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World Snooker Championship draw: Ronnie O'Sullivan to face Jackson Page in Crucible first round

Find out who will play who in the opening round at The Crucible, with play to begin on Saturday; ​​​​​​​Ronnie O'Sullivan is chasing a record eighth world title in the modern era, while Luca Brecel is the defending champion

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Ronnie O'Sullivan says if the World Snooker Championship was relocated to Saudi Arabia then he would find the tournament more convenient as a player

​​​​​​​Ronnie O'Sullivan will face Jackson Page in the first round of the World Snooker Championship when he will begin his quest for a record eighth title.

The seven-time world champion will play the 22-year-old Welsh qualifier in the best-of-19 frame opening round on Wednesday, April 24 at The Crucible.

Page, who reached the second round on his only previous appearance at the tournament in 2022, booked his place in Sheffield after winning a final-frame decider against Thailand's Noppon Saengkham in final qualifying.

Reigning champion Luca Brecel has been drawn against David Gilbert in the match that will open the tournament at 10am on Saturday.

Judd Trump, the 2019 champion and number three seed, has been drawn against Hossein Vafaei, while an eye-catching first-round tie will see seventh seed Ding Junhui take on Jack Lisowski, a runner-up in six ranking finals.

After beating the 2010 winner Neil Robertson in final qualifying on Wednesday, Wales' Jamie Jones has earned a first-round encounter with four-time champion John Higgins.

Who is Jackson Page?

The first player standing on the road between Ronnie O'Sullivan and a potential historic eighth world title is Welshman Jackson Page, who is making his second appearance at snooker's showpiece event.

In 2022, Page made an impressive first-round debut in Sheffield to beat Barry Hawkins (10-7). That set up an all-Wales clash in round two against three-time champion Mark Williams, who comfortably triumphed 13-3.

Page’s 2023-2024 season came to life at last month’s World Open in Yushan, China where he beat former world champions John Higgins and Mark Selby en route to the first semi-final of his professional career.

Judd Trump ended Page's run in a 6-2 triumph and the 2019 world champion went on to beat Ding Junhui in the final.

Mark Selby, another quadruple champion, opens up against Joe O'Connor, while three-time winner Mark Williams faces a potentially tricky encounter against China's 21-year-old Si Jiahui, a surprise semi-finalist last year.

More from World Snooker Championship 2024

O'Sullivan won the World Championship in 2022 to equal Stephen Hendry's record of seven Crucible crowns and comes into the 2024 event having won five titles in the 2023-2024 season, including The Masters and the UK Championship for a record eighth time each.

He is also aiming to become just the fourth player after Steve Davis (1987-88), Hendry (1994-95, 1995-96) and Williams (2002-03) to win all three Triple Crown events in the same campaign.

If the 32-player tournament goes according to seedings, O'Sullivan will face Barry Hawkins in round two, Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals, Trump in the semi-finals and Brecel in the final on Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6.

Image: Jackson Page during his one previous appearance at the Crucible in 2022

Full first-round draw (seeding number in brackets)

(1) Luca Brecel vs David Gilbert
(16) Robert Milkins vs Pang Junxu
(9) Ali Carter vs Stephen Maguire
(8) Shaun Murphy vs Lyu Haotian
(5) Mark Selby vs Joe O'Connor
(12) Kyren Wilson vs Dominic Dale
(13) John Higgins vs Jamie Jones
(4) Mark Allen vs Robbie Williams
(3) Judd Trump vs Hossein Vafaei
(14) Tom Ford vs Ricky Walden
(11) Zhang Anda vs Jak Jones
(6) Mark Williams vs Si Jiahui
(7) Ding Junhui vs Jack Lisowski
(10) Gary Wilson vs Stuart Bingham
(15) Barry Hawkins vs Ryan Day
(2) Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Jackson Page

Who might challenge O'Sullivan at The Crucible?

Mark Williams

Mark Williams, snooker (Getty Images)
Image: Mark Williams comes into the Crucible on the back of a big win at the Tour Championship

Like world No 1 O'Sullivan, Mark Williams could become the oldest world champion in history with the Welshman having turned 49 in late March.

Age has been no barrier for Williams this season as he has won two titles - the British Open in October and the Tour Championship earlier this month - and risen to No 6 in the world rankings.

He defeated O'Sullivan 10-5 in the final of the Tour Championship in Manchester after winning seven frames in a row in the evening session, having overcome world No 2 Judd Trump in the quarter-finals and world No 3 Mark Allen in the semi-finals.

Williams will now attempt to win his fourth world title in Sheffield, 24 years after his first Crucible triumph and six years after his previous one, in 2018.

Judd Trump

Judd Trump toughed out a deciding frame to beat Kyren Wilson in the first round of the Masters
Image: Judd Trump won the World Snooker Championship in 2019

Trump's trophy-laden 2023-34 season has seen him match Steve Davies' tally of 28 career ranking titles and move joint-fourth on that all-time list, behind only O'Sullivan (41), Stephen Hendry (36) and John Higgins (31).

The Bristolian has won five ranking events this term, claiming three in a row with victories at the English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open last autumn and then landing the German Masters and World Open earlier in 2024.

Trump will now be looking for his second world crown and first since 2019, with the 34-year-old only passing the quarter-finals once since his victory five years ago, that being when he lost in the final to O'Sullivan in 2022 as his opponent claimed a record-equalling seventh Crucible victory.

Ding Junhui

Ding Junhui
Image: China are yet to produce a snooker world champion and Ding Junhui remains their biggest hope

Long tipped to become the first Chinese world champion, Ding has rediscovered his form and will be the seventh seed at The Crucible after a season in which he has reached two ranking finals, losing to O'Sullivan at the UK Championship and to Trump at the World Open.

Ding, a player whose cue-ball control has been praised by O'Sullivan, reached the world final in 2016 before being beaten by Mark Selby and the semi-finals a year later before losing to the same player, but has lost in the first round for the last three seasons.

Still, his four Triple Crown titles (three UK Championships and one Masters) prove he can win big events.

Mark Selby

MrQ UK Snooker Championship at York Barbican Day Five ** STORY AVAILABLE, CONTACT SUPPLIER** Featuring: Mark Selby Where: York, United Kingdom When: 29 Nov 2023 Credit: Graham Finney/Cover Images  (Cover Images via AP Images)
Image: Mark Selby is a player you can never rule out when it comes to the World Snooker Championship

Selby suggested he won't carry on if his form doesn't improve after his first-round loss earlier this month at the Tour Championship to Gary Wilson.

Nevertheless, Selby is the only player to ever beat O'Sullivan in the one-table setup at the Crucible, which happened at the semi-final and final stage, when he defeated The Rocket in the 2014 final.

His cautious, excellent safety approach is a contrast to the all-out attack style of the likes of O'Sullivan and Trump, which suits the longer format at the World Championship and that's why Selby is a four-time world champion.

We shouldn't forget that Selby narrowly lost out to Luca Brecel 12 months ago in the 2023 World Championship final and he's the type of player who can play himself into form during a tournament.

Mark Allen

Mark Allen
Image: Mark Allen is yet to reach the Crucible final in his career

Allen has adopted a similar tactical approach to Selby in recent years and it's working wonders results-wise.

Along with O'Sullivan and Trump, Allen has been on great form in the last 18 months and won the Champion of Champions, Players Championship and the Shoot Out this season to move onto 20 career titles.

The Northern Irishman has won the UK Championship and Masters but a Crucible crown eludes him.

Last year was Allen's best effort at the World Championship yet as he reached the semi-finals for just the second time and lost a gritty last-four match to Selby 17-15.

Perhaps this year is the year Allen joins the illustrious list of snooker world champions.

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