Day 1 Summary: World Snooker Championship

World Snooker Championship Trophy

The Crucible Theatre, as always, presents suspenseful snooker moments. Defending world champion Mark Selby avoids the Crucible curse and secures last 16 spot. Former world champions The Scotsmen John Higgins and Graeme Dott lead after the first session.

Reigning world champion Mark Selby aims to defend his title, which he won last year for the first time.  No champion has successfully defended this first title at The Crucible, an anomaly often referred to as the Crucible curse. Three players have won consecutive titles at the Crucible: Steve Davis (1983–1984 and 1987–1989), Stephen Hendry (1992–1996) and Ronnie O’Sullivan (2012–2013), but they experienced the “curse” right after this.

Selby faced the debutant Kurt Maflin in the first round of the final stages with breaks of 84, 108, 53, 69 and 56 in the morning session, which helped The Jester to obtain a comfortable 6-3 lead. Breaks of 67 and 124 in the evening session put Selby in a great position with an 8-4 lead and only two frames for a fantastic first round victory. Maflin had nothing to lose at this stage and felt no pressure. With breaks of 86, 103, 78, 68 and 79 Maflin won five consecutive frames, to lead 9-8.

The worry was that the Crucible curse would strike once again but Mark Selby pulled through, managing to win frame eighteen and forcing a decider. The tension spread quickly through both players and audience. Selby won the decider 10-9, avoiding the curse, at least for now.  “I had a chance in the decider, didn’t take it and he deserved to win,” said Maflin. “He’s so tough to beat and he was the better player on the day.”

Mark Selby with the 2014 trophy

Mark Selby with the 2014 trophy

2006 world champion Graeme Dott played against the world #7 Ricky Walden in the first round match. The Scotsman leads 5-4 after the first session. Dott was frustrated when changes to the format meant he had to win three best of 19 frame qualifiers instead of one round, just to reach the World Championship final stages at The Crucible.

Anthony McGill performed well on his Crucible debut at the World Championship by leading 6-3 ahead of his compatriot Stephen Maguire. McGill  qualifies for his first World Championship after coming through three matches, ending with a 10–9 victory over Mark King, which he closed with a 127 break.

Hong Kong’s Marco Fu played Jimmy Robertson and lead 5-4 after the first session. Fu’s greatest Crucible achievement was in the 2006 semi final. He hopes to climb higher in his fifteenth World Championship appearance.

Graeme Dott- Had to win three matches to qualify

Graeme Dott- Had to win three matches to qualify

Former world champion John Higgins had a smooth start in the World Snooker Championship’s first day. Today, The Wizard of Wishaw showed the real value of experience  at The Crucible. The four time world champion has played several impressive tactical shots and forced Milkins into errors,  finishing with a solid 6-3 lead after the first session.

Higgins, aiming for a fifth world title at this year championship, seems highly confident, “I’m going to The Crucible in a better frame of mind this year than I have in the last few years. I’m feeling confident about my game,” he told the Daily Record. “Mentally I feel in a lot better place than I have been in the last few years.”

“It’s been a tough couple of years but I felt something click at The Masters when I played Mark Allen. I played really well in that match and still lost but I felt good about the way I played and felt as if I’d turned the corner.”

John Higgins - Lead after first session

John Higgins – Lead after first session