Steve Davis failed in his mission to qualify for the Dafabet World Championship as he suffered a defeat that means he stands to lose his tour card for next season.
Davis has said he plans to compete in Q School in May, when he could grasp a tour lifeline, but unless he survives that scramble for places the six-time world champion will be relegated from the elite bracket for the first time since he joined the professional ranks in 1978.
The 56-year-old has a stated desire to be a tour player at the age of 60. However, he needed to beat Craig Steadman at the World Championship qualifiers to remain in the hunt for a place in the top 64 on the prize-money list.
Steadman took early control and led 6-3 after the morning session at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge venue, before the 31-year-old Lancashire potter clinched a 10-8 victory for a place in the third qualifying round, putting him two wins away from a Crucible place.
If he opts to skip the qualifying school, Davis will be able to compete alongside the very best at Players Tour Championship events in 2014-15, with the prize-money list from that circuit giving him a possible route back onto the main tour for the following season.
Davis won all of his world titles in the 1980s, also losing famously in finals against Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson. He was a surprise quarter-finalist at the Crucible in 2010, since when his ranking has gradually fallen away.
Leeds potter Peter Lines is two matches away from reaching the Crucible, after battling back to win 10-9 against Cao Xin Long.
Sheffield youngsters Joel Walker and Mitchell Travis were knocked out. Walker took Jamie Jones to a deciding frame before losing while Travis won only one frame against Martin Gould.
The last 16 qualifiers will each earn a spot at the Crucible, which cues off on April 19.