For the first time, Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre will play host to the four-day 2019 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship from 15-18 August 2019.
The culmination to the 2018/19 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour, the championship will feature 20 players representing 14 different nations and five continents, each of whom are aiming to lift the iconic trophy and pocket the £25,000 first prize
Over the past nine months, several qualifying events open to all amateur players aged 40 or above have taken place in Europe, North America and Asia. These qualifiers will line up alongside the seeded star names, wildcards, national and continental nominations in the draw.
Reigning champion Aaron Canavan will begin his title defence with a tricky tie against Hong Kong’s experienced Au Chi Wai, who came through the competitive Chinese qualifying event in Beijing.
The Jersey cueman enjoyed the best moment of his career last year in Scunthorpe when he came from behind to pip Patrick Wallace on a tie-breaker black in the final. Elsewhere in the top quarter, former professional Leo Fernandez faces the current Dutch national champion Joris Maas – winner of the Toronto qualifying event.
World professional champion in 1991, John Parrott returns to the scene of his greatest triumph to play either Willie Thorne or Darren Morgan; one of four preliminary round ties. Winner of this title in 2011, Morgan will be fancied by many to do well in Sheffield as he remains active and very successful on the amateur scene both at home and abroad.
Completing the top half is the ‘King of the Crucible’ Stephen Hendry. The seven-time world champion used to ‘own’ this venue in the nineties; he will be hoping to reignite that bullishness again as he tries to kick-start a seniors career that has not yet seen the Scot return to winning ways. Meeting him in the last 16 will be one of the sport’s most well-known non-UK players – Malta’s Tony Drago or Oceania nomination Dene O’Kane from New Zealand.
Just four months ago Joe Johnson overcame the odds at the Crucible once again when he lifted the Seniors Masters trophy.
The 67-year-old, who memorably won snooker’s biggest accolade in 1986 when he outplayed Steve Davis in the final, is also guaranteed to play an ‘overseas’ player in the form of either Asia’s first ranking event winner and superstar James Wattana or Egyptian Wael Talaat, three times an African champion.
Former world champion Cliff Thorburn knows what it is like to win at the Crucible in different periods having preceded Johnson as the Seniors Masters title holder. The Canadian will discover his opponent when former world number two Tony Knowles and Chinese nomination Chen Gang open the tournament up on Thursday morning.
In the final quarter of the draw, Dennis Taylor – the fifth and final world professional champion in the event – will cross cues with Stuart Watson, who emerged from the Jersey qualifier last November.
Jimmy White, for whom the Crucible harbors so many bittersweet memories, will be trying to claim his second world seniors championship following victory in 2010.
Evergreen White and his legion of fans would dearly love him lift a trophy here, and the signs should be positive after securing consecutive titles at the Irish Seniors Masters and Seniors 6-Red World Championship earlier this term.
However, he will have a stern test when going up against Welshman Rhydian Richards in round one; the first qualifier to have booked their berth in Sheffield.
In a change to last year’s edition, there will be no tie-breaker black should the scores reach 2-2, or 3-3 in the final. The entire 2019 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship will be shown live on FreeSports TV and on SuperStar Online in China.
The event will also see special sessions staged during the final weekend to promote the activities of World Women’s Snooker and World Disability Billiards and Snooker. Taking place at 10:00am on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th August respectively, each session will see four leading players from each tour compete at the home of snooker.
Tickets for these sessions are still available for just £1.47 when purchased with a full-price ticket to a session of the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship.
Tickets for all sessions are available here: http://bit.ly/SheffieldSeniorsTickets