2022 Hong Kong Masters – Fu and Higgins win on Day 1

Marco Fu beat Mark Selby by 5-2 in the first match of the tournament (WST report)

Home Hero Fu Downs Selby

Marco Fu delighted the home crowd on day one of the Hong Kong Masters by scoring a 5-2 win over four-time World Champion Mark Selby to clinch his place in the semi-finals.

The three-time ranking event winner from Hong Kong has been through a difficult few years, after eye problems forced him to undergo surgery in 2018 and take a break from the sport. The pandemic followed in 2020 and Fu was unable to compete for almost two seasons due to travel restrictions.

Fu made his return to action at the World Championship earlier this year, but since then he has succumbed to four first round exits and had only secured one match win coming into this week. Today’s very welcome victory earns him a spot in the semi-finals, where he will face either Judd Trump or John Higgins on Saturday night.

The disappointing defeat for Selby will be tempered by the fact that he has shown signs of a return to his best in recent weeks. The Leicester cueman made a superb 147 break at last week’s British Open and was runner-up in the World Mixed Doubles, alongside Rebecca Kenna.

When the players took to the imposing Hong Kong Coliseum this afternoon, it was home favourite Fu who adapted fastest to his surroundings. He made 55 in the opener whilst Selby didn’t trouble the scorers, before claiming the second on the pink with a break of 65 to lead 2-0.

Selby responded by taking the third on the pink, but a loose safety in the fourth allowed Fu to earn a 3-1 advantage heading into the mid-session interval.

After play got back underway, Selby fired in a fine century run of 112 to close within one. However, Fu dominated the sixth frame to move just one from the win at 4-2. He wasted little time in getting over the line, crafting a break of 64 to wrap up the win.

Following the match Fu admitted that he had contemplated the end of his career, in the wake of his eye problems and the pandemic. However, he is hopeful today’s result can act as a springboard to relaunch himself in the sport.

Over the last few years I’ve suffered a lot on the snooker side. After the eye surgery,things weren’t the same and I didn’t play any snooker at all during the pandemic. These kind of wins mean a lot to me. It proves I can still do it in front of this many people against one of the best players in the world. I still have it somewhere in myself. Hopefully it gives me a good platform to play even better for the rest of the season,” said 44-year-old Fu

I feared the worst at one point. I thought after the eye surgery that the end of my career was approaching. I can’t believe that I’m back playing again. I am delighted to be back playing to a decent standard. I’m not saying I’m playing superbly, I’ve had a tough season so far. I played alright today and it is a good start.

It was very very special this afternoon. To a lot of people this is an invitational event, but to me it is more than that. Hong Kong’s snooker fans deserve the chance to see all of the best players coming to play here in a top event. After Covid we have suffered a lot and this is a great opportunity for them to see a world class event. Mark is a top player, so no matter where you beat him, you have to give yourself a bit of credit.

Mark Selby struggled with the conditions apparently. He did make unusual mistakes indeed. He lost the cue ball quite a lot and his safeties weren’t as good and “precise” as usual. Marco however, and later John Higgins and Judd Trump didn’t seem to “suffer” and all three played very well. Maybe jet-lag had more to do with this than the actual conditions.

I am pleased to see Marco playing well again. It’s always sad to see a player forced into retirement because of health issues and I feared that this might happen to Marco.

Here are more images, shared on Weibo, mainly by SuperStars Online

In the evening, John Higgins beat Judd Trump in a high quality match that went to a decider. This is the report by WST:

Higgins Ends Long Wait To Beat Trump

John Higgins beat Judd Trump for the first time in four years, scoring a 5-4 victory to reach the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Masters.

Higgins came into today’s game having lost his previous seven meetings with Trump, in a run which extended back to the 2018 China Championship. Over that period Trump inflicted defeats on Higgins in the 2019 World Championship final, the 2021 Champion of Champions final and three other semi-finals.

In breaking that streak, four-time World Champion Higgins has earned a mouth watering semi-final showdown with home hero Marco Fu on Saturday night. The pair met on Higgins’ home turf in the 2016 Scottish Open final, on that occasion Fu emerged the victor. Higgins will be hoping to turn the tables on his opponent this time around.

Glasgow’s Higgins will be hoping he can cash in on this evening’s victory and land a first major title since the 2021 Players Championship, which was staged over a year ago. The 31-time ranking event winner showed great consistency last season by making five major finals, but ended as runner-up on each occasion.

It was Higgins who edged a 26-minute opening frame this evening, before an emphatic response from Trump. The Ace in the Pack fired in a superb 136 break, the highest of the tournament thus far, to restore parity.

Scotland’s Higgins replied in kind, composing a century run of 102 to regain the lead at 2-1. He then made 68 in the fourth to head in for the mid-session 3-1 ahead.

When the players returned Trump fully capitalised on a fluked red to make 120 and pull within a frame at 3-2. He then added the next two and made it three on the bounce to lead 4-3.

Higgins dug deep and showed his steel, with a break of 70 to force a decider. The four-time World Champion then produced a gutsy run of 58 to assume control of the final frame. He eventually got himself over the line and progressed to the last four.

“I’m delighted to win. It was a good match. I only really missed one ball, which was a bad blue in the seventh frame,” said 47-year-old Higgins. “I am pleased, because I’ve lost so many games to him recently. It is good to know I can still beat someone as good as him.

The record against Judd probably made him better. He’s maybe gone into the game believing he can’t lose. I always believe in myself, but that mindset can be the difference.

I am really pleased. A lot of people could have been commenting that I can’t get over the line anymore. I am probably more down on myself than anyone. It is good to know you can do it a little bit under the pressure. I’ll need to do it again on Saturday against Marco. He is the home favourite and it will be a great occasion.

Again here are more images shared on weibo, and again most by SuperStars Online

There was already a very big crowd, despite this being a working day. The venue is massive.

Some more pictures shared on weibo, this time the venue and it’s surroundings

Tomorrow afternoon (in Hong Kong) Neil Robertson will face Mark Williams. Mark was called “last minute” to replace Zhao who tested positive to covid. Mark will have very little time, no more than a couple of hours to try to rest a bit after a 13 hours long flight. I don’t fancy his chances … but, Willo being Willo, you never know.

Andrew Higginson has won the 900 Week 3

Andrew Higginson won week 3 at the 900 in the small hours this morning. Yes, that’s right, for the third time in three instances, the 900 “week” has been won by a player who’s name start with A.

This is how it panned out. It’sworth noting that Gary Filtness beat Patrick Wallace, and only just lost to Andrew Higginson. There still a lot of good snooker in the grumpy Londoner!

There was also big drama in the Dean Sycamore v Matt Ford match. It ended after 15 minutes with points equal and had to be decided on a blue ball shoot-out.

Comm box and logos are ready for next week with these guys:

Alfie Lee is Stephen Lee’s son and a very promising young player.

All credit to Jasmine Bolsover for entering this. Well supported by her father, Jasmine played on the women’s tour at a very young age and was women’s under-21 World Champion in 2015, aged 15. She has not played much in recent years, giving her education priority. She hasn’t played competitively between end 2016 and this season. But she loves snooker and now wants to play more again.

With Emma Parker she is trying to get more girls into the game, notably by organising this

Last minute news about the Hong Kong Masters

At the time of writing less than an hour is left until the tournament starts.

There is a change in the line-up, and in the schedule as Zhao Xintong tested positive to covid and is replaced by Mark Williams.

This is the announcement by WST:

Zhao Xintong has been withdrawn from this week’s Hong Kong Masters after testing positive for Covid-19 this evening and will be replaced by Mark Williams.

Williams was next in line for a place, as per the invitation criteria for the event, which was based on the world rankings at the conclusion of the 2022 World Championship.

Welshman Mark Williams will now face Australia’s Neil Robertson on October 7th (Friday) at 13:30 (HKT). John Higgins’ match with Judd Trump will be rescheduled to October 6th (Thursday) at 19:00 (HKT).

We wish Zhao a speedy recovery.

I do hope that there will be nobody else in the same situation as the whole event could turn into a right flop if more players were to withdraw, with no time to be replaced. This would be disastrous as a huge crowd is expected to turn up:

All-Time Crowd Record Set To Be Smashed

The Hong Kong Masters 2022 is expected to set new records for the biggest ever snooker crowd this week.

The current record for the sport’s biggest live audience is 3,000, set at the Hong Kong Masters in 2017. But that is set to be shattered this week with crowds of up to 9,000 anticipated.

The tournament, running from Thursday to Sunday, will be held at the fantastic Hong Kong Coliseum and it is the first snooker event staged in Asia since 2019.

It’s an elite field of eight players – local stars Ng On Yee and Marco Fu plus the top six in the world rankings at the start of the season: Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Zhao Xintong.

The biggest ever snooker crowds in the UK have come at the Masters in London but have never exceeded 2,500 at either Wembley Conference Centre or Alexandra Palace.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are thrilled to see this extraordinary appetite for snooker in Hong Kong especially on this very significant moment for our sport as we stage a tournament in Asia for the first time in three years.

“For the eight players it will be an incredible experience, with crowds of up to three times more than they have ever seen before.

“We are proud to be working with the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council and building our footprint in this region.”

Chairman of the HKBSCC Vincent Law added: “The scale of the venue and production will set a new standard in professional snooker. Over 90% of the tickets for the final day have been sold, so we are looking at up to 9,000 people to witness the winner lift the trophy. We are very excited to be about to make history again with everyone involved. We are thankful to all the players, officials, World Snooker Tour, and the Hong Kong snooker fans for their support.

That said, I’m not convinced that such a big crowd will actually “work” for snooker. The table hasn’t exactly the size of a football pitch or a tennis court and I doubt that the people up the rafters will see anything.

Meanwhile, here are some images shared on weibo. There was apparently some sort of “press day” and this was obviously before Zhao was tested positive.

2022 Scottish Open and English Open Draws

In a “day of news” WST has published the draw and qualifiers format for two of this season’s Home Nations.

2022 Scottish Open

BetVictor Scottish Open Draw

The draw for the first round of the BetVictor Scottish Open is now available, as well as the match schedule for next week’s qualifying round.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Matches involving the top 16 seeds, as well as local wild cards Amaan Iqbal and Liam Graham, will be held over to the final stages which run from November 28 to December 4 at the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh.

Luca Brecel will begin the defence of his title against Glasgow’s Fraser Patrick. Scotland’s top star John Higgins will meet Anthony Hamilton in the first round while World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be up against Bai Langning.

Judd Trump will meet Sanderson Lam, Neil Robertson will take on Mark Davis while Mark Selby will face Aaron Hill. The match schedule for the final stages will be announced soon.

The qualifying round runs from October 9 to 14 in Cannock. Anthony McGill’s hopes of making it to the final stages rest on his match against Wu Yize, while Stephen Maguire will be up against Michael Judge. Brazil’s Victor Sarkis, the Pan-American champion, will make his professional debut when he meets Xiao Guodong.

Part of the BetVictor Home Nations Series, the event will be televised by Eurosport and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

Ronnie’s first match is not the easiest but not the hardest either. Should he win, he’s likely to face Ben Woollaston in the next.

Other matches of interest (for me at least) are

  • Julien Leclercq v Pang Junxu
  • Zhao Xintong v Jackson Page
  • Chang Bingyu v Alex Ursenbacher
  • Jamie Jones v Jak Jones

2022 English Open

BetVictor English Open Draw

Defending champion Neil Robertson will face Andrew Pagett in the first round of the BetVictor English Open in December, with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, John Higgins and Mark Selby also in the field.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the qualifiers format

The final stages of the tournament run from December 12-18 and will be held at the Brentwood Centre in Essex for the first time.

Local favourite O’Sullivan, from Chigwell, will meet Ben Mertens in the opening round. Trump will be up against Jackson Page while Selby will face Noppon Saengkham.

Higgins will play Gerard Greene while Mark Williams will face a Welsh derby against Matthew Stevens, a repeat of the 2000 Crucible final. Kyren Wilson will take on 12-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans. The schedule for the final stages will be announced soon.

The qualifying round will run from October 25 to 30 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, with all winners going through to Brentwood.

With 131 players, there is a need for three matches in a pre-qualifying round involving four Tour players, selected at random from seeds 65-129, and the two wildcard players, Lewis Ullah and Callum Beresford.

The two Round One pre-qualifying matches involving the two wildcard players and Round Two matches involving the Top 16 seeded players, plus matches 13 and 17 for the winners of the Round One pre-qualifying matches, will be held over and played at the final stages venue.

The third Round One pre-qualifying match will be played at the qualifiers, along with the Round Two match involving the winner.

Part of the BetVictor Home Nations Series, the event will be televised by Eurosport and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

Ronnie’s first match will be against Ben Mertens. It should be interesting: Ben is very gifted but I expect Ronnie to prevail. The not so good news is that He’s likely to face his nemesis, Alex Ursenbacher next. Alex will play Dechawat Poomjaeng in the qualifying round. “Poomy”‘s return is sure to attract a lot of interest!

Other matches that caught my eye are

  • Mark Williams v Matthew Stevens
  • Si Jiahui v Julien Leclercq
  • Mark Selby v Noppon Saengkham
  • Judd Trump v Jackson Page
  • Stuart Bingham v Thepchaiya Un-nooh

The 900 and other Amateur Snooker News – 5 October 2022

The 900 is in its third week

… and here is what happened in groups 5 and 6 so far.

This were the players involved at the start of the week:

Andrew Higginson was seen as the big favourite to win this week. It didn’t go well for him on Monday though…

Raymond Fry was Monday’s winner.

The match between Levi Meiller and Matt Ford was an incredibly nervy affair. Levi has traveled from Canada to play in this and he had never experienced anything similar. He played much better in his second match.

The match between Andrew Higginson and Paddy Wallace was high quality. Gary Filtness was his usual determined, passionate and positive self. Raymond Fry overcame Joe Johnson but it was far from straightforward. We will never know what would have happened if Joe had not forgotten the variant rules and carelessly rolled into the pack, giving his opponent ball in hand.

This is what happened yesterday:

Joe Johnson made an incredible clearance to beat Andy Lavin … and the clock. Andrew Higginson got easily the better of young Liam Graham; there is a gulf in experience between the two and it showed. Mark Ganderton and Dean Sycamore were both nervous and their match was quite scrappy but it was Dean who found some consistency towards the end.

After that the time difference got the better of me… mind you it’s already midnight here when the stuff starts

Anyway … here come some more pictures shared by Jason Francis on social media

And this is the line-up for today:

Jamie Hunter has won the Women’s 2022 Australian Open

She beat Jessica Woods, from Australia, by 4-3 in the final.

Here is the report by WPBSA

Hunter Claims WWS Australian Crown

Jamie Hunter has won the Australian Women’s Snooker Open for the first time after a thrilling 4-3 victory against Jessica Woods at the Mounties Club in Sydney.

Victory for the English player marks her second consecutive triumph on the World Women’s Snooker Tour (WWS) following her victory at the US Open in August and underlines her status as one of the most improved players during the past 12 months.

She becomes the third different winner of the tournament since 2018, following in the footsteps of Ng On Yee and Mink Nutcharut as an Australian Open champion.

The success will see her rise one place in the updated world rankings to a new career-high position of number five.

For Woods it has nevertheless been a career-best week on the WWS circuit, having reached her first ranking event final at just her seventh attempt, with quarter-final runs at the same event in 2018 and 2019 representing her previous best.

The 29-year-old also became the first Australian player – and only the 15th ever overall – to compile a century break on the WWS Tour earlier in the event, following a majestic run of 120 during the group stages against Lilly Meldrum.

Route to the Final

Staged for the first time since 2019, the four day event began with an initial group phase which saw the top two seeds Hunter and Woods make comfortable progress, with the talented Meldrum the only player able to take a frame from either during her match with Woods.

In the knockout rounds Hunter dropped her first frame of the competition against Australia’s Joey Tohme on her way to a 3-1 victory, before she recorded a 4-0 win against 14-year-old Lilly Meldrum in the last four to reach the final.

It was a similar story for Woods who defeated Xuejun Alice Wu 3-1 to break new ground and reach the semi-finals of a WWS ranking tournament for the first time, which she followed up with a 4-0 success against Japan’s Miina Tani to reach her maiden final.

The Final

The title match would prove to be a hard-fought contest with Woods taking the opener on the colours, before dominating the second to claim an early 2-0 lead.

Back came Hunter, who took the next two to draw level at 2-2, before moving into the lead for the first time at 3-2 with a break of 41.

Woods – who was celebrating her 29th birthday on finals day – claimed the sixth to take the match to a deciding-frame, but Hunter was not to be denied as she finished in style with a match-high break of 51 to claim victory and become champion in Sydney.

WWS would like to thank its partners in Australia, in particular the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council and the Mounties Club, without both of whom the staging of the event, as well as all of the players who travelled to compete.

WPBSA has published the draw and format for the Q-Tour Event 3, to be played in Belgium

Q Tour 2022/23: Event Three | Draw and Format

Tournament information including the draw and format for the third event of the WPBSA Q Tour is now available to view via WPBSA SnookerScores.

The event will take place at the Delta Moon Club, Mons, Belgium and will run from 14-16 October 2022.

Information about the 2022 Hong Kong Masters

This article in the South China Morning Post explains a bit more about the restrictions that the players must currently respect:

‘Not like Nicole Kidman’: snooker stars arriving for Hong Kong Masters can visit venue during quarantine restrictions

Players may enter venue during their first three days in Hong Kong – a right not enjoyed by other incoming travellers under city’s 0+3 quarantine ruleOriginally planned as a ‘closed loop’, the Masters has won an exemption from government, but officials reject comparison with episode involving actress Kidman

Shirley Chui

Published 7:30 am, 5 October 2022

Players (from left) Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: HKBSCC

The world’s top snooker players have arrived for the Hong Kong Masters, just as organisers won approval for an exemption from Covid-19 rules that they insisted would not repeat the Nicole Kidman controversy.

City snooker chiefs said exempting the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan from the rules normally applied to incoming travellers was different from last year’s Kidman episode – when the government’s decision to allow the Australian actress to skip quarantine caused a major backlash among residents.

Hong Kong’s latest quarantine requirement of three days’ medical surveillance with limitations on movement – dubbed “0+3” – includes being barred from sports venues. Breaching quarantine rules is a criminal offence.

With players arriving less than three days before the Masters begins on Thursday, organisers needed the government to waive the regulations to allow them to practise, or indeed to compete, without the need for a “closed loop” restricting them to match venue the Hong Kong Coliseum and their hotel.

Former world champion John Higgins was the first to arrive for the Hong Kong tournament. Photo: HKBSCC

The chairman of the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council (HKBSCC), Vincent Law Wing-chung, defended the arrangement.

The case of Nicole Kidman was completely different,” he said. “She was [wholly] exempted from quarantine. Our players still have to observe 0+3. They cannot dine in restaurants. The only exemption they have is to enter the Coliseum during the first three days.

Of course we have reminded the players to observe all applicable rules, and we are confident they will understand and comply, given all the support we will give them.

We have set up practice facilities at the Coliseum and have got permission to let players practise.

The exempted players, their partners and referees – about 20 people in total – must also, in line with the 0+3 system, undergo several Covid-19 tests.

John Higgins was the first to arrive in Hong Kong on Monday, followed by O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Zhao Xintong on Tuesday afternoon, and Judd Trump in the evening.

Whereas Kidman sparked anger when she went shopping two days after landing – at a time when arrivals had to remain in hotel quarantine for between seven and 21 days – the public can at least share the benefits of the snooker exemption.

Starting two days after most of them touched down, players will be signing autographs in two sessions per day of 50 fans apiece from Thursday to Saturday. Tokens will be given to those queuing with valid tickets for that day an hour before play starts.

Zhao Xintong was among several players arriving in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Photo: HKBSCC

O’Sullivan said he was relishing it, as did Robertson, who beat him in the final of the last Hong Kong Masters, in 2017.

[That] was a fantastic event – every time I come to Hong Kong, it’s been all fantastic events,” O’Sullivan told the HKBSCC’s Facebook page. “This year I imagine it’s going to be bigger and better.”

With the Coliseum accommodating up to 8,000 people per day, the “bigger” part seems assured.

It will be the biggest [attended] snooker tournament in history, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Robertson said.

WST has also published information as how and where to watch the event:

How To Watch The Hong Kong Masters

The World Snooker Tour returns to Asia for the first time since 2019, with the Hong Kong Masters 2022.

It’s an elite field of eight players – local stars Marco Fu and Ng On Yee plus the top six in the world rankings at the start of the season: Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Zhao Xintong. CLICK HERE for the match schedule.

It’s the first Hong Kong Masters since 2017 when Neil Robertson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. This time the event is staged at the Hong Kong Coliseum (pictured).

Wherever you are in the world, you can watch the event on TV or online. The broadcasters are:

Hong Kong
Now TV

Europe (including UK)
Eurosport, the Eurosport App and Discovery Plus

China
Liaoning TV
Superstar online
Kuaishou
Migu
Youku
Huya.com

Indonesia
SportCast

Philippines
TAP

Thailand
True Sport

Taiwan
Sport Cast

Malaysia
Astro SuperSports

Canada
DAZN

All Other Territories
Matchroom.Live

Jan Verhaas and Tatiana Woollaston also arrived in Hong Kong. Jan, on social media, praised the hotel where they stay and thanked the organisers for looking very well after them all.

BTW it’s Jan’s birthday…

Happy birthday Jan Verhaas, have a great one!

More snooker news – 4 October 2022

WST has published the prize money schedule for this season

They also published an article about the current ranking standings

Here are the main “points of interest”

  • Ryan Day now tops the one year list and is certain to be in the World Grand Prix and, barring extraordinary, in the Players Championship as well
  • Star names currently outside the top 32 of the one-year list, hence currently not qualifying for the World Grand Prix, include Ronnie O’Sullivan (78th), John Higgins (91st) and Neil Robertson who is yet to play in a ranking event this season.
  • In the race to the Masters Ryan Day has pushed Ricky Walden out of the top 16 and now occupies the 15th spot. There are only two remaining events counting towards that list: The Northern Ireland Open and the UK Championship.
  • Day has also qualified for the Champion of Champions, with only the Northern Ireland Open counting towards that event.

It’s worth noting that the UK Championship is played earlier than usual, and there are more than one and a half months, and two ranking events to be played, between the final of the UK and the start of the Masters. That means that there is a real possibility that the top 16 changes between the Masters draw and the actual tournament. This is not great, and it’s also not fair, but it’s done to please the BBC as they insist to have the Masters draw made during the final of the UK Champs. Basically snooker outside “their” events doesn’t “count”.

Finally … players are arriving in Hong Kong. (images shared on Chinese social media)