Several of the sport’s all-time greats will be aiming to make more memories at the Crucible Theatre at the 2020 ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Championship which gets underway on Wednesday.
Played behind closed doors, for the first time the 16-player event will be broadcast live on BBC digital platforms with selected matches available on the ‘Red Button’. Coverage in China will be shown on major digital TV platforms and across the USA via the Matchroom.Live network.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on major sporting schedules all over the globe and although the World Seniors Snooker Tour (WSST) has not been immune either, it is able to stage its annual flagship tournament, building on the success of recent editions.
With certain international competitors unable to travel and qualifying events cancelled, this year’s qualification process has changed, but there is no substitute for the drama, entertainment and quality we expect throughout the four days in Sheffield.
Defending champion Jimmy White has been the dominant force on the seniors scene in recent years having collected several titles including the big one last summer at the Crucible after a tense 5-3 victory over Darren Morgan in the final. Aiming for a hat-trick of world seniors crowns – he also won it in 2010 – White begins against fellow Eurosport colleague Joe Johnson.
The pair last met here in 2019 during the Seniors Masters where Johnson won via a black ball tiebreaker. Like his 1986 world professional triumph, the Yorkshireman went on to defy the odds by lifting the trophy on that occasion too.
Former world number two Tony Knowles will strut his stuff on snooker’s grandest stage again when he faces Peter Lines. In a recent change to tour eligibility, world number 120 Lines earns his spot here by virtue of claiming this accolade in Scunthorpe in 2017 when he didn’t drop a frame en route.
Aaron Canavan was the somewhat unexpected victor in 2018 following a memorable comeback in the final. The Jersey cueist will be out for revenge when he faces Leo Fernandez in the first round. Attempting to retain the title here 12 months ago, Canavan was dethroned by former professional and English amateur champion Fernandez in the last eight.
Another duo with Crucible history are seven-time world professional champion Stephen Hendry and Nigel Bond, who is the fourth person in this half to have this title already on his resume.
Known as the ‘King of the Crucible’, Hendry owned this venue in the 1990s, denying Bond in the 1995 final and also getting the better of him in the semi-finals the subsequent year. Despite being a WSST regular, Hendry has yet to reach a final on it and there would be no better time to end that run than here.
World Seniors champion in 2012, 54-year-old Bond is still enjoying the sport’s top tier – an unbroken 31 years on since his debut debut – and will have fond memories of their last Crucible clash in 2006 when he memorably won 10-9 on a dramatic re-spotted black.
The first match in a distinctly Irish themed bottom half of the draw is an all-Republic clash between Ken Doherty and former main tour exponent Rodney Goggins.
Doherty – winner of the UK Seniors Championship in 2018 – will be looking to add a fourth segment to his world junior, amateur and professional championships portfolio. Second in the world seniors rankings, Goggins will be making his Crucible debut.
In yet another hard-to-call opening round affair, Wales’ 2011 champion and last year’s runner-up Darren Morgan will be seeking to go one further here but first has to negotiate 2018 defeated finalist Patrick Wallace. The Northern Irishman will be setting foot back in the arena for the first time since his run to the world professional quarter-finals over 19 years ago – his only previous appearance.
Two players ready for a big opportunity and their maiden Crucible berths are this season’s Super Seniors number one ranked player Gary Filtness and Sheffield’s own Wayne Cooper, who recently replaced Tony Drago after the Maltese legend made the difficult decision not to travel on health grounds.
Number two seed for this event, but number one in the world seniors rankings, Michael Judge will be a serious contender for this crown having won the UK Seniors Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull back in October. Judge’s bid to complete a unique world and UK double starts with a meeting against 1985 world professional champion Dennis Taylor.
All matches throughout the championship are the best of seven frames, except for the final which will be the best of nine.
Follow updates here at wpbsa.com, or view tournament information online via WPBSA SnookerScores.
Article by Michael Day.