Saturday, 6 April 2013

The long road to Sheffield

It's only a fortnight until the curtain comes down at the Crucible for this year's World Championship.

The showpiece event of the season is next on the agenda and it's always perfect to finish the season on a real high. But it's not all about what goes on at the main venue.

The World Championship qualifiers proper begin today and run until 14 April. There's plenty of snooker to be played before the final 32 players are confirmed at the Crucible. There will be great matches, twisting plots, high amounts of tension and huge pressure.

The qualifiers are also played under a longer format. The quality and drama is always high and the entertainment value is right up there alongside other main events in my opinion.

The great thing about the World Championship qualifiers is that it means so much. Everything that's been so far this season goes out of the window. This is a chance for every professional player to wipe the slate clean and make their mark.

Qualifying for the Crucible can be the icing on the cake of a good season, a run that salvages a poor season or even the chance to make the leap to the big time.

Some real talented players will be fighting for the place on the sport's premier stage. Some need just one win, others need four. It will not be an easy journey for anyone.

If you haven't watched the World Championship qualifiers before, I urge you to embrace it this time round. You can sign up to World Snooker streaming service to watch selected matches with commentary and follow the action on Twitter too. Coverage of the qualifiers is better these days that is has ever been.

There are plenty of players to watch. Can Luca Brecel get there for a second season running? Can Cao Yupeng find his form again? Will Jack Lisowski make the step? Then there are India's Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta. Ian Burns and Michael Wasley have also enjoyed great maiden seasons on the circuit as well. These are just a few players I will have my eye on. But this week everyone becomes a contender.

It's a chance to shine. Let the battle commence.

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