Elliott Slessor will fulfil a lifetime ambition when he makes his Crucible debut in the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, but the circumstances in which it will take place have left him absolutely gutted.
The 25-year-old was superb in qualifying, beating Antoni Kowalski, Ben Woollaston and Martin O’Donnell with an aggregate score of 22-6, to book his spot at the Crucible.
It is a dream come true for any young player to enter the iconic Sheffield venue, but the shine has been taken right off the experience for Slessor with the tournament behind closed doors.
The Gateshead potter is not fussed about whether a crowd is present or not, but only the two people that matter to him most, and one will not be present.
With crowds now axed from the Crucible, players are allowed just one guest to accompany them. Slessor was desperate to bring his granddad and his girlfriend of nearly eight years, but one has had to miss out.
Granddad got the nod, and Slessor says ‘gutted is not the word’ for how Stephanie feels to not see him make his Crucible debut.
It had been the case that Stephanie could at least be in the crowd but not allowed backstage, which was disappointing enough for Slessor, but it has got even worse since Friday’s announcement from the Prime Minister, which sees no fans at all allowed in.
Speaking to Slessor before the Government announcement, he was already quite down about the situation and it has only got worse since.
‘I’m a bit disappointed to tell you the truth, obviously I’ve always dreamed of the way I’d want it and the scenario I’d want, but now you’re only allowed to take one guest,’ Slessor told Metro.co.uk.
‘I’ve always pictured me, my missus and my granddad, who come to all the tournaments with us and support us through thick and thin. Only being able to take one, I’m absolutely gutted, really.
‘It’s spoilt it a bit, for me, because I’ve always pictured how it would be, and now I’m just seeing it as another tournament.
‘Just play it and get out the way, it’s not how I pictured qualifying for the Crucible when I was younger. Hopefully I’ll qualify again and enjoy it and look forward to it a bit more.
‘It’s not that I’m not looking forward to it, but it has spoilt it, I thought I’d be buzzing and over the moon, but I’m not. It’s 100% taken the shine off.
‘I don’t really care about the crowd, it’s just those two, they’re the only two people in the world who mean the world to us.
‘I like a crowd there, but it could be 30 or 30,000, if the two people I want there in the right scenario aren’t there, it is gutting.
‘I’ve been with my missus for seven years, nearly eight, I’ve been thinking about this since I was a kid, but it is what it is. I play my game and if it’s not good enough I come home.’
The world number 69 will be hoping he can put the disappointment behind him and focus on the tough task ahead of him – world number 16 Yan Bingtao.
The 20-year-old is one of the brightest young talents in the game, and while Slessor was eyeing up an even tougher draw in Ronnie O’Sullivan, he knows it will be far from easy against the young Chinese.
‘I’ve never played him. He’s a good player, won tournaments and in the top 16, so great player,’ said Eliot.
‘He’s a little bit more methodical than some of the other talented Chinese boys, some are more easy on the eye, but he gets results, gets things done.
‘Obviously I’d have liked to play Ronnie, that would have been an ideal world, but it is what it is.’
Slessor’s hope to play the Rocket comes from playing him twice in the past and winning on both occasions.
He is a confident player, on the rise in the game, and having seen off quality competition in qualifying, he is ready to cause a stir on his Crucible debut, under ideal conditions or not.
‘I’ve been quite confident in me own game for a while, I’m always quietly confident because of how well I play in practice, but obviously it’s a lot harder to do it in games,’ he said.
‘The three games in qualifying I played okay and got the results.
‘I won by quite big margins so I don’t feel tired. If you went, 6-5, 6-5, 10-9 then I guess you’d be mentally tired, but at least I had a bit of a stroll and I’m ready to play.’
Slessor and Yan play their two sessions on Sunday morning and Monday afternoon.
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