World Championship: The greatest first-round shocks at the Crucible

Bingham, McLeod, Cahill
Over the years there have been some major shocks in the first round at The Crucible

Nerves can affect even the most experienced players when it comes to the first round of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre.

The draw always provides plenty of intriguing match-ups and the potential for a star name to fall at the first hurdle.

Over the years there have been a number of upsets - which of these is the greatest first-round shock?

James Cahill 10-8 Ronnie O'Sullivan (2019)

When you don't even have a world ranking, beating the best player on the planet, the fans' favourite who is going for a sixth world title, seems a stretch of the imagination.

Step forward James Cahill, whose 10-8 victory over O'Sullivan sent shockwaves through the sport.

From 8-5 behind O'Sullivan rallied and made breaks of 104 and 89 on his way to levelling the contest.

However, he missed a relatively simple pink in the 17th frame allowing Cahill, the first-ever amateur to make it through qualifying, to regain the lead.

And after sealing a famous victory with a fine clearance of 53, the clearly stunned Blackpool potter said: "I tried to be professional, commit to my own game and not get too carried away. I could barely stand up at the end. I am not really sure what to say."

Did you know? Cahill almost knocked out another seed in the second round but was beaten 13-12 by Stephen Maguire. He has yet to make a second appearance at the Crucible.

Rory McLeod 10-8 Judd Trump (2017)

Tournament favourite Judd Trump tumbled out of the 2017 World Championship with a 10-8 defeat by world number 54 Rory McLeod.

McLeod, a 46-year-old, 1,000-1 outsider, trailed 4-0 but fought back to seal what he called "the biggest win of his career" in a match that was extended because of slow play.

Did you know? McLeod lost 13-3 to Stephen Maguire in the second round and was relegated from the main professional tour at the end of 2018-19, before regaining his place at Q School in 2020.

Stuart Bingham 10-7 Stephen Hendry (2000)

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry has won more world titles than any other player in the modern era

Having won seven world titles during the 1990s, few would have believed that Stephen Hendry's time at the top of the sport was approaching an end.

Still only 31, he was a heavy favourite for an eighth success in 2000 but nobody told debutant Stuart Bingham, who would win a world title of his own 15 years later.

The world number 92 compiled eight half century breaks to end Hendry's dominance at the Crucible, with the Scot sat shaking his head in disbelief.

Did you know? It took Bingham another 11 years to win his first ranking title, beating Mark Williams 9-8 in the final of the Australian Open. Hendry would never win another world title.

David Gray 10-9 Ronnie O'Sullivan (2000)

David Gray
David Gray broke into the top 16 in the world during 2003-04

The year before O'Sullivan's first Crucible triumph he fell to a dramatic 10-9 defeat by 200-1 outsider David Gray.

In a match where he was never behind until the the final frame, the 'Rocket' recorded breaks of 136, 123, 115, 102 and 101, as well as three half centuries, but still lost.

Did you know? Gray's time at the tournament soon ended as he was thrashed 13-1 by Dominic Dale with a session to spare, scoring just 208 points in their last-16 meeting, a record low for a best-of-25 match.

Stefan Mazrocis 10-3 Peter Ebdon (1997)

As runner-up in 1996, Peter Ebdon was expected to have few problems when he was paired with Stefan Mazrocis, who he had beaten 10-4 in their only other meeting.

But Mazrocis, a 250-1 outsider, said he had "a few" beers to help him relax and he turned the tables with a 10-3 win.

Did you know? Mazrocis lost 13-9 to the Canada's Alain Robidoux in the next round. His last attempt to qualify for the World Championship in 2009 saw him lose 10-9 against Tony Knowles.

Andy Hicks 10-7 Steve Davis (1995)

Andy Hicks
Andy Hicks reached the semi-finals on his debut appearance

Andy Hicks completed one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history by dispatching six-time champion and number two seed Steve Davis in the first round in 1995.

Hicks, then 21 and making his Crucible bow, scored heavily and enjoyed the better of the tactical exchanges to construct an 8-3 lead.

While Davis mounted a fightback to 8-7 down, Hicks held his nerve to pull off a famous victory.

Did you know? Hicks beat Willie Thorne and Peter Ebdon before losing 16-11 to Nigel Bond in the semi-finals. He also reached the last four of the UK Championship and the Masters, climbing to number 17 in the world.

Tony Knowles 10-1 Steve Davis (1982)

Davis arrived in Sheffield chasing Triple Crown glory having won the 1981 UK Championship and the Masters three months prior to the tournament.

As defending champion the 'Nugget' was the overwhelming favourite to advance against Tony Knowles, whose only other Crucible appearance in 1981 had ended in defeat by Graham Miles.

But Knowles established a 4-0 and then 8-1 lead as the 'Crucible Curse' struck Davis, and the winner headed to a nightclub before coming back to complete an emphatic 10-1 win the following day.

Tony Knowles
Tony Knowles received lots of tabloid newspaper attention during the early 1980s

Did you know? Knowles became the pin-up boy of snooker in the early 1980s and the club in the early 2000s television comedy, Phoenix Nights, had a room called the 'Tony Knowles Suite' in his honour.

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