Dott – “I Must Qualify”

Former World Champion Graeme Dott is desperate to get back to the Crucible, but first faces the dreaded test of the World Snooker Championship qualifiers.

The Pocket Dynamo has been ever present at the Crucible since 2000, reaching the final in 2004 then enjoying the best moment of his career in 2006 when he beat Peter Ebdon 18-14 in the final.

But after a loss of form in 2007 and 2008 which saw him go 16 months without winning a match in a ranking event, Dott dropped out of the top 16. He is now showing signs of getting back to his best, including a run to the last 16 of the Welsh Open.

But the 32-year-old from Larkhall looks ahead to the World qualifiers in March with trepidation.  “It's the worst match anyone can play in,” he said. “I won't feel happy if I win – just relieved. It will probably be a very tough match, especially as I've not played in the qualifiers for quite a few years.”

The qualifiers run from February 26 to March 9 at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield. The likes of Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Ken Doherty, John Parrott, Judd Trump and Liang Wenbo will all be fighting for a place at the Crucible.

“I've never been to the qualifying venue in Sheffield, not even to watch, so I'm not sure what it's like,” Dott added. “Unless Daniel Wells or David Gray get through from the first round, I'm due to play either Andy Hicks or Jimmy Michie. They are both very hard opponents. It doesn't really matter who you play, you just have to deal with the pressure.

“If you lose that match it kills you. Especially if you have already qualified for China, it must be heart-breaking to go out there and know you are not going to be at Sheffield.”

Dott, who stands 20th in the provisional rankings, added: “I'm doing ok so far this season. I'm still a fair way off the top 16, but I'd love to get back in there so I don't have to go through the qualifiers next season."

Tickets for the qualifiers start at just £5 and can be bought by calling 0114 2565656 or visiting