The most wonderful time of the snooker year is about to get started

Apr 8

Yes, it’s time for the bruising World Championship qualifiers to begin as we go in search of the 16 qualifiers who will join the 16 seeds at snooker’s spiritual home, the Crucible.

Because we like a challenge, we’ve picked out six players we think can make it through the gruelling test and into the main draw later this month.

Neil Robertson

No prizes will be won for bravery with this selection but the Australian was easily the player everyone wanted to avoid in the qualifying draw. It seems surreal to see the 2010 world champion facing two matches just to make it to the Crucible such is his stature in the game, but the rankings never lie. He needs to roll up his sleeves and get to business. And who knows? A couple of sharpeners may even serve him well by the time we get through to the main draw. Memories of Ding Junhui reaching the final in 2019 when he came through qualifying springs to mind.

Wu Yize

Despite losing on his Crucible debut a year ago, Wu showed spells of what he’s capable of on the big stage – and that’s why we think he can get there again. He’ll likely have to beat a couple of his Chinese compatriots if he’s going to make it through with Tian Pengfei and last year’s World Championship semi-finalist Si Jaihui lurking in his section of the draw. His ability to score heavily and quickly could be the difference over these long-format matches though.

Ben Woollaston

Having dropped a little down the rankings, Woollaston will have to win three matches this time round to reach Sheffield. In doing so, he would secure only his second appearance there and a decade on from his first so while he’s perhaps not proven his pedigree in this event in the past, it feels like it’s time for a return. He has a fantastic temperament and can take plenty of heart from his recent run to the last 16 of the World Open.

Elliot Slessor

This feels like a big call with the 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham potentially waiting for him on Judgement Day but there’s a lot to like about Slessor this season. He is climbing the ranks sustainably and looks to us like a confident all-round operator on the table these days. He’s made it to the Crucible twice in his last four attempts to he knows what it takes as well.

Jackson Page

Proof you can be influenced by recent interviews, we guess. But the confidence Page demonstrated when he spoke to us exclusively was enough to have real belief that he can seal a return to the World Championship. He seems to have hit form at the perfect time too and clearly is the man for the big stage. Graeme Dott and Noppon Saengkham could be tricky opponents of course but this young potter has the fire in his belly and the wind in his sails.

Xiao Guodong

Long overdue a visit to the Crucible for the first time since 2018. If he can come past a likely Dave Gilbert, he’ll be returning for a fourth visit on the big stage. This may seem an unusual pick for many as he arrives not in the greatest of form although he did do enough to qualify for the Grand Prix earlier in the season. We’ve always found Xiao to be quite a consistent and reliable performer in the qualifying stages of events and he’s been quiet a bit too long for our liking based on what a good player he can be.

Created with