World Championship 2018 – Day 1 – Seeds are suffering

It wasn’t a great day for the seeds at the Crucible yesterday. Indeed five matches started, one of them finished and only one seed, Kyren Wilson, is ahead. Mark Selby, the defending champion went out to Joe Perry on a rather damning score: 10-4. Marco Fu, Ali Carter and Ronnie all trail by 6-3. Fu, of course, is probably not really fit, having suffered some serious eye problems, and not played, since January. But the key thing is simply that the qualifiers – Perry, Maguire, and Dott – are very sharp, whilst the seeds come here cold and under pressure because they have everything to lose and the weight of expectations is on them. Also, contrary to what happened last year, there weren’t many long close matches, with late finishes in the last round of the qualifiers, so the qualifiers are still relatively fresh.

Here is the ES tournament preview, as well as Selby v Perry preview:

Tournament preview + preview of the Mark Selby – Joe Perry match (Session1, ES)

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Stephen Maguire outplayed Ronnie O’Sullivan in an enthralling first session of their opening round clash at the Betfred World Championship to establish a 6-3 advantage.

The Rocket is enjoying his most fruitful season on the World Snooker Tour, having won five ranking titles in a single campaign for the first time in his career. He will have come into this afternoon’s clash with Maguire full of confidence, holding a 17-4 lead in their head-to-head record.

That disparity wasn’t reflected in the early exchanges today which saw Maguire, who is competing at the Crucible for the 15th consecutive season, storm to a 4-0 lead at the mid-session. The 2004 UK Champion compiled breaks of 101 and 95 as he asserted himself upon proceedings.

When they returned O’Sullivan fired in back-to-back century breaks of 118 and 110  to pull within one at 4-3. Maguire then took a scrappy 30-minute eighth frame where both players spurned opportunities.

That could prove to be a pivotal moment, as the tenacious Scot compounded his advantage with a break of 84 to restore a three-frame gap overnight. The match will be played to a conclusion tomorrow morning at 10am.

Kyren Wilson is on the verge of a spot in round two after a dominant performance saw him open up a 7-2 lead against two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens.

The Warrior reached the quarter-final stage in 2016 and 2017 and he will be hoping to go at least a step further and make the one-table setup for a first time this year. Wilson qualified for his maiden Triple Crown final earlier this year at the Masters, although he did lose out in a 10-7 defeat against Mark Allen.

Stevens is playing at the Crucible for the first time since 2015. However, his hopes of a run were dashed by a late blitz by Wilson this afternoon. From 4-2, the 2015 Shanghai Masters champion compiled runs of 94, 65 and 126 to move three frames from victory at 7-2. They will resume tomorrow evening at 7pm.

Joe Perry inflicted defending champion Mark Selby’s first Crucible defeat in three years after a shock 10-4 victory for the Gentleman in their opening round tie at the Betfred World Championship.

Selby’s winning run in Sheffield had extended to ten matches across his triumphs in 2016 and 2017. It’s only the seventh time a reigning champion has been ousted at the first hurdle at the Crucible Theatre.

First Round Crucible Defeats For Defending Champions

  • 1982 Steve Davis 1-10 Tony Knowles
  • 1986 Dennis Taylor 6-10 Mike Hallett
  • 2000 Stephen Hendry 7-10 Stuart Bingham
  • 2007 Graeme Dott 7-10 Ian McCulloch
  • 2012 Neil Robertson 8-10 Judd Trump
  • 2016 Stuart Bingham 9-10 Ali Carter
  • 2017 Mark Selby 4-10 Joe Perry

Regardless of the outcome at the Crucible this year, Selby has already ensured that he will finish the season as world number one after victory at the recent China Open.

Perry’s win this evening comes 12 months on from missing out on a place at the Crucible in 2017. The former Players Champion came through three tough matches at qualifying last week to seal his place at the event.

The world number 22 looked the sharper throughout today’s clash, but inflicted the majority of the damage in a fine morning session performance, which saw him establish a 7-2 lead.

Selby showed his steel last year when he overturned a 10-4 deficit to defeat John Higgins to win 18-15 in the final. However, the five-frame gap this evening proved too much for the 34-year-old.

The Leicester potter took two out of the first three frames this evening to give himself a glimmer of hope at 8-4. However, from there Perry thrust himself over the line with breaks of 76 and 90 to seal a famous win.

“I’m delighted, chuffed,” said Perry. “When the draw came out, I knew I’d have to perform to the best of my ability. Luck was on my side today, I had a few nice little bits of run which I capitalised on. All in all, I’m really pleased with my performance.

“The frame to go 9-4 up was massive. I sensed that for the first time all day he could smell blood. Luckily he didn’t get on a ball when he split the reds and I took full advantage with a good break.

“Mark is the best player we’ve got, he’s the best ambassador we’ve got and I didn’t want to celebrate too much at the end. I’ve got too much respect for him and it must be horrible for him to lose. I’ve lost here before lots of times, and never experienced being the reigning champion.

“It’s up there with my best results. I beat Mark Williams when he was world champion years ago (2004), and at the time that was one of my highlights and one of the best wins I’d ever had. When you beat the world number one, the World Champion, in any tournament it’s a great feeling and to do it at the Crucible makes it even more special.

“I know my game’s in good order, but come Thursday this result doesn’t mean anything. I’ve got to go out and perform again at a very high level. But I’ll enjoy it for now.”

Afterwards a disappointed Selby was full of praise for his opponent and admitted much of the damage was done this morning.

“He’s underachieved if anything. He should have a lot won more than he’s won. I’ve always rated him as a top player,” said the world number one. “I knew he wouldn’t be fazed by the occasion, he’s been here too many times and is too long in the tooth for that.

“I lost it really in the first session. My safety wasn’t up to scratch and every time I made a mistake he punished me heavily.”

“The last three or four years I’ve had some good success here so I can’t complain. I’m gutted to lose but if you’d told me in 2014 that in the next three or four years I’d have won it three times I’d definitely have taken that.”

Meanwhile, 2006 Crucible king Graeme Dott built a 6-3 lead over Ali Carter to move within four frames of a last 16 meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Stephen Maguire.

Dott took the opening frame with a top break of 49 then Carter levelled with a 106. Two scrappy frames went Dott’s way then he made a 34 clearance to nick the next on the black and go 4-1 up.

Carter pulled one back with a 52 clearance but Scotland’s Dott dominated the next two for 6-2. The last of the session went Carter’s way but he’ll need seven of the last ten frames when they resume at 2.30pm on Sunday.

So things are not looking good for Ronnie who looked both tense and flat yesterday. Obviously, 6-3 is a huge deficit against someone of Maguire’s quality. However, if Ronnie could win the first mini-session by 3-1, he would find himself only one behind – 7-6 to Maguire – and right back in the match. But he will need to play much better than he did yesterday and apply himself 100%. If I’m honest, I’m not optimistic…