I won’t go into that many details this time but here are a few points of interest regarding round 2 in Ponds Forge that concluded this morning around 2:30 am … no kidding.
Let’s start with the good news: a very significant number of young, non-British payers have progressed into the third and last round of the qualifyers: Zhou Yuelong (China), who breaks into the top 32 with this win, Yan Bingtao (China), Akani Songsermsawad (Thailand), Alexander Ursenbacher (Switzerland) and Luca Brecel (Belgium). Why is it good news? Because the sport wants and needs to become more global, more international and because its future depends on the young ones coming through.
There were a number of noticeable casualties: Mark Davis, Joe Perry, the Masters runner-up, Ken Doherty, Joe Swail, Alan McManus, who reached the SF at the Crucible last year, Anthony Hamilton, the recent German Masters Champion, to name a few. It’s particularly sad for Joe Swail and Ken Doherty who both lose their professional status, and probably even more painful for Ken as this year is the 20th anniversary of his win at World Championship.
Reanne Evans and Peter Lines fairy tales came to an end. Reanne in particular will have regrets: she had a stinker of a first session and trailed by 6-1 after the first day, she eventually lost by 9-6, so she was the better player on the second day, and so many frames were decided on the colours. This is a match she could have won and she knows it. But she gave it her all yesterday and she can be proud of herself.
Mark Williams was made to work as he was taken to a decider by an excellent Liam Highfield. He’s now facing another stern test in Stuart Carrington. If he comes through, it’s to be seen how much he will have left in the tank for the main event.
The conditions were difficult and that’s an understatement. The airco failed and it was so hot inside that players were allowed to take off their bowties, and referees, their jackets. It was kicks galore on the tables and the players frustration was clear for all to see. We had a few cue bangs, and even the usually very cool Nigel Bond was seen punching the table at one point. It’s hard enough out there, without the added difficulties generated by heavy conditions combined with kicks every odd shot.