Craigie and Wilson flying the north-east flag at World Snooker Championship

·3-min read
Craigie, 27, will face three-time world champion Mark Williams in Sheffield
Craigie, 27, will face three-time world champion Mark Williams in Sheffield

Wallsend will have two representatives in the World Snooker Championship first round after Gary Wilson and Sam Craigie both progressed through qualifying in Sheffield, writes Ross Lawson.

Wilson knows what it takes to play at the Crucible having reached the semi-finals in 2019 but this year will provide a debut for Craigie following a testing week at the English Institute of Sport.

The 27-year-old overcame Ashley Hugill and Hossein Vafaei in best-of-11 matches before upsetting high-ranked Zhao Xintong in a final-frame decider.

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"I've only ever been [to the Crucible, as a fan] twice so I have no clue what to expect, I'll have to have a look around and get my bearings before the match.

"Having fans makes it even more special, I get to experience the venue near its best so I'm really looking forward to it.

"I'm not playing brilliantly so I'm probably going to have to improve to have a chance against the top boys.”

Both players will have fans at their first-round matches with the government confirming the Championships as one of the test events for a return to sport.

For Wilson, meanwhile, expectation was not in short supply as one of the top seeds but reaching the Crucible still remained an achievement in itself.

Victories over Gerard Greene and Steven Hallworth sealed his progression to set up a first-round tie with namesake Kyren, which takes place on Monday.

The past 18 months has taken its toll on Wilson but the 35-year-old says he feels in a good place on and off the table.

"I'm turning the corner a little bit with the depression, I don't feel anywhere near as bad as I did a few months ago,” he said.

"The last few months, I've just spent a much time practicing as I can and dedicating myself to snooker.

"I felt quite nervous the past couple of days, more nervous than I think I have previously before games in quite a while.

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"It was hard to enjoy the qualifiers but you're able to do that more when you get to the Crucible.

"It hurt not being there last year. But I felt I wasn't prepared enough for the tournament, just the way circumstances were playing, and it was a very strange time where I didn't feel ready to qualify.

"But if you're ever going to miss a year, that one was the one to miss.

"I'm just so happy to finish this season, the worst year I've ever had, on a bit of a high with an appearance at the Crucible.”

Watch the World Snooker Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from April 17- May 3