2022 British Open Qualifiers – Day 2

The Chinese “contigent” extended its perfect record in the 2022 British Open qualifiers yesterday. Nine out of nine…

Here is the report by WST:

Ding Keeps China’s Clean Sweep Going

Ding Junhui scored a 4-2 victory over Oliver Lines in the qualifying round of the Cazoo British Open, a result which means that all nine Chinese players in action over the first two days in Wigan have won their matches.

All results

Ding is looking to get back to his best this season following a dip in form in recent years – the most recent of his 14 ranking titles came in 2019. And the 35-year-old started strongly with a fine performance against Lines, making breaks of 51, 51, 81 and 128. He goes into the random draw for the last 64 of the world ranking event, with the final stages in Milton Keynes running from September 26 to October 2.

So far, Chinese players have a perfect record in the qualifying round as Ding joins Lyu Haotian, Tian Pengfei, Lu Ning, Xu Si, Chen Zifan, Zhang Anda, Li Hang and Zhao Jianbo in reaching the second round.

Lu came through a fierce battle against Matthew Selt by a 4-3 scoreline. Selt led 2-1 and 3-2, making a 122 in frame three, but couldn’t take his chances in the decider. He missed the final blue to a centre pocket when trailing by nine points, and Lu slotted the blue into a baulk corner for victory.

Ian Burns made a 129 in a 4-1 defeat of Adam Duffy.

Once again, so much is missing from this report…

Tien Pengfei beat Sam Craigie by 4-2 in a high-scoring match: Sam took the first frame with a 54. After that Tian had a break over 60 in every of the remaining frames: 73, 73, 66, 61, 69 and the 61 in frame 5 wasn’t enough, as Sam stole that one!

The Lu v Selt decider was epic! It was re-racked after about 37 minutes of play. It was incredibly tense and all sorts happened on the table, the balls ran very awkward and none of the players got much luck in their endeavours. Eventually, Lu took it on the final pink. Up to the decider, the match had been a close and high scoring affair: each player had won 3 frames and scored three big breaks: 65, 122 and 53 by Selt, 68, 97 and 79 by Lu. It was all very entertaining to watch.

Lyu Haotian was also in high scoring mode: he demolished Mark King aided by breaks of  77, 58, 74 and 53 in a fast paced match.

There were also 6 breaks over 50 in the six frames Ding and Oli Lines played. Ding lead by 2- 0 only for Oli to peg him back at 2-2. In recent years, Ding has often let his head drop when this happened, and I wondered how he would react this time. The answer is … with breaks of 81 and 128! Oli didn’t score a point in the last two frames.

I didn’t watch much of the late afternoon/early evening session so can’t comment. Something extraordinary happened in the Grace v O’Neill match though: in frame 3 O’Neill failed 14-times to get out of a snooker and gave 61 points away in the process. After the 14th miss he needed a snooker, so no miss was called. I may be wrong but I believe this is a new record. The previous record – as far as I know – was 12 misses and was jointly held by John Higgins and Mark King.

The last match to finish, at nearly one a clock this morning (UK time) saw Lukas Kleckers prevail over Allan Taylor by 4-3. Lukas had two centuries: 110 in frame 3 and 111 in the decider. All the other frames were incredibly scrappy, low scoring and slow going.

Today sees the return of Liang Wenbo. Dean youg, for sure will get a lot of support… In their latest podcast Nick Metcalfe and Phil Haigh invited Jason Ferguson, the WPBSA chairman. Amongst many very interesting topics they cover, Jason explains why the governing body couldn’t hand Liang a tougher punishment although he dearly wish they could. Basically, it’s for the reasons I exposed at the time in this post.

My picks today are Yuan SiJun v Anton Kazakov and Theppy v Martin Gould. The latter may not last long but then, I’m sure, we will have the Rod Lawler v John Astley match to fall back on 😉 …

Ronnie has withdrawn from the 2022 European Masters citing medical reasons

Here is the announcement by WST:

Ronnie O’Sullivan has pulled out of next week’s BetVictor European Masters for medical reasons.

The World Champion was due to face Sean O’Sullivan in the opening round in Germany on the evening of Tuesday August 16th, but instead he has been replaced in the draw by Luke Simmonds.

 

It’s disappointing but it can’t be helped… I just hope that, whatever the issue is, it isn’t too bad.

2022 British Open Qualifiers – Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of this season British Open. Mark Williams is the defending champion. The format is slightly longer than last year, which is good.

The qualifiers’ venue doesn’t look particularly welcoming I have to say: it looks very dark, a bit run down… and empty.

There are only two matches scheduled in each time slot and both are shown on Eurosport player … although, paradoxally, yesterday morning they weren’t available for the UK fans due to contractual issues. An agreement was found rapidly though.

Here is the “Day 1” report by WST:

Hendry Knocked Out Of British

Stephen Hendry was left waiting for his first win of the 2022/23 season as he lost 4-1 to Zhang Anda in the qualifying round for the Cazoo British Open.

All results

China’s Zhang goes through to the final stages in Milton Keynes next month, running from September 26 to October 2.

Hendry beat Zhang 10-9 in the first round of the World Championship in their only previous meeting back in 2010, but this time the legendary Scot finished second best.

Breaks of 49 and 59 helped give Zhang a 2-0 lead. Hendry pulled one back with runs of 54 and 43 in frame three, but he didn’t score another point as Zhang rolled in breaks of 78 and 75 to book his place in the random draw for the last 64.

It was a good day for Chinese players as Chen Zifan scored a 4-2 success over Women’s World Champion Mink Nutcharut, while Zhao Jianbo top scored with 105 in a 4-3 defeat of Jackson Page. Xu Si saw off Himanshu Jain 4-2 while Li Hang compiled runs of 130 and 107 in a 4-0 win over Liam Highfield.

Steven Hallworth top scored with 130 as he beat Julian LeClercq 4-2. Ben Mertens won 4-1 in a battle between two tour rookies against Ryan Thomerson, while Robbie Williams took a 68-minute decider on the final black to beat Ashley Hugill 4-3.

It was a “typical” nowadays Hendry performance. He went on the attack, potted some great balls but also surprisingly missed some relatively easy ones … leaving the lot every single time. He seems to stay determined to play the game the way he used to do … but he isn’t quite the player he was and the opposition, down the rankings, is much, much stronger than it was some 30 years ago. I can’t see him going anywhere this way.

Watching Mink was painful. She was poor in all departments but one: she kept trying her hardest despite being comprehensively outplayed. She did improve as the match went on, but it was too little, too late.

The Steven Hallworth v Julien Leclercq match was a good match overall. Between them they had three centuries in the first three frames. The fourth frame was pivotal: it was scrappy, the balls ran awkward, the black was tied up for most of its duration. Julien should probably have won it to go 3-1 up, but he missed the last red and knocked the pink in as well in the process. Steven, who is now an amateur but is much more experienced than Julien, took full advantage. Losing that frame, and the way he lost it, knocked the stuffing out of Julien a bit. He wasn’t quite the same player after that. He has to learn to deal with such disappointments, it’s part of the sport. I’m sure he will.

Ben Mertens had a much easier passage as he ran the show against Ryan Thomerson, although it was Ryan who scored the highest break of the match, a 89, in frame 2. But it was pretty much all he did… Ben dominated the other four frames, playing a fast, entertaining and very attacking snooker. Ryan looked slightly punch-drunk towards the end…

 

 

 

 

Snooker News – 08.08.2022

Live snooker returns tomorrow with the 2022 British Open qualifiers. Among the players scheduled to play tomorrow is Stephen Hendry. His opponent is Zhang Anda, the man who pushed Hendry all the way in the first round at the Crucible in 2010. Zhang, at the time was only 18.

But will Hendry be there? And if he plays, what can we expect? Those are the questions going through my mind after WST announced that Hendry has withdrawn from the 2022 Northern Ireland Open:

Stephen Hendry has pulled out of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and has been replaced in the draw by Zhao Jianbo.

Hendry was due to face Aaron Hill in the qualifying round later this month in Wigan. Hill will now take on Zhao instead.

Click here for the updated draw

 

No reason has been given, and maybe something important and unexpected happened forcing Hendry to withdraw. We don’t know of course, but I haven’t a good feeling about this, and going by reactions on twitter, I’m not the only one.

The 2022 European Masters qualifiers have been played already of course, and now WST has shared this trailer about the main event:

I’m glad to see snooker returning to Fürth and the event should be well attended but I’m still sad, and to an extend angry, at the way WST actually “killed” the biggest and best European Pro-Am by turning it into a ranking event.

Finally, after a long silence that triggered fears about the future of the World Seniors Tour, some reassuring news have emerged: dates, venues  for the 2023 World Seniors Championships and its qualifying events

The Draw for the 2022 Mixed Double is out

Here is the announcement by WST, including information about the format:

BetVictor World Mixed Doubles Teams Drawn

Ronnie Betvictor, cazoo, rokitThe draw for the inaugural BetVictor World Mixed Doubles has been made, with seven-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan teaming up alongside 12-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans.

The pioneering event is pairing each of the world’s top four men with one of the top four women. As one of the few major sports where men and women can compete alongside each other on an equal footing, snooker will showcase its diversity in this showpiece tournament in September.

The Draw:

Current and seven-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and 12-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans
2010 World Champion Neil Robertson and Current Women’s World Champion Mink Nutcharut
2019 World Champion Judd Trump and three-time Women’s World Champion Ng On Yee
Four-time World Champion Mark Selby and Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna

Televised live by ITV, the invitation event will take place over the weekend of Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25 at the Marshall Arena at MK Stadium in Milton Keynes.

The four pairs will compete over two days in a round-robin format, followed by the final with the winning team to be crowned inaugural champion.

Each round-robin match will be four frames, with all frames to be completed. Teams will score one point for each frame. At the end of the group phase, the top two teams will go through to the final, which will be best of seven frames. The two players in a team will make alternate visits to the table (rather than alternate shots).

Session times are 1pm and 7pm on both days. Each of the first three sessions will feature two group matches, so all eight players will be in action. The final will then take place on Sunday September 25 from 7pm.

Once again, I hope that there will be other options than ITV for us fans outside the UK.

Alternate visits, rather alternate shots, will probably provide more “fluent” action and faster matches. I just hope that it will not become a “90% men/10% women” show.

 

 

Jason Francis’ initiatives to boost Amateur Snooker

Before I start on these initiatives … of course I’m aware that Jason is not the only one who sets up and runs amateur events. There are many others who are (or have been) organising events this summer and it’s great. I’m thankful to every one of them for promoting the sport I love. It’s just that I have been closer to Jason for many years and therefore know a bit more about what he does … and it’s a lot.

I already did a piece to explain what “The 900” is about.

Now the line-up for the 8 first weeks is (almost) known:

900Weeks1-8Lineup

As you can see, it’s a truly ” diverse” field: young and older, legends, aspiring pros, ex-pros and pure amateurs, women and men, able-bodied and disabled players … Of course, UK/Iraland players are the majority, but it still attracted a few non-uk based players. I’m glad to see Levi Meiller (USA Senior), Alex Borg (Malta), Tony Drago (Malta) and, maybe the most surprising for me … Pankaj Advani (India). It should be good, very good!

But Jason has other things in his pipeline…

Screenshot 2022-08-06 at 11.16.43Screenshot 2022-08-06 at 11.17.00

About the latter, from what transpired, it will be run over a long period of time – probably seven months – but the format is “best-of-11” matches, which is quite interesting and unusual for a league event. Regarding the “time span”, we should remember that the players are amateurs only, hence most have a job and can’t take (much) time off work for this.

Finally, Jason also shared good news about the future of the Seniors Tour.

2022 Hong Kong Masters News

WST has published some information about the 2022 Hong Kong Masters:

Hong Kong Masters Invitation Criteria

The Hong Kong Masters returns to the World Snooker Tour in October and the world’s finest players will be in attendance.

Hong Kong snooker icons Marco Fu and Ng On Yee are already confirmed in the eight player field and the criteria for the other six places will be based upon ranking positions.

The remaining spots are to be offered to players in order of the official world rankings, as they stood at the conclusion of the 2022 World Championship. The identity of the current top six players remains unchanged following last week’s BetVictor Championship League.

The Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council (HKBSCC) will make an announcement of the confirmed field in late August. The tournament itself takes place over four days from October 6th to 9th.

This prestigious invitation event was last held in 2017 and was a tremendous success. The last edition in 2017 was held in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Stadium, which was recognised by many players as one of the best venues for a snooker tournament. Neil Robertson beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.

This time it will be staged, for the first time, in the Hong Kong Coliseum, the largest indoor stadium in Hong Kong with a maximum capacity of 10,000. Ticketing information will be announced by HKBSCC in due course.

So the players who will receive an invitation are: Ronnie, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Zhao Xintong. Both finalist of the inaugural event will get an invitation.

Neil Robertson and Ronnie 2017Hong Kong masters Final gettyimages-821330208

The next two “in line”, are Mark Williams and Kyren Wilson.

I’m still not convinced that snooker will work in a 10000 capacity venue though, and I hope that it will be broadcasted in Europe. It wasn’t last time.