O'Sullivan v Wilson: World Snooker Championship 2017 preview

Ronnie O'Sullivan kicks off his bid for a sixth World Championship title when he takes on debutant qualifier Gary Wilson at The Crucible on Saturday.

All eyes will be on Masters Champion O'Sullivan as he returns to the home of snooker looking to finally equal Steve Davis' tally of half a dozen world titles in the 40th anniversary year in Sheffield.

After reaching the final in consecutive years from 2012-2014, 'The Rocket' has fallen at the Quarter-Final and Second Round hurdles in his two most recent Crucible campaigns and will be determined to set his stall out strongly here.

Snooker's greatest enigma takes on one of five newcomers this year - former taxi driver Wilson - who notably made a 147 break in the opening qualifying round at Ponds Forge.

Newcastle's Wilson was runner-up in the China Open two years ago and the 31-year-old now faces arguably the biggest match of his career so far against the sport's biggest name at its most iconic venue.

O'Sullivan is incredibly appearing in his 25th consecutive World Championship and has surpassed the opening round in every outing since 2003, reaching the final on no fewer than six occasions.

Wilson, who overcame Josh Boileau, Peter Lines and Michael White in qualifying, could be facing a baptism of fire in front of a partisan O'Sullivan crowd but has the undoubted pedigree to give the Chigwell star a real run for his money.

O'Sullivan claimed a 5-3 win in their only previous meeting which came in the Last 64 of February's German Masters and will be out to build on his unbeaten head-to-head record.

Their latest show-down gets underway from 2.30pm BST on Saturday for a total of nine frames, resuming to a finish on Sunday afternoon.

Either 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy or 17-year-old debutant Yan Bingtao wil await the winner in the Last 16 next week.