Today saw wins for Mark Williams and Mark Selby, who will battle it out tomorrow in a best of 19. For Mark Williams it would be an incredible achievement: a 19th ranking title, his first since the German Master 2011, and a win that would allow him to regain a top 16 spot and spare him the ordeal of the World Championship qualifiers. This sounds like a lot of pressure, but if anyone can handle it it’s “Willo”.
Whatever happens tomorrow, the seeding for the Crucible is pretty much set by now and here is how it pans out:
Mark Selby (1) / Qualifier
Ryan Day OR Anthony McGill (16) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (9) / Qualifier
Marco Fu (8) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (5) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (12) / Qualifier
Liang Wenbo (13) / Qualifier
Ding Junhui (4) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (3) / Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (14) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (11) / Qualifier
John Higgins (6) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (7) / Qualifier
Ali Carter (10) / Qualifier
Anthony McGill OR Mark Williams (15) / Qualifier
Judd Trump (2) / Qualifier
As for the matches themselves here are the reports by Worldsnooker:
Saturday 1 Apr 2017 10:25AM
Mark Williams produced an imperious performance to defeat Hossein Vafaei 6-1 and reach the final of the Bank of Beijing China Open.
Williams, who needs to win this event to qualify directly for the World Championship, is now one match away from pipping fellow Welshman Ryan Day to a seeded Crucible spot.
The victory sees the 42-year-old from Ebbw Vale reach his 30th ranking final, where he will be looking to secure a fourth China Open crown. However, you need to go back to the 2011 German Masters for the last time Williams lifted a title.
Defeat for Vafaei, who secured the biggest win of his career yesterday against Judd Trump, brings an end to the most successful tournament of his career so far. However, he will go into next week’s World Championship qualifying with the knowledge that his run this week has secured his place on the tour next season.
The 18-time ranking winner Williams stamped his authority on the match early on. With the score at 2-0 he trailed in the third, but produced a clearance of 62 to extend his lead in a bitter blow for the Iranian. Williams compounded that in the next, with a contribution of 103 to lead 4-0 at the interval.
The deficit was soon five, but Vafaei showed a glimpse of his impressive form from earlier in the week, with a well constructed break of 98 to move to 5-1 down. However, the two-time World Champion wasn’t going to let his opponent back in and got over the line with a run of 69 in the seventh frame to wrap up a comprehensive 6-1 victory.
“I’ve been practicing quite a bit lately. I know about the incentive that if I win the tournament, I qualify for the Crucible, but I haven’t won in a while,” said Williams. “At the start of the week it was five or six games to qualify for the Crucible and looked out of my reach. Now it’s only one match, it’s within my grasp now really.
“I’m not anxious or nervous, I’m just excited. I’ve won this tournament a few times before and this is one of my favourite places to come and play.”
Saturday 1 Apr 2017 06:07PM
Mark Selby has defeated a spirited Kyren Wilson 6-4 in a hard fought semi-final at the Bank of Beijing China Open.
It’s been another remarkable season for world number one Selby, who will appear in his fifth final of the season tomorrow, hunting a fourth title of the campaign.
Selby faces Mark Williams in the showpiece clash with a huge amount on the line for both players. The Jester from Leicester is defending the prize money he earned for winning this event in 2015, which will be removed from the rolling two-year ranking list after tomorrow. Meanwhile Williams knows that victory will see him snatch a seeded spot at the World Championship and avoid qualifying at Ponds Forge.
Wilson will head into his two weeks of preparation for the World Championship on a high, having claimed victories over last year’s Crucible runner-up Ding Junhui and the 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham this week.
Both sessions of the match were played out in contrasting fashion. Before the interval, the game was dominated by high quality safety play. World Champion Selby got the better of the two and after the first few frames were traded, he crucially pinched the fourth frame on the pink to lead 3-1 at the halfway point.
When the players returned the tempo of the game upped significantly. Wilson propelled himself back into the match with breaks of 64 and a sublime 130 to restore parity at 3-3.
Not to be outdone, the World Champion responded with a contribution of 80 to regain the lead. Wilson continued to go for his shots and made a break of 68 as he once again levelled at 4-4.
From that point, the 10-time ranking winner showed his experience. Selby was never behind in the match and moved one from victory after edging the ninth frame. He then ruthlessly forced himself over the line with a run of 93 to wrap up the 6-4 win.
“After the interval Kyren played well, made some good breaks and that made me get focused and want to play well,” said Selby. “I’m looking forward to it tomorrow. I won this tournament two years ago and in a way I’m looking to defend it, as I didn’t play last year. Mark Williams is a great player and one of the legends of the game. It is going to be a tough match for me, but it is for him as well, he needs to win to get in the top 16.”
Wilson was making his first semi-final appearance since the Northern Ireland Open in November. His focus now turns to Sheffield.
Wilson said: “I just thought at 3-1 down I was going to go for it. I started having a go at a few long pots and they were going in. It was a really good game after the interval and I enjoyed it.
“The World Championship is the main event and it is only around the corner. I will look to take my form from this week to the Crucible.”
I really would love to see Mark Williams lift the trophy tomorrow, and this is absolutely not a dig at Mark Selby; I just like Mark Williams, the person and the player and would love for him to gain an automatic Crucible spot after his tremendous efforts this week.
Hossein Vafaei was outplayed today, but we will certainly see more of him. He’s a beautiful player and what he’s achieved in short time he’s been on the main tour is remarkable. Yes, I’m a fan! I just hope that he will be refreshed enough when the qualifiers start in Ponds Forge on Wednesday. I’d love to see him at the Crucible.
Mark Selby will go to the Crucible as a logical favourite, but Kyren Wilson will be a danger man if he keeps the form he’s shown today.