Tour Championship 2019 – Day 2

All four top seeds are through after day 2 in Llanduno. Three of the matches were very close – we had two deciders – and one was one-sided. Here are the reports by worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Judd Trump battled back from 8-5 down to defeat World Champion Mark Williams 9-8 and book his place in the semi-finals of the Coral Tour Championship.

Masters champion Trump, who was victorious at the series opening Coral World Grand Prix, will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Stuart Bingham in tomorrow’s first semi-final. Both Trump and Coral Players Champion O’Sullivan are tied at the top of the standings for the Coral Cup, which will be awarded to the player who accumulates the most prize money across the three-event series.

Defeat will be tough to take for World Champion Williams after he had assumed control of proceedings this afternoon. He will now head out to Beijing for the China Open, before turning his attentions to defending his Crucible crown in Sheffield next month.

The pair were locked together at 4-4 coming into this afternoon and it was Williams who seized the early initiative. The Welshman composed an impressive century run of 103 in the opening frame. Further breaks of 52 and 54 helped him to hold a two-frame lead at 7-5 going into the mid-session.

Williams then pulled off an astonishing clearance of 61 from 57-0 down to move one from victory at 8-5. However, Trump summoned a late charge to reignite his hopes. Breaks of 68 and 61 saw him move within a frame at 8-7, before a contribution of 59 from the Ace in the Pack took the match to a deciding frame.

There were twists and turns with both players spurning opportunities, but it was Trump who eventually came through to book his last four spot.

Trump said: “I’m over the moon to win that one. I was never really involved in the game so it was a bit of a get out of jail free card. I knew I had a potential line up with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the next round, he looks like he has a good lead there so that would be another exciting game for me to be involved with.

“I wasn’t that positive going into the interval. At 7-5 down, every time I played safe I was knocking balls over the pocket. I just relied on the fact Mark hasn’t played his brilliant best over the last six months so that was what I was holding that thought in my head, hoping he might miss a few. Fortunately that was what happened.”

Mark Allen has taken a commanding 6-2 lead over Kyren Wilson heading into their concluding session this evening at 7pm.

Allen has enjoyed a superb season and currently tops the one-year ranking on ÂŁ394,000, having won silverware at the International Championship and the Scottish Open.

The Northern Irishman took control of today’s encounter with breaks of 53, 87, 55 and 105.

Mark Williams defeat from 8-5 up really surprised me because, as Judd Trump himself acknowledged, he actually did lose that match, as opposed to his opponent winning it. What I mean is that very uncharacteristically from 8-5 up, Williams looked vulnerable under pressure and started to make mistakes that you wouldn’t expect from a player with his experience and records. I’m not sure what happened there, but, for me, this is a bit of a concern for Mark’s fans ahead of the Crucible.

Evening session:

Ronnie O’Sullivan swept to a convincing 9-3 defeat of Stuart Bingham to set up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Judd Trump at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

The Rocket’s mouth watering meeting with Masters champion Trump will be played tomorrow over two sessions. The pair have already met in two finals so far this season, with Trump winning on both occasions at the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters.

O’Sullivan and Trump are level at the top of the Coral Cup standings on £130,000, the winner is derived from who earns the most prize money across all three of the Coral Series events. They hold the first two tournaments between them, with Trump having won the Coral World Grand Prix and O’Sullivan claiming the Coral Players Championship title.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan can also equal Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 ranking event wins with victory this weekend and would become world number one if he were to claim the title.

Bingham leaves Llandudno with the consolation of £20,000 for qualifying for this week’s elite eight man event and will now turn his attention to the upcoming China Open in Beijing and the World Championship in Sheffield.

They came into this evening with O’Sullivan leading 6-2 and he continued to push for the finish line when the action got back underway by taking the opening frame.

There was then a marathon tenth frame which lasted 49 minutes, including a 20 minute spell without a pot. The balls fell awkwardly as reds nestled around the blue, which was covering the bottom left pocket. Eventually O’Sullivan negotiated the situation and secured an 8-2 advantage.

Bingham pulled one back, but it was too little too late as 35-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan came through a 9-3 winner.

“I’m playing alright. I very rarely play badly. I have a certain level I always play to,” said O’Sullivan. “I always seem to have good matches with Judd. Over the years there have been some close ones. We have had a few good finals. We both play a similar type of the game. He probably plays a bit more aggressively than me but I will try and be as aggressive as I can, because that is the name of the game.”

Mark Allen survived a fightback charge from Kyren Wilson to edge through a 9-7 victor and set up a semi-final meeting with Neil Robertson.

The Pistol is enjoying one of his best seasons on tour and currently tops this season’s one-year list having won silverware at the International Championship and the Scottish Open.

Wilson had trailed 6-2 after this afternoon’s session, but he significantly upped his game this evening and turned the clash into a thrilling contest.

However, when play got underway it was Allen who continued to press on with a fine century run of 123 to move 7-2 in front. Following that Wilson claimed two frames on the bounce, before a contribution of 83 helped him to close the gap to 7-5.

Former Masters champion Allen then showed great character to counter from 54-0 down in the following frame with a break of 69 to move three frames in front and one from victory. Contributions of 56 and 45 then helped Wilson to close within a frame at 8-7.

Wilson had looked to be in position to force a decider, before breaking down on a break of 58. From there Allen crafted a gutsy run of 71 to come through a narrow 9-7 winner.

I very much doubt that Ronnie enjoyed this session, despite winning it 3-1. That very lengthy frame, featuring a long battle around a cluster of reds, with the blue blocking a top corner pocket, isn’t the kind of fluent stuff he likes to play. But he stayed very, very patient.

I saw very little from the Mark Allen v Kyren Wilson match, only the last two frames or so. Mark Allen was 7-2 up at one point I think, and was pegged back to 8-7. Yet, when Kyren Wilson missed that red in the green pocket, Allen came back to the table, looking determined and calm. The balls weren’t particularly well situated, but he made no mistake. This was in stark contrast with what I had seen from Mark Williams earlier. Mark Allen is back working with Terry Griffiths and, IMO, he will be a real contender at the Crucible.

Here are some more images taken by Tai Chengzhe – Tank you Tai!

And the coverage (ROS-Bingham):

Ronnie hinted that he might consider to play on the Seniors Tour next season. Here he is quoted in the press:

“Maybe I should join the Seniors tour, I have spoken to them, it is exciting – and so this could be my last World Championship, as you can’t play both tours.

“It is a big decision for me but maybe I will have more longevity on that tour. It would be nice to play both, but they probably won’t allow that.

“I am a senior, that tour is already good and if I join it presumably that will improve it with maybe the likes of John Higgins and Mark Williams to join in the future.

Well, I have my doubts about this. I don’t think that this tour would give Ronnie the challenges he needs and likes, even if he is tired of them at times. And it would not be good for the Seniors Tour either: as Alan McManus said he would likely win everything or about, which would actually “kill” most of the interest in that tour. But we are not there just yet…

Today, Ronnie and Judd will battle it out over 19 frames. Judd has won their last two finals, but Ronnie is playing better than he was in Belfast and, unless he has a very, very bad day in office, I doubt that it will be one-sided as was the Masters final.

Regarding the Coral Cup standings, Mark Allen can’t win it, but all other three are still at the races. Whoever wins today could still be overcome by Neil Robertson tomorrow if the Aussie (the real one) wins the final.

Tour Championship 2019 – Day 1

First, un short word on the poster: it has already “lost” two of its posters boys! actually, that’s untrue, because John Higgins was never there, he didn’t qualify. By tonight it will lose another one at least, because Judd Trump and Mark Williams are playing each other. And why isn’t Mark Allen on it? He’s been on top of the one year list for ages.

It’s a great arena, and a great venue in general, situated in a beautiful area.

The players have a good practice area, with two tables. The fans can enjoy the cuezone. There is a nice, quiet players room, and, at least when I was there, decent meals being served in a separated restaurant/cafeteria. The last thing players want before an important match is to be hunted for autographs and selfies.

That how ALL tournaments should be.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Mark Selby produced a sublime session of snooker to establish a 6-2 advantage against Neil Robertson at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

World number one Selby is battling to keep his place at the top of the rankings with Ronnie O’Sullivan hot on his heels. Selby has topped the world rankings since February 2015, however if O’Sullivan were to win the title this week he would overtake the Leicester potter.

Robertson celebrated the birth of his second child with fiancee Mille, a girl called Penelope, on Saturday. It has been an eventful few weeks for the Australian who also won his 15th ranking title at last month’s Welsh Open.

Both players looked to be in red hot form this afternoon as the match got underway. Robertson fired in breaks of 88 and 110 to take a 2-0 advantage. Selby responded immediately with back-to-back century runs of 103 and 117 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.

When they returned it was three-time Crucible king Selby who took a stranglehold on proceedings. Further breaks of 58, 93, 65 and 123 saw him end the session 6-2 in front. The remainder of the best of 17 clash will be played out this evening at 7pm.

Judd Trump and Mark Williams couldn’t be separated sharing the frames to end this afternoon’s session all-square at 4-4.

The clash between Masters champion Trump and Crucible king Williams lived up to its mouth watering pre-match billing, with a break over fifty in six out of the eight frames. There was never more than a frame between the pair, as they jostled for pole position heading into tomorrow afternoon’s final session. With Williams leading 4-3, Trump fired in an important break of 79 to emerge from the session with parity.

Evening session:

Neil Robertson produced a phenomenal fightback to down world number one Mark Selby 9-8 on the final black and reach the semi-finals of the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

Selby had built a commanding 6-2 advantage after a fine performance in this afternoon’s opening session. However, it was Australia’s Robertson who reeled the Englishman in and eventually forced a dramatic and gruelling decider.

With colours and reds glued to the cushion, the final frame lasted one hour and five minutes, coming down to the very last ball. Following missed chances by both players on the black, Selby afforded Robertson an opportunity after he jawed a double to the middle. 2010 World Champion Robertson sunk his chance to the same middle pocket and clinched the frame and the match.

The clash came just days after Robertson and his fiancée Mille celebrated the birth of their second child, a girl called Penelope. The world number eight now plans to return home to Cambridge and be with his family for a couple of days, before contesting his semi-final on Friday against either Mark Allen or Kyren Wilson.

World number one Selby must now wait to see if he will hold on to his place at the summit of the world rankings beyond this week. The Leicester potter has occupied top spot since February 2015, however if Ronnie O’Sullivan wins the title he will overtake him.

Following Selby’s dominant performance this afternoon, Robertson came out firing to apply the pressure this evening. He took the first three frames, with breaks of 90 and 71 along the way, to pull within one at 6-5. Three-time Crucible winner Selby then missed the final pink in the 12th frame to stop the rot, allowing Robertson to deposit the last two balls and draw level at 6-6 going into the mid-session.

Robertson took the lead for the first time since the fourth frame at 7-6. Despite losing five frames on the bounce, Selby dug deep to restore parity, coming from three snookers behind to clinch the 14th frame on the black. The Englishman then moved one from victory at 8-7, after a fine break of 53 with the balls in awkward positions. However, Robertson forced the decider with a century run of 135 and sealed the match in the nerve-shredding last frame.

“I certainly didn’t look like winning at 6-2 down. I just had to come out fighting tonight,” said Robertson. “Mille gave birth a couple of days ago, so my mind was elsewhere many times today. I just thought if I got beat it would be alright and I could go home and get ready for the China Open. However, I have always got that belief in me.

“It was very pleasing that I went toe to toe with him in the safety department. That is what you have to do if you encounter players like Mark or John Higgins. You can’t win every frame in one visit and that gives me a lot of confidence going forward as well.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan opened up a 6-2 lead over Stuart Bingham to move into pole position in their quarter-final clash.

The encounter could have had a different outlook after the opening session, with Bingham spurning blacks off the spot in three of the frames he lost.

One of those misses came in the opening frame and was a mistake which O’Sullivan punished to the full. The Rocket made his 1000th career century in the decisive frame of his recent Coral Players Championship victory and he picked up where he left off today, compiling a run of 111 to move 1-0 up.

O’Sullivan then edged further in front, before breaks of 55 and 90 helped Bingham to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.

The Rocket was electric when they returned, he swept up the remaining frames with breaks of 113, 121 and 89 to secure a commanding 6-2 lead.

Stuart Bingham looked tired at the start of the match, and missed a few unexpected ones. But he won the last two frames of the first mini-session and started looking very sharp. However, after the MSI, Ronnie stepped up a gear; his safeties in particular got better; he didn’t leave his opponent many chances,  and certainly not many easy ones. That made the difference. At 6-2 up he looks a serious favourite to get to the semi-finals.

But so looked Mark Selby after the first session of his match against Neil Robertson…

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these great pictures!

 

Coverage:

For Mark Selby, those are worrying times. For the full of two seasons he’s not been consistent, and it’s very unlike the “granite” Selby to lose a match from such a big lead, even against someone as good as Neil Robertson. As Neil Foulds said, this will hurt. His confidence must be low. Here is the decider:

Today will see Mark Allen take on Kyren Wilson and it’s hard to call because neither has been consistently in top form over the last months. Mark Williams and Judd Trump will play to a conclusion and it’s impossible to call a winner there. My feeling is that Mark Williams was marginally stronger yesterday and that, if it goes to the wire, he’s the one likely to keep his head cool. And, in the evening, Ronnie and Stuart will play to a finish too.

 

A day without snooker?

Yes, there is no snooker today. How weird. So it’s a good time to look back at what happened over the last few days.

Martin Gould has won the Championship League Snooker for the second time.

Martin Gould won the Championship League for the second time by beating Jack Lisowski 3-1 in the final in Barnsley.

Gould was the only player not ranked among the world’s top 16 in the Winners’ Group, but saw off the challenge of Judd Trump, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham and Lisowski to take the trophy. He earns a place in the prestigious Champion of Champions event in Coventry in November.

London’s 37-year-old Gould has otherwise had a disappointing season, reaching the last 16 of just one ranking event and slipping to 27th in the world. But he now has another professional title to add to his tally, to go alongside the 2013 Shoot Out, 2013 Championship League and 2016 German Masters.

A break of 115 gave Gould the opening frame of the final then Lisowski, who was aiming to win his maiden pro title, levelled with a run of 63. A scrappy 38-minute third frame went Gould’s way, and when he potted green and brown in the fourth to go 30 points ahead, the handshake followed.

“It’s nice to win again – there’s a lot riding on this. You get a Champion of Champions spot which is massive,” said Gould. “I felt relaxed and I really enjoy this event. I take it as a bit of fun – you’re getting paid to practise and it’s match practice that you could never get anywhere else.

“To win this event with the players that were in this group is a great confidence booster for me. And hopefully I can take it forward to the World Championship qualifiers as that’s all that is left for me this season.”

Earlier in the semi-finals, Gould scored a 3-0 win over Higgins, who had been aiming to win the event for the third year in a row. Runs of 105, 55 and 57 put Gould into the final. Lisowski saw off Robertson 3-0 with top runs of 91 and 80.

Robertson and Gould had topped the round robin table with four wins each out of six, while Higgins and Lisowski each scored three wins.

This guarantees him a spot in the Champion of Champions next season.

Stuart Bingham has won the Gibraltar Open 2019

Stuart Bingham claimed the sixth ranking title of his career after a 4-1 victory against defending champion Ryan Day in the final of the Betway Gibraltar Open.

Bingham was in sublime form all weekend, firing in nine centuries on his way to the title. The 2015 World Champion was competing in his third ranking final of the season, having won the English Open earlier in the campaign and been runner-up at last month’s Welsh Open.

The victory, and the £25,000 top prize, also helped Bingham to secure his place at next week’s lucrative Tour Championship in Llandundo. The event plays host to the top eight players on the one-year money list. Bingham held off David Gilbert to claim his spot and will face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the opening round in North Wales.

Day’s valiant attempt to defend his title fell just short, but he leaves Gibraltar with a welcome £12,000, which boosts his chances of edging into the world’s top 16 and qualifying for next month’s World Championship. The Welshman finds himself in 17th position in the latest provisional seedings and will head to Beijing for the upcoming China Open hoping for a strong showing to clinch a Crucible spot.

This evening’s high quality encounter got off to a fast paced start as Bingham embarked on a 147 attempt in the opening frame. However, the 42-year-old broke down on 48 after missing a difficult red to the middle. Day punished him with a superb contribution of 83 to move 1-0 up.

The high scoring pattern continued as Bingham responded by composing breaks of 100 and 84, before a further run of 103 saw him move one from the win at 3-1. There was then an edgy fifth frame, which came down to the colours, as both players spurned opportunities. However, it was Bingham who eventually found a way to secure the frame and take home the title.

“I’m over the moon. I played well from the off, so it was great to keep it going all the way through the weekend,” said Bingham. “My main goal this week was to get into the Tour Championship. Once I got that, I relaxed a bit and had my eyes on the title.

“To get in the Tour Championship was something I looked at achieving at the start of the campaign. I knew I needed something special to qualify for the World Championship this season and now having qualified for next week, I am virtually into the Crucible as well.

“I have had my wife, my manager and his wife over this weekend and it has been great. That has made it special and I topped the weekend off with a great win.”

Except for Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham and David Gilbert who were battling for a spot in the Tour Championship, top players didn’t appear to be extra motivated for this event. And not just top players. Mike Dunn came on twitter blaming young players not taking the opportunity this event offered seriously and getting drunk. Some young Chinese players DID take the opportunity though, 18 years old Yuan Sijun and Lu Ning getting to the SF. And some amateurs did well too, notably David Grace.

This means that the draw for the Tour Championship 2019, starting tomorrow is known:

Mark Allen vs Kyren Wilson
Neil Robertson vs Mark Selby
Judd Trump vs Mark Williams
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Stuart Bingham

Stuart played really well in Gibraltar and he’s certainly no easy opponent for Ronnie in the first round. That said, if Ronnie plays the way he did in Preston, he has nobody to fear. Ronnie came on twitter, calling interested top 32 players to contact him for some match practices in preparation for this event, so he’s taking it seriously.

 

 

News from the green baize

Last monday, Worldsnooker has published the criteria for invitations to the World Championship qualifiers. Here they are:

The qualification criteria for the 2019 Betfred World Championship has today been announced by snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and World Snooker.

As in previous seasons the top 16 players on the world ranking list following the conclusion of next month’s China Open will be seeded straight through to the final stages of the tournament at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre which will be played from 20 April – 6 May 2019.

They will be joined at snooker’s most famous venue by 16 qualifiers who will emerge from a field of 128 players during the previous week. The qualifying line-up will comprise all remaining professional players who are eligible to enter, to be topped up to a maximum of 112 with players from the 2018 Q School Order of Merit.

The field will be completed by 16 amateur players who have achieved success through the WPBSA qualifying criteria set out below:

  • 4 – Challenge Tour 2018/19 – top four ranked players (Brandon Sargeant, David Grace, Mitchell Mann and David Lilley)
  • 5 – EBSA European U-21 / U-18 Championship 2018 semi-finalists (Jackson Page, Aaron Hill, Ross Bulman, Dylan Emery, Florian NĂĽĂźle)
  • 2 – World Women’s Snooker Tour – top two ranked players (Ng On Yee, Reanne Evans)
  • 1 – World Seniors Snooker Tour – top ranked player Jonathan Bagley
  • 1 – African champion (TBC)
  • 1 –Americas champion (Igor Figueiredo)
  • 1 – Oceania champion (TBC)
  • 1 – CBSA nomination (TBC)

Should any of the above-named players decline their invitation then consideration will be given to alternative qualifying routes, to include continental championships and the 2018 Q School Order of Merit.

The draw for the qualifiers, which will be held at the English Institute for Sport in Sheffield will be made following the conclusion of the China Open next month. Each of the players competing must win three matches to earn a coveted place at the final stages of snooker’s most prestigious tournament.

I’m pleased to see that five spots have been allocated specifically to young players through EBSA U21 and U18 Championships, and of course, Brandon Sargeant, who will get a tour card next season via the Challenge Tour, is only 21. I first saw Brandon play at SWSA, when he was only a child. He impressed me right away.

It’s also good to see four players getting there via the Challenge Tour. The Challenge Tour is a great idea, but IMO needs some “re-thinking”. As it stands now, with only two players qualifying via a money list, many players feel like they are out of it early in the season. A system where the top 16 of the list compete in a “play-off” event at the end of the season would keep more players interested for the whole duration. Also the events need more exposure. I can’t understand why they are not open to the general public for viewing. And surely having one table streamed would not be that expensive?

There is not much to object to the selection of On Yee and Reanne Evans to represent women snooker. Reanne did run Ken Doherty very, very close in this event a couple of years back. But there is another women player who I wish would be invited: 19 years old Nutcharut Wongharuthai. She’s a great prospect and a lovely person.

Not convinced? Read this

Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai yesterday compiled a 147 maximum break for the first time in her career at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Thailand.

The world women’s number eight ranked player completed the magical break during a practice match and it is believed that the break is the first ever 147 to be made by a woman in a match, either in practice or tournament play.

The feat follows a successful breakthrough year in 2018 for 19-year-old Wongharuthai, who reached two ranking finals during the calendar year on her way to breaking into the world’s top ten for the first time. She also won the World Women’s Under-21 Championship for the first time last April and will return to the UK to defend her title next month.

and watch this !

There will be three  “Seniors” players in the draw: David Lilley, Jonathan Bagley and Igor Figueiredo. All are very good players and not to be underestimated.

The World Championships qualifiers is a great event to attend. There is a lot of quality snooker to watch, a lot of drama and it’s really affordable too. If you can, get yourself there!

And if you are in Sheffield, on April 11, and want something a bit different, there is also the WSS ROKiT Seniors Masters at the Crucible itself.  You can read all about this one here. It’s a great opportunity to sample the Crucible atmosphere and to see Legends of our sport in action.

Print

Tour Championship 2019 news

Worldsnooker has published some infos about the Tour Championship 2019 draw and format

Six of the eight top snooker stars competing in next week’s Coral Tour Championship have been confirmed, and first round matches scheduled for the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump.

The brand new tournament runs from March 19 to 24 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and it’s the culmination of the Coral Snooker Series. A top prize of £150,000 will be up for grabs in the ITV-televised event.

The line-up features the top eight players on the one-year ranking list at the end of this week’s Gibraltar Open. The top six are already sure of qualification:

One-year ranking list leader Mark Allen
Five-time World Champion and Coral Players Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan
Coral World Grand Prix champion Judd Trump
Former World Champion Neil Robertson
Current world number one Mark Selby
Reigning World Champion Mark Williams

The other two places will be decided in Gibraltar this week, with Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert battling for those two spots.

In the first round in Llandudno, Robertson will face Selby, with that best-of-17 frame match to be played to a finish on the opening day, Tuesday March 19.

Trump will take on Williams, with the first session on the afternoon of March 19, and the conclusion the following afternoon.

O’Sullivan will face his opponent on the evening of March 19, with the second session of that match on the evening of March 20. And Allen will take on his opponent in both sessions on March 20.

If crowd favourite O’Sullivan comes through his opening match he will take on Trump or Williams in the best-of-19 semi-final on Thursday March 21, over two sessions. The other semi-final will be on Friday March 22, with the best-of-25 frame final to be played over three sessions on the Saturday and Sunday.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Llandudno which is one of the best venues on the circuit. The new Coral Tour Championship is a fantastic addition to our calendar, bringing together an elite field of the best eight players this season.

“And we have a superb line up with six top stars already confirmed – those six have 12 world titles and over 100 ranking titles between them! The race is on to win the inaugural Coral Cup, to be awarded to the player who wins the most money across the Coral Snooker Series. Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are leading the way, but with a top prize of £150,000 available there are others who have a chance.

“It will be a week of the highest quality snooker and a great opportunity for fans in North Wales to watch the very best players live.

“Tickets start at just £15 and there is still availability but fans must book quickly because certain sessions will sell out now that the format has been announced.”

It will be interesting to see what type of crowd this event draws. When Barry Hearn shortened the UK format, his justification was that the audience on site and on television want to see a result at the end of the session.

Their views on Ronnie…

Following Ronnie’s victory in Preston, and his history making 1000th century, the Daily Mail  went to ask his friends how they see him. So here it is…

The remarkable Ronnie O’Sullivan reached the milestone of 1,000 century breaks with a thrilling 134 to retain the Players Championship in Preston on Sunday. In true O’Sullivan fashion, he even switched to left-handed to roll in the crucial red.

Next best in terms of tons is Stephen Hendry, who hit 775 during his illustrious career, proving that O’Sullivan, 43, is in a league of his own.

Sportsmail spoke to those who know him best to discover the secrets to his success…

Ronnie O'Sullivan became the first player to make 1,000 career century breaks on Sunday

 

RAY REARDON 

(Six-time world champion and coach in 2004)

I had a bit of a calming effect on him. When he couldn’t pot all the balls I showed him there was another side to the game. It was a small department that was missing — he didn’t like playing that way.

Over the past 20 years he’s been top notch but he’s a bit better now. He’s got more systems within the system. He sees the game better than anybody, much better than I saw it. The balls open up and he’s so clever and in control of the cue ball. He’s a bit of a genius.

He’s the best player I’ve ever seen, when he’s there. Sometimes he’s there in person but his mind’s not on the game, but that’s Ronnie. The main thing is he’s happy. If you’re happy you can play better.

Former coach Ray Reardon says O'Sullivan is the best snooker player that he's ever seen

Former coach Ray Reardon says O’Sullivan is the best snooker player that he’s ever seen

 

PROFESSOR STEVE PETERS

(Consultant psychiatrist)

Ronnie came to me eight years ago and we instantly formed a rapport. My job is to help people help themselves. It’s easy when you get someone like Ronnie as he’s so keen.

He’s worked very hard on the mental skills and continues to do so. It’s no different to the physical — it’s about keeping psychologically fit. Our emotions are usually the beliefs we hold. We make sure these are solid beliefs which are constructive.

We stay in touch regularly and he’s doing so well. I think what he’s developed in his own mind is that he’s absolutely driven and determined, but he’s more driven than he was. He’s learnt to gain perspective on things and not be as harsh on himself. We’re hoping he’ll play until he’s 50. That’s our aim.

The 43-year-old has worked very hard on the mental side of the game and continues to do so

DAMIEN HIRST 

(Artist and friend)

I was a Ronnie fan and when I met him six years ago we became mates. I guess I keep him calm.

I get to as many tournaments as I can and he comes to my Hammersmith studio to help me finish paintings. I give him a colour and say: ‘Put some here’. He’s my assistant.

Ronnie’s insane. I remember a first-to-nine against John Higgins. He was 8-3 down but said: ‘He twitched, I think I’ve got him’. He lost 9-8 but it was mad — what on earth gives you that feeling?

That’s why he’s exciting — because he’s instinctive. In art I aspire to that, but pain comes with it — he plays brilliantly or terribly and that’s the pain of genius. He wants to entertain. He often says: ‘I’d rather lose and play well than win and play s***.’

Ronnie’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit. He has to be top of the game or he won’t be interested. He’s doing a good job selecting when he wants to play and because he’s winning he’s getting the ranking points, but not doing the leg work that everyone else is. He’s happier than I’ve ever seen him. I just want him to be happy.

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend's biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

 

STEPHEN FEENEY 

(Inventor of SightRight coaching)

We started working together this season. He wasn’t enjoying playing and I did a test that showed him he wasn’t sighting a straight line.

In practice we do around 12 long shots with his eyes shut. When I link him in on the correct line all he has to do is pull the trigger.

He’s incredibly focused, a perfectionist. He beats himself up but he’s learning to accept that he can’t do everything.

If we can help him become even greater and his long game becomes the best in the world, there’s a big problem for other players.

It’s a work in progress but if you saw him in practice you would go: ‘Wow!’ We’re so close, it’s exciting. Can he go for another five years? Without doubt — and that’s what he wants.

SightRight inventor Stephen Feeney has no doubt O'Sullivan can keep going for five years

RHIANNON LAMBERT 

(Registered nutritionist)

I started working with Ronnie in September 2017. His mood wasn’t great, he said he was struggling to get motivated and had lost his love for the game.

He couldn’t concentrate, had leg injuries from over-training and was gaining weight due to a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

I stripped back his running and reintroduced carbohydrates for concentration and muscle recovery, and he lost two stones quickly. We cut down his portions, especially healthy fats — he ate three avocados a day.

He’s got a healthy routine now — porridge in the morning, snacks when he’s training and healthy alternatives for dinner. He is so organised, making up batches of spices and freezing them for curries he loves cooking with his kids. I’m so proud of him.

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

 

STEPHEN HENDRY 

(Seven-time world champion)

I know what he’s thinking two or three shots in advance — it’s a snooker brain.

When he’s making a century break you look at the balls and see when he’s going to split the reds. It makes commentary very easy!

He’s become more of a percentage player. I hate that term because it doesn’t fit Ronnie.

He’s still aggressive, but because he’s so good he doesn’t need to take risks anymore.

He can wait it out and tie his opponent in knots, then he gets in and the frame’s over. When he’s on form it’s almost perfect snooker.

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O'Sullivan's game is almost perfect when on form

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O’Sullivan’s game is almost perfect when on form

 

JIMMY WHITE 

(Friend and fellow Eurosport expert)

Occasionally you get sports people come along who have that something special — like Seve Ballesteros and Sugar Ray Leonard — and create that buzz when they play. Ronnie is one of those geniuses.

He’s threatened to quit but I think that is because he’s not a good traveller. He knows sometimes he has to go to China or wherever for ranking points and when he’s focused, no one has ever been more dedicated than Ronnie.

When he does the punditry in the Eurosport studio everybody listens to him, especially the players — Neil Robertson records it.

They want to hear his insight because he’s got such a different outlook on the game. That’s why he took it to a new level. His passion for it is second to none.

Jimmy White says O'Sullivan's passion for the game of snooker is second to none

Jimmy White says O’Sullivan’s passion for the game of snooker is second to none

 

BARRY HEARN 

(Chairman of World Snooker)

I have known Ronnie since he was 12 and I hope that I am his friend. He’s as mad as a hatter but geniuses often are.

He causes me a few problems but I wish I had six players like him. He’s still my favourite and I’d put him above Davis, Hendry and Higgins. It’s that genius that gives him the inconsistency. He’s a one-off.

Sport needs personalities and Ronnie breaks all the rules — right-handed or left-handed, a five-and-a-half-minute 147. There’s never been anyone like him.

As much as I like to be in control you have to change your thinking with O’Sullivan because of what he brings to the table.

Quite often we will disagree. But Ronnie knows that I’m the best in the world at what I do and I am absolutely convinced that he’s the best in the world at what he does. So we have a marriage which may not be made in heaven, but it’s pretty damn close.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O'Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O’Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

Enjoy!

 

Players Championship 2019 – Ronnie is your champion!

PlayersChamps2019ROSWinner!

Ronnie has defended his Players Championship title tonight, beating Neil Robertson by 10-4. It was Ronnie’s 50th ranking final, and 35th ranking title, just one short of Stephen Hendry’s record.

But what will stay in the memories most, is that he clinched victory with a 134, his 1000th competitive century, setting a new milestone in the history of snooker. Ronnie received a long standing ovation whilst potting the last balls, and celebrated with the crowd after receiving the trophy. He dedicated his 1000th ton to all the snooker fans around the world. 

PlayersChamps2019ROS1000tons!

Let’s enjoy the moment with a few pictures.  

Thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

The Match:

Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved another high in his extraordinary career by making his 1,000th century in the last frame of a 10-4 victory over Neil Robertson in the final of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.

Ever the showman, O’Sullivan made his milestone break at the perfect moment, to seal the title at the Guild Hall. A packed crowd cheered every shot as he became the first player to make 1,000 career tons (read more about that story here).

Victory gave O’Sullivan his 35th ranking title, bringing him within one of Stephen Hendry’s record. He dominated the final with a brilliant display, making three centuries and eight more breaks over 50 as he successfully completed the defence of his title and scooped the £125,000 top prize.

It has been a remarkable few months for O’Sullivan; in December he won his seventh UK Championship title and 19th Triple Crown event, beating records set by Steve Davis and Hendry. Now he has yet another piece of history and it surely won’t be long before he equals and then beats Hendry’s record of 36 ranking titles.

This was O’Sullivan’s 50th ranking final, the first coming 26 years ago at the same venue when he beat Hendry in the final of the UK Championship at the age of just 17.

The Chigwell cueman, now 43, has played in nine tournaments so far this season, reaching six finals and winning four. His earnings for the season now stand at £754,500, bringing him within striking distance of becoming the first player to top the £1 million mark in a single campaign. O’Sullivan moves one place up to second in the world rankings and could overtake Mark Selby at the top of the list if he wins the Coral Tour Championship later this month.

Australia’s Robertson had been aiming for his 16th ranking title and victory would have given him three in a season for the first time, having already won the Riga Masters and Welsh Open. But the 37-year-old could not live with his opponent today and had to accept the £50,000 runner-up prize after losing to O’Sullivan for the 15th time in 22 meetings.

Trailing 7-2 after the first session, Robertson needed a fast start tonight and got it with a 120 total clearance in the opening frame. O’Sullivan responded with a break of 90, missing out on a chance for the 1,000th century when the last red stayed above the jaws of a corner pocket.

Robertson took frame 12 with 35 and 36 to make it 8-4 and ensure that the session would go to an interval, then O’Sullivan compiled runs of 43 and 37 in the 13th to go five ahead with six to play.

And he sealed the match in sensational style with a break of 134, which in fact would have been a 141 total clearance had he not gone in-off after potting the final black. The two players laughed as Robertson informed his opponent that the in-off had cost him the tournament-high break prize of £5,000 as it would have beaten Robertson’s mark of 140. Still, nothing could spoil O’Sullivan’s moment.

“I knew I had to play well today,” said O’Sullivan. “I have played well all week and played brilliantly today. To cap it off with the 1,000th century was great. I was pleased to do it against Neil because he’s probably the nicest human being on the circuit. There’s no player I’d rather share that moment with other than Ding Junhui or Liang Wenbo.

“This is one of the best venues we get to play at, I love playing here. Since I was seven or eight I have just potted snooker balls, I love the game. To share this with the fans here and around the world – Preston is lucky that it was here tonight but it’s for the fans everywhere.

“It has been a history making year for me with 19 majors, 1,000 centuries and I’m within touching distance of Hendry’s record of 36 ranking titles. I’m not someone who looks at records, it’s nice when I reach them but it’s not my motivation.”

Robertson said: “I had high hopes going into the match but I couldn’t do much about the way Ronnie played. He probably plays a final like that once every two or three years. I kept trying all the way through and did well to stay in there. I only missed a few tough shots, he won at least five or six frames where I didn’t make a mistake.

“It was great to be in the arena when he made the 1,000th century. I’m delighted for him, he’s a wonderful champion and the game’s greatest ever player.”

Both players will be in action at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 19-24), for ticket details click here.

The 1000 centuries:

Ronnie O’Sullivan became the first player to make 1,000 career century breaks during the final of the Coral Players Championship on Sunday evening.

O’Sullivan reached this historic landmark with a run of 134 in the 14th and last frame on the final against Neil Robertson at the Guild Hall in Preston, securing a 10-4 victory. Fans rose to salute the Rocket as he celebrated this marvellous achievement.

It is a feat comparable to Pelé scoring his 1,000thgoal in 1969, or Sunil Gavaskar becoming the first player to score 10,000 test runs in 1987.

Second on the all-time list of century makers is Stephen Hendry, who made 775 tons during his illustrious career, and the huge gap of 225 shows just how prolific O’Sullivan has been.

In his debut professional season back in 1992/93, O’Sullivan made 29 centuries – only Hendry made more that term – and the Rocket has been a regular scorer of three-figure totals ever since, establishing himself as the best break-builder of all-time. His biggest tally in a single season came in 2017/18 when he made 74.

O’Sullivan also leads the way when it comes to maximum breaks. His 147 at the English Open earlier this season was the 15th of his career. Hendry made 11 maximums before he retired in 2012, while John Higgins (nine), Ding Junhui (six) and Shaun Murphy (five) are the only other players to make more than four 147s. The Rocket has also made the most centuries at the Crucible with 166, followed by Higgins with 138 and Hendry with 127.

Aged 43, the Chigwell native has contemplated retirement many times over the years but has also suggested he could play until he is at least 50, so he could set the bar very high in terms of career centuries by the time he puts his cue away for good.

However, with more tournaments now than ever before, and playing conditions at a high standard across the tour, there will come a time when O’Sullivan’s record haul of centuries is eclipsed. Judd Trump already has 596 at the age of just 29, so if he makes an average of 50 per season over the next decade, he will fly well past the 1,000 mark.

But for now it is time to salute the magnificence of O’Sullivan’s accomplishment.

Most career centuries

Ronnie O’Sullivan 1,000
Stephen Hendry 775
John Higgins 745
Neil Robertson 621
Judd Trump 596
Mark Selby 570
Ding Junhui 498
Marco Fu 490
Shaun Murphy 479
Mark Williams 460

And the coverage:

2019 Players Ch’Ship: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson 1st session

2019 Players Ch’Ship: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson 2nd session

2019 Players Ch’Ship: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2, trophy ceremony)

2019 Players Ch’ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan 1000th century – Neil Robertson

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s road to the 1000th century break.

Congratulations Ronnie!

The response on social media was tremendous. David Hendon took the opportunity to remind BBC that Ronnie has never even been shortlisted for SPOTY. Fellow professionals, members of the press and WPBSA official came forward with congratulations. And Ronnie himself forgot his Aussie accent for a moment! What a night!