Ashley Hugill and the Special Feeling of Making your Crucible Debut 

To walk down the steps at the Crucible Theatre is the dream for every snooker player. There is something uniquely special about the World Snooker Championship, standing as the pinnacle of the sport and the desired destination for every cueist who has their sights set on becoming a dominant force in the game. 

For Ashley Hugill, his dream of playing at the Crucible came true. A proud Yorkshireman, the experience of descending those little steps in front of a roaring crowd is one he won’t forget in a hurry, and although he lost 10-5 to Neil Robertson in the first round, it was still a dream come true for Hugill.

“It was incredible,” the world number 77 reflected. “I was trying not to look into the crowd too much at first, because I thought it might be a bit intimidating. In the second session, when it went to 9-3, I thought I would just take it in a bit and try to take in what I was doing. To make my debut is an incredible achievement and I know I can compete with the best in the world.”

Hugill was one of three players to make their debut at this year’s World Championship, but it’s fair to say that his progression to the main stage was by far the most surprising. Jackson Page is considered one of the game’s brightest upcoming talents, whilst Hossein Vafaei is an established top-32 player who just hadn’t been able to crack qualifying before this year. 

Meanwhile, Hugill is a player whose best tournament result is a last-16 exit at the 2017 Scottish Open, and it’s fair to say that no-one fancied his chances in the world snooker championship 2022 odds when the qualification stages got underway a couple of weeks ago. 

But the man from York proved everybody wrong, defeating talented young Scotsman Dean Young 6-0, coming from 5-3 down to beat experienced Crucible player Martin Gould 6-5, and then holding his nerve to defeat Joe O’Connor 10-7 in the final round of qualifying. 

That set up a dream debut against Robertson, who many consider to be the favourite to lift the world title after a stellar season. Hugill started brilliantly, taking a 3-1 lead at the first mid-session interval before his Australian opponent rapidly pulled away. Despite the 10-5 defeat, Hugill can take huge pride in the way he acquitted himself in the cauldron of the Crucible.  

For any self-respecting snooker player, simply earning your Crucible debut does not represent the final goal. Now that Hugill has had a taste of the special atmosphere generated at the Sheffield-based venue, he will want to make sure there are plenty more appearances there in the years to come. 

As he mentioned in his post-match comments, simply making it to the main stage of the World Championship will give Hugill a tremendous amount of confidence for next season. It could well spur him on to produce some better performances in other events and gradually work his way up the rankings. 

Although his Crucible odyssey ended in defeat at the first hurdle, you’ll have a hard time wiping the smile of Hugill’sface for a few weeks at least.

Krysta Jakson

Krysta is an experienced blogger, writing blogs on lifestyle, fashion, beauty and travel. She wonderfully describes the latest trends on these topics, making the articles interesting for all the readers.