The World Open replaces the Shanghai Masters in the calendar

As confirmed by World Snooker in this article

But, there is, maybe, still hope for the Shanghai Masters, by far the favourite China tournament with many players.

Tuesday 11 Jul 2017 05:01PM

The World Open ranking event will take place in Yushan, China, in September with record-equalling prize money.The tournament will run from September 18-24.The total prize money for the event is £700,000 with a top prize of £150,000, matching the China Championship and International Championship as the ranking events outside the UK with the highest prize money.The World Open qualifying round, using a flat 128-player draw, will run from August 6 to 9 in Preston with the winners going through to Yushan in the Jiangxi Province. As standard for ranking events in China, certain matches will be held over to the final venue. The Chinese wild cards who enter at the 128 stage will also have their matches held over.The final stages will be televised by broadcasters including CCTV and Eurosport.The Shanghai Masters has been a fantastic tournament for many years and World Snooker is still in discussions with the Shanghai promoter about continuing the Shanghai Masters in a different format later in the season.The World Open took place in Yushan last year, won by Ali Carter.

More info about the International Challenge in Shenzhen

Worldsnooker has today published this article

Tuesday 11 Jul 2017 09:56AM

The new Camsing Global BVC International Challenge will take place in Shenzhen, China, later this month.

The invitation tournament, sanctioned by World Snooker, will run from July 27-29 at Shenzhen Nanshan Sports Centre in China’s Guangdong Province.

It will be a team event with the British quintet of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, Joe Perry, Michael Holt and Graeme Dott taking on China’s Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Yan Bingtao, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong.

It will be the most important snooker event in recent years in Shenzhen, the metropolitan city in China with huge number of snooker fans.

The event will be televised on Shenzhen TV and GDTV only.

So no chance for us to watch it here in Europe then ….

News from the twitter mill

Ronnie has been quite active on twitter recently and a few interesting pieces of information have filtered. I won’t quote everything relevant, instead you can just read through his twitter feed with replies over the last few days

Here is what I picked out … apart from his political activism:

There will be a sequel to the “American Hustle”, but this time it will be in China and about snooker rather than pool. That’s great news. Still with Matt Smith and probably filming it next spring/summer.

There will also be a sequel to “Framed”, titled “Double Kiss” and it’s due to be out in November. Ronnie believes it’s better than “Framed”

Regarding his snooker, Ronnie insisted that he has nothing to prove anymore, that it’s about enjoying it for him now and that snooker will have to leave time and space for the other things he’s doing. He won’t play a full calendar and, asked the question, refused to commit event to the majors. That said, answering a fan, he also declared that he believes he still has a sixth World in him, maybe even a seventh. He also revealed that he’s “cueless” right now, his old one being “ruined” and he needs a new one. This didn’t worry Joe Perry, who is playing in Shenzhen in Ronnie’s team later this month: “you only need 5 minutes to get used to a new cue” was the Gentleman reaction to the news.

Finally and just for the funny side of it, the man who admitted in his bios that he hated school, and retweets nutritionists advises at every opportunity, was having dinner with his young son, discussing how important education is nowadays… Enjoy the pictures he shared on twitter and the irony

Now a few thoughts about all this, and in particular Ronnie’s stance on snooker. As a fan, I want to see him play and win. As a person, and friend, I want to see him happy and this is more important to me than the fan’s point of view.

In many ways, this route Ronnie is taking is similar to what Roger Federer does in tennis. He picks and chooses. This season he skipped the clay “leg” completely, including Roland Garros. He was quoted by a commentator saying that it was about enjoyment now for him and that people shouldn’t forget that the reason tennismen started playing as kids is because they enjoyed it. Enjoyment is a big factor in a sportsperson longevity.

In the same vein, I also found this interview of Andre Agassi about his work with Novak Djokovic very revealing. I will quote just a short excerpt, but that I believe is very true and applies to Ronnie as well:

Do those long-term plans have numerical value like catching Roger Federer’s total of 18 Grand Slam wins?

‘It’s not about numbers,’ Agassi smiled. ‘The big long-term plan, for a guy like this, is no regrets. No regrets.

If Ronnie hangs his cue with no regrets, be it in 5, 10 or 20 years, or even tomorrow… I will miss watching him play, big time, but I’ll be happy for him. All of us human beings have only this life to live… even celebrities and sporting heroes. We should not forget.




World Cup 2017 – the aftermath

Yesterday evening, in Wuxi, Ding Junhui’s hone town, the China A team, Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo, won the World Cup. They beat England by 4-3 in the final, after England had got the better of the defending champions, China B, Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao.

Here is the report by Matt Huart

China A Win Little Swan World Cup

  • Ding and Liang win World Cup

China won the Snooker World Cup for the third time in a row by beating England 4-3 in the final in Wuxi.

Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo of China A came from 3-1 down to win the last three frames against English duo Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins in an exciting conclusion to the tournament, which started out with 24 teams.

Ding and Liang took the World Cup for their nation in 2011, then in 2015 the trophy went to the B team of Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao. Now it’s a hat-trick of titles as home favourites Ding and Liang claimed the $200,000 first prize to the delight of their fans.

It’s Ding’s first silverware since the 2016 Shanghai Masters and Liang’s first since the 2016 English Open.

Trump cleared from yellow to pink to win the opening frame for England, then Ding beat Hawkins with a break of 68 to level. England won the doubles frame then Hawkins beat Liang for 3-1.

Ding made a 69 to close to 3-2 then a tense 40-minute doubles frame came down to the colours, with England missing chances for victory as China made it 3-3.

Ding and Trump stepped forward to play the deciding frame and it was 12-time ranking event winner Ding who dominated, making breaks of 59 and 29 to seal victory.

Ding said: “I have a pretty decent head-to-head record against Judd. In a deciding frame I don’t think I’ll lose to anyone. I was playing with great confidence, apart from the red I missed in the last frame. But we won in the end.

“I’m so glad to have won this in front of my home crowd, especially as it’s the World Cup title. Both of today’s matches were tough. Liang played well even when we where 2-0 down this afternoon (against Thailand). We hope this tough win can leave everyone a great memory.

“Anywhere in China the fans give me massive courage. I used to worry about performing here but I’m enjoying my people’s passion now, and they give me the motivation to play every shot well.”

Liang said: “Tonight I didn’t play well so I think I put a lot of pressure on Ding. But what he did was reassuring. It’s a comfortable partnership between us and there was good chemistry.”

Hawkins said: “It was tough, we both had chances, especially me at 3-2. My timing disappeared and under pressure it’s hard to get it back. But we’ve had a great week and enjoyed it.”

Trump added: “The whole World Cup has been very enjoyable for everyone with a lot of close games. We could have gone out in the semi-finals. I’m happy to have been involved and hopefully I’ll be back next time.”

Earlier in the semi-finals, China A saw off Thailand 4-2, while England edged out China B 4-3, with Hawkins beating Zhou Yuelong in the decider.

Congratulations to the Champions! 


A few more personal thoughts about this competition…

The final was competed between 4 players, all in the top 16, with Liang, currently n° 11, the lowest ranked out there. Indeed the other three were all in the top 5. This is proof, once again, that it doesn’t really matter what format a competition is played in, the better players will (almost) always come on top.

The teenagers pair, Zhou and Yan did a very good job in their defence of the title. The pressure was on them and they reached the semi finals, only narrowly losing to England, on paper the strongest team in the draw.

The round robin stage, competed over 5 days felt like dragging it a bit to me. There was little suspense in most groups and some teams never had a chance which is a bit of a pity. But the alternative is to restrict the competition to a smaller number of teams which would somehow defeat the very purpose of a “World Cup”. Not sure what can be done about this. As it happens, once we reached the QF, first knock-out round, there was only one amateur left in the competition, Jeff Jacobs from Belgium, and Jeff might be unknown to most of you, but, at just 21, he’s the Belgian National Champion, and was three times the Belgian Junior Champion. Belgium has history in snooker and a very good junior scene too. Jeff played really well in Wuxi.

Thailand was the strongest team at the group stage and it was good to see Noppon Saengkham in action, along with Thepchaya Un-noh. Both are good to watch, and very good players. It’s not by chance that they reached the SF. Regarding the group stage, Mark Allen reflected that a team could win all their matches and still be eliminated. That’s true indeed: just think about the situation where one team wins all five matches by 3-2 but two other teams win three matches by 5-0 … However I can see the rationale behind the current system: the fact that every frame counts combined with different prize money depending on where you finish in a group aims at making sure everyone will try to the last ball.

Finally, Neil Robertson’s form … remains a concern.

UK vs China in Shenzhen in July

This was Ronnie on Facebook earlier today:

I am very happy to play in the China UK team challenge in Shenzhen along with Ding, looking forward seeing the fans in china on 28th and 29th of July.

So what is this about?

Well, it’s about the Sino-British Snooker Stars Challenge played in Shenzhen on 28 and 29 July 2017, shortly after the Hong Kong Masters, and here are the teams:

Ronnie, mark Williams, Michael Holt, Graeme Dott and Joe Perry for UK, Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Zhou Yuelong, Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong for China.

More about the format and order of play when I find out …

The Shanghai blues, foul and a miss …

Yesterday, it transpired on social media that the Shanghai Masters will not be held in Shanghai, but in some remote(r) place with no airport … implying additional travel/transport for the players. And the format, that used to be tiered, is now a 128 flat draw, like almost every event in the calendar nowadays.

Django Fung wasn’t impressed, as wasn’t Judd Trump. This is Django on twitter, including some retweets off Judd’s feed.

I hope its not true. I had crying on the phone when he heard the news. SH and BJ are the best two venue

And they are changing it to a place you can’t even fly there. Some chinese people haven’t heard of the place.

Replying to and 2 others

different class shanghai was only tournament I look forward to

Bring back the shanghai masters!!! 😛😛


Leaning the news, Ronnie embarked in a right rant on twitter:

Why has Shanghai been moved? Crazy. Best venue and event on the calendar

I think it’s a joke. I can’t even enter now, due to clash of dates.


Once again very poor communication between world snooker and the players regarding Shanghai, car boot sale standards as usual

I know I heard judd was crying about the news of Shanghai moving to a city no one knows

After HK scenario players may have to get together again

It should be a rule that if you can’t fly there, you can’t play there

Another joke taking manchester to Barnsley

Yeah now have to qaulify..and I’ve already booked the dates out Can you imagine federer and nadal having to qaulify for main events

That’s why I don’t play as much..until they sort it out I’ll play as little as I can get away with.

Yeah I’ve got loads on so snooker can wait for a bit.. I’ll play in events where I don’t have to go and qaulify

I’m not in the European open either we can put some nights in there too.. we can have a laugh and entertain the snooker fans

Well, that’s a big shame indeed!

To what extend Ronnie will act upon what he tweeted remains to be seen of course, but he will definitely NOT be at the European Masters because he’s already committed to events in the UK during that week. Last season he didn’t enter any of the European events, except the European Masters that was held by a sponsor he has a good relationship with, and I don’t expect it to be any different this season. And it is very possible that, true to his tweets, he gives the “Shanghai Masters”, not being held in Shanghai, a miss as well. He’s not a fan of traveling at the best of times anyway and making that part of the job harder for the players won’t endear him! So maybe that’s our Ronnie just now … in his Shanghai gown but chilling at home.


What do I make of all this?

Foul. Well, as I wrote, it’s a big shame. Shanghai is a great, great city, it’s easy to reach and the hospitality is fantastic. I had the privilege to be invited to the tournament in 2012 and it’s an experience I will never forget.I was made very welcome by the organisers … and the fans. I think it’s important for the image of an event that it’s held in a surrounding that has class, and it’s important for the fans too, that transport and accommodations are easy and quality and that there is also something for them outside the snooker itself. This is why, like Ronnie yesterday, I had expressed doubts about the move of the English Open from Manchester, a big city with an airport, to Barnsley, best known as a qualifying venue.

But there is more. The Shanghai Masters was going to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year: indeed it was first held in 2007, when Dominic Dale famously sported a spiked, blond dyed hairdo and sang “My Way” during the  presentation ceremony! To move it and disfigure it is probably the worst anniversary gift this great event could get. I write “disfigure” because this was one of the rare events still having a tiered structure, giving it a distinctive feel, for once giving the lower ranked players a longer but more progressive route to the main stage instead of a brutal first round clash against a top 64 opponent, and giving the top players and the sponsors the certainty that the cream would be at the event provided they enter. Barry Hearn never liked it, he’s always said he would make it flat draw at the first opportunity, namely the renegotiation of the contract. And he did. He’s always right isn’t he? (thoughts of the ranking shootout going through my mind as I type … )

Miss. Regarding the European Masters, it’s going to be held in Lommel, in my own country, Belgium, as announced by Worldsnooker, this season. It’s been over 20 years since Belgium last hosted a full ranking event… and I will miss it. Not because anything related to Ronnie or snooker, but because, having a family spread over two countries, I will not be in Belgium at the time and it’s too late for me to change the arrangements especially as I’m not the only one involved.