THE CRUCIBLE COUNTDOWN begins in earnest now the China Open is done and dusted as the next month is given over to all things Sheffield, culminating in someone being crowned 2015 Betfred world champion on May 4.

It will, as ever, be a fascinating few weeks, full of twists and turns, drama and excitement, controversy and hard luck stories and, ultimately, glory for the player who pockets the £300,000 winners’ cheque.

In the meantime, we hope to keep you entertained and stimulated with our World Championship features, interviews, insight and analysis.

We will be looking at the likely title contenders, reminiscing about some key Crucible anniversaries, keeping a close eye on the qualifying and covering the tournament from backstage in Sheffield throughout.

Here is the World Championship timetable:

Monday, April 6: Qualifying draw and format announced

Wednesday, April 8: Qualifiers begin at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. First round runs until Saturday.

Sunday, April 12: Second round of qualifying (until Monday)

Tuesday, April 14: Betfred media launch

Tuesday, April 14-Wednesday, April 15: Final qualifying round

Thursday, April 16: First round draw (10am on World Snooker YouTube channel)

Saturday, April 18: Start of televised stages at Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Monday, May 4: Champion crowned