The evening session of the first day of the WSS ROKiT 2019 World Championship, 15 August 2019, sees the start of the second round matches.
The first of these matches opposes Joe Johnson to the winner of James Wattana v Wael Talaat.
Joe Johnson is the reigning WSS ROKiT Sheffield Masters, a title he won at the Crucible, last April.
The Crucible is a venue where Joe has history. He was a 150-0 outsider when he beat Steve Davis by 18-12 to become World Champion. He reached the final again the next year, coming very close to beat the “Crucible Curse”, and again he faced Steve Davis but this time lost by 18-14. The 1986 World Championship remains the only ranking event he won.
During the 90s Joe continued to compete despite suffering multiple heart attacks such is his love for his sport. He still has the passion, the prospect of playing at the Crucible still gives him goosebumps. You can be certain he will put the work in – is putting the work in – and will fight with all he has.
Joe will face either James Wattana or Wael Talaat. In my preview of their first round match I explain why I fancy James Wattana to prevail.
Joe and James have played each other professionally only twice, with James prevailing both times: you can see their head-to-head here on cuetracker. At the time Joe’s health was already a big concern, James on the other hand was a young professional – he turned professional in 1989 – he was in his early twenties, already a tournament winner.
Should James win his first round match, as I expect, things might be a bit more balanced this time. Because James is still playing on the main tour, he has to be favourite, but I know better than to discount Joe’s passion and will to win. This should be a very interesting match.
Should Wael win, we are in for a in for a trip into the unknown. They have never met at professional level, and as far as I know, they have never played each other.