Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Ronnie wins his last 64 match

Ronnie is through to the last 32 in Belfast after beating Mei Xiwen by 4-1, in a rather strange match.

NI Open 2018 ROS L64 Scores

The first frame was long and very scrappy and it was obvious that Ronnie’s concentration wasn’t there at all. He made countless mistakes and still managed to win it somehow. Mistakes continued in the second frame, and this time Mei punished him. That seemed to bring Ronnie’s focus back. In the third frame, after the most terrible break-off, Ronnie found something when Mei was unable to take advantage: the result was a well constructed 119. After that Ronnie played decent snooker and finished the match quite comfortably, despite playing at a madly fast pace and taking quite a number of risky shots.

After the match, he explained why he felt the need to play this way…

The preview:

The match:

The review:

Here is the report on Worldsnooker


Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a display of aggressive snooker in his 4-1 win over Mei Xiwen on day three of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The Rocket has already pledged to keep his shot-time down as low as possible this week on social media and he lived up to that promise today, averaging just 14.7 seconds per visit.

The match was characterised by O’Sullivan taking the attacking play at every opportunity. He also adopted an unorthodox breakoff style, trying to hit the opposite side of the pack between the blue and the pink. On one occasion that backfired with the Rocket catching the blue on the way down (watch here).

The attacking approach to the encounter paid off in terms of the result, with the five-time World Champion securing a comfortable victory, making breaks of 119 and 54 along the way.

“Seven matches in a tournament is like a marathon or an ironman,” said O’Sullivan. “The winning line is a long way away. I get interested at the last 16 stage or the quarter-finals. Until that comes I am just going to go for everything in sight, try to be creative and try to have fun. I shouldn’t really change my game no matter what. The aim is to have fun.”

Hopefully, as the tournament progresses, Ronnie will feel more motivated and focused.

Tomorrow, in the last 32, he will play Tom Ford. Tom is a dangerous player, but one who plays a fast and open game and that should suit Ronnie more than Mei’s methodical approach. Should he win, it will be either Michael Holt or Zhou Yuelong in the last 16.

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great images

5 thoughts on “Northern Ireland Open 2018 – Ronnie wins his last 64 match

  1. Lewis, thanks for that. This game made me really uneasy. Understanding everything Ronnie said about why he wants to “spike up” the game etc, it felt that he – unintentionally maybe – appeared disrespectful (I know he denied it afterwards) and Mei Xiwen did not warrant or deserve it.

  2. “Pity that in the build up, they showed pictures of Chen Feilong on the practice table”

    Glad you noticed that. I was thinking that whomever they were showing didn’t really look like Mei Xi Wen, but I wasn’t 100% sure.

    This tournament is turning into a bit of a conundrum for Ronnie, at least in my view. On one hand, he wouldn’t mind losing early and certainly doesn’t want to expend much energy by having to play “hard match snooker”. But on the other hand, his draw is so easy that it’s hard to imagine him losing any time soon, and he’s facing a possible SF clash with a player (i.e. Mark Selby) that would probably require Ronnie to play the kind of match snooker he wants to avoid. (I don’t mean that Ronnie would be forced to play match snooker against Selby, because Ronnie could choose to continue playing exhibition snooker, but I’m not sure that Ronnie would allow himself to do that against Selby…)

  3. Not convinced by the interviews, but it doesn’t matter of course. Ronnie did mention that he didn’t want to get sucked into a long battle against a methodical player, then later said he didn’t play the opponent.

    Pity that in the build up, they showed pictures of Chen Feilong on the practice table. Mei Xiwen is an extremely respectable professional, who has generously spent a lot of time helping the young Chinese boys at Victoria’s. I can imagine he was hurt by the break-off shot in frame 3.

    • My understanding is that this break-off wasn’t intentional. Ronnie intended to play it the way he did in frame 5. It’s a very unusual way to break-off but not necessary a bad one. When executed correctly it should leave the cue ball close to the green pocket.

      • That break-off shot is well-known, indeed Zhou Yuelong used it against Ronnie in Shenzhen. It’s essentially a flat swerve, but it’s difficult to get right unless you have a good feel for the table. It’s quite clever, because if you misjudge the arc of the white, you either hit the blue (as Ronnie did) or miss the pack entirely. With either foul it’s unlikely you’ll leave a pottable red. The trouble is, it’s usually only attempted in exhibitions, or maybe messing around in practice matches. Playing it in a top tournament would be considered a little cheeky, to say the least. This and a few other things, like throwing the extension under the table, picking colours out of the pockets for the referee, and extravagent shot selections, would be exactly the sorts of things that Mei Xiwen, in his role as mentor, would want to discourage from the young players he works with. But he’s far too much of a gentleman to make any comment, although I don’t suppose anyone asked him.

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