight but, before that, there’s still the taxing qualifying stages to be undertaken in the host city of Sheffield.
The top 16 members who will gain an automatic ticket into the main event was finalised on Friday and those competitors are safe in the knowledge that they will have a crack at competing for the sport’s holy grail.
However, for the players outside the elite bracket, the English Institute of Sport awaits with three victories separating them from a World Snooker Championship berth.
The dreaded qualifiers, which get under way on Wednesday, have become well-known in snooker circles as a thrilling week on the calendar that provides every bit as much drama and tension as any major tournament.
The rejoice and jubilation of a player meeting an expectation to reach the sport’s “Marathon of the Mind” is countered by the despair and heartache felt by those who just miss out every year.
It’s a cut-throat format, the last surviving event from the pre-Barry Hearn era that offers protection to players inside the elite bracket of 16.
It’s particularly harsh on somebody like Ryan Day, who missed out on a place in the top 16 by a margin of less than £13,000 despite the fact that he is a two-time ranking event winner from this campaign.
The Welshman, just like Matthew Bolton in last place in the rankings, and the group of amateur wildcards that have been invited to make up the numbers, will require three wins at the EIS.
Of the 115 professionals on the Main Tour outside the top 16, only Thai duo Boonyarit Kaettikun and Kritsanut Lertsattayattorn have not entered the World Snooker Championship qualifying draw.
Household names like Jimmy White, Ken Doherty, Stephen Maguire, Ricky Walden, Graeme Dott, and Liang Wenbo will be among the list of cuiests hoping to make a return to the Crucible.
The remainder of the field will comprise various amateur competitors who have achieved success through the WPBSA qualifying criteria, shown below:
3 – WSF Championship 2018 semi-finalists – Adam Stefanów (POL), Kristjan Helgason (ISL), Kacper Filipiak (POL)
1 – WSF Seniors Championship 2018 winner – Igor Figueiredo (BRA)
1 – WLBS World Women’s Championship 2018 winner – Ng On Yee (HK)
1 – EBSA European Championship 2018 winner – Harvey Chandler (ENG)
1 – EBSA European Championship 2018 runner-up – Jordan Brown (NIR)
1 – EBSA European U-21 Championship 2018 runner-up – Tyler Rees (WAL)
1 – EBSA European U-18 Championship 2018 winner – Jackson Page (WAL)
1 – EBSA Order of Merit 2017/18 – Jamie Cope (ENG)
1 –World Seniors Championship 2018 winner – Aaron Canavan (JEY)
1 – WLBS World Ranking No.2 – Reanne Evans (ENG)
1 – OBSF Oceania Championship 2018 winner – Adrian Ridley (AUS)
2 – WPBSA Development invitations – Ryan Thomerson (AUS), Marvin Lim (SGP)
Unfortunately, inaugural WSF Championship winner Luo Honghao, who proceeded to embark on a run to the third round of the China Open this week, could not accept his nomination due to visa issues.
The draw for the World Snooker Championship qualifying will be revealed by World Snooker at 10am on Monday, April 9th.