The English Institute of Sport in Sheffield hosts four rounds of qualifiers this week to whittle down a field of 128 hopefuls to just 16 players who will head to the Crucible later this month and face the top-16 professional snooker players at the World Championships.
Road to the Crucible
Less than eight months after Ronnie O’Sullivan clinched a sixth world title, the road to the Crucible begins at the nearby English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Depending on ranking, some players will need to win four matches to qualify and some only three or two – the higher the ranking, the less matches needed.
For big hitters such as former Crucible finalist Ali Carter and 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham, only two wins will be required to qualify as they only just missed out adequate ranking points to automatically qualify.
Carter is one of the standout bets in the ‘To Qualify’ markets, he is a class act with plenty of experience and the draw has been kind to him.
He is a short price at
10/13 but rightly so given the calibre of opposition he is likely to face.
Bingham has been in poor form this season and is a vulnerable jolly to emerge from his section at
10/21 with talented Belgian Luca Brecel among his likely opposition.
Get with Carty to see off White
Welshman Michael White is a former top-16 player who once upon a time automatically qualified to the Crucible, but the former Shoot Out winner has tumbled down the rankings since due to poor form.
He is a favourite worth opposing in the opening round of matches on Wednesday at
10/19 with the talented Ashley Carty.
Carty won three qualifiers last season to feature on the big stage and is value at
7/5 to see off White in the best-of-11 frames contest.
Experience can count for a lot in these extreme pressure situations and there are few in the field with more mileage on the clock than 1997 world champion Ken Doherty.
The ‘Darling of Dublin’ has been hitting the practice table hard in recent weeks and can cruise through his clash with Lee Walker on Tuesday morning.
Doherty is available to back at
10/13 appeals giving up 1.5 frames in the handicap market.
Hill can rise to the challenge
On Wednesday morning 19-year-old Aaron Hill tackles Ashley Hugill and he is a player to keep an eye on over the next couple of seasons.
The Irishman was awarded a two-year tour card last year for winning the EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championships and is set for a bright future,
He downed ‘The Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan en route to the last-32 stage of the European Masters earlier this season and rates a solid bet at
20/29 to win his first qualifier.
*All odds correct at time of writing