World number 80 Taylor is battling for his tour survival this week and required a gutsy clearance to defeat Michael Judge 6-5 on the final black in the second round to avoid a certain trip to Q School. Today’s victory all but seals Taylor’s safety by virtue of his position on the one-year-list.
The Liverpudlian will now face Scott Donaldson on Judgement Day, who defeated Li Hang 6-5 on the final black. It will be the first time that Taylor has reached the final qualifying round, while Donaldson tasted success in this event back in 2019 when he earned his first Crucible appearance.
Defeat will act as a bitterly disappointing way for world number 17 Walden to end what has otherwise been a fine season. The three-time ranking event winner made four semi-finals and two further quarter-finals in a campaign which saw him get back closer to his best form. However, he will rue the fact that he even needed to qualify for the final stages this week.
A gut-wrenching defeat to Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals of the recent Gibraltar Open prevented Walden from securing an automatic Crucible spot by breaking into the top 16. Had he won the event, he would have also qualified for the Tour Championship as well as earning a bumper £150,000 series bonus.
A crucial moment in today’s tie came in the seventh frame. Taylor required a snooker on the blue and got it. He then proceeded to take out a tricky three-ball clearance, which was started with a superb long range blue. As a result, Taylor pulled within one at 4-3.
The 37-year-old drew level at 4-4 courtesy of a 74 break and then added a third on the bounce to move one from the win at 5-4. He swallowed up his chance and crafted a run of 59 to emerge a 6-4 victor.
Taylor said: “It means a lot to beat a player like Ricky. I came here knowing I needed to get wins. I respect Ricky as a human being and as well as a snooker player. I knew I’d have to work hard at some point in the game to have a chance of putting him away.
“I was staring 5-2 in the face and I found something deep down. I thought that if it was my last poke I had to work hard for it. I got level at 4-4 and it was game on from there.
“You can see what it means to the lads walking out at the Crucible as a debutant. Hopefully I can go one match further. What it would mean would be total security. I am over the moon to be in Judgement Day. It is a fact of life that there is a best of 19 between me and the Crucible. I just have to knuckle down and try to get to 10 first.”
Stephen Maguire secured his place in the final qualifying round with a 6-3 defeat of China’s Zhang Jiankang. The Scot composed breaks of 108 and 100 on his way to victory.
He is aiming to extend a run of consecutive Crucible appearances which extends back to 2003. He faces Zhou Yuelong on Judgment Day, who defeated Zhang Anda 6-5 this evening.
Jordan Brown edged out 15-year-old amateur Liam Davies 6-5 with the clock well beyond midnight. Davies, who earlier this week became the youngest match winner in World Championship history, once again showed his considerable potential. However, it is Brown who progresses to the final round where he will face Michael White, who thrashed Mark King 6-1
Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg kept his hopes of tour survival alive with a 6-4 win over Wu Yize in their second round encounter. He will now face Iran’s Hossein Vafaei for a Judgement Day spot.
Lichtenberg is likely to need to reach the Crucible to retain his professional status, but he was at the top of his game this morning. Breaks of 60, 61, 73, 60 and 71 helped him on his way to the win.
Welshman Jamie Clarke dramatically won on the final pink to virtually secure his tour survival, beating WSF Open champion Si Jiahui 6-5.
When he potted the winning shot he roared out with joy and could be heard from the other side of the venue. It was two years ago that Clarke qualified for the Crucible remain on the professional circuit at the 2020 World Championship. He’s two games away from a return to the Theatre of Dreams and faces Gary Wilson up next.
Jamie Clarke is not afraid to express his emotions!