Jones takes chance on big stage
Jamie Jones toppled Ronnie O'Sullivan at the age of 13 but Wales' new cue star has had to wait a decade for his big Crucible chance.
Now the gates of career opportunity have swung open for the young man from Cimla, near Neath, with fellow pre-tournament long-shot Andrew Higginson standing in his way of a place in the Betfred.com World Championship quarter-finals.
The match spans 25 frames and three sessions, which is an experience neither man, both of whom came through the qualifying competition, has known before. It begins on Sunday morning and finishes on Monday evening.
Jones was a one-frame wonder in January 2002, when as a promising teenage player he was chosen by a local newspaper to take on O'Sullivan in an exhibition frame at Swansea's Brangwyn Hall venue.
And he won it on merit, with a clinching break of 69.
"I just remember being so happy to be in the same room as him, and I played pretty well," Jones said.
"He was world champion at the time and I was just happy to be around him and play a frame against him, and I beat him.
"He probably remembers it.
"People made a bigger deal of it than I did, I just saw it as one frame, but everyone else seemed to think it was the best thing ever."
Jones even then had ambitions to reach the highest level in the game, and after crushing former champion Shaun Murphy's hopes in the first round in Sheffield, his debut Crucible campaign is already one to remember.
The 24-year-old world number 36 said: "I went to watch in the Crucible about 10 years ago.
"I was looking at the games but I don't think I was really watching them.
"I was just dreaming about playing there. It's crazy really that I'm here. I can't get my head around it.
"I've walked past it since then and thought to myself, 'I wouldn't mind qualifying for that one day'. It came a bit sooner than I thought it would."
Yet Jones is a man in form. He beat John Higgins at the PTC Finals in Galway last month, and can point to victories over Graeme Dott and Peter Ebdon on his career record.
He and Higginson, a relative veteran at the age of 34, playing in his second World Championship, now have a golden chance of joining greats of the game in the last eight. They were two of the eight qualifiers to knock out seeds in round one.
"You can say it's opening up," said Higginson, who beat world number eight Stephen Lee, "but the problem is that Jamie Jones wasn't gifted the match against Murphy.
"Everyone expected Murphy to get through and all the seeds but the standard of the game is very high and Jamie deserves to be where he is because of the way he's playing. He's coming up the rankings.
"I know I'm in for a tough match but he hopefully is as well.
"I suppose it is a great chance for me, but he will be thinking the same thing. He was going to be playing Stephen Lee and now he's playing me.
"It's fantastic just to play here. You see some of the pros who have been playing here 20 years, and just to play is an achievement. It's only my second time here and when you walk through the curtains it's just fantastic, so to actually win, and to look up and see friends and family who have come out to support you, it makes it that little bit more special."