World Snooker Championship 2019 FAQ

Written by Warren Pilkington, 9th April 2019. Will be updated as the tournament progresses where possible.

Click here for a PDF version of the FAQ.


What is the World Snooker Championship?
The World Snooker Championship traditionally takes place in April and early May over a 17 day period with the final day being on the May Bank Holiday Monday. This year’s tournament starts Saturday 20th April and finishes Monday 6th May 2019.

Who is the defending champion?
Mark Williams is the defending champion, who defeated John Higgins 18-16. He infamously did his press conference naked, honouring a bet he made during the tournament.

Where is the tournament held?
The tournament is held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and has been since 1977. It is often referred to as “the home of snooker” by fans, commentators and players alike. This year it’s the 42nd consecutive time it's been held there.

Why The Crucible Theatre?
When promoter Mike Watterson’s wife saw a play at this intimate theatre in the round, she recommended it to him as an ideal venue. The closeness of the crowd to the stage (notably with two tables) and the 980 seated capacity gives it that special aura. Mike Watterson has passed away as of 2019, but his legacy is that the tournament found its spiritual home.

What is the Crucible Curse?
Since the World Championship has been held at the Crucible Theatre, no first time World Champion has gone on to win the championship the following year. This is known as the Crucible Curse.

The closest anyone has come to breaking the Curse was Joe Johnson, who after winning in 1986 against Steve Davis lost to Steve Davis in the 1987 final 18-14.

Who qualifies for the tournament automatically?
The top 16 ranked players at the final event ranking cut off (the China Open) will qualify. You can keep an eye on this page for the provisional rankings – the top 16 go to the Crucible:

If the defending champion was outside the top 16 they would qualify as defending champion, and would also be a situation where it wouldn’t automatically be the top 16. However the defending champion is Mark Williams, well inside the top 16, so this won’t apply.

How do the remaining players qualify?
As of 2015 and onwards, the qualification has been opened up to 128 players, and this can include any former champion who wishes to try to qualify, even if they are outside the top 128 in the world. There will be three qualifying rounds (all rounds best of 19 frames, first to 10) which will then leave 16 players left to qualify.

Where and when are the qualifying rounds held?
The qualifying rounds are held at the English Institute of Sport, located in Sheffield close to Sheffield Arena, between 11th and 18th April.

How does the draw work?
For the qualifying rounds: in the first round normally a player ranked between 17 and 80 will play a player ranked 81 to 144. The remaining two rounds will narrow this down to 16.

The qualifying draw is available here:

For the final stages: the first round will see the 16 automatic qualifiers against 16 who have fought through the qualifying rounds. This draw is done after the qualifying rounds have completed and is a random draw (16 automatic qualifiers in one bag, the remaining 16 in the other.) The draw is scheduled normally for two days before the start of the tournament, ie: Thursday 18th April 2019.

The draw for the final stages is here:

What dates and formats are the rounds in the tournament?
First round (best of 19 frames – first to 10) - Saturday 20th to Thursday 25th April
Second round (best of 25 frames – first to 13) – Thursday 25th April to Monday 29th April
Quarter final (best of 25 frames – first to 13) – Tuesday 30th April and Wednesday 1st May
Semi-final (best of 33 frames – first to 17) – Thursday 2nd May to Saturday 4th May
Final (best of 35 frames – first to 18) – Sunday 5th May and Monday 6th May

A two table set up is in play up to and including the quarter finals, the semi-finals onward is one table.

The format for the final stages is here:

So which is table one and which is table two?
Table one is the right hand table as you look on the television – table two the left. Table one houses the number one seed and the top half of the draw, table two houses the number two seed and the bottom half of the draw.

What dates and times are the sessions?
For most of the tournament, there are three session times each day: 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm. The exceptions to this are Thursday 25th April, Monday 29th April and Thursday 2nd May (1pm and 7pm sessions), Saturday 4th May (last session 7.30pm instead of 7pm) and both days of the final, Sunday 5th May and Monday 6th May (2pm and 7pm sessions)

It’s worth noting that in recent years the evening sessions of the final have been played at 7pm instead of 8pm. This is due to many late night finishes of the final itself and thus otherwise frustrating television audiences who may have gone to bed before the final concluded.

How many frames are played in each session?
Based on a potential maximum number of frames played per round, the split is like this:
First round: 9 in first session, 10 in second session
Second round and quarter final: 8 in first session, 8 in second session, 9 in third session
Semi-final: 8 in first session, 8 in second session, 8 in third session, 9 in fourth session
Final: 8 in first session, 9 in second session, 8 in third session, 10 in fourth session

In reality the final session of each round may have less than the allotted maximum number of frames. On rare occasions a second round or quarter final match has been completed without a final session being required (one player has to win 13-3 or better)

I want to see a certain player. When do I need to watch?
More becomes clear once the draw is made. About the only constant between every year of the tournament is that the defending champion and number 1 seed plays Table 1 on the first day at the 10am and 7pm sessions. So for this year, that’s Mark Williams.

World Snooker will also usually publicise the order of play on their website (as well as draw sheets once the draw is made) which will give you a good idea of who is on when.

So for the first round, who will I see when?
The first round order of play for the top 16 will be against the qualifiers will be drawn at random accordingly. The order of play, based on the format for this year, is as follows (* - to a finish):

Saturday 20th April
10am - Table One, Mark Williams v Qualifier - Table Two, Luca Brecel v Qualifier
2.30pm - Table One, Neil Robertson v Qualifier - Table Two, Ding Junhui v Qualifier
7pm - Table One, Mark Williams v Qualifier * - Table Two, Stephen Maguire v Qualifier

Sunday 21st April
10am - Table One, John Higgins v Qualifier - Table Two, Ding Junhui v Qualifier *
2.30pm - Table One, Shaun Murphy v Qualifier - Table Two, Luca Brecel v Qualifier *
7pm - Table One, Neil Robertson v Qualifier * - Table Two, Stephen Maguire v Qualifier *

Monday 22nd April
10am - Table One, Shaun Murphy v Qualifer * - Table Two, Mark Selby v Qualifier
2.30pm - Table One, John Higgins v Qualifier * - Table Two, Ronnie O’Sullivan v Qualifier
7pm - Table One, David Gilbert v Qualifier - Table Two, Mark Selby v Qualifier *

Tuesday 23rd April
10am - Table One, Stuart Bingham v Qualifier - Table Two, Ronnie O’Sullivan v Qualifier *
2.30pm - Table One, David Gilbert v Qualifer * - Table Two, Judd Trump v Qualifier
7pm - Table One, Stuart Bingham v Qualifier * - Table Two, Mark Allen v Qualifier

Wednesday 24th April
10am - Table One, Barry Hawkins v Qualifier - Table Two, Judd Trump v Qualifier *
2.30pm - Table One, Kyren Wilson v Qualifier - Table Two, Mark Allen v Qualifier *
7pm - Table One, Barry Hawkins v Qualifier * - Table Two, Jack Lisowski v Qualifier

Thursday 25th April
1pm - Table Two, Jack Lisowski v Qualifier *
7pm - Table One, Kyren Wilson v Qualifier *

How does the prize money break down?
If a Top 16 seeded player is eliminated in the first round, he still receives the prize money, but this does not count towards the prize money world rankings. The prize money for the 2019 tournament is as follows.

Qualifying round one: No money awarded
Qualifying round two: £10,000
Qualifying round three: £15,000
First round (last 32): £20,000
Second round (last 16): £30,000
Quarter finals: £50,000
Semi finals: £100,000
Runner up: £200,000
Winner: £500,000

Who is refereeing the World Snooker Championship?
The referees for this year will be from a selection of Brendan Moore, Olivier Marteel, Terry Camilleri, Paul Collier, Jan Verhaas, Marcel Eckardt, Leo Scullion, Ben Williams, Peggy Li and Greg Coniglio. Leo Scullion was announced as the referee for the final.

How likely will we see a maximum 147 break at this year’s championship?
Seeing a maximum 147 break at the Crucible is the Holy Grail. In the forty one years that the championship has been held at the Crucible, there have been only ten maximum breaks, so statistically that’s around a 23% chance of it happening.

Add that to the fact that there’s only ever been six players who have made a maximum break there, and none since 2012, and you start to realise how special that is.

It’s also worth noting that if Ding Junhui were to make a 147 break, he would become the first player to achieve a 147 break in all three Triple Crown events (UK Championship, Masters and World Championship). Ding made a 147 at the 2007 Masters and the 2008 UK Championship, so has been on this cusp of this achievement for some time.

So when were and who compiled the previous maximum 147 breaks?
Cliff Thorburn (1983, v Terry Griffiths, Table One, first ever at the Crucible)
Jimmy White (1992, v Tony Drago, Table One, longest period between maximums)
Stephen Hendry (1995, v Jimmy White, semi-final, only time ever on a one table setup)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1997, v Mick Price, Table One, fastest ever maximum of 5 minutes 20 seconds)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2003, v Marco Fu, Table Two, went on to lose the match)
Mark Williams (2005, v Robert Milkins, Table Two, to clinch the match)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2008, v Mark Williams, Table One, to clinch the match)
Ali Carter (2008, v Peter Ebdon, Table Two, first time two maximums in major ranking tournament)
Stephen Hendry (2009, v Shaun Murphy, Table Two, went on to lose the match)
Stephen Hendry (2012, v Stuart Bingham, Table One, first time a maximum on the first day’s play)

Only Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry (three each) have made more than one maximum 147 at the Crucible. Every single player who has made a maximum 147 at the Crucible has been at least a finalist twice or better. Only Jimmy White and Ali Carter have failed to win the title.

Watching On Television

How do I watch the World Snooker Championship in the UK?
If you are a UK based viewer, you have four options:
Freeview: via BBC2, BBC1 and BBC Red Button (Red Button+ for Smart TVs)
Satellite and cable: as Freeview plus Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2
Smart / connected TVs: via the BBC Sport app
Internet: via the BBC Sport website

How come the BBC broadcasts sometimes only show one table?
Mainly because of a cut back in the BBC Red Button broadcasts. On Freeview there used to be two BBC Red Button broadcast channels so you could have both tables on those channels. What tends to happen now is if one of the tables is being shown live on BBC2, the red button will show the other table.

If there’s only red button coverage for Freeview viewers, one table is normally chosen, and if that match finishes early, coverage then switches to the remaining table if play is still ongoing.

If you are a Freeview only viewer, it may be well worth seeing if your television is a Smart TV with the BBC sport app, and even some Freeview set top boxes (such as the trusty Humax HDR-FOX T2) have that same app.

Who will be presenting and commentating on BBC and Eurosport?
BBC’s main presenter is Hazel Irvine, universally praised by most fans for doing a very good job. Their backup presenter is Jason Mohammad. Normally they will have the likes of John Parrott, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and Steve Davis in the studio (for the earlier rounds this is within the Winter Gardens in the centre of Sheffield)

BBC’s commentary team normally consists of (as well as Parrott, Hendry, Doherty and Davis above) Willie Thorne, John Virgo, Terry Griffiths and Dennis Taylor.

Eurosport’s commentary team includes Neal Foulds, Dave Hendon, Mike Hallett, Philip Studd and Joe Johnson. Foulds and Hendon are often very highly regarded as excellent commentators.

What’s the BBC snooker theme?
The current theme is a revision of the classic theme “Drag Racer”, remixed by Timo Baker of T Minus 50. The original “Drag Racer”, by the Doug Wood Band, is the iconic (and some would also say “proper”) snooker theme, and is still often heard in between frames on the BBC Red Button.

If you’re after the original “Drag Racer” on CD you can get it on the compilation album The Great Sporting Experience, which has thirty original sports themes from TV and radio. It also has Rugby Special, London Marathon, both versions of Match of the Day, Ski Sunday, Darts, Wimbledon and Superstars, so it’s a pretty essential purchase if you’re a fan. You can buy via Amazon here -

Who are those people I always see on the telly every year?
Ah, the regulars. These are generally season ticket holders who go to every single session of the World Championship. They’re normally in the same seat for most if not all of the tournament and are usually mentioned during commentary from time to time. You will recognise who they are.

Watching Live At The Crucible Theatre

How do I get tickets?
Tickets are normally available from three different outlets:
The Crucible Theatre box office – - 0844 6565 147
See Tickets –

It's worth noting that Viagogo have been dropped, and that's a good move in my opinion. If at all possible it is highly recommended to use the Crucible box office.

When do tickets go on sale?
For the 2019 tournament, tickets went on sale the opening day of the 2018 final. Tickets for the 2020 tournament will probably be on the opening day of the 2019 final. Diehard fans queue outside The Crucible Theatre overnight, and online and phones are normally very busy.

Do tickets sell quickly?
In recent years, yes they do, notably for the final especially. If you wish to be close to the front rows, the advice generally is to purchase early (note the price changes below)

What about the ticket price changes?
From 2017, the ticketing prices changed so that the front four rows were allocated as “premium” tickets, charging almost double the standard ticket price. In some sessions the front rows are also now "VIP" seats with all sorts of packages. This was primarily move to derail the regulars and season ticket holders so that the front row would not be occupied by the same people, but it has angered many who may have gone for a front row seat for one session alone. The premium price and above includes a programme and headphones, but most fans will have the latter anyway.

I’ve seen session tickets sell out and then some more tickets go on sale. Why is this?
This is due to The Crucible Box Office’s very fair resale scheme. If for any reason someone wishes to re-sell a ticket, they return it to the box office. The Crucible then puts it back on sale and if the ticket is re-sold, the original purchaser gets their money back minus any booking fee.

Closer to the tournament, this often does happen (notably if certain players are eliminated at the qualifying round stages). During the tournament this can also happen if a player is knocked out and friends and family have purchased for later rounds. Sometimes you can actually purchase a ticket that was offered for resale on the day of the actual session.

Is there any dress code at the Crucible?
There wasn't, as such, until 2018, as World Snooker have made some changes. In effect, football shirts or other sportswear related to football cannot be worn in the theatre. World Snooker state this: "The Event Promoter requests that no sportswear or team sport shirts are worn. If in the opinion of the Event Promoter an item of clothing is not deemed suitable to wear in the arena the person will be refused admission until such time they have found an alternative item of clothing that is deemed acceptable."

I have a ticket for a session. Where will I be sat?
When booking a ticket via the Crucible website, the online seating plan shown is as you walk into the theatre (opposite view to the TV) - so Centre Left is Table One, Centre Right is Table Two. (the tables are indicated before you click Buy for each match which should also help)

For the two table set up, Table One are the higher numbered seats and Table Two are the lower numbered seats. The Crucible has five doors which lead you to the seating areas – Blue, Orange and Red are for Table One, Red, Purple and Green are for Table Two.

Row A is the front row and normally sells quickly. Row P is the furthest row back, but even then it’s not a huge distance away from the tables due to the way that the theatre is set up. The seating plan (as shown from the TV view) is here-

I am a wheelchair user. What is the access like?
The Crucible is fully accessible, and on the seating plan the grey seats are spaces for wheelchair users and carers. There is also a lift from the ground floor which takes you to the foyer level and also to the upper level for the blue door entrance (the back row are moveable chairs which can be moved to create wheelchair user and carer space) and when you head through the other doors, the spaces are almost in front of you by the aisles. There are also fully accessible toilets, and the staff are normally really friendly and helpful.

Wheelchair spaces cannot be booked online unfortunately - they have to be booked by calling the Box Office. If you live locally and turn up in person to the Box Office they have a lower counter for access. Car parking spaces are in some of the larger car parks nearby, and some on-street parking close by is available. The trams are also wheelchair accessible, so Park and Ride from Meadowhall to Cathedral station is also possible if you don't want to park in the centre of Sheffield.

Where and when can I see the players?
The players often enter and exit via the stage door, on Norfolk Street, at the side of the theatre. Sometimes they’ll even go in the front entrance. It’s not an exact science when to spot them though, so keep your eyes peeled. You will see some wait by the stage door to get autographs and pictures etc. The players can arrive on foot (if staying in Sheffield itself) or by taxi if staying outside Sheffield.

It’s well worth noting that some players are more accommodating than others and sometimes if they are in the zone it’s best leaving them be, wishing them good luck as they enter.

Where can I see Hazel Irvine and the BBC team?
Their studio is in the Winter Gardens and they then move inside the Crucible from the semi-finals onward. From the front of the Crucible Theatre, it’s straight ahead of you across Tudor Square. They’ll often broadcast in the afternoons, and occasionally they’ll interview players too.

What facilities are available inside the Crucible Theatre?
There is a full bar available, and also a few pop up stalls that sell coffee and soft drinks. There is also a merchandising stall selling ear pieces, t-shirts, cues etc.

Please note that you are not allowed to take alcoholic drinks into the theatre - generally only tea/coffee cups with lids on, and soft drink bottles.

Can I enter / exit the theatre during a session?
The Crucible staff are normally instructed to keep the doors closed in between frames, and will only open them for a short time in between frames. Generally you will only be allowed to enter / exit the theatre either in between frames or at the mid-session interval, for your table only (in a two table setup). There's normally a fifteen minute mid-session interval which is usually enough time to go to the toilet and get a soft drink or coffee. If you are planning to have a pint, you're most likely going to miss one frame of the session.

In a two table setup, my table has finished play for the session. Can I watch the other table?
If the other table is still playing their session, normally the dividing partition is lifted at the end of the frame that the players are playing (normally in agreement with the match referee) and so you can stay in your seat and watch. The electronic scoreboards above the tables will update you in any case, so you will be able to work out if it's in the final frame of that session or not. On very rare occasions in a break of play during a frame, the referee can instruct that the dividing partition be lifted earlier.

How far is the Crucible Theatre from Sheffield train station?
Not that far. When you leave the station front, follow the Cutting Edge sculpture uphill to a pedestrian set of lights with the Showroom cinema on the opposite left side of the road. Cross the lights and go straight up the hill towards Sheffield Hallam University. Cross a pedestrian set of lights and go uphill along Surrey Street. Tudor Square with the Crucible is to the right.

Your public transport alternative if you find the hill steep is to take the Sheffield tram from the train station. Take the purple line (terminus: Cathedral) or blue line (terminus: Malin Bridge), and get off at either Castle Square or Cathedral. Both stops are close to the Crucible.

I have a ticket for an evening session. Can I get the train home late in the evening?
It depends how far you have to go. The last trains back to major towns and cities from Sheffield during the week, according to National Rail, are as follows. Note the much later final train to Manchester especially:





















Can I stay in Sheffield close to The Crucible Theatre?
Yes you can. The closest to the theatre itself is the Mercure St Paul’s which has their breakfast bar area face into the Winter Gardens. Some of the BBC staff stay at this one and players have also been known to stay here. It’s not cheap though as you can imagine.

Within walking distance you have chain hotels Novotel, Travelodge, Premier Inn, Best Western and Ibis which offer a reasonable rate.