Welcome to Day Five at the iconic Crucible Theatre!
Betfred TV’s Mark Pearson, in Sheffield
The first round of the Betfred World Championship has been littered with thrills and spills over the first few days of this amazing event.
Rocket Ronnie predicted some “Crucible carnage” during the pre-event media call on Friday. He described the first round like a Formula One race with the runners and riders “flying into the first corner,” desperate not to crash out on the opening lap of snooker’s Sheffield spectacle.
But it is the usual suspects who have raced into the last 16 so far. There have been slim pickings at the Sheffield scrapheap, with Barry Hawkins the only seed to be dumped out in the first week.
Four-time world champion John Higgins has only lost to three opponents; Mark Davis (twice), Alan McManus, and Mark Selby, in the first round on the game’s grandest stage. And he maintained that proud record with a 10-7 victory over tricky Thai potter Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Higgins has been deflated at times this season after losing in five big finals, but he has been in good spirits since arriving in Sheffield for another Crucible challenge this year.
And the all-conquering Scot completed the set as all three of snooker’s famous Class of ’92 — himself (above left), Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Mark Williams (above right) — reached the last 16 once again. They truly are out of this world. Who knows just how long they can keep competing for snooker’s top title?
The Rocket could fire himself to another level of the snooker stratosphere if he levels Stephen Hendry with seven world titles on Bank Holiday Monday.
But the longevity of all three members is simply amazing. They have raised the bar for snooker players and shown the likes of Selby, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump just how long you can keep adding to your legacy.
Incredibly it’s the 16th time the tantalising trio have all made it into the second round at this famous arena. Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski came through a tough test against two-time finalist Matthew Stevens.
Lisowksi hit the Jackpot with a battling 10-8 win and coming through a battle against arguably the greatest-ever player only to win one ranking title can only sharpen his skills ahead of an overdue deep run here.
Trump, the 2019 world champion (pictured above), came to Sheffield at a low ebb with his game, and desperate to take out his snooker frustrations on his fellow Crucible contenders.
It’s crazy to think the player who has won the Champion of Champions and Turkish Masters this season is grumpy with what he’s achieved over the current campaign.
But that is testament to the Bristol-based potter’s ambitious nature, and how dominant he has been over the past couple of seasons with a staggering 11 ranking crowns under his belt.
The Ace in the Pack was pegged back from 3-0 up to 3-3 by Iran’s Hossein Vafaei before opening up a healthy 6-3 overnight lead.