Crucible debutant Jordan Brown has avoided the “nightmare” draw after qualifying for snooker’s World Championship for the first time.
Antrim’s Brown joins good friend and playing partner Mark Allen at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre but the two thankfully won’t be playing each other in the first round.
Brown will face a former world champion in Mark Selby in his opening match on Monday, with Allen taking to the table to face Jamie Clarke a day later.
Both Northern Irishmen could be victorious on the same day, and while his Allen’s ranking ensured he qualified automatically, just making the tournament has been an achievement in itself for his 32-year-old compatriot.
Defeat would have seen him relegated from the tour but he defeated not one, but two, higher-ranked players, with a 10-6 success over Ryan Day seeing him come through three rounds of qualifying.
“Mark and I have been best mates and practice partners for 20 years,” said Brown. “He’s a role model, and to see what he does every day and to learn from him, he’s an awesome player.
“You always learn something every day when you play him, I’m just surprised he’s not been world champion yet, but it shows how tough it is.
“My hometown of Antrim, we all get behind each other and to get two players from the same club in the same town, it’s going to be so good for all the boys back home.”
Both Allen and Brown this week admitted that playing each other in the first round would be the last thing they’d want, a fate they narrowly avoided in Wednesday morning’s draw.
But now the focus is on who they will be facing, with Brown a major underdog against Englishman Selby – champion of the world in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
There’s no doubt about who’ll be favourite for the 19-frame match in Sheffield but with Brown playing the best snooker he has all season, the perfect debut is far from an unrealistic dream.
“I just don’t think it’s going to sink in for a couple of days,” he added. “I felt so calm on the final day of qualifying, I told myself to not let the nerves get to me, and I was just focused on being positive.
“The feeling I have at the minute is unbelievable. It’s what I’ve wanted since I was a kid – I’ve been watching people play at the Crucible since I was five years old, so to finally get to play there is really something.
“I took a lot of confidence against Hossein [Vafaei] in the second match. We brought the best out of each other and when he went 5-3 up, that sparked me into life.
“Because Ryan was playing so well, I knew I had to play well. Fortunately I got the first chance in most of the frames and I was able to make some big breaks.
“Ryan is such a great player and I was preparing myself for him to come back.
“I was waiting on my next chance, I always believed that I was going to make the most of any chance that came along because I felt that good.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.
World Championship Round One draw
Judd Trump v Tom Ford
Yan Bingtao v Elliot Slessor
Stephen Maguire v Martin Gould
Kyren Wilson v Anthony Hamilton
John Higgins v Matthew Stevens
David Gilbert v Kurt Maflin
Jack Lisowski v Anthony McGill
Mark Allen v Jamie Clarke
Mark Williams v Alan McManus
Stuart Bingham v Ashley Carty
Ding Junhui v Mark King
Ronnie O'Sullivan v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Mark Selby v Jordan Brown
Shaun Murphy v Noppon Saengkham
Barry Hawkins v Alexander Ursenbacher
Neil Robertson v Liang Wenbo