International Championship 2017 – Day 3

Day 3 in Daqing saw the last 32 round played to a conclusion, in front of … nearly nobody. Daqing is a rather remote place North of China and the sponsors rely mainly on television channels and streaming for audience. Still this is a big venue and it was almost empty all day, with no atmosphere, which doesn’t look good on television and, more importantly, is not great for the players. Clearly early exits from both Ronnie and Ding are a bad blow for the organisers.

What happened today on the baize? Well, it was a rather mixed bag for the higher ranked players: Ryan Day, Joe Perry, Stephen Maguire, Ricky Walden, Luca Brecel and Kyren Wilson lost today, whilst Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Mark Allen, Liang Wenbo and John Higgins progressed.

Kyren Wilson lost in the deciding frame to Martin Gould, but made his first competitive 147 in the 10th frame of the match. It’s a great feat but I’m not sure it helped him under the circumstances. Playing a decider, with all the focus and concentration is requires, right after scoring a 147, never mind a first one, certainly is a tough call for anybody.  Whatever … here it is:

Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson and Liang Wenbo all had to work very hard for their wins.

Mark Selby was pegged back to 4-4 from 4-1 up by Tom Ford, before winning the last two frames. Mark didn’t play particularly well, for what I was able to watch, but nobody is more apt at winning when not playing great. He did it again. Tom had 5 breaks over 50, for only 2 for Mark, but Tom never was the best under pressure on the main table and Mark took full advantage.

Neil Robertson trailed Matt Selt 3-0 and 5-2 but managed to win the last 4 frames. Neil had 3 centuries in this match too: 101 (fr4), 129 (fr8) and 117 (fr9). Again, what separated the top player, Neil, from the good player, Matt, was the ability to perform under pressure.

The battle between Mark Allen and Mark King went to a deciding frame and they scored 11 breaks over 50 between them. It’s a shame that this match wasn’t on television.

Liang Wenbo surged to a 4-0 lead before having to stifle a gutsy comeback from Li Hang. Of course those two were both part of the Grove stable in the past and, surely, know each other and each other game inside-out. Li Hang was never going to be intimidated.

And what about the young giant killers, Yan Bingtao and Oliver Lines?

Well … Yan won his match, beating Ricky Walden by 6-4 on an outside table, whilst Oliver lost to Robert Milkins by the same score.

Yan started very strongly, leading 3-0 and 5-1 before losing his way a bit. Just like yesterday in fact. The difference though was that Ricky, contrary to Ronnie, was able to find his game and won three frames on the bounce before Yan regrouped and finished the job.

Oliver story was the exact opposite. He went 5-0 down before hitting back, winning 4 frames on the trot. But he had left himself too much to do, and Robert took frame 10 for the match.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker

 

 

International Championship 2017 – Day 2

Day 2 in Daqing was more eventful than the first one, with both Ronnie and Ding crashing out. Those two are the Chinese crowds favourites and I’m not sure that the sponsors feel really happy tonight, but it is what it is.

Ronnie’s defeat is covered here

Ding went down by 6-4 to Oliver Lines and, although the scoreline looks a bit more honourable, he played worse than Ronnie IMO. He had loads of occasions as neither player were able to finish frames in one visit for most of the match. As a comparison, Ronnie and Yan had 6 breaks over 50 in the seven frames they played, Ding and Oliver had 3 in 10 frames. That said Oliver deserves a lot of credit for this win, in particular for being able to up his game with the winning line in sight. Only too often lower ranked players “freeze” at that stage, as if overwhelmed by the enormity of what they could achieve. Oli won the last three frames of the match and made his only two big breaks precisely in those frames.

Speaking of lower ranked players “choking”, this is exactly what happened in the Mark Selby v Cao Yupeng match, in my opinion. The match was close and both players scored big breaks during the first seven frames, Cao leading 4-3 at this stage. Mark then won the next three to take the match. It’s not that he upped his game – both were struggling to make any telling break at that stage –  but he stayed calm and made fewer mistakes than his opponent whose game disintegrated.

I haven’t seen anything of the Shaun Murphy v Mei Xi Wen match, so it’s hard to figure out what happened there, but Mei lead 3-0 and had 6 breaks over 50, for 3 to Murphy, and still lost.

Liang Wenbo as well had to battle hard, as he needed to win the last two frames to overcome Lee Walker in a decider. And Mark Williams led Yu Delu 5-1, but was pegged back to 5-4 before eventually finishing a 6-4 winner.

Other big names going out were Barry Hawkins and Anthony McGill, both soundly beaten 6-2 by Jack Lisowski and Mark Joyce respectively.

So it wasn’t all plain sailing for the top boys….

But the most unfortunate player was Hossein Vafaei whose flight was delayed so much that he never arrived in time to play his match.

International Championship 2017 – Ronnie makes an early exit

Ronnie made an early exit at the International Championship 2017, in Daqing as he was beaten, and well beaten, by Yan Bingtao in the last 64.

IntChampsRosYanL64Stats

Ronnie made a century in the only frame he won but otherwise was very far from the form he showed in the English Open earlier this month: his long potting was almost inexistant and, simply, he made too many mistakes. Not that his opponent need a lot of occasions: Yan played extremely well, he was almost flawless amongst the balls and his long game was excellent too. He deserved the win fully.

Here is the match:

Inevitably, when it’s about Ronnie, there were suggestions that he wasn’t interested, that having taken his sponsor’s money he was in a hurry to go home. Some even hinted that this is how he usually plays in China. Those allegations are both untrue and unfair. First, in the two last previous tournaments he played in China, he made the final and a QF where he lost to the eventual winner. In this match, in the first frame, he came back to the table in frame 1, needing three snookers to tie, four to win, and he sustained a long battle trying to get them. He was just having a bad day in office, it happens to all of them. And, without making excuses, staying awake on twitter until past 3:30 am worrying about whether he would be allowed to play surely didn’t help. Eventually this morning, a Chinese doctor stated that his ankle injury was far from healed and he got permission to play in his black trainers again… nevermind. Mainly, Yan deserves every credit for his win. He played a great match and I now hope that he goes deep in the event. Good luck Yan.

Here a few pictures, courtesy of Tai Chengzhe, thanks Tai.

 

And here is the report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Ronnie O’Sullivan failed to pot a ball in the last four frames as he was beaten 6-1 by 17-year-old Chinese prodigy Yan Bingtao at the OPPO International Championship.

Yan won the Rookie of the Year Award last season and the gifted teenager has continued his progress this term, climbing to 53rd in the world. And this is surely his best result yet as he swept aside five-time World Champion O’Sullivan.

Breaks of 68 and 89 gave Yan the first two frames then his opponent pulled one back with a run of 111. O’Sullivan scored just five points in the last four frames – and those came from a foul from Yan.  Breaks of 91, 52 and 73 helped Yan set up a last 32 meeting with Ricky Walden.

My opponent is a great player,” said Yan, who last season became the first pro player born in the year 2000. “I played Ronnie once before and lost but it was a decent match so that gave me the feeling that I would have a chance if I played well today. I performed better than I thought I would.

“I think I can beat anyone, but I need to be calm and mature. I learned a lot from my first year as a pro, and I need to be in control and to be consistent. I might beat a top 16 player and then lose the next match playing like different person.

O’Sullivan, who won the English Open just eight days ago, said: “Yan played fantastically well. Maybe only Stephen Hendry and John Higgins have played that well against me before. I played well in Barnsley and I feel comfortable with my game, I just got outplayed today. I didn’t do that much wrong apart from missing a couple of balls. The run of the ball didn’t go in my favour but Yan deserved the bit of fortune he got and he scored heavily. It was a tough draw for me, especially as he’d already played a match yesterday.

“If Yan plays like that he’ll be very difficult to beat in this tournament. If he can play like that consistently he’ll win a lot of tournaments. He has a an all round game, a good temperament and he carries himself well. He has presence around the table – to be a champion you need to portray that image. All the great players won tournaments when they were 17 or 18 so if he’s going to be a great player then he’ll win one soon.”

O’Sullivan was allowed to wear trainers – as he was at the English Open – due to an ankle injury, and added: “My foot is ok, I feel comfortable in these trainers, so I’ve no excuses.”

As you can read, Ronnie was very gracious in defeat.

He wasn’t the only casualty on the day though and I doubt that the tournament sponsors will have a party tonight … but that’s for another post.

International Championship 2017 – Day 1

Day 1 in Daqing saw all held-over matches being played as well as half of the last 64 matches. There weren’t many surprises. Probably the most surprising result was Robin Hull beating Zhou Yuelong by 6-2, especially considering how poor Robin’s form has been in recent weeks. But then, there were posts on social media reporting that Zhou has recently lost his father. This was retweeted by Matt Huart, so it is likely reliable news and it would explain both his poor result today and his withdrawal from the English Open less than two weeks ago.

All details results are on Cuetracker

Ronnie was on twitter this evening, unhappy because he was told that if he doesn’t wear regular shoes he would be disqualified from the tournament. Apparently he should have asked to be allowed to wear his trainers again before the tournament. I can only suppose that he took it for granted given that a bad sprain doesn’t heal very quickly, that it’s only last week that he was allowed to wear them and that the matches here are brest of 11, so could easily last for three hours or more. Hopefully common sense will prevail and a solution is found. Ronnie stated clearly that he does not want to pull out. That said he was on twitter at something like past 3 am in China and surely that’s not the ideal preparation for tomorrow’s match, even if he’s scheduled to play in the evening session.

Other than that he was due to do some work tonight for his sponsor, Superstar Online.

IntChamps2017ROSSponsor-1

Going by (automatic translation of) posts on weibo, Ronnie was supposed to chat with fans via the sponsor’s online app, answering their questions, playing games and giving them the opportunity to win prizes.

International Championship 2017 – Opening Day

As usual in China, on the day before things start in earnest, players are made very welcome with an opening ceremony and a launch dinner. They meet the press as well. Meanwhile the fitters make sure everything is ready at the venue.

Here are some images shared by Worldsnooker and fans on twitter and weibo.

A sand artist was performing his work at the openig ceremony, and he really impressed David Grace who is an artist himself (David draws and paints really well)

Worlsnooker also shared a short video, touring around the venue

Some Ronnie news …

Ronnie is in China already, with his good friend Liang Wenbo, and yesterday they did an exhibition in a place called Lian Yun Gang and Ronnie hit a 147 to finish their match, which he won by 5-2. Wenbo celebrated wildly whilst Ronnie stayed very cool …

You can watch most of this break here

Or better, the full break here thanks to Silvry again!

and some photos shared by Ronnie on twitter and by fans on weibo

Ronnie also shared the final 20 seconds of that break …

And now Silvry and krdlr – thanks again! – have found it on youtube

and here is the full exhibition:

He’s also apparently suffering from a serious bout of jet-lag as he is chatting, and being mischievous,  on twitter at truly ungodly hours China time! Hope he gets over it or he might not be able to perform in the coming tournament…

Other than that, Worldsnooker has conformed that Ronnie will play in the Noerthern Ireland Open

Ronnie O’Sullivan will continue his chase for an unprecedented £1 million bonus when he plays in the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast next month.

O’Sullivan is a quarter of the way to the winning the bonus having landed the English Open title in Barnsley last Sunday by beating Kyren Wilson 9-2 In the final.

That was the first of the season’s four Home Nations events and any player capturing all four trophies would receive the £1 million bonus, which would be the biggest prize in snooker history.

O’Sullivan resumes the quest at the Northern Ireland Open which runs from November 20 to 26 at the Waterfront Centre. Once again there will be 128 players battling for the title, with Shaun Murphy John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Jimmy White and home favourites Mark Allen and Joe Swail among the other star names who have already committed to the event. The entry deadline is November 1st, after which the full line up will be announced.

Victory for O’Sullivan gave him his 29th career ranking title, putting him level with John Higgins on the all-time list, but still well behind Stephen Hendry’s record of 36.

Asked about the £1 million bonus, he said: “I’d need to win another 21 matches and it is do-able. Anything is possible but over these short matches that are best-of-seven frames, it will be very tough.”

Tickets for the Northern Ireland Open are on sale now and start at just £10. With all 128 players in action over the first two days, it’s an incredible chance to see top class live sport.

For details CLICK HERE or call 028 9033 4455.

 

 

Snooker news “en vrac”

While I’m in Redhill, snapping around, there’s been a lot of things happening in and around snooker …

Worldsnooker has published the Shanghai Masters draw and format

The draw and format for the final stages of the 2017 Shanghai Masters is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Ronnie will play his first match against Gary Wilson on Tuesday, November 14, in the evening (afternoon in Europe). He did a bit of promo for the event too…

Worldsnooker also published this article explaining where everyone stands ranking wise after the English Open

Ronnie O’Sullivan has climbed to sixth on the one year ranking list thanks to his victory at the Dafabet English Open.

O’Sullivan captured the 29th ranking title of his career by beating Kyren Wilson 9-2 in the final in Barnsley on Sunday. And the £70,000 top prize sees him leap from 38th to sixth on the one year list.

Wilson banked £30,000 and he’s up from fourth to third, now behind only Luca Brecel and Ding Junhui.

Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time and he’s up from 60th to 22nd.

This list will once again be used to determine the field for the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix and Ladbrokes Players Championship later in the season. The top 32 on the one-year list after the Coral Shoot Out will qualify for the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston (February 19-25) then the top 16 from the same list after the Gibraltar Open will qualify for the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno (March 19-25).

As it stands there are eight players in the top 32 of the one year list who are outside the top 32 of the official two year list, and six players in the top 16 of the one year list who are outside the top 16 of the two-year list.

O’Sullivan moves up from 12th to ninth on the two-year list while Wilson is up from 15th to 12th. Ursenbacher jumps from 91st to 75th.

Neil Robertson reached the quarter-finals in Barnsley to boost his hopes of a place at the Dafabet Masters in January, he’s now in 17th place and less than £7,000 behind 16th-placed Ryan Day. To see how that race is shaping up click here.

Tickets for all of the above events are on sale now, for details click here

And WPBSA published this one to explain their policy regarding trophies … no doubt to answer some of Ronnie’s rants on twitter.

WPBSA Statement – Trophies

Following recent comments made via social media the WPBSA today seeks to clarify its policy in respect of both original and replica tournament trophies.Historically, it was not practice to provide replica trophies to every tournament winner, with players instead receiving a commemorative plaque or medal to keep. However, last year, the WPBSA undertook a full review of all its trophies on the World Snooker, this included the commissioning of new high-quality and meaningful trophies for new events. The WPBSA made also made a further commitment to provide replica trophies to a number of past champions, many of which have now already been provided. These include ¾ size World Championship trophies, handmade by an original Sheffield Silversmith, the UK Championship, International Championship and the German Masters since the introduction of the new Waterford Crystal bowl.

We are also working alongside our incredible partners, Waterford Crystal, who are renowned for quality and excellence to produce bespoke replica trophies for winners, not only for our Masters, but also for other prestigious World Snooker Tour events. It is our expectation that the Masters trophy will be available for the 2018 Dafabet Masters, this is in accordance with the timeframes previously discussed with individual players.

Many of our current trophies have significant historical value. We work on the principle that players are proud to put their hands on the original iconic trophy when they earn their place in history and become a champion.

The current policy is that players who win major titles can take home the original trophy until the event next takes place. At this point, players will be provided with a suitable replica worthy of a champion. Again, the principle being that players are proud to take home the actual trophy to be on display, it is also an opportunity to assist players with local media around their achievement.

This policy was in place at the 2017 Dafabet Masters. Ronnie O’Sullivan was offered the original Paul Hunter Trophy to take home, he was also informed that he would be provided with a suitable replica when it was to be returned. He refused to take the trophy and World Snooker have retained the trophy. Ronnie has since been offered delivery of the trophy on a number of occasions, however has continued to refuse it. Ronnie was also offered the original English Open trophy following his exceptional performance in Barnsley last week, he also declined to take this trophy away.

The WPBSA will continue to work with its partners to reward players when they achieve their dreams.

Reading this article, you would believe that the players get their trophies to keep for the whole year, yet that’s not what I have heard from various players. Indeed “major” trophies are put on display at major tournaments like the Masters, the World or the UK Championship. So, from what I understood, the players are asked to return their trophies ahead of those events, and can get them back after. But it seems to be a bit of a hassle …

Finally, and sadly there is also yet another story about a player in breach of the rules regarding betting. This time, Stuart Bingham… 

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) conducted an investigation into the allegation that Stuart Bingham was betting on snooker in contravention of the WPBSA Members Rules. The investigation was supported by the Gambling Commission Sports Betting Intelligence Unit. On 15th March 2017 the WPBSA decided that he had a case to answer and the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee with an independent chair would hear the case.

After a hearing chaired by Nicholas Randall QC that took place on 11th July 2017,  Stuart Bingham admitted a small amount of betting on snooker using two accounts in his own name, to limited betting on snooker using three proxy accounts and to betting with a third party on high break scores.

The WPBSA contested his account and the hearing found him to be guilty of much greater betting over at least seven years. This included bets on his own matches using an account in his manager’s name between 2003 and 2015, which he had not admitted.

The estimated total of his betting on snooker in this time is £35,771. Where he was using proxy accounts to bet, it is not possible to establish whether he won or lost from his betting activity.

The detail of the betting and finding of the Committee is summarised below where the numbers correspond with the charges that can be found here.

1. He bet on snooker using an account in his name in 2009-10 to a total of £424.44, with losses of £280.20.
2. He bet on snooker using an account in his name in 2012-13 to a total of £20, all of which were losing bets.
3. He placed bets on snooker matches that he was playing in using his manager’s account. There were 36 matches between 2003 and 2015 to a value of £4,636.
4&5(a)i Between 25th August 2009 and 11th January 2017 he bet on snooker using an account in his manager’s name.
5(a)ii Between 1st January 2012 and 11th January 2017 he bet on snooker using a different account in his manager’s name.

In relation to counts 4 and 5(a)i and 5(a)ii the exact value of the betting by Stuart Bingham on his manager’s account could not be ascertained. The hearing found that he was responsible for 50% of it to a value of £29,619.73.

5(b)i That his manager placed bets for Stuart Bingham’s direct or indirect benefit
5(b)ii That a second party placed bets for Stuart Bingham’s direct or indirect benefit  to a value of £1,706.85
6(a) Between 1st December 2014 and 8th November 2016 he placed bets with a third party to a value of £ 4,000 that his highest break in a competition would be beaten. All of which were winning bets, where made a profit of £7,000.

The charges at 5(a)iii and 6(b) were not found.

The finding of the Disciplinary Committee can be found in full here.

On Wednesday 11th October 2017 there was a second hearing to determine sanction, where the decision of the Committee was that Stuart Bingham serve a six month period of suspension effective from 28th October 2017. Of this period three months and one day are suspended until 31 October 2018 subject to Stuart Bingham confirming that he will comply with any course of medical treatment recommended to him regarding his gambling and will commit no further rule breaches.

This means that Stuart Bingham will serve an immediate suspension from 28 October 2017 until 26 January 2018 and the remainder of the six month periods of disqualification (three months and one day) will not be enforced provided he complies with the conditions identified above and provided also he is not found to have committed any similar breaches during the period ending 31 October 2018.

The Committee ordered Stuart Bingham pay £20,000 towards the costs incurred by the WPBSA.

The finding on sanction and costs can be found here.

There is no suggestion whatsoever that Stuart Bingham was doing anything to influence match outcomes or engaged in any corrupt activity, he was solely betting on snooker.​

He has until 6th November 2017 to appeal the decision.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is very disappointing to see such a high profile player fall foul of the WPBSA Betting Rules. Stuart is a great competitor and I have no doubt he has always played to the best of his ability. This case shows that there are no exceptions to the rules. Players must understand that they cannot bet on snooker at all, even if they are not involved in a match or event. Any player found to breach of the betting rules will face the most serious of consequences”.

The WPBSA Rules

The WPBSA Rule pre 25th August 2009 was:

  • A Player shall not bet or lay bets on the result, score or any other aspect of any snooker or billiards match in which he is playing or cause any such bet to be placed or laid on his

The WPBSA Rule post 25th August 2009 is:

  1. Betting misconduct

2.1 It shall be a breach of these Rules for a Member to do any of the following:

2.1.1 Betting:

2.1.1.1 to place, accept, lay or otherwise make a Bet with any other person in relation to the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match in events sanctioned by the WPBSA, WSL or WBL;

2.1.1.2 to solicit, induce, entice, instruct, persuade, encourage, facilitate, authorise or permit any other person to enter into a Bet for the Member’s direct or in direct benefit in relation to the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match in events sanctioned by the WPBSA, WSL, WBL, WLBS or WDBS;

The full WPBSA Members Rules can be viewed here.

How some players still continue to bet is beyond my understanding …