Green baize entertainment will continue at the Crucible Theatre this week as several of the sport’s greats are set to feature at the 2023 LLP Solicitors World Seniors Snooker Championship between May 3-7.
The pinnacle of the World Seniors Snooker Tour, it is the fifth consecutive year that the event will be held at the iconic Sheffield venue. Following the completion of several qualifying competitions across the season, this year’s field looks to be the strongest yet with nine nationalities represented in the 16-player main draw.
Some tickets are still available for the Championship via the Sheffield Theatres website here, but if you’re not able to be there in person, details on how to watch the live coverage throughout can be found here.
The draw was conducted during the professional championship a few weeks ago; let’s check out the ties we can look forward to…
Heading the top of the draw and helping break off the tournament on Wednesday night is reigning and defending champion Lee Walker.
The Welshman memorably ousted Jimmy White in last year’s final to win the biggest title of his career. He faces a very tricky opening round tie against Gerard Greene, who has been competing on the professional circuit this season.
Throughout the history and different iterations of the world seniors snooker championship, only one player has successfully defended, or even just won the event more than once – White in 2010, 2019 and 2020.
Champion in 2017 and one of the most decorated players in seniors tour history, Peter Lines is back for another tilt at the title. The Leeds cueist meets former English amateur champion Ben Hancorn, who will be making his Crucible Theatre bow.
Seven-times world professional champion Stephen Hendry is aiming for his maiden world seniors crown, although the Scot has a tough first rounder against former winner Darren Morgan, who also has a further two final appearances in this event to his name, including here in 2019.
An intriguing tie, Hendry defeated Morgan here four times in the professional championship during the 1990s – contributing to a very one-sided head-to-head career record. However, Morgan did get the better of Hendry the last time they dueled here in this tournament four years ago in the last eight.
Completing the top half of the bracket is Ken Doherty versus Alfie Burden.
Having won world junior, amateur and professional championships throughout his illustrious career, Doherty is still looking to achieve an unprecedented quadruple. He very nearly did so three years ago but agonisingly lost 5-4 to White in the final having been 4-0 up.
Burden will make an emotional return to Crucible, a quarter of a century on from his sole appearance there in 1998.
The World Seniors Snooker Tour’s most successful player, three-time champion White has reached the final in all four previous editions of the event here – winning 14 out of his 16 matches in total.
Off the back of his best season on the professional circuit in several years, the 61-year-old plays Golden Ticket event winner Philip Williams on Friday night in Sheffield. The final slot in the draw to be filled, Williams booked a third successive appearance here when he caused somewhat of an upset by defeating Craig Steadman in the event final.
Professional champion in 1986, Joe Johnson has also tasted glory here on the seniors circuit when he claimed the Seniors Masters in 2019. Now aged 70, JJ is 30 years older than his opponent in the first round, Adrian Ridley.
The Yarrawonga-based star has travelled across the world to perform under the Crucible Theatre lights for the first time; the Australian qualified after winning the Asia-Pacific Seniors Championship in March – dropping just two frames in seven matches.
The popular Tony Drago will make his return to the tournament for the first time since 2019 when the Maltese legend plays Canada’s Vito Puopolo on Thursday night in a cosmopolitan clash. Puopolo – making his debut at the venue – qualified courtesy of claiming the 2022 PABSA Pan-American Seniors Snooker Championship in Toronto last October.
Completing the draw is 2016 winner Mark Davis – five players in this year’s main event have been the champion – versus two-time ranking event winner and three-time Crucible semi-finalist Tony Knowles, who was a late replacement for Egypt’s Mohamed Khairy who withdrew due to visa issues.