International Championship 2016 – Mark Selby is our champion

I expected a great final, a close final, but this was another anticlimax: Mark Selby trounced a lacklustre Ding Junhui by 10-1. Mark played great, Ding wasn’t there …

Here is the report by Matt Huart on WPBSA (excerpt)

Mark Selby won the International Championship for the first time by thrashing Ding Junhui 10-1 in the final in Daqing, China.


Selby dominated the contest, winning the last seven frames in a row, in the most one-sided ranking event final since the 2012 Haikou World Open when Mark Allen beat Stephen Lee 10-1. Leicester’s Selby made seven breaks over 50 while China’s Ding managed a top run of just 47.

Selby collected a cheque for £125,000 after winning his third ranking title within six months, and ninth of his career, bringing him level with Peter Ebdon and John Parrott on the all-time list. The result also strengthens the 33-year-old’s grip on the world number one position which he has held for 20 consecutive months.

The most consistent player in the world, Selby has now won 47 of his last 56 matches on the professional tour.

Today’s match was a repeat of May’s World Championship final, which Selby won 18-14, and September’s Shanghai Masters final, when Ding gained a measure of revenge with a 10-6 success. This time, China’s top player was never in contention as his opponent controlled the contest.

Runs of 87 and 83 put Selby 2-0 up and he cleared the colours in frame three to extend his lead. Ding pulled one back by clearing from green to black in frame four, but he scored just 58 points in the next five frames as Selby stormed 8-1 ahead with top breaks of 67, 66 and 50.

And when they returned for the evening session there was no hint of a Ding fight-back, as Selby made a 62 clearance to win frame ten from 54-0 down, then sealed the result in the next with a run of 78.

“Ding is a fantastic player but he didn’t really play his game today,” said Selby. “That was down to me playing some good match snooker and not giving him many chances. I didn’t miss anything easy and I was happy with the way  stayed focused and I closed the match out. I’m really happy to get another ranking title under my belt.

“I’ve had a great start to the season and I’m really enjoying my snooker. Hopefully I can stay at the top of the rankings for as long as possible. There will be no time to celebrate this because I’ve got an early flight tomorrow to the China Championship in Guangzhou.

“The tournament here in Daqing is really well supported and the conditions are fantastic to play in. All of the players enjoy coming here.”

Ding missed out on what would have been the 13th ranking title of his career, and had to settle for the runner-up prize of £65,000. He said: “I hoped to turn the match around but I wasn’t playing well. I wasn’t concentrating on the match today so the result didn’t bother me much.”

 I have to say this last quote by Ding puzzles me a bit … indeed I never had the feeling that he was really fighting out there, that he didn’t believe he could do it. But maybe he was tired, or not 100% fit, those things happen and we’ll never know.

Anyway, congratulations to Mark Selby, he DID play really well especially in the latter stages of the tournament. This was Mark’s ninth ranking title.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.

International Championship 2016 – Days 6 and 7 – Semi finals


The semi finals were played over 2 days as they were best of 17, a format that used to be the trademark of the UK Championship.

I was expecting a very close semi final between Judd Trump and Ding Junhui, but it wasn’t to be. Judd didn’t play anywhere near the standard he had shown in the previous matches and he struggled to maintain a high level of concentration. Maybe it isn’t that surprising: Judd is young and fit, but he’s only human and he was aiming at a third final within less than a month. He has played an awful  lot of snooker over the last four weeks and he was probably tired. His opponent, Ding Junhui, didn’t play in Romania and looked fresher and sharper: his performance was of outstanding quality.

The match between Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham was a bit strange. Stuart raced to a 2-0 lead, Mark responded and the score went to 3-3, with Stuart scoring two centuries and Mark one. I don’t think anybody expected the match to finish on 9-3 to Mark at that point. They reached the intermission at 5-3 and the feeling at that point was that there was vey little between them. But the second session was totally one way traffic, Stuart was struggling to make any telling break  and Mark stepped up a couple of gears (at least!) and added two more centuries to his tally.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.

So tomorrow it will be the World n°1 against China’s n°1 and a rematch of the last World Championship final. It’s too close to call and I just hope both will be in good nick. If they are it will be an absolute cracker. The referee in charge will be Peggy Li. It’s her first final: congratulations and good luck, Peggy.

International Championship 2016 – Ronnie and Steve Davis promote the game in Daqing

Before the event Ronnie said that he was going to help the sponsor to promote snooker in Daqing as well as playing in the tournament. Indeed he is still in China, and with Steve Davis has been doing press conferences, fans meet and greet and snooker exhibitions over the last two days. Here are some pictures posted on twitter and weibo by Jason Francis, Mike Dunn and the Chinese media.

Also on weibo I found these pictures, that are obviously screen captures. earlier this week, Liang Webo had an interview with Ronnie and those images are very likely from the broadcast by CCTV5 of this interview, today. They were obviously discussing Liang’s first ranking title at the English Open 2016.


International Championship 2016 – Day 5

It was quarter finals day in Daqing …



Both matches that Eurosport chose to show on television were close and very, very tense.

The match between Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy was very entertaining, with both players going for their shots as you would expect. the first couple of frames were rather nervy, with a good number of mistakes, but both improved as the match went on and after the MSI is was, extremely attacking on both sides. Shaun is clearly back to the ways that allowed him to become a World Champion at 23: if a ball can be potted, try to pot it! It was always going to a deciding frame and duly did. The decider itself, of course, saw them both make mistakes and it was full of twists and turns; it ended on a black ball game – of course – that Judd eventually won. All credits to both players though: they offered the fans a real treat.

The match between Stuart Bingham and Michael Holt was a two halves affair. Stuart raced to a 4-0 lead, feeding on Michael’s mistakes whilst playing well himself but not faultless. The MSI, as it often happens, changed the mood, and Michael came back a better player and after winning the first frame after the interval, looked a different man. He pegged Stuart back to 4-4 … again the decider was on the cards, and they duly found themselves at 5-5. Nerves crept it and both made a lot of mistakes in that last frame, but eventually it was Stuart who booked his place in the semi finals.

As for Ronnie, he put this on weibo:

Sorry I lost but not playing well enough at the moment. Loved being in China, Daqing has great food

His manager approved:

A little rice wine, just the 53% proof. Great company for dinner

Ronnie had previously told the Chinese media how he loved the area, the fresh air, the lake and the woods. Jason Francis put this image on twitter yesterday:

Daqing air is so clear and fresh… all be it bloody cold too


International Championship 2016 – Day 4


Day 4 didn’t bring that many surprises. To me the biggest one was Neil Robertson trashing at the hands of Joe Perry. Of course Joe is a solid player, we all know that, but Neil is a top player and the score was quite severe. As the match wasn’t on television it’s hard to say more. Michael Holt’s win over Ronnie wasn’t that much of a surprise to me: to his own admission Ronnie is struggling with his game at the moment and Michael always seems to play his best snooker against him, and his best snooker is very good indeed. Also, having beaten Ronnie already twice this year, he was coming to this match confident that he could do it again.

We had two deciders …

Marl Selby needed the whole 11 frames to get the best of Liang Wenbo, but we know how good the World Champion is in those tense situations and he proved it again.

Ding Junhui lead 5-2 but got pegged back to 5-5 by Ricky Walden. The decider was extremely tense and went on to the last colours. Ricky will have nightmares about that last brown, no doubt, especially as he won this event in 2014 and really needed to progress further to stay in the top 16 …

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.


International Championship 2016 – Last 16 – No third time lucky for Ronnie

Michael Holt beat Ronnie for the third time this year tonight in Daqing. In the last 16 of the International Championship, it was the “hitman” who came out the winner by 6-4. Michael is becoming Ronnie’s Nemesis.

Stephen Hendry put it on twitter:

Very impressive @hitmanholt #johnsonallen

As you probably know Mark Johnston Allen is a player who never won a tournament and who’s highest ranking ever was 31 but beat Hendry three times in three meetings… He’s the one who prompted Hendry to tell the press that he was losing to someone who shouldn’t even be in the same room as him. I leave it to you to understand that tweet as you see fit.

Now seriously, Michael is a much-improved player since he started working with Terry Griffiths: he’s currently 12th in the one year list for a reason. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he finished in the top 16 come the Crucible.

Here is how the match unfolded (source Cuetracker):

Michael Holt 6-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Scores(Michael Holt first): 59-44; 77(77)-0; 0-87(83); 69-58(50); 61(57)-73; 63-52; 0-96(96); 108(53)-9; 47-76(76); 76(70)-21

As you can see it was a high-quality match overall: both players had four breaks over 50, and ironically Ronnie scored the two highest breaks of the match:83 and 96.


There is no question that Michael deserved the win: he was the most consistent of the two, and his long potting was better than Ronnie’s, as was his safety, particularly before the MSI. Both players had their share of luck and bad luck. Ronnie had an outrageous fluke at one point, but the way he knocked the pink in-off a red into a pocket whilst splitting the pack in the last frame was quite unfortunate. In fact, after the MSI Ronnie was starting to find his game: he came from 3-1 down  5-4.

Ronnie looked very upset at the end of the match, which is a good sign IMO, a sign that he cares. And his attitude was excellent during the whole match despite the mistakes.

Watch the match here (again):

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Wednesday 26 Oct 2016 05:36PM

Michael Holt has secured his third win of 2016 against Ronnie O’Sullivan with a brilliant 6-4 victory at the International Championship in Daqing.

The Hitman had already accounted for O’Sullivan at the World Grand Prix and Shanghai Masters earlier this year. He knows that if he can win the event he will move into the world’s top 16, with the cut off for the Masters looming after next month’s UK Championship.

Holt controlled the opening mini-session, making breaks of 47 and 77, as he moved 2-0 ahead. The Rocket hit back with a break of 88 in the third. However, Holt restored his two frame advantage with a double on the final black to go 3-1 up.

With Holt leading 5-3 and on a run of 47, he looked set to secure the match before missing a straightforward ball to middle. That let O’Sullivan in to counter-clear with 76. The Nottingham potter regained his composure well and made a terrific break of 70 to secure the win.

“I think the main thing about facing Ronnie is not letting him effect how you play. If you can do that then you’ve got a great chance,” said Holt. “I’ve got Stuart Bingham next who will be tough as well. It doesn’t really bother me who I’m playing. I just have to go out there and play the balls, then hopefully I’ll win.”