Snooker - The six unknowns bidding to shock the world, part two

While the snooker headlines ahead of the 2013 World Championship have quite understandably been dominated by the return of defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, six relative unknowns quietly grafted their way to earn their Crucible debuts.

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Snooker - The six unknowns bidding to shock the world, part two
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matthew selt 2011 australian open

Jack Lisowski, Ben Woollaston, Michael White, Matthew Selt, Sam Baird and Dechawat Poomjaeng will all line up for the very first time in the final 32-man field when the showpiece event begins in Sheffield on Saturday, and all six have hopes of replicating Shaun Murphy’s shock 2005 triumph from out of nowhere.

Nobody is in a better position to provide some insight into the World Championship’s 2013 underdogs than Matt Huart, owner of the Pro Snooker Blog.

Huart, as he has most years, attended the arduous qualification process which took place recently at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, and with the first round draw now set in stone, he gave Eurosport-Yahoo! his thoughts on how far the six fresh faces can do in their maiden Crucible voyage.

In the final part of a two-part preview (Read part one here), Huart takes a closer look at White, Selt and Thai sensation Poomjaeng:

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Michael White

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In the record books as the youngest player ever to compile a century and having first turned professional a few days before his 16th birthday, Michael White has been touted as one of Welsh snooker's hottest prospects for a number of years, but it is only during the last 18 months that he has started to match the consistency to his undoubted talent and begin to make strides up the ranking list.

With runs to the final stages of the International Championship, UK Championship and now the World Championship to his name, Michael has qualified for the sport's three biggest ranking event tournaments.

He has added improved safety play to a devastating break-building game which has long since been among the most impressive further down the rankings.

Like Lisowski, I sensed from speaking to Michael that he is another player now feeling confident in his own ability and is not merely satisfied with having qualified for the venue stages.

He faces a tough opening round opponent in the form of two-time world champion Mark Williams, however can take inspiration from the performance of close friend and compatriot Jamie Jones, who lit up the tournament on his way to the quarter-final stages a year ago.

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Dechawat Poomjaeng

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At 34 years old, Thailand's Dechawat Poomjaeng is not as young as some of the other names in this list, but following his dominant victory against Jamie Cope, was probably one of the happiest men to make it through to the final stages.

Little known to those outside snooker and underrated to some within the game, Dechawat now has 29 match wins to his name in ranking event competitions this year and has qualified for the final two events of the season, having also made it to the last 32 of the recent China Open in Beijing.

With wins against John Higgins, Stephen Hendry, Peter Ebdon and Crucible opponent Stephen Maguire to his name in ranking events during the past couple of seasons, Dechawat is clearly not scared by the sport's biggest names and has little to lose on the big stage against one of the title contenders.

Only the third Thai player to qualify for the Crucible after James Wattana and Tai Pichit, Dechawat has spoken of the influence that Wattana has had upon him during his time in England, explaining that all five of snooker's Thai players share a house together in Sheffield and no doubt he will be leaning upon the experience of the two-time Sheffield semi-finalist over the coming days.

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Matt Selt

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A two-time ranking event quarter-finalist in Australia, Romford's Matt Selt will now be hoping to make an impact closer to home having survived a thrilling comeback attempt from 1997 world champion Ken Doherty in his final qualifying match.

Leading 9-4 at the final mid-session interval, Selt looked a certainty to book his place at the Crucible, only to be taken to a deciding frame by the Irishman before eventually getting over the line.

Having emerged victorious, Selt now looks forward to a clash with world number one Mark Selby in no doubt one of the toughest draws that he could have been handed, but as he proved over the course of both of his qualifying matches, Matt is a player who excels under pressure.

A bubbly character and a close friend of former world champions Neil Robertson and Stephen Hendry, the latter having helped him during his first ranking event in China at the 2009 Shanghai Masters, Selt can call upon the advice of two men who have been there and done it before at the Crucible and who will no doubt offer a few words of wisdom ahead of the tournament.

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