Tour Championship 2019 – Day 2

All four top seeds are through after day 2 in Llanduno. Three of the matches were very close – we had two deciders – and one was one-sided. Here are the reports by worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Judd Trump battled back from 8-5 down to defeat World Champion Mark Williams 9-8 and book his place in the semi-finals of the Coral Tour Championship.

Masters champion Trump, who was victorious at the series opening Coral World Grand Prix, will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Stuart Bingham in tomorrow’s first semi-final. Both Trump and Coral Players Champion O’Sullivan are tied at the top of the standings for the Coral Cup, which will be awarded to the player who accumulates the most prize money across the three-event series.

Defeat will be tough to take for World Champion Williams after he had assumed control of proceedings this afternoon. He will now head out to Beijing for the China Open, before turning his attentions to defending his Crucible crown in Sheffield next month.

The pair were locked together at 4-4 coming into this afternoon and it was Williams who seized the early initiative. The Welshman composed an impressive century run of 103 in the opening frame. Further breaks of 52 and 54 helped him to hold a two-frame lead at 7-5 going into the mid-session.

Williams then pulled off an astonishing clearance of 61 from 57-0 down to move one from victory at 8-5. However, Trump summoned a late charge to reignite his hopes. Breaks of 68 and 61 saw him move within a frame at 8-7, before a contribution of 59 from the Ace in the Pack took the match to a deciding frame.

There were twists and turns with both players spurning opportunities, but it was Trump who eventually came through to book his last four spot.

Trump said: “I’m over the moon to win that one. I was never really involved in the game so it was a bit of a get out of jail free card. I knew I had a potential line up with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the next round, he looks like he has a good lead there so that would be another exciting game for me to be involved with.

“I wasn’t that positive going into the interval. At 7-5 down, every time I played safe I was knocking balls over the pocket. I just relied on the fact Mark hasn’t played his brilliant best over the last six months so that was what I was holding that thought in my head, hoping he might miss a few. Fortunately that was what happened.”

Mark Allen has taken a commanding 6-2 lead over Kyren Wilson heading into their concluding session this evening at 7pm.

Allen has enjoyed a superb season and currently tops the one-year ranking on £394,000, having won silverware at the International Championship and the Scottish Open.

The Northern Irishman took control of today’s encounter with breaks of 53, 87, 55 and 105.

Mark Williams defeat from 8-5 up really surprised me because, as Judd Trump himself acknowledged, he actually did lose that match, as opposed to his opponent winning it. What I mean is that very uncharacteristically from 8-5 up, Williams looked vulnerable under pressure and started to make mistakes that you wouldn’t expect from a player with his experience and records. I’m not sure what happened there, but, for me, this is a bit of a concern for Mark’s fans ahead of the Crucible.

Evening session:

Ronnie O’Sullivan swept to a convincing 9-3 defeat of Stuart Bingham to set up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Judd Trump at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.

The Rocket’s mouth watering meeting with Masters champion Trump will be played tomorrow over two sessions. The pair have already met in two finals so far this season, with Trump winning on both occasions at the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters.

O’Sullivan and Trump are level at the top of the Coral Cup standings on £130,000, the winner is derived from who earns the most prize money across all three of the Coral Series events. They hold the first two tournaments between them, with Trump having won the Coral World Grand Prix and O’Sullivan claiming the Coral Players Championship title.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan can also equal Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 ranking event wins with victory this weekend and would become world number one if he were to claim the title.

Bingham leaves Llandudno with the consolation of £20,000 for qualifying for this week’s elite eight man event and will now turn his attention to the upcoming China Open in Beijing and the World Championship in Sheffield.

They came into this evening with O’Sullivan leading 6-2 and he continued to push for the finish line when the action got back underway by taking the opening frame.

There was then a marathon tenth frame which lasted 49 minutes, including a 20 minute spell without a pot. The balls fell awkwardly as reds nestled around the blue, which was covering the bottom left pocket. Eventually O’Sullivan negotiated the situation and secured an 8-2 advantage.

Bingham pulled one back, but it was too little too late as 35-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan came through a 9-3 winner.

“I’m playing alright. I very rarely play badly. I have a certain level I always play to,” said O’Sullivan. “I always seem to have good matches with Judd. Over the years there have been some close ones. We have had a few good finals. We both play a similar type of the game. He probably plays a bit more aggressively than me but I will try and be as aggressive as I can, because that is the name of the game.”

Mark Allen survived a fightback charge from Kyren Wilson to edge through a 9-7 victor and set up a semi-final meeting with Neil Robertson.

The Pistol is enjoying one of his best seasons on tour and currently tops this season’s one-year list having won silverware at the International Championship and the Scottish Open.

Wilson had trailed 6-2 after this afternoon’s session, but he significantly upped his game this evening and turned the clash into a thrilling contest.

However, when play got underway it was Allen who continued to press on with a fine century run of 123 to move 7-2 in front. Following that Wilson claimed two frames on the bounce, before a contribution of 83 helped him to close the gap to 7-5.

Former Masters champion Allen then showed great character to counter from 54-0 down in the following frame with a break of 69 to move three frames in front and one from victory. Contributions of 56 and 45 then helped Wilson to close within a frame at 8-7.

Wilson had looked to be in position to force a decider, before breaking down on a break of 58. From there Allen crafted a gutsy run of 71 to come through a narrow 9-7 winner.

I very much doubt that Ronnie enjoyed this session, despite winning it 3-1. That very lengthy frame, featuring a long battle around a cluster of reds, with the blue blocking a top corner pocket, isn’t the kind of fluent stuff he likes to play. But he stayed very, very patient.

I saw very little from the Mark Allen v Kyren Wilson match, only the last two frames or so. Mark Allen was 7-2 up at one point I think and was pegged back to 8-7. Yet, when Kyren Wilson missed that red in the green pocket, Allen came back to the table, looking determined and calm. The balls weren’t particularly well situated, but he made no mistake. This was in stark contrast with what I had seen from Mark Williams earlier. Mark Allen is back working with Terry Griffiths and, IMO, he will be a real contender at the Crucible.

Here are some more images taken by Tai Chengzhe – Tank you Tai!

And the coverage (ROS-Bingham second session):

MissingClip (preview)

Ronnie hinted that he might consider playing on the Seniors Tour next season. Here he is quoted in the press:

“Maybe I should join the Seniors tour, I have spoken to them, it is exciting – and so this could be my last World Championship, as you can’t play both tours.

“It is a big decision for me but maybe I will have more longevity on that tour. It would be nice to play both, but they probably won’t allow that.

“I am a senior, that tour is already good and if I join it presumably that will improve it with maybe the likes of John Higgins and Mark Williams to join in the future.

Well, I have my doubts about this. I don’t think that this tour would give Ronnie the challenges he needs and likes, even if he is tired of them at times. And it would not be good for the Seniors Tour either: as Alan McManus said he would likely win everything or about, which would actually “kill” most of the interest in that tour. But we are not there just yet…

Today, Ronnie and Judd will battle it out over 19 frames. Judd has won their last two finals, but Ronnie is playing better than he was in Belfast and, unless he has a very, very bad day in office, I doubt that it will be one-sided as was the Masters final.

Regarding the Coral Cup standings, Mark Allen can’t win it, but all other three are still at the races. Whoever wins today could still be overcome by Neil Robertson tomorrow if the Aussie (the real one) wins the final.

4 thoughts on “Tour Championship 2019 – Day 2

  1. I believe that the Tour Champinship, with the long distance matches, can be really a good test for the world championship. I was impressed by Ronnie’s attitude during that long frame against Bingham. He was relaxed and patient. It’s a good sign because that kind of frame can actually happen at the Crucible. Ronnie is playing since the Players Championship at a very high level. He’s strong in every department: break-building, safeties, long distance shots, and overall his mental attitude is solid as perhaps never before.

  2. It sounds just like another Ronnie-ism: he finds best of 7 matches too short and involving too much luck, what would he do with best of 5 and respotted black at 2-2? 🙂 In any case, there are players who play both, no? Not that hi biggest problem is not having enough tournaments. 🙂

    More important is today’s match which makes me very anxious, to the point that I wonder if I can actually watch, Hope, the two losses to Trump did not mess with his mind as they messed with mine. 🙂

    • There are two players competing on both, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty. Both have a special status: they were given an invitational card after they dropped off the tour. If Ken regains his pro status, he will no more be able to compete with the seniors, unless rules change. With the amount of points Ronnie has already he won’t drop off the tour before two years from now at least…
      And, yes, me too, I’d hate another defat to Trump. But it’s what it is.

  3. Seniors ? that sounds like twittery type talk again !. What happened to the breakaway tour ?.
    Don’t wish to tempt fate but Ronnie is playing absolutely beautifully at the moment and only
    2 matches from official world number, if he makes it………. Whats not to like !

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