Make it shinier and nicer – Hossein Vafaei says ‘everything so bad’ at Crucible

Hossein Vafaei strongly criticised the conditions at the Crucible after crashing out of the World Snooker Championship in a 10-5 defeat by former champion Judd Trump.

The Iranian described the famous Sheffield venue as “smelly”, compared its practice facilities to “like playing in a garage”, and questioned the treatment of players in the course of the marathon 17-day event.

“Everything’s so bad – if you ask me if I want to come back here, I would tell you no way,” said Vafaei, who is no stranger to Crucible controversy after playing a rash break-off shot in his defeat by Ronnie O’Sullivan last year.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day 2 – The Crucible
Judd Trump eased into the second round of the World Championship (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Forget the history, you want to go somewhere really nice as a player. You walk round the Crucible and it smells really bad. You go to other countries, and everything is shiny. But here it’s completely different.

“The practice room – do you see anything special? I feel like I’m practising in a garage.”

Speculation over the future of the Crucible, which has staged he tournament since 1977, has been heightened since world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan suggested it should be moved to Saudi Arabia or China when the existing deal expires in 2027.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day 2 – The Crucible
Hossein Vafaei is no stranger to controversy at the Crucible (Richard Sellers/PA)

Vafaei, who made his debut in 2022, is clearly no fan and continued: “Look at the China venues, how fantastic they treat the players, a red carpet and an opening ceremony. The players are treated like stars. But here no one looks after the players, before and after the match no one cares who you are.

“If they don’t want to lose the Crucible invest some money, make it shinier, make it nicer, make it more luxury for the people. If they make it cleaner and nicer, people will enjoy it.”

World Snooker Tour responded in a statement: “The Crucible is a historic venue and there are limitations given the size of the backstage areas. We work with the Crucible to make it as welcoming as possible for players.”

Trump turned a 6-3 overnight advantage into a comfortable win over his opponent, who cut a frustrated figure after failing to take a series of chances to reach the midway point with more of a chance against the 2019 champion.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day 2 – The Crucible
Trump is looking for his first title at the Crucible since 2019 (Richard Sellers/PA)

Trump was not even required to summon a half-century in a low-key second session, and was more than happy to ease though a potentially tricky assignment and seal his place in the last 16 against either Tom Ford or Ricky Walden.

“Coming into this event I was a lot more confident than I have been in the last three or four years,” said Trump. “It’s nice to know I’m into the second round and I’ve got a few days off so I can sit back and watch other people sweat.”

Trump will face Tom Ford in the last 16 after the 14th seed claimed his first win at the Crucible at the fifth attempt by turning a 6-3 overnight lead into a 10-6 success over former semi-finalist Ricky Walden.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day 2 – The Crucible
Mark Selby, right, trails fellow Leicester player Joe O’Connor 7-3 (Richard Sellers/PA)

It was a different matter for four-time champion Mark Selby, who is on the brink of falling at the first hurdle after losing his first session 7-2 to debutant Joe O’Connor.

Selby, who questioned his future in the sport after losing to Gary Wilson in the Tour Championship earlier this month, was second best against his Leicester rival, who reeled off five frames in a row to leave himself in a commanding position ahead of Monday’s resumption.

Former two-time semi-finalist Stephen Maguire turned a 5-4 overnight deficit into a 10-7 win over ninth seed Ali Carter, sealing a welcome return to form for the Scot, who had failed to qualify last year for the first time in two decades.

Having fired two centuries in the opening session, Maguire resorted to a display of absorbing matchplay snooker as he won four frames in a row to seal an impressive victory over the former finalist.

Eleventh seed Zhang Anda followed defending champion Luca Brecel out of the tournament as he was hammered 10-4 by last year’s surprise quarter-finalist Jak Jones.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 – Day 2 – The Crucible
Jak Jones beat Zhang Anda to cruise into round two (RIchard Sellers/PA)

Resuming 5-2 in front after their abridged opening session on Saturday, Jones chiselled his way over the line with a top break of 60, while Zhang’s 95 in the 13th frame proved much too little, too late.

Shaun Murphy fashioned a 6-3 lead over China’s Lyu Haotian despite a dreadful missed black in the fifth frame that briefly inspired his opponent to claw back a 3-1 deficit and level at 3-3.