World Snooker Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan faces Joyce, Trump v Highfield

Betfred World Snooker Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 17 April - 3 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan will face debutant Mark Joyce in the first round of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

World number one Judd Trump takes on Liam Highfield and UK champion Neil Robertson plays China's Liang Wenbo.

Masters champion Yan Bingtao faces Martin Gould and four-time winner John Higgins plays Tian Pengfei.

The event begins on Saturday (10:00 BST), live across BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, radio and the BBC Sport website.

O'Sullivan, who is chasing a record-equalling seventh Crucible crown in the modern era, has reached five ranking finals this season and will be a firm favourite against Joyce, who turned professional in 2006.

The 37-year-old, who is ranked 46th in the world, secured his place at the showpiece event with victory over Brazil's Igor Figueiredo in the final qualifying round on Wednesday.

Sam Craigie's reward for coming through qualifying is a daunting Crucible initiation against Welsh three-time champion Mark Williams.

Elsewhere in Thursday's draw, 2015 champion Stuart Bingham, another who came through qualifying, will meet China's Ding Junhui, while three-time winner Mark Selby faces Norway's Kurt Maflin in an intriguing first-round contest.

Should he progress, O'Sullivan, who suffered a shock first-round defeat by amateur James Cahill in 2019, will face Anthony McGill or Ricky Walden in the second round.

The Crucible will be around a third full for the first round, with the tournament a part of the government's pilot scheme to ensure fans can safely return to sporting and cultural venues.

The final is scheduled to be played in front of a 980-capacity crowd.

The World Snooker Tour has also confirmed that play will be paused for a period of silence on Saturday to mark Prince Philip's funeral at 15:00 BST.

All four players and the two referees will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to the late Duke of Edinburgh.

Draw in full:

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Mark Joyce

Anthony McGill v Ricky Walden

Ding Junhui v Stuart Bingham

Stephen Maguire v Jamie Jones

John Higgins v Tian Pengfei

Mark Williams v Sam Craigie

Mark Allen v Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby v Kurt Maflin

Neil Robertson v Liang Wenbo

Jack Lisowski v Ali Carter

Barry Hawkins v Matthew Selt

Kyren Wilson v Gary Wilson

Shaun Murphy v Mark Davis

Yan Bingtao v Martin Gould

David Gilbert v Chris Wakelin

Judd Trump v Liam Highfield

The Crucible in numbers

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan holds the record for the fastest 147 break, five minutes and eight seconds, against Mick Price at the 1997 World Championship
  • Stephen Hendry still holds the record for most world titles at the Crucible with seven.
  • There have been 11 Crucible 147s in history, from Cliff Thorburn in 1983 to John Higgins in 2020. Hendry and O'Sullivan have three apiece, with Jimmy White, Mark Williams and Ali Carter the other players to achieve the feat.
  • There were a record of 100 centuries in one edition of the tournament's main stage in 2019. The final between Judd Trump and Higgins featured a single-match record of 11, seven of them from Trump.
  • There have been 11 winners of snooker's 'Triple Crown', comprising the World and UK Championships and the Masters. Ding Junhui could join that group with victory in Sheffield.
  • The World Snooker Championship was first held at the Crucible in 1977.
  • Paul Collier will referee his third World Championship final, having previously overseen the 2004 and 2016 matches.
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