Luo is having a decent season and could very well produce a shock against Fu. Williams, Baird, Fu and Ford reached the Crucible stages multiple times and its a shame to see them get knocked out. The Williams-Baird tie is probably the most even match-up you are likely to find here. That is incredible. Here is a scary stat: if Fu doesnt qualify for the Crucible this season, it would be the first time since 2004 he wont feature in the World Championships. Fu hasnt regained his form since his eye operation last year. If we are talking of a Group of Death, this would be it. Either that or Group 14. However, snooker business is snooker business. THATS 15 YEARS.
I touched upon that a win here is of vital importance to everyone. Not only because there is 10,000 for winning the first match and it being one step closer to the Theatre of Dreams. For some, a win will keep him on tour for another year or two. For another, it is a year in the amateur wilderness or possible retirement.
Remember earlier I talked about gifts. You have to feel you would rather give Gould 10,000 on a silver platter. The 2018 African runner-up hasnt made a significant impact in any major amateur event that I could think of. It isnt such a gimmie for Gerard Greene, enough though Hill is inexperienced, but good to see the European Under-18 Champion play.
Akani may be the fan favourite, but Milkins has the experience. Akani is rigid and methodical while Milkins is aggressive and error-prone. He has qualified for the World Championship four times in the past six seasons. If they do meet, this will be a very interesting match as they are two completely different players. Both Sunny Akani and Rob Milkins are having lukewarm seasons. Assuming all the seeded players move to the next round, this is an interesting group.
World Snooker Championship 2019Round prediction
Grace has already qualified for next season via the Challenge Tour and will go into this match with nothing to lose. McLeod, on the other hand, has everything to lose. Currently outside of the Top 64 and the eight available place in the one-year ranking list, McLeods professional status is in danger. All the seeded players should have no problems here, though the match to watch is between McLeod and Grace. Neither of these had spectacular seasons, so this will be a perfect opportunity to end it on a good note.
Her time will not get easier. Evans meanwhile, will be hoping to go one step further against Zhang Yong. Its odd to see two female players ranked in the same group, but this makes things convenient for me! On-yee is having the hardest time of the two, losing 10-1 three times in a row. Both On-yee and Evans participated in the World Championship qualifiers three times each but have chalked up one win between them. The current World Championship will face Alan McManus. Dont forget, she beat Robin Hull 10-8 in 2017.
After winning Rookie of the Year last season, Xu Si has failed to live up to expectations, which should pave a way for Judgement Day. He has a kind draw to say the least in Hamza Akbar and potentially Sean OSullivan. A little birdie told me that Graeme Dott has failed to qualify for the World Crucible just once since 1997.
Despite a number of first-round losses, Lyu went deep into a few events to catapult him into the Top 32. It also seems a while since Lyu reached the Last 16 of last years World Championship. Since then, Lyu has flourished. Hes my vote to win this group. Its been a while since Ursenbacher got to the final qualifying stages.
Though Wells is in the Top 64, a slight slip and a number of wrong results could put him in the firing line, so he needs to be careful. He faces Zhang Anda, who reached that stage three times already, so he knows how much it will take to get there. Vafaei has been banging on the door to the Crucible for a while now. He reached the final qualifying round twice in the last two years and is desperate to becoming the first Iranian to be at the World Championships. Jamie Clarke will come with a lot of self-esteem after his wins in the last few tournaments. His opponent will be watching his back.
Simon Lichtenberg has won two matches this season. He is pretty strong and the European Masters runners-up will want to return to the Crucible again, especially after knocking out the defending champion Mark Selby last year. After Joe Perry has finished ranting on about the qualification system (which I agree with), he will realise that he has a good draw.
Looking elsewhere in the draw, it seems likley to me that Jimmy Robertson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh will meet in the final round. We know how much pedigree Joe Swail has at the Crucible and long formats are in his alley. The match between Joe OConnor is a match to look forward to. Joe OConnor is a late developer who reached the Welsh Open semi-finals.
We all know @prosnookerblog knows his stuff. A number of players had talk about hanging up their cue if they drop off the tour. For more information from someone who knows anything and everything about this, please click here. We also have Judgement Day, which is such an intriguing time for us anoraks. Robin Hull, Dominic Dale and Nigel Bond spring to mind.