World Championship: Yorkshire’s Ashley Hugill secures Crucible debut

Yorkshire's Ashley Hugill. Picture: Zheng Zhai/World SnookerYorkshire's Ashley Hugill. Picture: Zheng Zhai/World Snooker
Yorkshire's Ashley Hugill. Picture: Zheng Zhai/World Snooker
Ashley Hugill will join snooker’s elite in Thursday’s first-round draw for the Betfred World Championship.

The Sheffield-based potter beat Leicester’s Joe O’Connor 10-8 in a dramatic final qualifying round match at the English Institute of Sport on Tuesday night, to secure his debut at the Crucible.

The 27-year-old Yorkshireman produced century breaks of 112 and 107, but had to hold off a late rally from O’Connor – a regular training partner – before an audacious double on the black secured victory.

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Earlier, Lyu Haotian - who trains alongside Hugill at Sheffield’s Victoria’s Academy - secured his own passage to the Crucible, beating veteran Dominic Dale 10-4.

Former world No 1 Ding Junhui battled back from 7-4 down to beat David Lilley 10-7 to clinch his return to the Crucible.

The 35-year-old Sheffield-based potter was quick out of the blocks with breaks of 137 and 76, before going behind.

But the 14-time ranking event winner – forced to enter the qualifying rounds after sliding down to 29th in the world rankings – staged an impressive comeback to join the draw.

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Back in 2016, Ding emerged from the qualifying rounds and went all the way to the Crucible final, only to lose to Mark Selby.

Michael White has become only the second amateur to reach the Crucible after beating Jordan Brown in the final round of qualifying.

The 30-year-old from Neath sealed a 10-8 win to give himself the chance to emulate James Cahill, who famously beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round in 2019.

White has made the main draw on three previous occasions, including reaching the quarter-finals on his debut in 2013, but fell off the tour in 2020 after a sudden loss of form.

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Having negotiated four rounds of qualifying White has now guaranteed his return to the professional tour next season, and he admitted: “It means so much to me.

“I have been working so hard and I feel I deserve this. I have had issues away from the table but that is behind me now and I have good people around me.”

Former UK champion Stephen Maguire beat Zhou Yuelong 10-7.

Other winners on the first of two nights of final qualifying included Jamie Jones, Scott Donaldson and Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who beat Matthew Selt 10-7.

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