With Betfred World Championship qualifying just days away, we’ve consulted four of snooker’s top broadcasters and journalists to find out which players they think will clinch a place at the Crucible.
The notoriously intense qualifying event will take place behind closed doors at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield from July 21st to 28th. There will be 128 players battling it out for just 16 spots and our experts have named the players they think are most likely to emerge from each section of the draw.
Neal Foulds, Former World Number Three and TV Pundit
This year’s World Championship is likely to be the most unpredictable ever, it is a tough call to say who will take home the trophy. The qualifying event will be fascinating and while many think there will be shocks galore, I see things a little differently. I’ve tipped stalwarts like Graeme Dott, Matthew Stevens and my old pal Alan McManus to make the cut. I expect a nice blend of old and new faces to be in the draw for the last 32. Whatever happens, it is a great triumph that the event is going ahead. Good luck to everyone involved!
David Hendon, Snooker Commentator and Journalist
It’s always great to see a mix of recognisable faces and some debutants qualifying, and that is what I have gone for. I’m predicting debuts for Joyce, Vafaei, Jones, Ursenbacher and O’Donnell. Anyone who qualifies has done well because the qualifying competition is a brutal test of nerve in its own right.
Hector Nunns, Snooker Correspondent for Daily Mirror and Others
If the final nerve-shredding round of play-offs did adhere to seedings, this could throw up epic battles between Brecel and Liang Wenbo, Carter and Alan McManus, Maflin and Matt Selt, and Day and Hossein Vafaei. I’ll also be watching out for Sunny Akani in Perry’s section, Luo Honghao in Ford’s, Ukrainian wonder-kid Iulian Boiko in Holt’s, Irish teenager Aaron Hill in Wilson’s, and Joe O’Connor in Maflin’s.
Phil Yates, Snooker Commentator and Journalist
Most of my selections are top 32 players but given their respective performances in the Championship League, Ben Woollaston and Sam Craigie, have got every reason to be confident of securing a Crucible place.
In addition, James Cahill pulled up trees in Sheffield last year and will be highly motivated to return.
Ryan Day is a class act, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hossein Vafaei got the nod in that section.
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