World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – Taking stock of round 2

Today, in the EIS, the third and last round of the World Championship 2018 will start, and all matches will come to a conclusion tomorrow. Tomorrow has been branded “Judgement Day”, but to me, all the previous six days have been Judgement Days, as many players lost their professional status as the tournament unfolded.

Matt Huart is keeping us updated on his “Tour Survival Blog” One particular scenario deserves our attention.  Should Lyu Haotian win tomorrow , and with Oliver Lines losing tonight, Lyu would climb into the top 64, whilst Oliver would drop off that bracket. Should that happen, Oliver would still keep his professional status, via the one year list, at the expense of Sam Craigie who would be relegated.

Here are Worldsnooker accounts of round 2 results

15 April 2018

1997 World Champion Ken Doherty is one match away from a return to snooker’s Theatre of Dreams after defeating Gerard Greene 10-4 at Betfred World Championship Qualifying.

Doherty hasn’t appeared at the Crucible since 2014 and his run this week is in stark contrast to the scenes at qualifying for last year’s event. The Irishman dropped off the tour following a 10-4 loss to Ben Woollaston.

After being handed an invitational tour card Doherty appeared in a semi-final at the 2017 Riga Masters and has fared well throughout the campaign, reaching the last 16 stage on a further two occasions.

Doherty came into this evening’s session with a slender 5-4 advantage. However, he forced himself over the line at the earliest possible opportunity by taking five consecutive frames.

The victory sees him renew an old rivalry with two-time World Championship finalist Matthew Stevens, who came through 10-9 in a final frame decider against Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun.

“There’s one more match to go so I’m not getting too excited. I’m just pleased to have played very well,” said the six-time ranking event winner. “Matthew and I have had some fantastic matches over the years. I’ve played him at the Crucible and he beat me in the final of the Masters. He is a class act, so it will be a tough match against him.

“I think it is very hard to put the Crucible out of your mind. You can feel the tension in the players lounge, you can feel the tension in the arena and these matches are like no other on tour. It is good and gets the juices and adrenaline going. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Joe Perry ended Jimmy White’s ambitions of a Crucible return with a 10-5 victory. Like Doherty, the Gentleman held a narrow 5-4 lead after the first session and mounted an instant charge to the finish this evening.  He compiled runs of 61, 62, 62 and 74 on his way to securing five out of six frames and sealing the win.

Perry faces Mark Davis in the next round, who has dropped just one frame this week. The former Six-Red World Champion defeated Sanderson Lam 10-1 in his opening round and whitewashed Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou 10-0 this evening.

China’s Tian Pengfei claimed a shock victory against his compatriot and one of the brightest prospects in the sport Yan Bingtao. The former Ruhr Open finalist came through a deciding frame to win 10-9.

Graeme Dott booked his place at Judgement Day thanks to a 10-2 demolition of the popular Thai Sunny Akani. The 2006 World Champion will face Mike Dunn for a Crucible spot, after the 46-year-old thrashed Dominic Dale 10-3.

Alfie Burden secured a huge victory in his bid for tour survival. He came through a nerve jangling deciding frame to defeat David Gilbert 10-9 and will face either Adam Stefanow or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh for a place at the Crucible.

16 April 2018

Jamie Jones has survived a colossal fightback from Yu Delu to claim a 10-7 win at Betfred World Championship Qualifying in Sheffield.

The Welshman had stormed to a 9-1 advantage and looked set for an early finish, before his Chinese counterpart came charging back. With the score at 9-3, Yu required a six-point snooker, which he got when Jones hit the black on an escape. He went on to win the frame and claimed a further three to pull within two of the Welshman at 9-7.

Eventually, the relieved former World Championship quarter-finalist got himself over the line with a gutsy break of 34. He faces Liang Wenbo for a spot at the Crucible after the Firecracker beat compatriot Zhao Xintong 10-5.

“At 9-1 up I was coasting,” said Jones. “I lost a couple of dodgy frames and in the end it was just momentum against me. I was trying and trying. To be honest the game was going away from me. I made a good break in the last frame and I was pleased to hold myself together after all of that pressure.

“I’m looking forward to the next round now. I just couldn’t see a way I was going to get a chance at the end of today’s match. The pressure was building and I am just relieved to get through. I’ll try and sleep tonight, but I don’t know if I will.”

Ryan Day progressed to Judgement Day after Mitchell Mann conceded their tie due to ill health. Day, who has picked up three titles this season, had already established a 7-1 lead when Mann was forced to withdraw.

Day will face a tough test against 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon on Judgement Day. Ebdon overcame Robbie Williams 10-5.

Five-time ranking event winner Stephen Maguire defeated Hammad Miah 10-4 to book his spot in the final round. The loss for Miah sees him lose his professional status.

Maguire will face Iran’s Hossein Vafaei for a Crucible berth. Vafaei secured an impressive 10-5 win over Noppon Saengkham to reach Judgement Day and is attempting to become the first Iranian to reach the final stages of the World Championship.

Jack Lisowski put on arguably the performance of the day as he thrashed David Grace 10-3, a result which relegated the Yorkshireman from the tour.

Lisowski fired in breaks of 56, 122, 100, 111, 75, 55, 57 and 73 on his way to a dominant win.

Michael Holt progressed courtesy of a hard fought 10-7 defeat of Gateshead’s Elliot Slessor.

After a fine season in 2016/17, which saw him reach his maiden ranking final at the Riga Masters, Holt has struggled to find his top form this campaign.

In contrast Slessor has enjoyed his best season on the World Snooker Tour, securing two wins over an in-form Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Northern Ireland Open and the China Open. However, it was Holt who showed his experience to book a third round spot.

The Hitman is anticipating a difficult two days of snooker to come, as he attempts to seal his qualification for snooker’s biggest event.

Holt said: “It is very hard. Every player that has been in this last match will tell you it is a very twitchy game. Even if you get a big lead it can swing. It means so much for everyone and they want to get through to the Crucible.”

His opponent in the final round will be Robert Milkins who overcame Perth’s Scott Donaldson 10-8. Victory against Holt would see Milkins appear at the Crucible for the eighth time.

Adam Duffy has remained on course to become the first player from Sheffield to play at the Crucible. He’s defeated Matthew Selt 10-6. While Alan McManus was victorious in a late night thriller with Oliver Lines, winning 10-9.

Now a few thoughts about what I saw at the EIS over the last two days…

Amongst the players most, including me,  expected to make it to the Crucible was young Yan Bingtao. He won’t be there, he lost from 6-1 up to Tian Pengfei, and my feeling is that Yan actually cracked under the pressure big time. He’s still very young of course, we shouldn’t forget that it’s a lot of expectations to cope with for a teenager. But crack he did, and that reminded me of Ronnie’s comments after he beat Yan in the World Grand Prix, questioning his temperament under pressure. At the time I thought that those comments were a bit harsh, but maybe not. Maybe it’s something Yan’s entourage has to take note of and work with him on that specific mental aspect.

Yesterday, Mitchell Mann conceded his streamed match against Ryan Day, citing “ill-health”. This triggered loads of comments on twitter, mostly very sympathetic, suggesting that the issue was related to the well documented bouts of depression Mithchell has suffered in the past. This goes to show how mentality has changed over the last years, and I’m glad it did. But I can’t help to think back at what happened when a certain player, with well documented mental health problems, “cracked” and conceded: he was crucified on social media and in the press, there were talks of ban, and he got a hefty fine. Times a changin… Coming back to Mitchell, he will be relegated from the tour and, maybe, it’s for the better. Snooker is very demanding mentally and emotionally, and, contrary to what happens in more physical sports, there is no possible release of the tension when you are sat in your chair. The most important thing for Mitchell is to get well again, and in a sustainable way too. That’s almost mission impossible when you are competing, and traveling around the globe. Surely, he’s good enough to re-qualify and come back once he’s fit again. In his case relegation might be a blessing in disguise. I’m wishing him the best.

2 thoughts on “World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – Taking stock of round 2

  1. Oliver Lines lost last night in the decider against McManus. Lyu Haotian pulled off an amazing comeback against O’Donnell winning the last five frames.

    While it’s understandable that Worldsnooker keeps mentioning the ”two wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan” every time Elliot Slessor’s name comes up, it’s inexcusable that they failed to mention that his opponent, Holt, has actually won his last three matches against Ronnie.

    All the best to Mitchell Mann.

    • Who cares about Michael Holt’s 3 or Elliot’s 2?
      Ronnie has 5 rankers in this season, Elliot has ZERO.
      Holt too…

      One match wonders

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