European Masters 2018 – QF and SF round-up and other snooker news

Today the Final in Lommel will see Joe Perry play Jimmy Robertson. Certainly not a final that many would have predicted. To get there Joe beat Anthony Hamilton, and Jimmy beat Mark King. There was no top 16 player in the semi-finals, the highest ranked player being Mark King currently 23.

With the Class of 92 giving the tournament a miss, we now have three players in the class of 91 in the last 4: Perry is 44, King is 44, Hamilton is 47. Do people really need more evidence that the brutal system that Hearn promotes is not allowing young players to develop? Jimmy Robertson himself isn’t no kid, he’s 32, and he’s come through the pro-am factory and amateur championships as well. The first time I met Jimmy was at the European Championships in Duffel (near Antwerp in Belgium). He made the QF there, and was always a terrific potter. Now he’s a complete player.

Anyway, here are the reports on Worldsnooker.

Quarter Finals

Jimmy Robertson is through to the last four of a ranking event for the first time in his career after defeating Masters champion Mark Allen 4-2 in their quarter-final clash at the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.

Robertson has endured a week packed with tension after each of his previous three matches went down to the final black in a final frame decider. On this occasion he managed to get the job done with a frame to spare.

With the score at 1-1, Robertson made his move. In the third frame he equalled Jack Lisowski’s high break of the week with a sublime 135. Robertson then pulled within one of victory at 3-1 thanks to a run of 81.

Allen made it 3-2, before Robertson took charge of the sixth frame. He reached the snookers required stage, but spurned several opportunities on the green to get over the line. Robertson then went in off to give Allen one of the two snookers he needed, but he eventually secured a landmark victory.

“When the brown and the blue went in it was massive relief,” said Robertson. “It is a great feeling. I’m buzzing at the moment. Hopefully I can just relax and enjoy the semi-finals.

“I seem to struggle in the early part of tournaments. This is the best I’ve felt all week, even if it didn’t look like it. That was the most comfortable I have felt out there.

“It would mean everything to win on Sunday. We are all playing to try and win tournaments. This is completely new to me. I’ll take one match at a time and if I do get to pick up the trophy I’ll be delighted.”

Robertson will face Mark King, who recorded an impressive 4-1 defeat of Ryan Day to book his last four spot.

King has been in fine form this week and had already dispatched 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham in a 4-0 whitewash win.

The 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion will have some interesting living arrangements this evening as he is sharing a chalet with his opponent Robertson.

King said: “Once we shake hands it will be war. We are good pals and it is nice to see him do well. He probably should have done better over his career. We have all been through pressure and money worries before, this will be a nice pay cheque for both of us.”

Anthony Hamilton secured his semi-final spot after beating Jack Lisowski 4-3 in a deciding frame.

The Sherriff of Pottingham emotionally won his maiden ranking title at the 2017 German Masters after 26 seasons as a professional. However, since then he has struggled with back problems which kept him from finding his best form.

Hamilton now believes he has managed to get his injuries under control and only Joe Perry stands between him and a return to ranking event final action.

Perry also negotiated a deciding frame in his 4-2 defeat of China’s Tian Pengfei.

The Gentleman had trailed 3-2, but kept himself in it with a fine contribution of 69 in the sixth frame. He then completely controlled a tactical decider, which lasted 44 minutes, to book his place in the last four.

The 2015 Players Champion Perry and Hamilton will contest the first semi final at 12pm UK time.

Semi Final 1

Joe Perry is through to the final of the D88.com European Masters in Lommel after defeating Anthony Hamilton 6-3 in the last four.

The Gentleman’s only ranking title to date came at the 2015 Players Championship, where he defeated Mark Williams in the final. A second title this week would carry great significance as it would see Perry move into the world’s top 16 and secure him a spot at the Champion of Champions.

World number 28 Hamilton will leave disappointed at suffering defeat. However, he will have the consolation of £17,500 in prize money and a much needed boost to his world ranking, which is currently  projected to drop to 63rd by the end of the season.

This afternoon Hamilton took the opening two frames to establish the early advantage. However, Perry crucially pegged him back to 2-2 at the mid-session.

When they returned Hamilton made a clutch clearance of 67 from 64-0 down to edge 3-2 in front. At the time that appeared as if it could have been a huge blow for Perry. However, to the contrary he went on to win four frames in a row, including breaks of 70 and 74, to claim a 6-3 victory.

“It was always going to be tough. Anthony is a great player,” said Perry. “I really enjoyed the game but I got a bit edgy. I started edgy, got myself relaxed and then was edgy again in the middle. Luckily I had a great chance at the end and managed to take it.

“My whole career has been driven by the same thing and that is winning. I don’t worry about the money. If you win you get rewarded heavily and that comes with the job. If you win tournaments you normally get in the top 16. I know all these benefits come with it but tomorrow it will all be about winning the final and getting a trophy.”

Semi Final 2 

Jimmy Robertson is through to his first ever ranking event final after winning a dramatic semi-final contest with Mark King 6-4.

The Bexhill potter has been a professional since 2002 and has competed in the Crucible stages of the World Championship four times. However, tomorrow will be his first ever opportunity to lift ranking event silverware.

The 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion King was aiming to reach his first final since that emotional victory in Belfast, but will now have to settle for the £17,500 in prize money attached to reaching the last four this week.

Robertson came out of the blocks with a break of 99 on his way to leading 2-0 and seized the early initiative. However, King responded emphatically with breaks of 85 and 64 to level the scores at 2-2 going into the mid-session.

They traded frames when they returned, before the standard of the clash was pushed up a notch further. Robertson burst for the finish line with a break of 82 followed up by a sublime 132 to move one from victory at 5-3.

The typically tenacious King didn’t wilt under the pressure and composed a break of 97 to keep his hopes alive. However, it was Robertson who won a tense tenth frame to progress.

Robertson will face Joe Perry in tomorrow’s final, where the winner will pick up the first prize of £75,000 as well as a place at the upcoming Champion of Champions event.

Elsewhere…

But still in Lommel David Grace won the Challenge Tour Event 6 

grace

David Grace won his second Challenge Tour title of the season by beating Ben Hancorn 3-0 in the final of event six in Belgium.

Leeds cueman Grace, a former UK Championship semi-finalist, won five matches over two days in Lommel to take the £2,000 top prize.

Grace, who also won event two in July in Preston, goes top of the Challenge Tour rankings with £5,525. The top two after ten events will be promoted to the World Snooker Tour.

The next Challenge Tour event is on October 13-14 in Barnsley.

Results

Round 1
1) Kevin Van Hove-Speltincx 2 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
2) Saqib Nasir 3 (5) 2 Zsolt Fenyvesi
3) Jed Mann 2 (5) 3 Joel Walker
4) On Yee Ng 2 (5) 3 Charlie Walters
5) Matthew Day 3 (5) 2 Mark Vincent
6) Barry Pinches 3 (5) 2 Jackson Page
7) John Foster 3 (5) 1 David Lilley
8) Joshua Cooper 1 (5) 3 Christopher Keogan

Round 2
9) Brian Ochoiski 3 (5) 1 Sergey Isaenko
10) Jamie O’Neill 2 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
11) Jake Nicholson 0 (5) 3 Steven Hallworth
12) Farakh Ajaib 1 (5) 3 Patrick Whelan
13) Felix Frede 0 (5) 3 George Pragnall
14) Oliver Brown 3 (5) 1 Saqib Nasir
15) Andreas Ploner 3 (5) 0 Reanne Evans
16) Peter Devlin 3 (5) 2 Joel Walker
17) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Brandon Sargeant
18) Callum Lloyd 0 (5) 3 Charlie Walters
19) Dylan Emery 2 (5) 3 Matthew Day
20) Mitchell Mann 3 (5) 2 Barry Pinches
21) Iulian Boiko 0 (5) 3 Jamie Curtis-Barrett
22) Lucky Vatnani 2 (5) 3 John Foster
23) Joshua Thomond 3 (5) 1 Luke Simmonds
24) David Grace 3 (5) 2 Christopher Keogan

Round 3
25) Brian Ochoiski 0 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
26) Steven Hallworth 3 (5) 1 Patrick Whelan
27) George Pragnall 0 (5) 3 Oliver Brown
28) Andreas Ploner 1 (5) 3 Peter Devlin
29) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Charlie Walters
30) Matthew Day 0 (5) 3 Mitchell Mann
31) Jamie Curtis-Barrett 1 (5) 3 John Foster
32) Joshua Thomond 0 (5) 3 David Grace

Quarter Finals
33) Ben Hancorn 3 (5) 2 Steven Hallworth
34) Oliver Brown 0 (5) 3 Peter Devlin
35) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Mitchell Mann
36) John Foster 1 (5) 3 David Grace

Semi Finals
37) Ben Hancorn 3 (5) 0 Peter Devlin
38) Daniel Womersley 0 (5) 3 David Grace

Final
39) Ben Hancorn 0 (5) 3 David Grace

I was there for the event, and, again I don’t understand Worldsnooker. It was played in a separate part of the arena, with no spectators allowed other than the players guests. There weren’t any referees until the semi-finals. If there was an issue, players had to fetch the only referee available, the one who was in charge of recording the results after the matches and who was sat alone, rather well away from the arena proper.

Here you  get the idea…

ChallengeTour6-3698

It was played in very good spirit though, and there was good snooker on display too, especially towards the latter stages. But as it isn’t streamed nor viewed by any one, it’s hard for the players to get sponsors for this. No wonder the entries are low, it’s expensive for those amateurs and there are only two spots for the grabs.

For most of the Final and Semi Finals, there were only the players, the referee and me in the arena …

Here are the pictures I took:

On October 4, 2018

On October 5, 2018

As for today … I’m off the Women’s European Masters in Neerpelt, at the MAXX, Wendy Jans’ snooker club. More about that later today. You can follow it on snooker.org

There was a rather big shock yesterday in the last 16 of the main event: young Nutcharut Wongharuthai, only 18, beat the reigning World Champion, and first seed, On Yee Ng. Needing both pink and black to win the last frame, she knocked in a terrific difficult long pink, with no safety in mind, got perfect position on the black and sealed victory. She’s in the semi finals now and will play Wendy Jans. Wendy has 6 amateur World Titles to her name, 12 European titles and is 15 times National Belgian Champion. Some pedigree.