Click here for the full first round tournament draw.
Click here for part 1 of the first round preview.
Match 9 - Mark Williams (3) v Ryan Day - Sat 16th 2.30pm & Sun 17th 7pm
Even if you are Welsh or not, this is expected to be one of the top ties of the first round. Mark Williams has had an amazing resurgence this year, winning the German Masters a few months back and climbing to 2 in the world rankings having started the season at 8th. He hasn't had the best of luck in drawing Ryan Day though. After having a dreadful start to the season Ryan Day has improved and has qualified for several ranking venues in the second half of the season, including reaching the last 16 of the UK Championship. Both these boys being friends would of prefered to draw other players you would have to fancy the heavily experienced Mark to come through here. He has been playing incredibly well over the last few months and if it wasn't for John Higgins he would of been UK Champion also. Ryan could surprise Mark here thought if he doesn't get off to a good start in the first session. Williams to win 10-7.
Match 10 - Jamie Cope (14) v Andrew Pagett - Sat 16th 10am & Sun 17th 10am
This match features one of the two Crucible debutants this year; Andrew Pagett who has a winnable tie against Jamie Cope who since reaching the Shanghai Masters semi-final at the start of the season has done little of note in ranking events and now sees himself out of the top 16 once again and needs a good run here to get back in to the elite group. This will be Andrew's first match on the television so he will be understandably nervous and this will help Jamie but he hasn't had the best record at the Crucible either and I could see this one going either way, but based on form this season you would have to favour the more experienced player. Cope to win 10-8.
Match 11 - Mark Allen (11) v Matthew Stevens - Tue 19th 7pm & Wed 20th 7pm
Possibly one of the most tantalising matches of the first round. Matthew Stevens has had a brilliant season and sees himself back provisionally into the top 16 for the first time in years and recently won the championship league so will be looking to build on his sucess. Mark Allen though since reaching the semis of the UK and the Masters has failed to capitialize in the more recent events and sees himself on the cusp of losing his top 16 place. Also its been reported that Mark has been battling depression of late so the big question is, is whether he has recovered from it or will it affect his game? Due to this I am going to tip the Welshman to come through, he has had a much improved season and his recent victories should spur him on. Stevens to win 10-9.
Match 12 - Stephen Maguire (6) v Barry Hawkins - Mon 18th 10am & 7pm
Quite an interesting one this. Stephen Maguire has been doing quite well this season by reaching two PTC finals and the Welsh Open final, but wasn't able to go that one step further by capturing them, still he remains in the top 8 in the rankings though. On Q player Barry Hawkins has had an alright season and has qualified for several venues but hasn't managed to go much further than there. He has surprised a few of the top players this season but unless Maguire has a bad day I don't think he will be able to keep up with his high scoring. Maguire to win 10-7.
Match 13 - Shaun Murphy (7) - v Marcus Campbell - Sat 16th 7pm & Sun 17th 2.30pm
Could be a lot closer than people believe this one. Don't underestimate Marcus Campbell, he has been a solid performer this season, winning a EPTC event and qualifying for many venues and up to 23rd in the provisional rankings. He is a tough battler and could take 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy by surprise if he doesn't get off to a good start. Shaun will be heavy favourite though having won the PTC Grand Finals last month and reaching the China Open semi-final recently and is looking in good form. If Marcus upsets Shaun it wouldn't be a shock to me as I know how good he can play, but the smart money is in Shaun. Murphy to win 10-8.
Image courtesy - World Snooker
Match 14 - Ronnie O'Sullivan (10) v Dominic Dale - Mon 18th 2.30pm & Tue 19th 2.30pm
Now then. Usually people look forward to watching three-times world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan at the Crucible and are unsure which Ronnie will turn up but even more so this year. Not having won a ranking event match since September, pulling out of the German Masters and the Shanghai Masters and threatening to pull out of this tournament it will be even more facinating to see how well he will play against his opponent; Dominic Dale. Dom won PTC6 earlier in the season and is steadily rising up the rankings himself also but he will fancy his chances against the Rocket due to his circumstances. My personal thoughts are that even though Ronnie has underperformed in other recent events, he will be up for this as it is the big one and I think he could turn it around over the next few weeks. His match is one of the later starts of the first round which will mean he wont have to wait around for as long as he usually does which might stop him from getting bored and will keep him in a better frame of mind hopefully. All in all, even with all thats been said about Ronnie, I still believe he will come through this match, but don't write off Dom all-together, he didn't win two ranking events with pure luck. O'Sullivan to win 10-7.
Match 15 - Ricky Walden (15) v Rory McLeod - Tue 19th 10am & Wed 20th 10am
This match probably won't leave the fans struggling to get tickets but it could be an interesting one anyway. Both players have had a slightly improved season over the previous, neither setting the world on fire but for 2008 Shanghai Masters champion Ricky Walden it has gone well, seeing him into the top 16 for the first time in his career after narrowly missing out for several seasons. Rory McLeod is closing in to the top 32 himself and even though he is not known as one of the most exciting players on the circuit he can often string results together but often comes up short at televised ranking events, seeming nervous in front of the cameras. I could see this one go either way, but Rory has yet to get past the last 32 of a ranking event yet and and Ricky has so that could be crucial for this match. Walden to win 10-9.
Match 16 - John Higgins (2) v Stephen Lee - Wed 20th 2.30pm & Thu 21st 7pm
What an exciting match this could be! If it is even as half as exciting as their UK Championship match earlier on in the season where both players made several centuries and played to an incredible standard, then we are in for a cracker. After returning from his ban John Higgins set out once again and has proven his talent on several occasions, winning 5 out of the 9 events he has entered including the UK Championship, Welsh Open and just recently the Scottish Professional Championship and is the obvious favourite to take the title in Sheffield. Stephen Lee though after winning the EPTC4 event at the South West Snooker Academy has looked to be back at his top form by qualifying for several venues and reaching the China Open quarter-finals, beating defending champion Mark Williams on route where he made four centuries and Stephen still beat him 5-4. Obviously you would have to favour John in this match and the tournament, but as Barry Hearn said Stephen is in top form recently and if he gets the run of the ball could cause the upset of the season. Higgins to win 10-8.
The tournament kicks off with defending champion Neil Robertson against recent Bank of Beijing China Open champion Judd Trump (match preview here) at 10am on Saturday morning. As usual the whole event will be broadcast live on BBC and EuroSport. I myself prefer watching the BBC coverage for their unique introduction movies and special vt's that they make, but the commentators on EuroSport are top notch and the likes of Dave Hendon and Mike Hallet seem to know a lot more about what's going on, on the circuit than the BBC regular's such as Thorne and Taylor.
There is only a few hours left to enter the Scotweb Waistcoat Competition which ends on Saturday morning, get your entry in fast!