Ken Doherty's dream of another Crucible appearance 19 years on from the Dubliner's 1997 World Championship triumph was dashed in a 10-6 defeat to Ryan Day in the final qualifying round at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
Sixteen qualifiers progress to today's first round draw for the £1.5million event in which Antrim's Mark Allen - whose place was assured thanks to his world number seven ranking - will fly the flag for Northern Ireland.
The player the big guns will want to avoid is Ding Junhui who easily negotiated the final qualifying round, beating veteran Nigel Bond 10-2.
China's Ding was forced to qualify after dropping to 17 in the world rankings earlier this month, but won his three matches at Ponds Forge for the loss of just seven frames to secure a place at the nearby Crucible Theatre, where the first round action starts on Saturday.
Ding, who has won 11 ranking titles, fired breaks of 91, 137, 65, 98, 53 and 140 in a fine display against Bond.
"It wasn't easy, there was pressure at the start of the qualifiers because I just wanted to get to the Crucible," said Ding.
"I am scoring heavily. This has been good preparation for me and I'm ready for the first round now."
Other qualifiers include former champions Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott.