More Snooker news …

Worldsnooker has this morning published this:

Friday 30 Jun 2017 09:47AM

World Snooker is currently in discussions with two different promoters in China about the ranking event to be staged from September 18 to 24.

The tournament, televised on CCTV, will either be the Shanghai Masters or the World Open in Yushan.  Both proposals from promoters, currently under discussion, are based on a flat draw of 128 players. As ever, our intention is to secure the best outcome for our players and fans.

This is the current position and we will confirm the location once discussions are complete. We will also then be in position to confirm the prize money breakdown for the whole 2017/18 season.

The qualifying round for this ranking event will take place at the Guild Hall in Preston on August 6 to 9.

So the “Shanghai Masters” as refered to in the calendar might not actually be the Shanghai Masters, it could be the World Open. And, in any case it would become a flat draw event. For me, it would really be a shame to scrap one of the oldest and best tournaments in China. Even if it stays in Shanghai, it will not be the same with its distinctive tiered structure gone.

There were other news too, albeit with less impact: the English Open will move from Manchester to Barnsley – not sure that will attract more viewers – and the Northern Ireland Open will move from the Titanic to the Waterfront in Belfast, so it’s back to one of the historic venue of the Northern Ireland Trophy. The two other Home Nations events will be at the same venues as last season, in Glasgow for the Scottish Open and Cardiff for the Welsh Open.

Champion of Champions 2017 update

Matt Huart is in the mood … after the rankings, here he is with an update about who is, for sure or maybe, in the Champion of Champions 2017 .

Note that this list is a list of players who will get an invite, that they still need to accept to actually be in the draw. Ronnie is eligible having won the Masters in January, of course. But, remember, in 2015/16 he opted out. He was suffering a back injury at the time. I expect him to be at the Champion of Champions this time, but until the draw is confirmed no player is a certainty.

Champion of Champions 2017 – Riga Update

Ryan Day’s breakthrough victory at the Kaspersky Riga Masters last weekend not only secured him his maiden ranking event title, but also puts him into contention for a place at this year’s Champion of Champions at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

But how will the full field be made up and what would have to happen for the Welshman to miss out?

Once again, qualification for the event will be determined by the winners of professional tournaments dating back to Robertson’s victory at the event in 2015, events having been ordered in a specific line of priority.

Players currently qualified are set out below, numbered by qualification priority, not seeding:

1. 2016 Champion of Champions – John Higgins (1)
2. 2016 UK Championship – Mark Selby (2)
3. 2017 Masters – Ronnie O’Sullivan (3)
4. 2017 World Championship – Mark Selby

5. 2017 German Masters – Anthony Hamilton (4)
6. 2017 World Grand Prix – Barry Hawkins (5)
7. 2017 Championship League Snooker – John Higgins
8. 2017 Players Championship – Judd Trump (6)
9. 2017 China Open – Mark Selby
10. 2017 China Championship (Aug) – tbc
11. 2017 Shanghai Masters (Sep) – tbc
12. 2017 Indian Open (Sep) – tbc
13. 2017 European Masters (Oct) – tbc
14. 2017 International Championship (Nov) – tbc

15. 2016 Northern Irish Open – Mark King (7)
16. 2016 Scottish Open – Marco Fu (8)
17. 2017 Welsh Open – Stuart Bingham (9)
18. 2017 English Open (Oct) – tbc

19. 2017 Gibraltar Open – Shaun Murphy (10)
20. 2017 World Championship runner-up – John Higgins
21. 2017 Riga Masters – Ryan Day (11)
22. 2017 Paul Hunter Classic (Aug) – tbc

23. 2017 World Cup (Jul) – tbc
24. 2017 World Cup (Jul) – tbc

25. 2017 Shoot Out – Anthony McGill (12)
26. 2017 6 Reds World Championship (Sep) – tbc

Changes for 2017

Compared to last year’s final list there are a few changes of note to the order of qualification priority as follows:

  • The World Championship has moved from 10th to fourth on the list of priority, to reflect the status and prestige of the event
  • All Home Nations Series events have been grouped together from 15-18 on the list
  • Places have been allocated for both members of the winning World Cup team, as in 2015

Who is safe?

At the time of writing, 16 of the 26 counting events have been won by 12 individual players, who are all currently in line to secure a place at the Ricoh Arena in November. This leaves nine events remaining (two spots at the World Cup), through which players not yet qualified can still earn themselves a place at this year’s event.

In terms of who is definitely safe, everyone down to Gibraltar Open winner Shaun Murphy can already be certain of their places in Coventry, while Ryan Day and Anthony McGill must hope that there are a few more ‘repeat’ winners from the list above to be sure of their places. This is because there are still events to be played, that are higher on the order of priority for Champion of Champions qualification.

Of those still looking to secure their places, the most obvious are world number four Ding Junhui and 2015 Coventry winner Neil Robertson, both without silverware since last year’s Champion of Champions. Tenth ranked Mark Allen is also yet to qualify, as well as Kyren Wilson, Liang Wenbo, Ali Carter and Mark Williams who also complete the world’s top 16.

The next chance to earn a place will come at next week’s World Cup, with two spots up for grabs for the two-man winning team in Wuxi.

The Ronnie Shows …

Ronnie was on “Victoria Derbyshire” show, and on “The One Show” yesterday and gave two very nice interviews. This, of course, is part of the promotional campaign for his book “Framed” but there was more to those interviews than just the book.



Some press made a big fuss about Ronnie’s admission that he had been in hospital with a breakdown after his first-round match in the World Championship 2016, yet it was nothing new. Indeed he had already mentioned this before the last World Championship as you can read here.

Snooker ranking news

Matt Huart has today published three interesting articles on WPBSA website.


The End-Of-Season provisional ranking list

This one is of course VERY provisional, but Ronnie is currently n°8 in that list. This is because in 2015/16, he only started playing in January 2016, having suffered back problems earlier in the season. Therefore he hasn’t that many points to defends as compared to most players around him in the ranking list.

The Race-To-The-Masters ranking list

Ronnie of course will be seeded n°1 as defending champion, no matter what. Ryan Day is in there, following his win in Riga. But the most surprising thing is probably that Neil Robertson is provisionally out of it. He really needs to find something, and quick

and a blog post about how invitational tour cards work:

Invitational Tour Cards

 – 27th June 2017

Following a significant number of questions that I have received following the decision to award invitational tour cards (ITCs) to Ken Doherty and Jimmy White this season, today I am going to try to set out a few of the basics as to their operation and their effect upon the world ranking list.


Discretionary ITCs have in fact existed since the start of the 2014/15 season, when World Snooker awarded two-year tour cards to Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and James Wattana.

At the end of those two years, a further two-year ITC was accepted by Wattana, however Davis announced his retirement during the 2016 World Championship, while Hendry did not utilise his tour card at all and so his was not extended.

Who can receive an invitational tour card?

As is evident from the names above, ITCs are reserved for those players who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport. They may be issued at the discretion of the World Snooker board and are not subject to application.

There can be no more than four invitational tour card holders at any one time. Following the decision to award ITCs to Ken Doherty and Jimmy White from the start of the 2017/18 season, there are now currently three active ITC holders.

When can they play?

Previously, ITC holders could only play in tournaments subject to the amount of professional entrants, meaning that they were effectively top-up players. However, following a decision by World Snooker at the start of this season, they will now be able to compete in any ranking event.

Where the total number of entries including tour players and Invitational Tour Card Holders exceeds 128, a pre-qualifying round will take place.

The relevant number of players will be selected at random from those among the bottom 64 seeds (excluding wildcards) to play in the pre-qualifying round, with the winners progressing into Round 1 (last 128) at random. Tour Players can only be included in one pre-qualifier per season.

How are they ranked?

As has been the case since their introduction, ITC holders will receive prize money and ranking points, meaning that they will be included on the world ranking list.

How are they seeded?

Notwithstanding their ranking however, as it stands ITC holders will continue to be seeded at events after main tour players. For example this is why fourth seeded Judd Trump was paired with ITC holder James Wattana at the 2016 UK Championship, despite Wattana being significantly higher ranked at the time.

For this reason, I will continue to place ITC holders at the bottom of the latest provisional seedings list, despite their higher actual ranking.

Can they earn a full tour card?

In short – yes!

If an invitational tour card holder can finish the season inside the top 64 of the world rankings (either after their first or second season), they will earn a full tour card for the following season.

But what about the one-year list? At the end of their second season (i.e. this season for James Wattana, or next season for Ken Doherty and Jimmy White), an ITC holder may regain a place on the main tour via the one-year list, for players outside of the top 64.

In other words if James Wattana cannot break into the top 64, but can earn enough during the 2017/18 season to be among the top eight players on the one-year list, outside of the top 64 on the two-year list, he will earn a full two-year tour card for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.

However, this does not apply during their first seasons as ITC holders, because the one-year list qualification route is only open to players who do not have a tour card for the following season, which Doherty and White technically do via their ITCs.

This applied last season to Wattana himself, who would have been among the top eight players, but was not included due to already having the second year of his ITC guaranteed for the coming season.

Still not sure? Get in touch via @wpbsaofficial on Twitter with any further questions!

There is also an interesting change to the way the ranking points are awarded or not when a player withdraws after having won at least one match in a tournament, as explained by Worldsnooker here (excerpt):

Please note: World Snooker recently notified the playing membership of a change to the rules on withdrawals from events and the impact on ranking points and prize money. This change outlined the introduction of an Appeals Committee to consider the circumstances, as presented by the players, of any withdrawal and determine if the player should have the points and prize money reinstated.

Following the Kaspersky Riga Masters 2017, the Committee were notified of the circumstances of four players (Wang Yuchen, Chen Zifan, Mark King & Jimmy Robertson) who withdrew from this event and who had earned points and prize money in the event prior to withdrawal. The Committee have considered the circumstances of these players and in each case have determined that they do demonstrate exceptional mitigating circumstances and for that reason all four players have had their points and prize money reinstated and that decision becomes effective from today’s date and the rankings at this point will be used for all draws scheduled to be determined by the rankings from this event.

For future clarity, it is important to note that it may not be possible for a decision to be made in time for the re-ranking at the end of an event it may take some days to consider and conclude on these matters. If a decision is made after the re-ranking point for the purposes of a draw, it will not affect any draw that has already been made.


Ronnie on televison today … twice!

Ronnie will be on television today, talking about his book “Framed”


Himself tweeted

I’m on this morning BBC1 talking about my book.

Only “Victoria Derbyshire” show is  on BBC2, not BBC1, at 9 am UK time (10 am CET)

He will be on BBC1 for “the One Show”, early evening, at 7pm UK time (8 pm CET)

This was Jason Francis tweeting yesterday evening:

Early start for me as ronnie is on and tomorrow talking framed! Looking forward to it

Riga Masters 2017 – Aftermath

After 18 years as a pro, Ryan Day finally won his first ranking title, by defeating Stephen Maguire by 5-2 in the final of the Riga Masters 2017. It was his fifth final and it was a long overdue achievement given Ryan’s huge talent. Congratulations Ryan!


Nobody can say he had it easy! He beat Barry Hawkins, Robert Milkins, Kyren Wilson, Joe Perry, Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire en route. Considering there were only 5 top 16 players in the draw, and he beat 3 of them, it’s some feat!

So now the unwanted “Best player never to win a title” mantle is again hanging on the peg? Who will it belong to now?

But there were quite a number of other interesting aspects to the season opener.

It was quite obvious that the very top players showed little interest for the event.

The ones who are in the battle to gain or keep a top 16 spot on the contrary were determined to take advantage of the very top boys absence. Ryan Day climbed to n° 15 in the rankings, pushing Mark Williams – who made it to the SF himself – to n°16 , and kicking Martin Gould out of the elite bracket. “Willo” still has a 14000 + points cushion. Stephen Maguire, who started the tournament at n°24, climbed to n°19. He played very well, except in the final, and there is no doubt that he doesn’t like to be out of the top 16 and is determined to get back in it.

Neil Robertson was the defending champion. Neil has recently admitted that a video game addiction had been his downfall over the last season. He also vowed to put that right and to play more aggressively. My feeling is that his confidence is in tatters though: he was far from convincing in his held-over last 128 match against Daniel Ward, an amateur, and fell at the next hurdle to German rookie Lukas Kleckers. It will be interesting to see how Neil fares this season.

Another player who has been in the doldrums in recent seasons is Jack Lisowski. Jack reached the last 16, where he lost to a ruthless Stephen Maguire; Stephen had  139, 93 and 83 in that match. But for what we saw in the last 32 round, Jack is playing much better than he has been for a long time. He’s back with the Grove too, which should help him to climb back up in the rankings. He’s too good to drop off the tour.

Veterans Ken Doherty and Jimmy White proved they are worth the invitational cards handed to them – cards that earned Worldsnooker some harsh criticism from those on social media who believe they should have been sent to Q-school or retire. Personally, I believe that this type of reward for a long, dedicated and successful career is perfectly justifiable and, indeed, good for the sport, the viewing public and the sponsors. Jimmy reached the last 16, and his game remains highly entertaining. Ken did even better: he reached the SF and it took a decider for Stephen Maguire to shake him off. Hats off! If they can sustain that type of standard, they will probably regain their tour card through the one year list before we know it.

Finally the young Europeans, Alexander Ursenbacher (Swiss – 21) and Lukas Kleckers (German – 21) both reached the last 32. It was Lukas who defeated the defending champion. Alexander has been on the tour before, Lukas is in his first year. Both showed some good snooker in Riga last week-end. European fans will have their eyes on them this season … and their fingers crossed. And Luca Brecel, from Belgium also reached the last 32 where he stumbled on Mark Williams. People feel that he’s been around for a while but forget he’s only 22.

And the snooker season begins…

Yes, I know, we had a week of qualifiers earlier but tomorrow sees the start of the Riga Masters 2017, the first event proper of the season. You can see the draw here.

It’s a bit of a depleted field to be honest, with only 5 members of the top 16 competing, Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins being the only members of the top 8 in it. Neil Robertson is the defending champion . The World Champion, Mark Selby, had entered but withdrew; if what transpired on social media is true he suffers a foot injury. Some suggested that, having earned so much from snooker over the recent seasons, Mark had withdrawn because of the modest prize money. I don’t believe this, it would be totally out of character.

With the new season about to start Worldsnooker has published the list of events that will be available on Eurosport and/or Eurosport player. So tomorrow Riga will be on our screens, or tablets, or phones. Unfortunately it seems that the much anticipated Hong Kong Masters later in July will not be covered.

Worldsnooker also published this information regarding the invitational Tour card holders 

Wednesday 21 Jun 2017 10:10AM

World Snooker has decided that Invitational Tour Card Holders will now be able to compete in any ranking event – rather than only those where the number of entries is below 128 tour players.

The current Invitational Tour Card Holders are Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and James Wattana and going forward they will be given the opportunity to enter all ranking events.

Where the total number of entries including tour players and Invitational Tour Card Holders exceeds 128, a pre-qualifying round will take place.

The relevant number of players will be selected at random from those among the bottom 64 seeds (excluding wildcards) to play in the pre-qualifying round, with the winners progressing into Round 1 (last 128) at random. Tour Players can only be included in one pre-qualifier per season.

Winners of a pre-qualifying round will receive half of the Last 64 round prize money and this WILL count towards the prize money rankings, but this only applies to those players who then lose in Round 1. Players winning a pre-qualifying round and then winning further matches will be paid the prize money as outlined for that round in the prize money breakdown.

For some reason, mysterious to me, this caused some furor on social media. I honestly can’t see why. First it’s unlikely that there will be any pre-qualifiers at all. I don’t remember a single event over the last couple of seasons where there weren’t at least 3 top-ups. And I by far prefer to see players like Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and James Wattana than the top-ups. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Yes, it’s a favor they get, not a right they have, for it’s for having been brilliant ambassadors of their sport for a very long time. Is that bad? Are they not going to attract viewers and sponsor’s interest? As long as they actually do use their invitational card and play, what’s the problem? They don’t take anyone’s spot. The only thing I wonder is if, in the unlikely case a pre-qualifiying round is needed, it would be possible to have a mechanism in place so that, should a player withdraw from round 1 proper last minute – illness, visa issues etc… – a pre-qualifier would be allowed to fill the gap.