KYREN Wilson will make his Crucible debut this year after beating former world champion Graeme Dott at Ponds Forge on Tuesday night.
The 22-year-old from Northamptonshire, currently ranked 90th in the world, showed remarkable composure with so much at stake to emerge a 10-7 victor in a tense final qualifier.
That made it four wins in qualifying for Wilson, the first player to make it all the way through from the first round to the game’s biggest stage this season.
And while his success was a shock to some, Wilson had shown in 10-3 wins over Rod Lawler and Alfie Burden in his two previous matches that Dott had his hands full.
And perhaps the biggest testament to Wilson’s level of play was that a desperately disappointed Dott instantly paid a generous tribute to his conqueror.
Wilson made breaks of 53, 58, 61, 64, 63, 76, 58 and 81.
He said: “It has been such a tough draw and Graeme is a class player so to come through and beat him is a dream come true. It is the biggest win of my career.
“Even my family had written me off for this one, and it feels so good to mix it with these players and hold my nerve.
“It was a great match, there were 50s and 60s or more in virtually every frame.
“It hasn’t really sunk in that I will be playing at the Crucible for the first time, and I will be driving past it to have a look at this evening on the way home.
“I have been there to watch Peter Ebdon play a while ago, and it is hard to believe I will be there.
“The draw is on Thursday – and I want Ronnie O’Sullivan. He brings in the crowds and I want to play him on that stage before he retires.
“He could batter me, but I’d enjoy watching it. I play an attacking game, snooker is about entertaining as well as winning so I’d like Ronnie or Judd Trump.”
The 36-year-old Dott, who has also reached two other world finals, said: “Kyren played really well and deserved to win, I didn’t play that bad at all.
“Probably if we had played anyone else in the draw we would both be through to the Crucible, I would have beaten most people.
“It was one of the hardest matches I could have had but none of them are easy. He held himself together so well for someone trying to qualify for the first time.
“He can do some damage at the Crucible if handles the place and the occasion. It is a different animal and you can’t predict how you react, but at that standard he can beat anyone.
“Right now I don’t feel too bad or disappointed, but I am sure once the World Championship starts I will be devastated. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t there.”
Jamie Cope will be back at the Crucible for the first time in three years after the 28-year-old from Stoke scored a 10-7 win over Mark King, a huge boost after tremors in his cueing arm threatened to end his career.
And there were two defeats for Welsh players, with Tom Ford beating two-time world finalist Matthew Stevens 10-8 and Michael Holt accounting for Jamie Jones 10-6.