Sheffield warms up for World Snooker Championship as Masters battle it out at Crucible Theatre

Sheffield warmed up for the World Snooker Championship’s return to the city when former greats of the games rolled back the years in the World Seniors Masters tournament.

Former world champion Joe Johnson claimed silverware for the first time in more than 20 years after emerging victorious at the Crucible Theatre on Thursday.

Mark Williams beat John Higgins in the final of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Mark Williams beat John Higgins in the final of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

The tournament celebrated the achievements of former world champion Cliff Thorburn, from Canada and also included a visit from Sarah Fountain Smith, the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK as well as a champions’ dinner the night before.

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As part of the programme, there was also a golf day at Dore and Totley Golf Club on Wednesday and a champions’ dinner and auction at The Kenwood Hall Hotel and Spa taking place in the evening.

It comes as qualifiers continue for the World Snooker Championship continue at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, ahead of the sport’s flagsshp tournament beginning in the city this weekend.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn at the Crucible

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn at the Crucible

The world’s top 32 players will battle it out at the Crucible Theatre from April 20 to May 6 and Sheffield will cement its tag as the home of snooker when it hosts the OKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship in August.

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Qualifiers for the World Championship are continuing at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield this week and Ali Carter beat Jimmy White to end the six-time runner-up's hopes of reaching the Crucible for the first time since 2006.

The annual Cue Ball, which has raised £350,000 for charities over the past 15 years, will take place on Thursday, April 18 at the Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s hotel.

This year the event will raise cash for Baby Basics, which helps families who struggle the financial and practical burden of looking after a new born baby and Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.

Gary Clifton, Sheffield Council's major events manager, said: “The tournament will be worth around £3 million to the city’s economy but it’s so much more than that – it is just a shop window for the city.

“The media value, if you wanted to buy it, would be more than £5 million but it is showcasing Sheffield to the world. You can’t put a price on the effect it has on the tourism and visitor profile in the city.”

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Mr Clifton said there would once again be the Cue Zone set up in the Winter Garden, complete with the BBC studio where the live coverage will be presented form.

There will also be big screens installed in Tudor Square and live performances from street entertainers.

For more information or to book tickets visit www.cruciblesnooker.com