Stuart Bingham will start the defence of his Betfred World Snooker Championship title with a tough match against Ali Carter on Saturday.
The random draw for the £1.5million tournament at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield was made today, with the top 16 seeds picked out against the 16 qualifiers.
Bingham beat Shaun Murphy in the final last year and is now trying to break the Curse of the Crucible by becoming the only first-time winner to successfully defend the title.
In an all-Essex clash he will meet Carter, who was runner-up in 2008 and 2012. Carter has dropped out of the world’s top 16 but won three matches in the qualifying rounds to secure his Crucible spot. Carter has won the last six matches between the pair.
That match will start at 10am on Saturday with the concluding session at 7pm.
Another intriguing first round clash will see Judd Trump play China’s Liang Wenbo. At the UK Championship earlier this season, Liang beat Trump 6-4 on his way to the final.
Ronnie O’Sullivan will start his bid for a sixth title against David Gilbert, who was runner-up at the International Championship this season.
Ding Junhui came through the qualifying rounds and has been handed a match against Martin Gould, while Mark Williams faces Graeme Dott in a battle of two former champions.
Shaun Murphy takes on Anthony McGill in a repeat of their quarter-final clash last year, while world number one Mark Selby will face Robert Milkins.
The full draw is:
Stuart Bingham v Ali Carter
Stephen Maguire v Alan McManus
Ricky Walden v Robbie Williams
John Higgins v Ryan Day
Judd Trump v Liang Wenbo
Martin Gould v Ding Junhui
Mark Williams v Graeme Dott
Neil Robertson v Michael Holt
Shaun Murphy v Anthony McGill
Marco Fu v Peter Ebdon
Barry Hawkins v Zhang Anda
Ronnie O’Sullivan v David Gilbert
Mark Allen v Mitchell Mann
Joe Perry v Kyren Wilson
Michael White v Sam Baird
Mark Selby v Robert Milkins
The Betfred World Championship runs from April 16 to May 2 and it is supported by Sheffield City Council.