Ronnie withdraws from Evergrande 2016 in China

Worldsnooker has today published this article : Ronnie will not compete in the new Evergrande event in China, early November, and it’s Mark Williams who will take his spot.

Wednesday 5 Oct 2016 09:59AM

Mark Williams will join the world’s elite players next month, as they travel to Guangzhou for the inaugural Evergrande China Championship.

The tournament runs from November 1st to 5th and will have a top prize of £200,000, the biggest ever for a tournament outside of the UK.

Williams, who is a winner of 18 ranking events and two-time World Champion, has replaced Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has withdrawn from the 16-man event. The Welshman was next in line to qualify through his official world ranking and will directly replace O’Sullivan in the draw.

The star-studded field also includes the likes of Mark Selby, Judd Trump and newly crowned Shanghai Masters Champion Ding Junhui.

This year it will be a 16-man non-ranking invitation tournament, with the top ten players in the world rankings invited, along with the next four players from the separate one-year list. The line-up is completed by the two Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association nominees: Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo.

The total prize money will be £650,000, with first round losers to receive £15,000 and the winner to bank £200,000.

It will also be the final opportunity for players to earn a place in the Champion of Champions, which runs the following week in Coventry.

In the following three years prize money is set to increase even further and the tournament will become a full world ranking event, contested by 128 players.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Mark Williams was next in line from the world rankings and deserves the opportunity to compete in this brilliant tournament. The event has gained a fitting replacement for O’Sullivan. Mark is one of the greatest players to have graced the baize and I’m sure he will put on a fantastic display.

“This is going to be an unmissable tournament and with the biggest prize ever we’ve ever had on offer in Asia it is sure to create great drama. And from next year it will be a full ranking event open to all tour players”

The completed list of first round matches is as follows:

Mark Selby vs Anthony McGill

Mark Allen vs Ricky Walden

John Higgins vs Mark Williams

Judd Trump vs Allister Carter

Shaun Murphy vs Joe Perry

Ding Junhui vs Marco Fu

Neil Robertson vs Michael Holt

Stuart Bingham vs Liang Wenbo

In my opinion, it’s the right decision for Ronnie. He’s not the type of player who wants to play day in, day out. To stay motivated and fresh he needs to make time for his family, his running as well as the other activities he’s involved in, notably his media work that also benefits snooker. As it is, November is already packed with the Champion of Champions, the Northern Ireland Trophy and the all important UK Championship. Ronnie won that one two years ago and it’s a lot of points to defend. Wether or not he will need to qualify for the Crucible might well depend on how well he does in this one. Also, as a person with sleeping problems, he usually really struggles with time difference and jet lag. There is just one day between the end of the Evergrande in China and the start of the Champion of Champions in the Coventry, so very little time to rest and refresh. And I’m glad “Willo” is the one who gets the opportunity. I always enjoy watching him …