AFTER what has been a gruelling seven days of qualifying at the English Institute of Sport, 16 yesterday were announced as the qualifiers to take on the top 16 players in the final stages of the 2018 Betfred World Snooker Championships.

The now marathon 17-day tournament held at the iconic 1000 capacity venue The Crucible saw the draw delayed by 2 hours due to "technical" issues. However, the draw then saw the annual frenzy of players and fans on Twitter all salivate over the draw which included:

Ronnie O'Sullivan to play Scotland's Stephen Maguire

Neil Robertson to play qualifier Robert Milkins

2005 runner-up World finalist Matthew Stevens, a qualifier, to play the Master's runner-up Kyren Wilson.

World number one Mark Selby to play the Gentleman Joe Perry.

Two-time ranking winner Mark Williams to play Jimmy Robertson

Runner-up last year John Higgins to play Thailand's typhoon Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Mark Selby defends his crown from last season as he opens the matches on Saturday

Key Head to Heads

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Maguire last met in the World Championship in 2005, where O'Sullivan scraped through against the resilient Scot 10 - 9.

The previous year it was O'Sullivan also who had the better of Maguire in the last 32 10 - 6.

Mark Selby and Joe Perry haven't met in the World Championship before, but, Selby won their recent ranking match in China at the International Championship - 6 - 3. Former 2006 World Snooker Champion Graeme Dott plays Ali Carter in the first round and Dotty's record against Carter in Sheffield is a good one. He beat the Captain last year in the last 32 stage 10 - 7.

Crucible Debuts

Four players who qualified from the EIS in Sheffield will make their Crucible debuts.

China's Lyu Haotian

England's Liam Highfield

England's Chris Wakelin

Thailand's Thechaiya Un-Nooh

Haotian is only 20 and the youngest to compete in the elite 32-man event.

Yesterday on the Judgement Day live feeds for the qualifiers, the commentators Neal Foulds and Rob Walker, who MC's for the Crucible were trying to come up for nicknames of the new debutant Chris Wakelin.

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King of the Crucible Stephen Hendry, who won seven World titles from 1990 - 99, said on Twitter that it looked one of the best draws in years and there wouldn't be a match there he wouldn't want to commentate on. The man of the moment - Ryan Day, who was expected to qualify for the draw after having a sterling season winning three titles, two ranking in the Riga Masters and the Gibraltar Open, and the Romanian Masters (non-ranking) will play Anthony McGill in the first round.

Strangely enough the Chinese qualifiers this year are lacking, but it is players from the length and breadth of the UK who dominate this year's field with qualifiers Matthew Stevens, Jamie Jones and Ryan Day all sporting the Welsh crest for the Pride of Wales. Of course, Mark Williams also leads the Welsh crest of snooker in the country. Graeme Dott is the only ex World Champion to have qualified for the draw outside the top 16. Qualifier Jack Lisowski, who plays former 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham is making his second appearance at a Crucible in the last-32.

He appeared there in 2013. The World Championships begin at the weekend on Saturday starting at 10am in the morning and the winner pockets a tidy £425K.

Head to the World Snooker website to see the full draw...