The 2021 Players Championship – Day 4

Two matches were played yesterday in Milton Keynes.

The afternoon match was the second of the quarter-finals. Kyren Wilson impressed in beating Neil Robertson by 6-2.

Here is the report by WST:

Wilson Makes Semi Breakthrough

After losing seven consecutive quarter-finals matches this season, Kyren Wilson broke that sequence in fine style with a 6-2 win over Neil Robertson at the Cazoo Players Championship.

Wilson already has one title to his name this season having won the BetVictor Championship League, but given his consistency he feels he could have landed more silverware. He has now broken that quarter-final stumbling block and will go into his next match with John Higgins or Mark Selby on Saturday night brimming with confidence, after a superb display against Robertson.

World number five Wilson made two centuries and three more breaks over 50 as he beat Robertson for the second time in four attempts.

Kettering’s Wilson took the opening frame with a break of 130, then Robertson had the chance to clear from 54-26 down in frame two, but wobbled the final black in the jaws of a top corner. Wilson clipped in the black for 2-0 and added the next in two scoring visits.

Wilson might have gone 4-0 ahead had he not missed a short-range green along the baulk cushion late in frame four. World number three Robertson got one on the board then appeared to have the momentum as he fired a 101 to close to 3-2. But Wilson proved the stronger player in the closing stages as he made 95 and 126 to stretch his lead to 5-2.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

In frame eight he potted ten reds with blacks, and though the 147 attempt ended when the 11th red stayed out of a centre pocket, he had done enough to book a semi-final spot.

“I was really strong today, my scoring was good, I was aggressive form the start and took the game to Neil,” said 29-year-old Wilson. “When he starts stomping around the table and gets his wonderful cue action working, he is hard to stop. I had to regroup at 3-2. I took on a risky red in the sixth frame, potted it and made 95, that was the key moment for me. I’m just a bit disappointed not to make the maximum in last frame.

“It’s hard to break runs like losing all those quarter-finals. I have played the top three or four players in the world in most of those matches and just come up short. I have just kept believing and doing the right things.

“I’m still motivated on the end goal which is to win the Players Championship. For the next two days I’ll be on the practice table. Everyone at this event is very sharp. Mark Selby or John Higgins will be a very tough opponent, I can see their game going 6-5 either way.”

Australia’s Robertson, who has won just one match since landing the Betway UK Championship title in December, said: “There were a few shots which rattled and stayed in the jaws like the black in the second frame, I hit it well but it stayed out. There were other long reds which rattled and didn’t go in. I felt just as good in the balls as I did in my first match. But Kyren played a brilliant match and if he carries on like that he can win the title. He’s got the belief and desire, he’s not scared of anyone.”

Kyren has often been criticised by pundits and commentators over his (lack of) cue ball control, considered to be the weakest aspect of his game. Yesterday, however, there were only praises as he was as good as anyone in this respect. This was a truly impressive win by Kyren yesterday and, if he can sustain that level, he will be a handful for anyone.

In the evening, Ronnie beat Jack Lisowski by 6-1 in the third quarter-final. It only lasted 79 minutes…


The 2021 Players Championship – Ronnie beats Jack Lisowski in the QF

Ronnie was in fine form yesterday evening as he beat Jack Lisowski by 6-1 in the quarter-finals round of the 2021 Players Championship.

Here are the scores, and stats at the MSI:



And this is the report by WST:

‘Magic’ O’Sullivan Crushes Lisowski

ITV commentator Stephen Hendry compared Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cue to a “magic wand” as the Rocket beat Jack Lisowski 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

PlayersChamps2021ROSQF-1O’Sullivan won this event in 2018 and 2019

In a magnificent display which can rank alongside his best of his recent years, O’Sullivan made two centuries plus four more breaks over 50, and averaged just 16.9 seconds a shot. He is still seeking his first title of the season but on tonight’s form, O’Sullivan will be hard to stop. He meets Barry Hawkins on Friday night for a place in the final.

A bamboozled Lisowski said simply: “It’s as if he is playing a different game. It’s not like playing any other opponent. I didn’t do a lot wrong in fact I’m proud that I kept trying and avoided losing 6-0”

Breaks of 63, 79, 124, 93 and 125 put O’Sullivan 5-0 ahead. Lisowski showed his own talent and fluency in frame six with rapid breaks of 57 and 68. But the match was soon over as O’Sullivan converted an excellent pot on a red to a centre pocket early in frame seven to start a break of 59. Lisowski’s chance to counter ended when he went in-off in potting the black, and the elbow bump soon followed.

PlayersChamps2021ROSQF-2World Champion O’Sullivan, seeking his 38th ranking title, has now won all three career meetings with Lisowksi.

I had a good practice session today, I wanted to find something to take out there,” said O’Sullivan. “I got into the match early. I hit a little purple patch, but tomorrow the wheels could fall off and I might not pot a ball for three or four tournaments.

“Jack is an unbelievable talent. He’s a bit like me, he can be really good or a bit loose and open. When he’s on, he’s very dangerous. When I stop playing, if he picks the phone up and asks me if I can add anything to his game, I wouldn’t hesitate. He’s such a nice lad and fans want to see players like Jack do well. All my friends who follow snooker enjoy watching him.

Asked about Stephen Hendry’s return to the tour at next week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, O’Sullivan said: “I support him, he’s a true great of our game. I hope he enjoys it and has some fun. If people want to see him in the game they should support him, and not be on his back if he doesn’t play so well.

“I said to him he shouldn’t expect anything for a long time, because it will take time for him to bed himself in. At some point he’ll get up to speed, but the game has changed, it’s really tough now.

They also shared this funny video

Jack wasn’t exactly slow around the table either in the only frame he won

Ronnie’s postmatch speaking practice, Jack Lisowski, Stephen Hendry’s return, and his semi-finals chances

Ronnie on Hendry

After playing Barry in the 2013 World Final, Ronnie said that this was probably the best he had ever played and for three sessions he couldn’t shake Barry off, so he knows how good Barry is on his day. Ronnie will need to be on his game tonight.


The 2021 Players Championship – Day 3

Yesterday afternoon saw the conclusion of the last 16 round, with John Higgins beating Jordan Brown comprehensively, and Mark Selby getting the better of Mark Williams in rather close match.

Here is WST report:

Higgins Hands Brown A Dose Of Reality

Jordan Brown may have beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan to win his first ranking title last Sunday, but he was no match for another snooker legend at the Cazoo Players Championship as he was thumped 6-0 by John Higgins in the first round.

Brown’s amazing triumph at the BetVictor Welsh Open earned him a place in the field for this week’s 16-man event, but he was outplayed by Higgins who started with three consecutive centuries and showed his opponent no mercy. The Wizard of Wishaw goes through to the quarter-finals to face Mark Selby on Friday afternoon.

Higgins was runner-up to Yan Bingtao at the Betfred Masters in January and the 45-year-old continues to show fresh enthusiasm on the baize as he seeks his first title in three years.

Breaks of 122, 133 and 121 gave the Scot the first three frames as Brown failed to pot a ball, and a run of 57 from Higgins made it 4-0. Frame five came down to the last three colours and Northern Ireland’s Brown potted a long blue but then missed a much easier pink to a baulk corner. Higgins punished him to extend his lead and sealed the result in the sixth with 48 and 53.

“I started really well, made some big breaks, put him under pressure and he never seemed to relax,” said four-time World Champion Higgins. “He is probably thinking of getting back home and seeing his friends and family so it was a difficult match for him today.

I knew he’d still be on such a high, then you are put into the bear pit out there. It’s difficult to bring yourself back down, especially if you have never won anything before. I can’t remember my first ranking title (the 1994 Grand Prix) clearly, except for having a great party for a couple of days afterwards! I have always said you have got to enjoy the victories, though in the current times Jordan can’t do that.”

As for his own game, world number six Higgins added: “I am trying to set up for the same shot repetitively. Mark Selby gives every shot the same detail, and it’s something golfers do as well. I just try little things and hope they work.”

His fellow Scot Stephen Hendry discovered today that he will face Matthew Selt when he makes his long awaited return to the pro tour at next week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, and Higgins will be among those glued to the screen.

“The whole snooker world will tune in,” he said. “Who knows what will happen? It will be interesting. Stephen is obviously excited. It’s the worst possible match for Matt Selt because they are mates and I imagine there will be a lot of banter and text messages beforehand.”

Selby is seeking his third title of the season

Selby came from 2-0 down to beat Mark Williams 6-4 in a battle between two three-time World Champions. Breaks of 98 and 66 helped world number four Selby win three in a row to lead 3-2, then Williams took two fragmented frames to regain the advantage at 4-3.

In frame eight, Williams tried to roll into the pack with his break-off, but left a red on and Selby potted it to initiate a run of 78. That proved the turning point as Leicester’s Selby added the next two with 73 and 64.

“Mark has been playing well recently and he started off great today,” said Selby. “I grafted my way back into it – I wasn’t fantastic but it was all about getting the win. I understand why Mark plays that ‘roll-up’ break off because you often leave a shot-to-nothing with the traditional break. He said he’ll keep doing it until someone wins a frame from it so maybe he’ll stop now!”

What happened to Jordan is not surprising really. He suffered a “hangover” and John explain it perfectly in his interview.

Maybe indeed losing a frame from his “safe” break-off was the shock that derailed Willo.

In the evening, the QF round started and  Barry Hawkins won a match that was all important in the context of his seeding at the Crucible.

Here is the report by WST:

Hawkins – I Needed Kick Up The Backside

Barry Hawkins has rededicated himself to hard work on the practice table this season and his impressive run of results continued with a 6-2 defeat of Stuart Bingham to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

The former world number four has slipped down the rankings in recent years and is currently 18th. But his form has improved this term and tonight’s result leaves him well positioned for a place in the top eight of the one-year list in time for next month’s Cazoo Tour Championship.

Hawkins goes through to play Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jack Lisowski on Friday evening and is just two wins away from the £125,000 top prize in Milton Keynes. He will hope to improve his success rate in ranking semi-finals, having won just seven of his previous 24.

“Dropping down the rankings has given me a goal,” admitted the 41-year-old Londonder.  “I needed a kick up the backside. I have dedicated myself this season and prepared properly for tournaments, rather than being half-hearted. It’s starting to pay off.

“I feel as if I am slowly improving. I have been consistent this season. I’m close to my best but until I win a tournament my confidence will not be sky high.”

From 2-1 down tonight, Hawkins made breaks of 80 and 54 to go 3-2 ahead. Frame six lasted 54 minutes and came down to a long safety battle with two reds left. Hawkins knocked in an excellent long pot on the penultimate red and took the frame, then added the next with a break of 70 for 5-2.

Three-time ranking event winner Hawkins led 40-0 in frame eight when he was unlucky to knock a red in as he split the pack from the blue. But he later made a crucial clearance on the colours, including a superb pot on the brown along the baulk cushion, to seal the result.

“It was a cagey start then the fourth frame was the pivotal moment, I got into the match after that,” said Hawkins. “The rankings issues have been going on in the background and it has been hard to put it out of my mind. It would be great to be at the Crucible at a seed because qualifying is every tough. If I could get into the Tour Championship as well that would be a bonus.”

Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, lies 22nd in the Race to the Crucible so must now hope for a deep run in the BetVictor Gibraltar Open or WST Pro Series, otherwise he’ll face the qualifiers in Sheffield.


The 2021 Gibraltar Open Draw and Format

WST has published the draw and format for the coming 2021 Gibraltar Open. That tournament is actually the last survivor of the PTC era. It’s best of 7 from start to finish, and in a “normal” year it involves amateurs, with the pro stages played over three days.

It will be different this year for obvious reasons. No amateurs other than the top ups and played over seven days on just four tables.

So here is WST announcement:

Hendry To Face Selt On Comeback

Stephen Hendry will play his first professional match for nine years next week when he faces Matthew Selt in the first round of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Hendry has been a friend and mentor to Selt in recent years

The draw for the world ranking event has been made, with the top 16 players seeded and all others drawn at random. Hendry’s opponent Selt is ranked 25th in the world and won the Indian Open in 2019. That match will take place on Tuesday March 2nd at 7pm, televised live by Eurosport. The event will run from March 1st to 7th in Milton Keynes.

Seven-time World Champion Hendry retired from the pro circuit in 2012, but last year accepted the offer of an invitational tour card for two seasons.

The 52-year-old Scot told ITV Sport: “I’m looking forward to it and I am prepared for any result. In practice I am hitting the ball better than I did when I retired, but that means nothing when you are out there. I have no expectations. I have been practising with Matt as we’re friends. He will be under pressure – he can’t lose to me surely!”

The BetVictor Gibraltar Open is the sixth and final event of the 2020/21 BetVictor European Series. The leader of the final Order of Merit will earn a £150,000 bonus. Judd Trump currently leads the way with £124,500, ahead of Mark Selby with £118,000. Selby must reach the final of the Gibraltar event to have a chance of landing the bonus.

Trump, the defending champion, will face Robbie Williams in the first round while Selby will meet Sam Craigie. Jordan Brown also has a chance of winning the bonus but must win the tournament – his first round opponent will be Rod Lawler.

World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Ali Carter while John Higgins will meet teenage rookie Jamie Wilson.

Details of how to watch the tournament on Eurosport and other broadcasters will be released soon.

Stephen Hendry is due to play on the Tuesday evening, Ronnie on the Wednesday evening. It’s fair to say that Ronnie has got a particularly tricky first round match. Neither him, nor Ali will be too happy with this draw I guess.

As for Stephen Hendry, I’m not sure what to expect. He hasn’t really performed on the Seniors tour and the main tour is much harder. On the other hand, he has delayed his return in order to prepare better and avoid embarrassment. I don’t expect him to beat Selt, but I hope that he will not get humiliated. He has to start somewhere…


The 2021 Players Championship – Day 2

There were two sessions played in Milton Keynes yesterday.

This is WST report on the afternoon session:

Hair-Raising! Robbo Fires Four Tons

Neil Robertson may not have won a match – or been to the hairdresser – for nearly 12 weeks, but he was back to his best in the first round of the Cazoo Players Championship as he made four centuries in a 6-1 thrashing of Lu Ning.

Since winning the Betway UK Championship in December, Robertson has competed in only two events, losing in the first round of the World Grand Prix and the Betfred Masters. But time away from the table has left him fresh for the last few months of the season and he showed his break-building class today as he swept into the quarter-finals. The Australian will face Kyren Wilson on Thursday afternoon.

Robertson’s long and curly natural hair caught the eye as he entered the stage, but he was soon down to business on the baize. After sharing the first two frames, the world number three took five in a row with runs of 135, 130, 82, 142 and 132. The 142 total clearance in frame six sets a mark for the tournament’s  £10,000 high break prize.

“I couldn’t wish to play any better,” said 19-time ranking event winner Robertson. “It was pretty much flawless after the first frame. That doesn’t happen all of the time so it’s nice to see that form so early in the event.”

Title sponsor Cazoo is donating £100 to the Jessie May charity for every century break, so Robertson has added £400 to that tally in a single match. “It’s important, when we get to 80 or 90, to try to make century for the charities, and everyone at home loves to see the big breaks,” he added.

Looking ahead to his next match, Robertson said: “Kyren is a credit to the game, his approach is very professional. Even when he was a teenager I could see his determination to be a top player. Young pros should model themselves on him.”

As for his hair, he added:  “This is my natural hair, when it gets this long it’s crazy. My daughter Penelope loves playing with it, so I let it grow as long as it doesn’t start to cover my eyes, at least until the hairdressers open.”

Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski booked his spot in the last eight in Milton Keynes with a 6-3 defeat of Martin Gould. After building a 4-1 lead, Lisowski lost frame six on a respotted black, then Gould made a 100 to close to 4-3. But Lisowski weathered the storm and took the last two frames with runs of 54 and 59.

Lisowski has been in fine form in recent months, reaching the final of the World Grand Prix and BetVictor German Masters. He is still in danger of dropping out of the top 16 in the Race to the Crucible, though today’s result ensures a boost of £15,000 to his total.

“I didn’t feel great out there and at 4-3 the wheels could have come off,” admitted Lisowksi. “I dug in and won two good frames. I am trying to stay composed and take a bit more time over my safety. Today was a big result for me in terms of the Crucible and the Tour Championship.”

Ronnie beat Ding Junhui by 6-5 in the evening

And here is WST report about the other evening match:

On the other table, Barry Hawkins edged out Zhou Yuelong 6-5 in a match which was crucial to both players in terms of qualifying for next month’s eight-man Cazoo Tour Championship, as well as the Race to the Crucible. Victory for Hawkins tonight is worth £15,000 on his ranking tally.

From 4-2 down, Hawkins made 109 and 57 for 4-4. Zhou regained the lead with an 85 then Hawkins won frame ten with a 143 total clearance, the new front-runner for the £10,000 high break prize. In the decider, Hawkins edged into a 55-14 lead, then missed the pink to a top corner to hand his opponent one more chance. But Zhou missed a red and went in-off, immediately ending his hopes.

“It was a good standard up until the last frame, then we both had a few twitch-ups,” said Hawkins, who now meets Stuart Bingham on Wednesday night. “It’s nice to come out on top because it was an important match for both of us.”

Today Jordan Brown will take on John Higgins and Mark Selby will face Mark Williams in the afternoon. That session will conclude the last 16 round.

In the evening Stuart Bingham will play Barry Hawkins to get the quarter-finals under way.

The 2021 Players Championship – Ronnie beats Ding by 6-5 in the last 16 round

Ronnie beat Ding by 6-5 in hard fought last 16 match at the Players Championship yesterday evening. He wasn’t at his best, but he certainly showed determination and a strong will to win. Despite a brief display of frustration, his attitude was excellent.

Here are the scores:


This is the report by WST:

O’Sullivan Bounces Back

Two days after his memorable defeat against Jordan Brown, Ronnie O’Sullivan got back to winning ways with an exciting 6-5 win over Ding Junhui to reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

PlayersChamps2021ROSL16-1O’Sullivan has met Ding three times this season and won in a deciding frame on each occasion.

O’Sullivan was edged out 9-8 by Brown in the BetVictor Welsh Open final on Sunday night and is still waiting for his first title since conquering the Crucible six months ago. He might have lost another close battle tonight but conjured a brilliant break of 95 to win the deciding frame in typical style.

The Rocket moved a step closer to a third Players Championship title since 2018, and set up a tantalising clash with Jack Lisowski on Thursday night.

After sharing the first six frames tonight, O’Sullivan made breaks of 58 and 103 to go 5-3 ahead. Ding took the ninth with a 53 for 5-4 and led 67-0 in the tenth. O’Sullivan had a chance to clear for victory, but over-screwed position from the yellow then missed a tricky green. He threw the rest to the carpet in frustration, having allowed Ding to clear for 5-5.

Early in frame 11, Ding’s attempted long pot missed its target, and O’Sullivan took full advantage this time with a match-winning run.

It felt tough at times, but I stuck in there because I want to be in the tournament,” said 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan. “I tried to forget about poor shots and focus on the next one. I like playing Ding because you can get into a good rhythm. A 5-3 I felt I would get at least one chance, then at 5-5 I was thinking ‘here we go.’”

Asked whether it was tough to bounce back from Sunday’s defeat, O’Sullivan replied. “The way I see the tour is that it’s like one continuous tournament. I don’t separate the events. I’m in round 38 at the moment! I just go out and play each day.”

Looking ahead to his match with Lisowski, 45-year-old O’Sullivan added: “He’s on an upward curve and I’m heading downward, we have had close matches before. He is very talented and has found his feet.”

They also shared Ronnie’s post-match interview and most of his century on their youtube account:


And here is the post-match analysis with Ronnie  in the ITV studio

In the 10th frame, Ronnie had a chance to finish the match, missed a green with the rest and threw the “guilty implement” on the floor in a fit of rage, but he felft bad about it afterwards as he explained to Eurosport:

I felt a bit bad there, I threw the rest to the floor. I hope I haven’t upset Ding. I was just frustrated you know,” said O’Sullivan, who quickly recovered his stride after losing 9-8 to 750-1 outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.


I don’t dwell on it, but it’s hard out there when you are fighting the elements. The elements of snooker shall we call it.
It can be such an easy game when you just flow and the breaks are flying in left, right and centre like it was in the Championship League and most of the Welsh Open. But then all of a sudden, the wheels come off and its like you’ve sucked the well dry then there’s not really much there.


Then I go into a tournament with a nice feeling if that makes sense.

This win is important in the context of the run to the Tour Championship. Ronnie is currently in 4th place in the one year list and, even if he wins this tournament he can’y get any higher, but of course he can widen the gap between himself and the players below him in that list. BTW, the number five in that list is no other than his next opponent, Jack Lisowski. I watched Jack’s match yesterday and he is playing well BUT Martin had opportunities in every frame. He wasn’t able to make the most of them.

For now, six of the last 16 matches have been played in this tournament and all but one have been won by the player ranked higher in the one year list. The only exception is Stuart Bingham’s victory over Judd Trump.

Ronnie speaks to Phil Haigh ahead of his L16 match in the 2021 Players Championship

Ronnie has been speaking to Phil Haigh ahead of his match tonight and I think this interview explains a lot about the way he’s playing at the moment.

Here is the interview:

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Losses don’t hurt when you’re the most successful snooker player of all time

Ronnie O’Sullivan is back in action on Tuesday after losing the Welsh Open final on Sunday (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan was not left too disappointed by his deciding-frame defeat in the Welsh Open final on Sunday night, saying it is tough to feel down after losses when you’re the most successful player in history.

The Rocket was beaten 9-8 by Jordan Brown in a remarkable final at Celtic Manor as the man who came into the tournament priced at 750/1 won his first ranking title.

O’Sullivan is still looking for his first trophy since winning the World Championship title in August but has now lost in three finals after also falling at the last hurdle in the Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens.

The world champion was asked if he was starting to get wound up by these defeats in finals and he said he is almost immune to those kind of feelings after the career he has had so far.

‘I suppose if I hadn’t won 37 ranking tournaments and 20 majors it might have maybe had a little dent in me,’ O’Sullivan said after the Welsh Open final. ‘But when you’ve been the most successful snooker player of all time, disappointments like that, you kind of just take them in your stride.

‘I thought it was a good match, Jordan played fantastically well, held himself together brilliantly in the last frame. Disappointed obviously to lose, but also happy to be involved in a good match.’

Ronnie O’Sullivan was full of praise for Jordan Brown after the Welsh Open final (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

O’Sullivan is back in action on Tuesday night in the Players Championship in Milton Keynes as he takes on Ding Junhui in the first round.

The Rocket has played a lot of events this year, by his standards, but shows no sign of slowing down with the World Championship approaching.

‘It’s just one continuous tournament, isn’t it?’ O’Sullivan said. ‘You can’t separate them anymore, it’s just like every day one runs into the other.

‘Someone asked me what my next tournament was the other day and I said, “it’s impossible to know, it’s like having 30 children and trying to remember all their names.”

‘I just try and look at it like one big tournament and just try to play. This week could be good but next week might not be so good, but who cares?’

O’Sullivan has also entered the Gibraltar Open next week and will also play in the Tour Championship next month back at Celtic Manor as he looks to get in the best shape possible to defend his world title in Sheffield.

He takes on Ding Junhui on Tuesday evening at the Players Championship with the winner taking on either Jack Lisowski or Martin Gould in the quarter-finals.

Ronnie intends to play in the Tour Championship but isn’t safe just yet. He could do with winning tonight.