China Open 2017 – How things stand as we reach the last 4.

There was another tale of the unexpected in the afternoon session as Hossein Vafaei defeated the defending champion Judd Trump by 5-3 whilst Mark Williams very efficiently neutralised Shaun Murphy, preventing him to dictate either the style or pace of play to win by 5-1.

The evening session saw Mark Selby get the better of Stephen Maguire by 5-1, with both players struggling rather badly before the MSI, and before Selby found some fluency eventually. At the other table Kyren Wilson bullied the local favourite Ding Junhui off the table, and is probably the most hated man in China just now… although, to be honest, I’m not really surprised as Ding looked vulnerable yesterday.

What does this mean in terms of seeding for the World Championship?

  • Mark Williams still has a chance to avoid the qualification rounds, but Stephen Maguire will definitely need to win 3 matches in Ponds Forge to be at the Crucible.
  • Hossein Vafaei broke into the top 64 for the first time and a win tomorrow would probably guarantee that he will start the next season in that bracket. If he loses tomorrow, things will depend on his and others results in Ponds Forge. He would still stay on tour, with a new two years card if he doesn’t manage to finish the season in the top 64. One man however who will be rooting for him is Jimmy White because success for Hossein would increase his own chances to stay on the main tour.
  • The seeding for the Crucible is almost set by now. Only two things could change it: Williams winning the title would mean that he would take the n°16 spot, sending Ryan Day to Ponds Forge and Kyren Wilson winning the title would mean that he would climb to n°10, pushing seeds n° 11, 12 and 13 one down. Not sure however that this would be an advantage as that would move him from Stuart Bingham’s quarter, to Judd Trump’s quarter at the Crucible.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Friday 31 Mar 2017 10:30AM

Hossein Vafaei has recorded the biggest win of his career, seeing off Judd Trump 5-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

Vafaei, who is Iran’s only professional player, has also confirmed his place on the tour next season by virtue of his run this week in Beijing.

Defeat for the in-form Trump, who made the third maximum break of his career yesterday, ends his bid to reach a fourth consecutive final.

It was a confident opening from the 22-year-old Vafaei, who moved 2-0 ahead courtesy of breaks of 45 and 74.  After Trump won the third, Vafaei compiled a century run of exactly 100 to go into the interval 3-1 up.

When they returned from the break it was quick-fire snooker to the finish, with none of the remaining frames stretching beyond the 20 minute mark. Trump took the fifth frame to pull within one and he was then level at 3-3 after making a contribution of 66 to snatch the next on the black.

Hossein appeared to be unfazed by the big match situation and responded with a contribution of 106. He then potted a clutch final pink in the eighth frame to secure a 5-3 win.

Mark Williams boosted his hopes qualifying directly for the World Championship with a  5-1 demolition of 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy.

The three-time China Open Champion needs to lift the title again to knock compatriot Ryan Day out of the world’s top 16 and clinch his place at the Crucible.

The match started promisingly for the Magician, who made a break of 56 on his way to taking the opener. However, from that point on the 18-time ranking winner Williams took control.

There weren’t an abundance of high breaks in the match, but Williams was getting the better of the tight frames. He came from behind to level the scores in the second. Williams then stole what proved to be a pivotal third frame on the final black and that set the tone for the remaining exchanges.

The two-time World Champion reeled off the next three frames to progress to the last four, where he’ll face Vafaei for a place in the final.

“Nobody wants to go to the qualifiers. However, I put my mind to it about two or three months ago that it was more than likely that I would be there,” said Williams. “I’d love to get to another final, it’s been a while. If I won it would be fantastic. To have already won this event twice is unbelievable but if I could make it a third it would be extra special.”

Evening session:

Friday 31 Mar 2017 04:45PM

Kyren Wilson put on a fine display to defeat Ding Junhui 5-1 and reach the last four of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

It’s a welcome return to form for Wilson ahead of next month’s World Championship. He’s broken a run of four consecutive first round defeats and has reached his first semi-final since the Northern Ireland Open in November.

Ding’s focus will now turn to the Crucible as he looks to go one better than last year, where he was runner-up to Mark Selby.

Wilson played aggressively throughout the tie and he moved 3-1 ahead at the interval thanks to a run of 55 in the fourth frame.

The 25-year-old had a contender for shot of the season in the first frame after the break. He cut back a red above the blue spot into the bottom pocket from long range and went on to clear with a run of 30 to take the frame on the black. A bitter blow for the home favourite Ding, who now trailed 4-1.

The world number four’s fortunes didn’t improve in the next, as the Warrior ruthlessly shut the door with a break of 84 to clinch an impressive 5-1 win.

“It’s nice to be in a semi-final of such a big tournament again, especially before the World Championship,” said Wilson. “I feel like my form is coming together at the right time and Ding is a very good player so to have any win over him is a massive feather in my cap.”

However, it doesn’t get any easier for Wilson in the semi-finals, as he will face world number one and World Champion Mark Selby who crushed Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 5-1.

Defeat for Maguire ends his ambitions of qualifying directly for the Crucible and he will now head to Ponds Forge needing to win three best of 19 matches to reach the World Championship.

Selby has kept his hopes alive of claiming a second China Open title. His other victory in Beijing came in 2015 when he crushed Gary Wilson 10-2 in the final.

The early exchanges were bereft of high breaks, but Selby looked the more composed of the two when among the balls. A clutch clearance of 47 allowed him to go 3-0 ahead after trailing in the third.

After the interval Selby showed his class and made breaks of 76 and 72 to secure a 5-1 win and book a semi-final meeting with Wilson.

 

China Open 2017 – How things stand as we reach the last 8.

Today was an eventful day, the highlight being Judd Trump third 147, and the first on television. Congratulations to Judd! You can watch it here:

But there was more than that of course.

The main points of interest are

  • Both Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire won their last 16 match and remain on track to break into the top 16 before the World Championship. They both need to win the tournament for this to happen.
  • Hossein Vafaei Ayouri could still break into the last 64, but he’s got his work cut out: he faces Judd Trump tomorrow.
  • Regarding the Crucible seeding: spots 1,2,3 are now definitively set, as are spots 6,7,8,9 and 15. Ding and Murphy occupy spots 4 and 5 respectively and could still swap. Kyren Wilson is currently seeded 14 but could climb up to n° 10 if he wins the title, and push all seeds currently 10, 11, 12 and 13 one down. What this means for Ronnie is that he’s currently seed n°12 and set to face seed n°5 if both win their opening match, but, if Kyren lifts the trophy on Sunday, he would become seed n° 13 and set to face seed n°4. Whatever happens, he stays in the same quarter and is set to face either Murphy or Ding.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker

Afternoon session (morning in Europe)

Thursday 30 Mar 2017 09:53AM

Judd Trump continued his red hot form, making the third 147 of his career in a 5-3 defeat of Tian Pengfei at the Bank of Beijing China Open.

It was the 130thofficial maximum in professional snooker and the Ace in the Pack stands to land a cool £30,000, which has been accumulated in the rolling prize fund since Tom Ford’s 147 at the German Masters in February.

The magical moment came in the fifth frame to hand Trump a 4-1 lead. With the final pink positioned at the top of the table, Trump landed low on the black to leave a tricky last pot. He nestled it in on the top jaw and punched the air with delight.

Tian then valiantly fought back with breaks of 60 and 63 to close the gap to one at 4-3. However, recent Players Champion Trump got over the line, compiling a run of 62 to secure the win.

“I’ve had a lot of good chances recently and it was nice to make a 147 on the TV table,” said Trump. “The next frame I potted a good ball to get in. I then split the pack well but unfortunately the red went in. I probably would have made another century if that didn’t happen, you need a bit of luck in those situations. After that he played well and things like that can change games, so I’m happy to get through.”

Mark Williams pulled off a magnificent fightback to come from 4-1 down and defeat John Higgins 5-4, keeping alive his hopes of qualifying directly for the Crucible. The Welshman needs to win the event this week to edge compatriot Ryan Day out of the world’s top 16.

It looked as if Williams would be heading for the exit when Higgins stole the fourth frame on the black to lead 4-1. However, the two-time World Champion won the sixth before making breaks of 66, 60 and 79 to edge out a 5-4 thriller.

His opponent in the last eight will be Shaun Murphy, who demolished Michael White 5-1. The Magician took under an hour and a half to record the quick-fire win.

Murphy, who has only dropped four frames this week in Beijing, continued his fine form by compiling runs of 50, 78, 71 and 67 during the comfortable victory.

 

Evening session (afternoon in Europe)

Thursday 30 Mar 2017 05:53PM

Mark Selby produced a dogged display to overcome Andrew Higginson 5-4 and reach the last eight of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

World number one Selby has the added pressure this week of defending the £85,000 he received for winning the 2015 China Open, which will be removed from the rolling two-year ranking list after this event.

Higginson finds himself 52 places behind his illustrious opponent in the world rankings in 53rd. However, the gap wasn’t apparent in the early exchanges, with the 39-year-old making breaks of 61 and 63 on his way to establishing a 2-0 advantage.

The World Champion provided a swift response and made his own contributions of 72 and 69 to level the tie at 2-2 going into the interval. When they returned he picked up where he left off, making a run of 69 to take the lead for the first time.

Higginson responded by winning the next two frames and moved one away from victory at 4-3. However, a gutsy long red helped Selby force a decider, where he strung together a break of 57 to get over the line and book a quarter-final spot.

“It was a very tough game and I thought Andrew played really well,” said Selby. “I probably ended up winning the match before the interval, I was over the moon to come out 2-2 as Andrew outplayed me in the first four frames.”

Ding Junhui was forced to come from behind to overcome an impressive Mark Joyce and reach the quarter-final stage with a 5-3 win.

Joyce was enjoying his best run of the season so far and ousted five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday evening in a final frame thriller. He made a good start today, as he moved 2-0 in front. In a similar fashion to Selby, the 12-time ranking winner Ding then took the next two frames to claw level at the interval.

The pair the traded frames, but with scores at 3-3, Ding made the decisive move. He compiled a run of 73 to move one away from securing the win. Ding was in first again in the eighth frame making 62. Joyce found his way back into the frame, but a fluked red allowed Ding to get over the line.

Next up for China’s top player is 2015 Shanghai Masters champion Kyren Wilson. The Warrior battled past Stuart Bingham in a 5-2 win.

Wilson looked the sharper of the two and got himself over the line with breaks of 43 and 85 in the seventh frame.

Stephen Maguire earned a last eight meeting with Selby after an impressive display helped him ease past Daniel Wells 5-1.

The Scot looked in good touch, making breaks of 78, 129 and 70 during the win. He’ll need to continue to play in that fashion though, as he has to win the tournament to oust Ryan Day from the world’s top 16 and qualify directly for the upcoming World Championship.

 

China Open 2017 – How things stand as we reach the last 16.

Tomorrow the last 16 stage will be played in Beijing and it’s maybe worth to have a look at who is still in it and what is at stake.

Only 11 of the to 16 made the trip to Beijing: Neil Robertson and Mark Allen opted out, Ryan Day, Barry Hawkins and Marco Fu failed to qualify. Now only 7 remain: all of the top 6 players and Kyren Wilson currently at 14. In terms of the race to the Crucible and the World Championship seeding, only winning the title could propel Kyren to a higher seeding and, if he does, he would reach n°10, pushing Ali Cater, Mark Allen, Ronnie and Liang Wenbo one rank down. At the top Mark Selby, who is n°1 seed anyway because he is the reigning World Champion, is out of reach. Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump could still swap places, as could Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins although John would need the final to move up.

Further down the rankings, two players remain in contention for the spot n°16, currently occupied by Ryan Day: Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire. Both however need the title to avoid to have to play 3 qualifying matches in Ponds Forge.

Even further down, Daniel Wells, Rory McLeod, Tian Pengfei, Andrew Higginson and Mark Joyce all are in with a chance to get into the 17-32 bracket, but only by winning the title. This would guarantee that they wouldn’t have to play another player in that same bracket next week, which is a significant advantage. The man who will pray that none of them lifts the trophy come Sunday is Tom Ford, currently at n°32.

And finally, Hossein Vafaei Ayouri could still climb into the top 64 by reaching the final, sending Chris Wakelin in the relegation zone. Should he win, he could even get into the top 32… just.

Now realistically, who will lift the trophy on Sunday? Well, going by what I have seen, I’d go for either Judd Trump or Ding Junhui. But there are a number of players I didn’d have the opportunity to watch, Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire amongst them. Going purely on heart wishes, I’d love to se “Willo” win another title and be at the Crucible without having to qualify. Him, or Hossein Vafaei who was denied a visa for so long because of his Iranian citizenship and has done tremendously well lately. It would be a shame if he was relegated from the main tour, and unfair as well given the circumstances.

 

China Open 2017 – Last 32 – Ronnie goes out to Mark Joyce in a high quality match

CO2017L32ROSJoyceStats.png

Match report by Worldsnooker (excerpt)

Wednesday 29 Mar 2017 03:50PM

Mark Joyce scored one of the best wins of his career as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 in the last 32 of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

World number 51 Joyce held his nerve in an exciting finish to knock five-time World Champion O’Sullivan out of the last tournament before he heads to the Crucible. O’Sullivan has not won a ranking title in 13 months, though he did lift the Masters trophy in January.

In the last 16 on Thursday, Walsall’s 33-year-old Joyce will face home favourite Ding Junhui, who thumped Zhou Yuelong 5-0.

Joyce had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 and each time O’Sullivan fought back to level. It was a high quality contest with Joyce compiling breaks of 79, 66 and 137 while world number 13 O’Sullivan made 106, 132 and 63. The deciding frame was a nervy one as both players missed chances. Joyce failed on a red to a top corner when he trailed 26-29, but O’Sullivan then missed a tough red to the same pocket. A further 31 from Joyce proved enough for victory.

It’s right up there with my best wins,” said Joyce after reaching the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season. “I beat Judd Trump at the UK Championship when he was world number one a few years ago, so this is probably second to that one. I have beaten a few of the top players on TV, it’s on the back tables that I need to start winning and translating these kind of victories into long runs in tournaments.

“I had a good chance to win in the eighth frame tonight and messed it up. The crowd was tough because they wanted Ronnie to win. In the blink of an eye it was 4-4 and that unsettled me. Luckily for me Ronnie missed a red in the last frame and I managed to hold myself together to make a good break. Again tomorrow I’ll be second favourite but I enjoy that underdog tag. If you are at the table and scoring it doesn’t matter who you play. Every round from now on I’ll be playing a top player.

It was in fact a great match for the neutral … but I’m not neutral (sigh).

Ronnie didn’t play badly – he made two centuries and a 63 –  but he mixed some brilliant snooker with unexpected mistakes. He looked rather tired out there, and, like many players in China, he’s probably jet-lagged and suffered lapses in concentration. I can only hope that he comes to the Crucible properly rested and will be able to restore a good level of consistency. It’s certainly not due to a lack of work and practice: I know for certain that the full week before the tournament he worked hard, practicing with Oliver Lines.

In a way this relatively early exit may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Since the China Open was moved from December to March in the calendar, no China Open winner, won the World Championship in the same season and this is probably linked to the fact that this tournament is so close to the Crucible that players who go deep in Beijing see their preparation suffer. Last year Mark Selby opted out to be fresh ahead of the World and we saw the result, this year Neil Robertson and Mark Allen did the same.

Ronnie is currently 12th in the provisional seeding. As things stand now, at worse, he could finish 13 th if Kyren Wilson wins the title (Kyren is the only top 16 player not in the top 6 still in the China Open draw) . It wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway, he would still be in the same quarter of the draw.

Anyway, here is the match:

And a few images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe!

According to this article published by the Chinese Billiard and Snoooker association, and on my own understanding of the automatically translation versions , Ronnie wasn’t too down on himself after the match during his press conference. He branded his own performance as “average” but was “very disappointed” not to meet Ding in the clash all Chinese fans wanted to see. He also explained why he keeps his answers so short. Asked again about Ding, he said he supports him because he likes him very much. He finished his press conference by thanking the Chinese fans and media in Chinese. From what I understand he will stay in China another couple of days.

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Ronnie during his press conference after his China Open last 32 defeat

Statement from World Snooker and WPBSA

After the end of play tonight this STATEMENT FROM WORLD SNOOKER AND WPBSA was published on the official body website:

Tuesday 28 Mar 2017 05:57PM

In response to comments made today by Ding Junhui and Ronnie O’Sullivan we feel compelled to make the following observations.

We are disappointed and surprised by Ding’s statement that we made “excessive” demands of him. The facts of the case are that Ding presented himself to play in his first round match with a logo which conflicted with the title sponsor of the event.

All players sign and agree to conform to the rules and regulations laid out in the players contract. These regulations make it clear that all logos should be approved by WSL and that no approval will be given if a players logo conflicts with any WSL Partner (in this case the title sponsor).

This is done to protect our commercial partners rights and forms part of our contractual commitments to them, to do otherwise would put us in breach of those agreements. Ultimately the WPBSA and WSL enter into such agreements to safeguard the future of the game for all professional players.

To date we have not received a letter from Ding’s lawyers.

Contrary to Mr O’Sullivan’s comments we believe that we dealt with the matter entirely professionally and in accordance with the players contract, to say otherwise is simply wrong and misinformed.

As David Hendon, Eurosport commentator and Snooker Scene assistant editor said on twitter:

Riiiight… maybe report what Ding and Ronnie said if you’re going to issue a rebuttal. Otherwise it makes no sense.

So what happened? And what do we know?

Yesterday, the held-over first round match between Ding and Sean (not Ronnie) O’Sullivan started late and Ding was docked a frame. No information was given by Worldsnooker regarding the reasons at the time, so most fans assumed that Ding was late for his match. It then transpired that he was on the site and that apparently there was a problem with one of his logos. It was also rumoured that Ding had threatened to withdraw from the tournament if he wasn’t allowed to wear the said logo and that eventually he was authorised to wear it during that match. All of this is rumours and hear-say as there was no explanation given at that stage by Worldsnooker.

The statement above confirms that the issue was indeed related to one logo Ding was wearing and that had not been authorised. There is mention of Ding’s dissatisfaction but none about the alleged withdrawal threat.

There is however this article on top147 website (automatic translation by Chrome)

The storm has not yet subsided? Ding Junhui dissatisfaction with the solution: will send a lawyer letter

Beijing time on March 28, 2017 World Snooker China Open to start the second day of competition. In the first round, Ding Junhui played well to 5 to 0 victory over Davidson, cut the second round. In yesterday’s logo after the storm, Ding Junhui once again stood on the track, it seems that the problem has been resolved before, but from Ding Junhui’s words is not difficult to see that he is not satisfied with this solution, he answered Sina Sports question “I will let my lawyer ask them to send a lawyer ‘s letter,” he said, “for the attitude of the World Federation of players against the players and the excessive demands on the players.

The game, in the face of Davidson, Ding Junhui play a stable, did not give opponents any chance, straight five Council victory over the opponent, cut the second round. After the game, Ding Junhui in summing up the game that he is now in a very good state, “my state has been very good, including the first, today I played very well, the opponent did not give me too much pressure on opponents It ‘s not very good to play.

Yesterday marked the storm to Ding Junhui and the World Union of the word, Ding Junhui today to stand on the track, indicating that the two sides have found a solution to the problem. Sina Sports asked Ding Junhui: “This matter is through what way to solve?” Ding Junhui replied: “The solution is of course not very good. You see … ‘Hengda gold clothes’ no. This is not what we hope See, I do not want the Chinese people and their own people to fight, if there are foreign people here, I hope the Chinese people are united for the World League on the players of this attitude, so too much for the players, I will Let my lawyer send them a lawyer ‘s letter.

In the second round, Ding Junhui will be against Zhou Yuelong. For this game, Ding Junhui expressed his desire to win, “I hope I can be a winning party.”

(Dong Zhengxiang)

As for what Ronnie said, this is what I found on CBSA official website (automatic translation by Chrome)

O’Sullivan accepted the interview with words such as gold to talk Ding Junhui: I 100% support

2017-03-28 21:20 China Billiards Association    official website

On the evening of March 28, 2017, the World Snooker China Open continued in the college gymnasium, and the “Rockets” O’Sullivan finished the fifth round in the first show.

7:30 pm at the scene of the audience cheers, O’Sullivan into the stadium. In the game with Gareth Allen, O’Sullivan has played a single shot 64,59 and 51 points, the final big score zero opponent, broke into the 32 strong.

After the game, O’Sullivan looked relaxed into the news center, an interview. When it comes to the end of the game, O’Sullivan with “very good” three words to describe. When the reporter asked the fire teacher to say some more, he shook his head, revealing a little naughty smile, said: “No, you ask some other questions.” It seems that his mood is really very good recently

For Beijing fans, O’Sullivan’s entry is extraordinary, because they have been waiting for the fire teacher for 5 years. “It’s nice to be back here.” O’Sullivan’s answer is still very simple.

On the last weekend, as a star online contract players and spokesmen, O’Sullivan in person CBSA World Snooker College completed an online open class content. When the course is over, O’Sullivan offered to learn how the college students were trained. In the process, O’Sullivan also personally show students to demonstrate. “Everything in the college is fantastic.” At the press conference, O’Sullivan said.

Just last night, Ding Junhui because the individual sponsor trademark and the tournament title sponsor conflict led to the game did not start on time things are well known, in talking about this topic, O’Sullivan words more up.

“I am 100% support Ding Junhui. As a Chinese professional player, he shows his professionalism and professional ethics, and I hope this will not have any effect on his game,” O’Sullivan said at last. (China Billiards Association Xiaofan)

No mention here of any direct criticism aimed at WS or WPBSA. Also, no mention as to whether this statement was spontaneous or came as an answer to members of media questions.

Quite evidently, Ding signed the players contract and therefore should comply to the rules he agreed to. However, for Worldsnooker not giving the reasons why the play was delayed, nor citing the “offending” quotes of the two players mentioned in the statement is questionable because it opens the door to all sorts of speculations and once rumours are out there is no way to stop them. openness is the best policy in such matters.

Well that’s my opinion anyway…

To be followed … or as Sttellla (Belgian music band) would put it “Fuite au prochain lavabo”

 

Update

This is a link to Ronnie’s full presser 

So it was indeed triggered by a question.

China Open 2017 – Last 64 – Ronnie beat Gareth Allen by 5-0

Ronnie beat Gareth Allen by 5-0 this evening (in Beijing, China, afternoon here in Europe) to book his spot in the last 32 where he will face Mark Joyce, tomorrow again in the evening. The match will be on television.

Ronnie wasn’t at his best but we shouldn’t maybe read too much in it as conditions in China are often quite different from what they are in the UK, tables playing more heavily and very “lively” crowd, and of course, many players suffer lapse of concentration because of jet lag. For instance Mark Selby struggled badly yesterday (by his standards of course) but was flying today.

Anyway, all was not bad, far from it. In particular, Ronnie’s long potting was very good overall, whilst his safety needs improving.

here is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt)

Tuesday 28 Mar 2017 03:25PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan cruised into the last 32 of the Bank of Beijing China Open with a 5-0 thrashing of Gareth Allen.

O’Sullivan is chasing his first ranking title in 13 months – though he did win the Masters in January –  and he now faces Mark Joyce in the last 32.

World number 115 Allen had chances in the opening frame, but missed an attempted long pot on the final brown and O’Sullivan cleared to take it. From that point, world number 13 O’Sullivan was rarely threatened and breaks of 64, 59 and 51 helped him to victory.

I don’t completely agree with this last sentence claiming Ronnie was rarely threatened. Gareth Allen had a good chance to steal frame 4 and Ronnie had to pot a fantastic final black to take it. Also, Allen made a 64 in the last frame, leading by 50 with 59 on, but Ronnie battled through and stole it on the final black.

Ronnie was patient and disciplined from start to finish and that’s good to see. Mark Joyce though could give him some problems: he’s a player who doesn’t hesitate to turn a bit negative and not-so-fast, and, often breaks his opponents rhythm playing this way.

Anyway, here is the match:

And some pictures, thanks to Tai Chengzhe!

China Open 2017 – It starts tomorrow

Actually it starts in a few hours, deep in the night for us Westerners …

Today of course we had the Opening Ceremony and here are a few images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe.

And there was also a dinner with Ronnie and Judd … (picture posted on twitter by Django Fung)

RonnieC02017Dinner-1

But tomorrow, the serious stuff begins and here is what is at stake, explained by Matt Huart on the Worldsnooker website

Matt Huart 26th March 2017

This week sees the return of professional snooker for the final tournament prior to this season’s Betfred World Championship as the tour heads to Beijing for the 2017 China Open.

As well as being a prestigious title in its own right, the event marks the final chance for players to add ranking points to their tallies ahead of the most important rankings revision of the season, which will determine the final seeding list for next month’s World Championship. For some players, this could be the difference between automatically qualifying for Sheffield – or having to win three matches at Ponds Forge to take their place at the Crucible Theatre.

The action gets underway tomorrow in China, with the top 16 ranked players following the conclusion of the event next Sunday seeded through to play at the Crucible Theatre automatically, while the remaining tour players will be entered into the qualifying draw.

  • Click here to view the draw for the China Open
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the money tariffs for events this season

On 3 April 2017 following the China Open, the current seedings list will be revised and used to determine the seedings for the 2017 World Championship.

By the time of the revision, prize money earned from all events during the 2014/15 season excluding the 2015 World Championship will have been deducted and replaced by that from this season’s events up to that date.

As always, we have already removed the points to be deducted from the appropriate column on the latest provisional seedings list, to show the situation as up to date as possible.

Also note that all seeding permutations below are provisional and on the basis that all eligible players enter the World Championship.

The Crucible Draw

The top 16 seeded players at the World Championship are placed in the draw in a very specific manner, for example the top seed is always scheduled to meet the 16th seed in the second round, the second seed is always poised to meet the 15th seed and so on.

That being the case, the last 16 draw is currently shaping up as follows:

Selby (1) v Day (16)

Robertson (9) v Fu (8)

Murphy (5) v O’Sullivan (12)

Liang (13) v Ding (4)

Bingham (3) v Wilson (14)

Allen (11) v Higgins (6)

Hawkins (7) v Carter (10)

McGill (15) v Trump (2)

Much can still change in China though as explained below…

Battle for Number 1

Even taking to account the fact that he is due to lose £85,000 from his ranking having won the China Open back in 2015, long time world number one Mark Selby is still forecast to lead closest challenger Judd Trump by some £272,925 following this year’s event, such is the extent of his dominance at the top of the order in recent times.

This means that regardless of the outcome in Beijing, Selby is guaranteed to be the world’s top ranked player heading into Sheffield this year, while he would of course be installed as top seed anyway as defending champion, regardless of his ranking.

Behind him, Trump ended Stuart Bingham’s near two-year hold on second place in the rankings following his victory at the recent Players Championship, but with just £738 separating the pair, their positions in the draw for Sheffield will depend on their respective runs this week in China.

There is also a close battle from 4-6, with Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins also able to change places between now and the Crucible.

The Top Eight

With the players currently occupying 7-9 positions (Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu and Neil Robertson), all having not qualified or not entered the China Open, the only player able to break into the top eight for the World Championship is two-time runner-up Ali Carter.

To do so, the Captain would need to win the title, which would be enough to see him climb three places to seventh in the list.

The Top 16

So to the big one, with top 16 qualification the difference between a guaranteed place at the Crucible and the task of having to come through three best of 19 frame qualifying matches at Ponds Forge to make it to snooker’s most iconic venue.

Oddly, the battle is somewhat more straight-forward than in recent years, with 15 players already guaranteed to be back at the Crucible this year as a seeded player.

The only man still not certain of his place therefore is Welshman Ryan Day, who currently occupies 16th place in the latest provisional seeding list. Already out of the China Open having lost in qualifying, he can still miss out if:

  • Joe Perry or Martin Gould reach the semi-finals
  • David Gilbert, Mark King or Ricky Walden reach the final
  • Michael Holt, Mark Williams, Alan McManus and Stephen Maguire win the tournament

Looking at the draw for Beijing, interesting both Perry and Gould share the same quarter and so theoretically could meet for a best of nine encounter with a place at the Crucible on the line!

David Gilbert and Ricky Walden meanwhile are scheduled to meet as early as the last 32, while Maguire and McManus can also be found in the same section of the draw.

Michael Holt and Mark Williams are also scheduled to meet in the last 32, in what would be a repeat of their Crucible encounter less than a year ago.

The Top 32

Turning to the battle for top 32 places, it is important to note that this is significant for the World Championship qualifiers as the player ranked 17-32 following the China Open will be guaranteed to avoid each other at Ponds Forge.

Currently occupying 32nd spot is Leicester’s Tom Ford, but having not qualified for the final stages in Beijing, he knows that victory for Matt Selt against Zhou Yuelong would be enough to displace him.

If not Selt, then Mark Davis can break into the top 32 with a quarter-final run, while Zhou Yuelong and Jimmy Robertson would require a semi-final.

For Matthew Stevens, Mike Dunn, Kurt Maflin, Xiao Guodong and Fergal O’Brien only the final would be sufficient, while behind them a further 19 players could break into the top 32 by winning the title in China.

The Top 80

Normally I would now analyse the battle for top 64 places, however with players ranked 17-80 set to be seeded to play those 81-144 at the World Championship, for this tournament only it is the top 80 which becomes an important bracket to consider.

John Astley currently holds on to 80th position following a strong return to the tour this season, but having not qualified for China can still be overtaken by no fewer than 11 players remaining in the draw.

Closest to him are Allan Taylor and Michael Georgiou, both of whom would need to reach the quarter-finals in order to overtake Astley. Further back, Paul Davison, Eden Sharav, Sanderson Lam, Aditya Mehta and Fraser Patrick would all need to reach the semi-finals to secure a seeding for the opening round at Ponds Forge, while Alex Borg, Gareth Allen and Jason Weston would need to reach the final.

So if we look specifically at Ronnie, the worse that could happen would be for him to find himself n°13, swapping with Liang Wenbo most likely, unless Anthony McGill wins the title and himself makes an early exit, in which case he could be n°14. To climb to n°11, passing Mark Allen, he would need to make the Final. Should he win, he could reach n°10 or even 9 Depending on Ali Carter’s results.

He’s currently due to face Shaun Murphy in round 2 at the Crucible, provided the provisional draw stands and both win their opening match. Not too bad a draw if Ronnie finds some form: Shaun is player who goes for his shots and one against whom Ronnie has a good record.