GRAEME Dott stands just one win away from getting back to the Crucible after reaching the final round of Betfred World Championship qualifying on Sunday night.

Former world champion Dott has also been runner-up twice – and he breezed past fellow Scot Fraser Patrick 10-2 at Ponds Forge.

World No19 Dott had been fiercely critical of radical format changes to qualifying this year, which meant in his ranking position he had to win three matches rather than just one as last year.

And the 37-year-old is also desperate to make up for 12 months ago when he missed the blue-riband final stages following defeat in that single qualifier to Kyren Wilson.

But there were no such problems against Patrick - and Dott remains the hot favourite he was last week to get back to the iconic Sheffield venue the hard way.

However there was a casualty of the new system in Michael White, who announced himself as one of if not the most exciting young prospect in the game in March with wins at the Shootout and then a first ranking title at the Indian Open.

The 23-year-old from Wales has had to put up with all manner of hype and expectations since famously making a century at the age of nine.

And plenty of White’s countrymen, not least two-time world champion Mark Williams, have hailed him as a serious contender of the present as well as the future.

But to take nothing away from Manchester’s world No81 Craig Steadman, who pulled off superb shock 10-5 win to beat White that included breaks of 140 and 116 and a great holding of the nerve at the end, there will be disappointment White is not at the Crucible.

Firstly he is ranked No16 in the world, normally enough to get you there. We shouldn’t dwell on this too much as the reasons for the treatment of Ali Carter after his time out battling cancer were sound, all the players have known they had to be in the top 15 for months, and White was realistically not even in the race until his Mumbai success.

That said, there will be people at World Snooker who were privately hoping he would come through.

Perhaps more pertinently though, you want your stars at the big party and White is certainly a new star, the only player coming up behind Judd Trump in age to have won a ranking title since the Juddernaut started lifting trophies. Such is the way with regeneration in sport.

There had been complaints from players on social media about both the switch from one to three matches for those ranked 16-32, and the calibre of some of the wild-card entries. In fairness to White, whatever he thought privately, he did not join in.

But you have to win your matches however they came at this stage, White looked very tense even in his first qualifier against Steven Hallworth - and the stage will be left for others to grab some fame and make some headlines at this year’s final stages.

Dott came out with some very prophetic thoughts ahead of the qualifiers, saying: "No one is guaranteed to win three qualifiers, no one. I reckon half of those in the top 16 wouldn't win three." Sadly for White, his words have been shown to be true.

One former world champion who did not make it as far as Dott in the process this year was Peter Ebdon, who like the Scot missed out last year - but he fell 10-7 to Stuart Carrington, still in the hunt for a first appearance at the Crucible.


Photograph by Monique Limbos