Rotherham snooker pro Ashley Carty has scrapped his way to a seat at the big table – qualifying for the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield.
Carty, 25, beat the higher ranked opponent, Robert Milkins in his third qualifying round match to advance to the Crucible, and a shot at the sport’s biggest prize.
The Thurcroft potter, who is ranked 74th for the tournament, beat the amateur player, Ross Muir, 6-4 in a long 2nd round qualifier at the English Institute of Sport before dispatching Jimmy Robinson by the same score in the next round. Robertson was ranked 23rd for the tournament.
Avoiding a clash with snooker legend Jimmy White, who was beaten by Milkins in the previous round, Carty was one game away from reaching the World Championships for the first time.
Carty led Milkins 9-4 before losing four frames in a row, but breathed a sigh of relief after taking a scrappy 18th frame for a 10-8 success. The world number 82 had never previously won a match in the qualifying event but is now through to the last 32 and will perhaps be considered the local favourite.
“I have never felt so much pressure in my life,” said Carty, who needed to win the match to keep his tour card. “I had a few chances from 9-4 but got a bit twitchy and started to think if I lose this I’ll be devastated and I’ll have to go back to Q School. It was the biggest match of my life by a mile. I just had to pull myself together in the last frame.”
Carty will join 15 other qualifiers for the rescheduled event, alongside the top 16 seeded players.
The World Championship will pilot the safe return of spectators to sporting events, with a reduced crowd to be allowed throughout the event.
The tournament runs from July 31 to August 16 and spectators will be safely welcomed for every session.
Barry Hearn, chairman of the World Snooker Tour, said: “Several players have commented that the tournament would not be the same without fans, and so now they will be thrilled by the fact that we are among the first sports to welcome spectators back. The players’ duty is now to behave in a responsible manner, use common sense and follow all relevant guidelines. The eyes of the planet will be on them to help deliver a ground-breaking event.”
With a history dating back to 1927, the Betfred World Championship has has been played at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield since 1977. It is supported by Sheffield City Council.
Defending champion Judd Trump gets the tournament underway, while other top stars in action over the 17 days will include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui.
The event is televised across the planet on broadcasters including BBC, Eurosport and Matchroom Live, with a global audience of 500 million.
Images: Rob Matthews / WST