Rookie Oliver Brown hopes to cause one of the biggest upsets in UK Championship history by knocking out world champion Mark Selby.
The 20-year-old from Dronfield, near Sheffield, has been paired with Selby – snooker’s world No 1 – in the opening round of the UK finals at York’s Barbican.
Brown does not even have a Tour card but is one of a bunch of young hopefuls coming through the ranks hoping to launch a full-time professional career in snooker.
To add intrigue to a possible giant-killing, the first three days at York – where all 128 players will compete in the first round – will not be televised by the BBC.
It is a gamble by organisers World Snooker, which could backfire if star names like Selby or Ronnie O’Sullivan depart before the televised stages.
Not that Brown is worried about depriving the tournament of one of its star attractions, as he aims to add Selby to an impressive list of scalps which already includes the likes of Ding Junhui. He beat the world No 3 5-0 in the Wuxi Classic qualifiers earlier this year to highlight his potential.
“Playing Selby, I don’t mind that, I fancy it actually,” said Brown. “Playing the world champion, I don’t feel any pressure, I will just approach it like any other game.
“I am under no pressure. It’s good experience, win or lose.
“I want to play him, not many players would be able to say they can play the world champion at York.
“There’s no pressure on me, so I can give it everything. In every game you have a bit of pressure on you, but that’s not always bad.
“I will definitely feel nervous, but, hopefully, settle down quickly and see what happens. I have a lot of family coming up. This season has been the best of my career, so far.
“I have beaten some good players. I beat Jamie Cope in the International Championship, before losing to Mark Williams in China,” added Brown, who reached the last 48 stage of the Australian Open, and the last 32 of the Wuxi Classic.
Brown’s target is a Tour card, which he can attain by accruing enough prize money to enter the top 64 players on the money list, or qualify at the end-of-season Q School.
“My next aim is to get a Tour card, I just need to keep doing well in these main ranking events,” he said. “Just get a name for myself. Hopefully, if I keep doing well, we will see what happens, but if not there’s always Q School next year.
“My aim is just to try and keep winning these big games, and, hopefully, I can have a good run in York.
“I practice Monday to Fridays, 10-5 every day. I go the gym three times a week.
“I play occasionally on Saturdays when I have got a tournament coming up.
“It’s the same routine every week. You have to put the work in if you want to do well, which I am prepared to do. Hopefully, I will get some rewards from it.”
The tournament cues off on Tuesday, with the final on December 7.
World Snooker spokesperson Ivan Hirschowitz said the new format with all 128 players competing on the first three days was introduced following complaints from players last year in York.
“This year we have slightly tweaked the format, all 128 players now play in the first three days,” he said.
“Every player will play before the televised stages. If Ronnie gets beat in the first round, then he won’t be on TV.
“Last year we had a lot of complaints from the players. Although we had everyone starting in the same round, the fact that four players had their matches held over to the TV stages – playing on the TV table – received complaints.
“That’s one of the things we changed, so everyone is on a level playing field and has to play in those first three days.”
Yorkshire players in action in York include father-and-son duo Peter and Oliver Lines.
The Leeds pair are in action on Thursday. Dad Peter plays Joe Swail, while son Oliver takes on Yu De Lu.
Sheffield’s Joel Walker plays veteran Alan McManus on Tuesday, while Doncaster’s Ian Glover faces Xiao Guodong 24 hours later.
On Thursday, Keighley’s Chris Melling meets Jack Lisowski, while Leeds potter David Grace competes against Liang Wenbo.
Tickets for the UK Championship start at just £8 (concessions £4). For details call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets.
Saturday interview with UK Championship title-holder Neil Robertson: Back page.