The 2019 English Open 2019 – Day 2

The biggest upset yesterday was caused by Thepchaiya Un-nooh who beat Stephen Maguire by 4-0 and it’s nor much of an upset because Theppy on his day is a ferocious potter and a very heavy scorer. The scoreline though is severe.

Here is the report on yesterday action by Worldsnooker

Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen were among the day two winners at the 19.com English Open, with the top 12 seeds all through to the last 64 in Crawley.

All results

World number three Williams scored a 4-2 win over fellow Welshman Jamie Clarke.  After sharing the first four frames, Williams trailed 30-0 in the fifth, but came back to take it and then clinched victory in style in frame six with a 142 total clearance, the highest break of the tournament so far. He now faces Michael Holt.

“It could have gone either way, there were some close frames,” said three-time World Champion Williams, who was runner-up to Shaun Murphy at the recent China Championship. “It was scrappy though I finished it off well. I haven’t practised properly for the past year so I don’t deserve any results, how I got to the final of the last tournament I don’t know. I’ve got to get back to the practice table.”

Robertson needed just 52 minutes to beat Kishan Hirani 4-0 with breaks of 75, 71, 118 and 85.

“I stamped my authority on the match from the start and played nearly perfect snooker,” said Australia’s Robertson, who now meets Marco Fu. “I punished his mistakes and enjoyed the game.”

World number four Robertson has received plenty of joshing from his peers after driving to the wrong Barnsley for a qualifying match earlier this month.

“I was in the right postcode tonight so that was a good start,” smiled Robertson. “Joe Perry is convinced I was actually sitting at home and I made the whole thing up. I’d have to be a Hollywood script writer to make up a story like that.

“I have learned my lesson – when I set out for Crawley today I made sure I had the right postcode and I checked there is only one K2 venue in the town.”

Allen stepped up a gear from 2-2 against James Wattana to win the last two frames for a 4-2 scoreline. Breaks of 125 and 87 helped The Pistol set up a second round match with Andy Lee.

World number 14 Stephen Maguire (the 13th seed as John Higgins did not enter) was the highest ranked player to lose in the opening round. He lasted just 45 minutes against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the fastest player on the tour,  who fired breaks of 86, 65, 117 and 75 in a 4-0 success.

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei edged out Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg 4-3, making a 42 clearance in the decider to win on the final black.

Jack Lisowski top scored with 79 in a 4-1 win over Jackson Page, while Kyren Wilson saw off Liang Wenbo with a top run of 95.

Scott Donaldson suffered a 4-3 defeat against China’s Zhao Xintong in cruel circumstances. In the deciding frame, Donaldson led 64-0 with five reds left when he potted a red, but accidentally knocked the blue in. That left Zhao 59 behind with 59 on the table and he cleared to force a respotted black, which he potted to secure an unlikely victory.

China’s 17-year-old Bai Langning top scored with 94 as he enjoyed a 4-2 win over Jimmy White; a player 40 years his senior. Sussex’s Mark Davis was runner-up last year but this time he suffered a first round exit, losing 4-2 to Graeme Dott.

Here is the dramatic end of the Donaldson v Zhao match:

Again there were lots of uncomfortably close matches but in most cases the highest ranked player came on to eventually.

Something that Worldsnooker did not report is how dispirited Mark William feels, but it was reported in the press:

But afterwards Williams claimed that his love affair with the sport he has graced for 27 years has hit a rocky patch.

“I’m just not enjoying it,” said the 44-year-old from Cwm.

“I’m not putting the work in, so I don’t deserve to get anything out of the game.

“Sometimes I feel quite close to finishing, to be honest.

“I’ll see after the world championships (in April), I’ll re-evaluate then.

“I’ll probably not (retire), but we’ll see.

“It’s something I’m going to think about.”

It was however Ronnie who triggered discussions and anger on social media by, again, criticising the conditions in Crawley

Ronnie O’Sullivan not impressed by English Open venue and Judd Trump not impressed by ‘Every day in Crawley is a day lost in my life’ comment

Ronnie O’Sullivan has again blasted the venue hosting the English Open – one year after brandishing the Crawley K2 Leisure Centre a ‘hellhole that smells of urine’.

The 43-year-old claimed every day in Crawley was ‘a day lost in my life’ in his sensational rant as he demanded a complete refurbishment of the venue.

O’Sullivan, a five-time world champion, came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill 4-3 in the first round on Monday.

And he even joked he would probably ‘end up with a bit of pneumonia’ in his criticism of the facilities.

“Every day in Crawley is a day lost in my life,” O’Sullivan joked to reporters in quotes reported by BBC Sport.

“It’s not changed as far as I’m concerned. You would have to change a lot in this place, a complete refurbishment probably. I’m not surprised; it’s what I expect it to be.”

“I’ve just gone from a match table, to a squash court to a toilet, where the players’ office is, from the toilet to walk around the outside of the building through the heavy rain to come here and talk to you [the press].

“I’ll probably end up with a bit of pneumonia on top of the cold I’ve already got.”

Meanwhile Judd Trump has lashed out at O’Sullivan, who also suggested the only redeeming feature of Crawley was ‘the M23 out of here’.

Trump also won his first round clash on Monday and refused to give any credence to claims made by ‘The Rocket’.

“Did he enter it this year? Well that says it all, doesn’t it,” the world champion said dismissively.

“The first time you go somewhere you never know, but if you’re entering the tournament a second time you can’t pick faults after you play for the second time.

“I want to play in every event that I can, last year was a bit disappointing here, it wasn’t quite up to scratch, but they’ve made a few changes.

“Anyone that’s entered it this year can’t really moan about conditions, they knew what they were like last year.”

Ronnie further caused outrage on social media when explaining how he deals with the frustration of playing “amateurs”

It’s of course not great to hear this if you are a low ranked player and Ronnie should be more considerate and think about how they feel hearing him there. That said, I’m certain that he’s not the only top player finding it difficult, especially the older ones. They did climb the rankings through a tiered system and earned their top player status by putting the work in and winning countless matches. For most of their careers they used to be seeded in the last 32. When there are 32 players at the venue it’s all very different: there is no need for a very big venue, it’s easier to “organise”, the officials are more available to the players needs, the players feel valued, treated as individuals, not numbers. I know for certain that Stephen Hendry hated the new system, hated the PTCs and the 128 field and it did certainly contribute to his decision to retire. John Higgins hasn’t entered this time, Mark Williams is demotivated. I’m not saying it’s because of Crawley – that would be daft – but I’m sure that the current system isn’t appealing to players their age and status.

The good thing for now though is that Ronnie knows how good Yuan Sijun is and respects him.

You can follow the tournament – with all detailed results on snooker.org

The 2019 English Open – Day 1 in Crawley

The first day at the 2019 English Open saw a good few high profile exits and close shaves… here are the results on snooker.org

You can read all about Ronnie’s narrow victory here

Ronnie wasn’t the only one to be pushed hard as  this report by Worldsnooker shows

World Champion Judd Trump eased to a 4-0 win over Peter Ebdon despite a top break of just 48.

“Hopefully I can get through the first couple of rounds and then I’ll feel like I’m really in the tournament,” said Trump, who landed his first Crucible crown in May. “There’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders now and it’s important for me to kick on. I’m young in snooker terms because a lot of players keep going until they are 45 or 50. It’s an exciting time in snooker now, there are a lot of big events. It’s important to go out and enjoy yourself.”

Defending champion Stuart Bingham had a tough battle against Kacper Filipiak, winning 4-3. Poland’s Filipiak made a break of 100 in frame four to level at 2-2 then Bingham replied with 103 to go 3-2 ahead. A tight sixth frame went Filipiak’s way but Bingham finished strongly with a run of 111.

It was still a good day for Polish snooker as Adam Stefanow scored an impressive 4-1 win over Luca Brecel.

Mark Selby compiled runs of 103 and 130 as he came from 2-1 down to beat Barry Pinches 4-2 while Alan McManus top scored with 76 as he beat Ali Carter 4-2.

China Championship winner Shaun Murphy boosted his hopes of winning back to back ranking titles as he saw off Chang Bingyu 4-2, pulling away from 2-2 with runs of 71 and 79 in the last two frames.

Sussex ace Jimmy Robertson made a 134 as he came from 2-0 down to beat Robert Milkins 4-2, while Ding Junhui’s hopes of regaining a top 16 place took a blow as he lost 4-3 to Dominic Dale

Judd was very far from his best – he didn’t have a single break over 50 in the match – and he was very lucky that Peter Ebdon played awful because he kept giving him good opportunities.

I saw nothing from the Bingham match, but I watched most of the Murphy one and he too was nowhere near the form that brought him to three finals already this season, including the 2019 China Championship title.

All this only confirms what Ronnie suggested in his postmatch: in those short format comps, the first matches are banana skins!

Both China top players, Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao are already out, as are Ali Cater, Anthony McGill and Luca Brecel. At the time of writing it seems the Stephen Maguire is heading out as well.

The 2019 English Open – Ronnie wins on day 1.

English Open 2019 - ROS Last 128 scores

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan avoided a shock exit on day one of the 19.com English Open in Crawley as he came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat former tiler Jamie O’Neill 4-3.

All results

EnglishOpen2019ROSL128-1World number 105 O’Neill had a golden chance to register his biggest career win in the sixth frame until he accidentally fouled on 33. O’Sullivan, ranked 103 places higher, punished him to progress to the last 64 at K2 Crawley. He’ll be back in action on Wednesday – tickets are still available –  click here for details.

O’Neill, who had been working on roofs for the past five years before regaining his pro status at Q School last May, coped well with the dizzy heights of the televised table in the early stages tonight, winning the opening frame with a break of 114, then dominating the second.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan hit back with runs of 90 and 102 for 2-2 then O’Neill made a 59 as he regained the lead in the fifth. In the next he was 33-0 ahead when he accidentally grazed a red he was cueing over. O’Sullivan replied with 54 then got the better of a safety battle on the last red and capitalised for 3-3.

O’Neill had two further chances in the decider but could only muster 15 points and had to watch as his opponent rattled off 81 to seal victory.

Ronnie O’Sullivan V Jamie O’Neill | English Open 2019 – Last 128

Here is Ronnie’s postmatch:

And couple more pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Ronnie is right in saying  that the top player is on a hiding to nothing in those matches. They have all expectations on them, and their opponents usually can just play with freedom and enjoy the occasion. We saw it in other matches yesterday too as many top seeds struggled to win or actually lost like Ding Junhui, Yan Bingtao, Ali Carter and Anthony McGill. The very short format doesn’t help the best players either: yesterday Ronnie was 2-0 dow; in a best of seven, without interval, that a very perilous situation.

Inevitably, when Ronnie is struggling, there are people on social media who immediately claim that he isn’t bothered. It’s stupid and it’s unfair. If he hadn’t been bothered yesterday, he would have lost. It’s that simple. It’s unfair on Ronnie – or on any top player in the same situation – because they are human and form is not a tap they can turn at will. It’s unfair on their opponent, because they are pros or top amateurs and most of them can play. Jamie O’Neill never really made it as a pro, although he has been on and off the tour since 2003, but he has won two big titles as an amateur: the 2003 Under-19 European Championship and the 2006 English Open. He came back on the tour last May, via the Challenge Tour Event 1. He played very well yesterday. Presenting him only as a “former tiler” is reductive and a bit misleading as for most of his adult life he’s been a professional snooker player.

Also lets hope that the bad neck issue is solved asap.

 

Snooker News – 13.10.2019

As the players get ready for the first of the Home Nations tournaments, the English Open, the focus is understandably on that event. There are however other snooker news worth a mention.

Malta to Host New World Snooker Federation Championships

12th October 2019

  • Luo Honghao wins trophy

The World Snooker Federation (WSF) and Malta Billiards & Snooker Association (MBSA) are today delighted to jointly announce the staging of the new WSF Championships as major amateur events providing qualification to the professional tour.

Two events will be held from 4-17 January 2020 at the Malta Snooker Academy and the San Antonio Hotel, the World Snooker Federation Junior Open (for players aged 17 and under) and the World Snooker Federation Open (All age groups). Both competitions will be open to players of all nationalities and both men and women equally, with the winner of each tournament to earn a two-year tour card to the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2020/21 season.

Each recognised National Snooker Federation will be given the opportunity to nominate two players to each event for their national champions and top ranked players. This respects the valuable contribution many National and Regional Federations make to the development of talented players. In addition to these nominations, direct entries will then be accepted from players online, making this a truly open event for all players around the world who have aspirations to carve out a career in our sport.

Jason Ferguson, WSF President said: “This groundbreaking new open format for world level amateur events is a significant step forward to ensure we are a sport for all. The WSF are thrilled that this season’s tour qualifying events will be open to all, regardless of nationality, age or gender. Only the best in the world will make it to the World Snooker Tour.

“I am particularly proud that the WSF is developing a focus on junior talent. It is fundamental to the future of our sport that the next generation of talented players are presented with playing opportunities at world level with the unlimited prize of full graduation to the professional sport.

“I would like to extend my thanks to our friends at the MBSA who have once again shown us fantastic support during the planning of this tournament. Our inaugural Championships held in Malta back in 2018 were a real success and it is testament to the quality of the team in Malta that when the opportunity arose to return there for this tournament that we did not hesitate to say yes.”

Frans Bugeja, MBSA President said: “We are delighted to welcome the WSF back to Malta for these prestigious events. We look forward to building upon the success of last year’s great Championships and to see who will follow in the footsteps of 2018 champion Luo Honghao by lifting the open title.”

How to enter

It is anticipated that entry for both events will open during the week commencing 21st October. Confirmation of the entry process will be distributed to all national federations and posted on our website and social media platforms as soon as possible.

Entry for the WSF International Junior Open will be open to players 17 or under up to and including 31 December 2019.

The entry deadline for each event will be 8 December 2019 at midnight.

This is of course good news. When the first WSF event was played in Malta nearly two years ago, it created a lot of hopes and expectations. Unfortunately they didn’t really materialise until now. This time there is no Women nor Seniors event, the focus clearly set on the Juniors. The only concern I have is about the hotel, which is quite a luxury and expensive one. Hopefully the event being played in the winter the prices will be “softer” than what is their usual standard otherwise this might be a real hurdle for some juniors in particular. Of course, setting up a number of snooker tables, in good conditions, requires space and adequate environment, which this type of hotel is usually able to offer.

Worldsnooker has published the resised draw and format for the Yushan World Open

The draw and format for the Zhiyuan Huanbao Yushan World Open following the completion of the qualifiers is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The world ranking event runs from October 28 to November 3 in China

Basically they added the wilcards to the draw. Ronnie will play his held-over match against Dominic Dale on the opening day in the afternoon – morning in Europe. Should he win he will play Fergal O’Brien the next day, in the afternoon again. Hopefully, Ronnie will be able to fly to China a few days ahead as to get over the worst of the jet-lag.

Finally, the Women were playing a competition in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Masters. 

It was Bex Kenna who won it – her first title – beating Bai Yulu, a 16 years old from China, in the Final. The score was 4-1. Bai Yulu has been mentioned a few times on this site by Lewis who is our “China expert”. She plays along the men in the CBSA events. Bex – as she mentions in the above article – came quite late to the snooker and her progress has been truly remarkable. She played in her local league but faced a sexist attitude in some clubs who wouldn’t allow her to play in their premices. She fought – still fights – for herself and all the female players and is a great promoter of the Women’s game. Well done Bex!

The 2019 English Open starts tomorrow…

And the fitters have been hard at work at the K2

From what I understood, despite vilifying Ronnie for his comments last year – comments that David Hendon, who was on site , confirmed to be justified to a reasonable extend – Worldsnooker has adressed some of the issues he mentioned, notably by making sure that players don’t have to cross areas where the public are enjoying other activities when on their way to and back from their matches. There also seem to be plenty of practice tables this time.

There will be an interesting  fanzone as well (Worldsnooker)

Fans coming to next week’s 19.com English Open at K2 Crawley will be able to enjoy free coaching, a chance to play our official video game…and much more!

A new FanZone in the lower foyer at the venue will include:

Two mini tables from our official table supplier Star Xing Pai, with free tips and advice from WPBSA Coaching Consultant Chris Lovell. This runs from 9am to 7pm from Monday to Thursday and 11am to 7pm on Friday to Sunday.

An Instagram Wall where fans can have their pictures taken, with the best ones shared on our official account. Open all day.

Two gaming pods where fans can play our fantastic official video game Snooker19 which was launched earlier this year to worldwide acclaim. This runs from 9am to 7pm from Monday to Thursday and 11am to 7pm on Friday to Sunday.

Also don’t miss the chance to buy an official programme and radio earpiece from our vendors in the foyer.

World Snooker’s Event Director Katie Oldfield said: “We are making a range of innovations to the Home Nations Series this season including a new dress code for the players, a new Snooker Radio service, and the FanZone at the venue.

“This is all about improving the fan experience for anyone who comes to the venue and wants to enjoy the whole occasion as well as the snooker itself.

“Fans of any age can come along and find out what our sport is all about, and the free coaching is a great ch

And more ways to follow how the tournament unfolds via the Snooker Radio (Worldsnooker).

Our new Snooker Radio service, to launch next week at the 19.com English Open, will give fans around the world the chance to keep up with the latest news and results.

Snooker Radio will be available via this website for free, and also on a second channel on the commentary earpieces on sale at the venue in Crawley.

Presented by expert analysts Hector Nunns and Michael McMullan, Snooker Radio will include commentary from table two at the 19.com English Open (the first channel on the earpieces provides commentary on table one) as well as information on latest scores and results on the other tables, plus live interviews with players and other guests.

Just visit this website next Monday (October 14) and you’ll find a link to listen to Snooker Radio, from anywhere in the world. We hope fans enjoy this new service!

Listening to last week interviews, I don’t have the feeling that Ronnie is confident. It’s only normal considering that he hasn’t played much at all this season and will lack match sharpness. The short format will not help. He is also bound to play two very hard matches early in the competition: a last 64 against Yuan Sijun or Igor Figueiredo and a last 32 possibly against Hossein Vafaei. But of course he needs to beat Jamie O’Neil first.

Fingers crossed. Good luck Ronnie!

An interesting interview with Ronnie ahead of the 2019 English Open

Big thanks to Bernd Wütherish who pointed this interview to me! It’s very interesting indeed. I never heard about the total clearance podcasts before but, although my knowledge of the German language is very limited, I intend to try to follow their work.

here is the interview:

So Ronnie seems to be set to play at the UK Championship, which is good news.

I’m a bit surprised about his reluctance regarding the Masters. Usually he seemed to love this one because he had just to pitch and play. But it is true that over the years more and more “celebrities” came along , claiming frienship with him, to try and get (free) access to the tournament and the players room. It’s both a distraction and a burden. It’s sometimes difficult to say no.

He skilfully swerved the question about the World…

He also seems to be prepared to play some qualifiers, if needed, to go to Chinese events. That’s a change of mindset.

His criteria for “greatness” are quite “demanding” … and he names John Higgins amongst the greats although he doesn’t meet those criteria. 😉 But I agree with him, Judd Trump still has everything to prove, and Mark Selby’s dominance lasted four years and he was truly dominant during that period. However Neil Robertson has more ranking tittles than Mark Selby and nobody puts him in that “greatest” bracket. Whatever … it’s a pub debate, and comparing eras is always perilous and generally not meaningful.

And he wasn’t aware of the Home Series dress code… 😁

 

Championship League Snooker 2020 (!) – Groups 1 and 2

The Championship League Snooker usually starts early January. This season, due to the congested schedule at the start of next year, it started this week. Groups 1 and 2 were played in Leicester from last Monday, till yesterday.

Neil Robertson won Group 1 (Worldsnooker)

Neil Robertson fought back from 2-0 down to defeat Ryan Day 3-2 in the Group One final of BetVictor Championship League Snooker and become the first player to make it through to Winners’ Group.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Day raced to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five final at Morningside Arena in Leicester, making a break of 126 in the second frame. Robertson hit back with a 79 and capitalised in the fourth to draw level after Day had missed opportunities to see out the match. Robertson then made a decisive 56 break to take the fifth frame 80-1.

“It wasn’t going too well for me yesterday and I lost my first two group matches,” said Robertson, who won £6,100 during the group. “From that point on you’re trying to scrape through and maybe take fifth but today I played much better. If I’d lost to Mark Selby yesterday I’d probably have been out but that gave me a chance and I played much better today.

“I am really pleased to get through. Ryan was looking good at 2-0 up and cruising but he missed a tough black and I was able to capitalise.”

Having earned £4,800 during Group 1, Day has now won over £100,000 from Championship League Snooker since its inception in 2008.

Barry Hawkins had topped the group table having won all six of his league phase matches, but lost 3-0 in the semi-finals to Day, who had scraped into the final four having won one frame more than Jack Lisowski. Robertson beat Mark Selby in the deciding frame of their best-of-five semi-final. Selby took the group high break prize of £500 for his 131 against Neil Robertson in the group phase.

Having finished fifth in the round-robin group table, Lisowski will return to compete in Group Two tomorrow, along with Day, Hawkins and Selby. They are joined by three new players; Stuart Bingham, Gary Wilson and Kyren Wilson.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Group Two continues at 11am on Wednesday. For live scores click here and for group fixtures and results go to http://www.championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk

Semi-Finals
Barry Hawkins 0-3 Ryan Day
17-75, 1-68 (Day 68), 25-71

Neil Robertson 3-2 Mark Selby
15-81 (Selby 77), 111-0 (Robertson 111), 88-4 (Robertson 59), 64-75 (Selby 52), 69-9 (Robertson 50)

Group Final
Ryan Day 2–3 Neil Robertson
63-24, 126-8 (Day 126), 49-85 (Robertson 79), 38-50, 1-80 (Robertson 56)

Here are the full GR1 results on snooker.org

Stuart Bingham won Group 2 (Worldsnooker)

Stuart Bingham defeated Mark Selby 3-1 in the Group Two final to join Neil Robertson in the Winners’ Group of BetVictor Championship League Snooker.

The Essex potter came third in the round-robin group phase with four wins from his six matches to set-up a semi-final clash with tournament debutant Gary Wilson, who he then defeated 3-0 with breaks of 96, 108 and 118.

Bingham, who won Championship League in 2015 before going on to win the World Championship later that season, met Selby in the group final after the Leicester man defeated Kyren Wilson 3-1 in his semi-final.

‘Ball-Run’ Bingham took the first frame of the final but was pegged back by Selby. However, the Essex man took the subsequent two frames to secure victory and a place in March’s big-money Winners’ Group.

“Something clicked today,” said Bingham, who now heads to Crawley to defend his 19.com English Open title. “My manager said ‘whatever you had for dinner, put it on the menu and we’ll have it all the time’ because after dinner I hardly missed a ball.

“I got through to the Winners’ Group last year and have won the tournament before, so it’s nice now to be able to look forward to coming back for the final group.

“I feel like I have been playing pretty well recently. There have been a couple of bad results here and there but all-in-all beating the likes of Gary Wilson and Mark in the final shows that my game is there.”

Staged at Morningside Arena, Leicester, BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Selby, Gary Wilson, Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins, who finished fifth on the group table, will now return for Group Three later this month, where they will be joined by Ali Carter, Graeme Dott and David Gilbert. Having finished sixth and seventh respectively in Group Two, Ryan Day and Jack Lisowski are eliminated from the competition.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Semi-Finals
Mark Selby 3
-1 Kyren Wilson
95-0 (94), 133-0 (133), 8-96 (58), 65-56 (Selby 54)

 Stuart Bingham 3-0 Gary Wilson
104-36 (96), 109-19 (108), 126-1 (118)

Final
Stuart Bingham 3-
1 Mark Selby
68-28, 1-70 (61), 74-51, 92-0 (92)

Here are the full GR2 results on snooker.org

I have very mixed feelings about this competition. This is a tournament tailor made for the bookies and only shown on bookies websites. It’s also a tournament where players can earn more money by losing cleverly, and playing in successive groups, than by winning. On the other hand, because of the nature of the competition and it’s “elite” field, it often produced very entertaining matches where players really go for their shots and show the full extend of their skills. It also used to have good commentary by the likes od David Hendon and Clive Everton. Unfortunately, this time, I was not able to see a single ball of it.

Are the results an indication of the players form ahead of the English Open next week? I’m not sure. In 2010, Ronnie and Mark Selby played in Group 2, the week before the Masters. They finished at the two last places after the round-robin phase and were relegated. The next week, the two played each other in the Final of the Masters

Nevertheless, clearly Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson are in good form. But what do we make of Ryan Day, reaching the final in Group 1 and being relegated in Group 2? Or of Barry Hawkins, not losing a round-robin match in Group 1 and just avoiding relegation in Group 2?