Day 5 at the Crucible saw another seed, Mark Allen, depart whilst Jack Lisowski is also behind after his first session. Judd Trump only just survived. And, after Michael Georgiou and Luo HongHao, another debutant, Li Hang, was inflicted an absolute trashing.
Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:
Masters champion Judd Trump won a barnstorming clash with snooker’s fastest player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-9 to reach the second round of the Betfred World Championship.
The highly anticipated meeting between two of the sport’s most natural talents lived up to its pre-match billing. Trump has enjoyed his best season on the World Snooker Tour, having picked a second Triple Crown title at the Masters and he secured further wins at the Northern Ireland Open and the World Grand Prix.
Un-Nooh has averaged just 17.11 seconds per shot this season, which is quicker than any other player on the circuit. Appropriately, he won his maiden ranking title at the single frame Shoot Out earlier this year. The Thai was making his second Crucible appearance this week, having come through qualifying for the last two years.
The pair produced fireworks aplenty in snooker’s Theatre of Dreams. Un-Nooh led 6-3 after an opening session which lasted just over two hours. Throughout the entire match both players averaged under 20 seconds per shot.
Trump stormed to the opening frame of the morning with a superb break of 82. Un-Nooh responded to move 7-4 in front, before Trump took four frames on the bounce to lead for the first time since the opening frame at 8-7.
They continued to trade blows, with Un-Nooh restoring parity thanks to a contribution of 69. Trump moved one from victory at 9-8, then Un-Nooh ensured the match went to a decider as a sublime break of 78 made it 9-9.
Un-Nooh had first chance and made 26 before running out of position when trying to open the pack off of a red. Trump converted a risky cross double on a red to set up a break of 53. The match came down to a safety battle with two reds remaining, and a crucial mis-cue from Un-Nooh proved his last meaningful shot, as he left Trump the chance to add ten points which proved enough.
“I was making him work for his chances, his long potting was a lot better and he was scoring a lot heavier. I was relieved to get a half chance in the last frame after he had split the balls open,” said ten-time ranking event winner Trump. “Thepchaiya was one of the names that everyone wanted to avoid. I think he’s one of the best players and he’s still probably improving. He has a scary style to play against. He goes for everything and puts you under a lot of pressure. I’m very relieved, to come back from 6-3 down is a great win for me.
“You just don’t want to go out in the first round here. I think the top 16 put a bit of extra pressure on themselves and in the end it was probably my experience which got me over the line today.”
Un-Nooh said: “Last year was my first time at the Crucible and there was a lot of pressure. I learned from that experience. I was relaxed in the first session, but I did put a lot of pressure on myself today. Hopefully I can get back here next year.”
On the other table, Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins surged into an 8-1 lead over Li Hang and needs just two more frames when they resume at 7pm tonight.
Hawkins has won more matches at the Sheffield venue than any other player over the last six years, reaching the final in 2013 and four other semi-finals.
And the Londoner, who turned 40 yesterday, dominated the opening session against China’s Li, one of seven players making a Crucible debut this year. Breaks of 84, 85, 77 and 55 helped Hawkins take an 8-0 lead. Li won the last frame to avoid the risk of a whitewash, but he needs nine of the last ten tonight.
Effectively Thepchaiya did lose this match in the first half of yesterday’s session when he allowed Judd to come back at him. He was missing balls that he wasn’t missing the day before. But even so, Judd was very lucky in the decider that his opponent landed on nothing having opened the balls, and that the double he took went in. That was a very risky shot at that stage of the match. Was that the right shot? Well it’s debatable. It was a chance and he took it. It went in. Had it not gone in, Judd would probably have lost the match and I wonder if he would have been “crucified” by some fans for taking the “wrong shot”, and “show disrespect for his opponent” and being therefore “rightly punished for it”. The basic line is that the players need to play their game. Attacking players when seeing a chance will try to take it. They will not go into their shell because they know that approach won’t work for them. Thepchaiya, faced with the same situation, would very likely have gone for it too.
World number six Mark Allen became the latest seeded player to be knocked out in the first round of the Betfred World Championship as he lost 10-7 to qualifier Zhou Yuelong.
Allen joins Ronnie O’Sullivan and Luca Brecel as the top-16 ranked players to have fallen so far at the Crucible. He came from 9-2 down to win five frames in a row, but it was too little, too late as China’s Zhou secured victory in the 17th frame.
On his second appearance at the Crucible, 21-year-old Zhou won his first match at the venue, and his reward is a last 16 tie against Jack Lisowski or Ali Carter.
Allen has had one of his best seasons, winning ranking titles at the International Championship and Scottish Open, but it finishes on a low note with defeat in the first round at the Crucible for the first time since 2013. The Northern Irishman has not reached the semi-finals in Sheffield since 2009.
World number 35 Zhou built a 7-2 lead in the opening session on Tuesday with top breaks of 86, 54, 101, 53, 73 and 74. He took the opening frame today with a run of 70 then made a 37 clearance in the next for 9-2.
Allen’s fight-back began with breaks of 68 and 60 for 9-4, and when he cleared with 72 in frame 15 after Zhou had missed a red on 60, the tide was turning. Allen’s 131 total clearance made it 9-6, and Zhou was clearly feeling pressure as another missed red in the 16th allowed Allen to draw within two frames.
But when Zhou got the better of a safety battle on the last red in the 17th, he grasped his chance, cutting the red into a top corner and clearing the table.
“I’m happy to win,” said Zhou, whose best career moment was winning the World Cup for China alongside Yan Bingtao in 2015. “Mark played very well from 9-2, he scored fast and heavily. I just had to wait for my chance and concentrate on every shot.
“I think this was my best match of the season, especially yesterday’s session. I’m excited for the next match. I was happy to play against Mark, he’s one of the best players in the world. I enjoyed it.
“In snooker you just have to do your own job, concentrate on yourself. If you think about your opponent too much it has a bad effect on your own game. I just focus on myself.”
Allen said: “The way I played in the first 11 frames, I didn’t deserve to win a match – it was embarrassing. I prepared really well for the tournament and I was hitting the ball great leading up to it, but just went out there and played like terribly
“I really fancied the job from 9-6. I’m disappointed with the way it ended with a bad safety on the red in the last frame because I felt like I had him on the ropes. I’m proud of the way I hung on even though I was no where near my best.
“The early and middle part of that match was really hard to be part of because I was struggling mentally. I didn’t really know where I was. I didn’t know what I was doing with my technique. I’d miss by three inches and go back to my seat thinking I’ve got to try something different next time. At 9-2 I went for everything and all of a sudden I found some form so maybe there’s something in that.”
On the other table, Kyren Wilson established a 6-2 lead over Scott Donaldson in a match which finishes on Thursday evening.
Wilson, a semi-finalist here last year, took the first three frames with a top break of 100. Debutant Donaldson won two of the next three frames but Wilson snatched the seventh with a 33 clearance to go 5-2 up and won the last of the session on the colours.
Allen has had one of his best seasons, yes, but not so much after Christmas. Since he had done pretty little and, to his own admission, had not been in the best mental shape. He was showing signs of improvement in the recent weeks, but I still expected him to struggle and I was right. That was plain to see on Tuesday. He did extremely well to make a match of it yesterday, but it was indeed too late and too much to do. Zhou Yuelong is only 21 but he’s already a very mature player and the way he kept his focus and composure whilst Mark Allen was coming back at him showed that. It also gained him huge praise from Stephen Hendry.
Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins stormed past world number 28 Li Hang 10-1 with a relentless display in the opening round of the Betfred World Championship.
Despite being runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2018 Shanghai Masters, it has been a modest season so far for Hawkins. However, he arrives at the Crucible with the knowledge that he has won more matches than any other player at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams over the last six years. 2013 finalist Hawkins has now clocked up 19 match wins in Sheffield over that period.
Barry Hawkins’ Recent Crucible Performances
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the Hawk at the Crucible. The three-time ranking event winner lost his first five matches at the venue and also succumbed to a 10-1 loss on his debut appearance, losing out against Ken Doherty in 2006.
It was a harsh introduction to Crucible snooker for debutant Li. The Chinese 28-year-old pinched the last frame of this morning’s session against Hawkins to trail 8-1. That meant he avoided the same fate of compatriot and fellow debutant Luo Honghao, who became only the second player to suffer a whitewash at the Crucible in losing 10-0 to Shaun Murphy.
Hawkins swiftly brought a close to proceedings when play got underway this evening. He fired in breaks of 69 and 95 to wrap up the 10-1 victory and book a second round meeting with either Kyren Wilson or Scott Donaldson.
Hawkins said: “Li struggled there and to be honest I was hoping he would, as it’s his first time here. It’s a little bit ironic, as I lost 10-1 on my first time here and now I’ve beaten him 10-1. It is strange how things work out.
“It’s horrible when someone’s struggling, but in the World Championship I’ll take it all day long. I’d rather win 10-1 and get through easily, relax for the next few days and watch everyone else sweat it out like Stuart Bingham did last night. You can’t feel sorry for your opponent too much. He’ll come back stronger for sure.”
On the other table Ali Carter established a slender 5-4 advantage over Jack Lisowski, to set up an intriguing final session when they play to a finish tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.
World number 19 Carter eased through qualifying to book his Crucible place, dropping just nine of the 39 frames he played. While Lisowski is competing as a seed for the first time, having upped his world ranking to 11th after a fine season
They traded blows in the first four frames. Lisowski top scored with a century break of 101 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.
Carter then imposed himself on the game with three frames on the bounce to make it 5-2. The eighth frame came down to a re-spotted black. After a period of impressive safety play, Carter took an ambitious double and left the ball over the corner pocket for Lisowski to deposit.
Gloucester’s Lisowski then claimed the final frame with breaks of 40 and 44 to leave the tie in the balance heading into tomorrow.
I didn’t see a ball of the Hawkins-Li match. Regarding the other match, I wonder why I put myself through this sometimes. I like Jack, I really do, but watching him play can be mightily frustrating. His talent is huge, he pots some incredible balls, and then, when you less expect it, he throws in a howler, usually leaving an open table to his opponent. On the other hand, I really struggle to warm to Ali Carter. He’s a very good player, a very hard match player. I know that he’s gone through a lot, I certainly know than Crohn disease is painful to say the least. But still. He permanently comes across as an angry person, someone who will feel aggrieved by minor things. Maybe I read him wrong, but that’s my perception and it’s a bit baffling to me precisely because he has gone through so much and I’d expect him to get perspective on minor sources of annoyance. Anyway, I spent the evening cursing at the TV screen whilst wondering why I didn’t turn the box off. 😕
More endearing, yesterday was Disability Snooker day at the Crucible, with plenty going on in the winter garden to promote disability snooker. Top players, including Shaun Murphy, Nigel Bond and Judd Trump, took time to meet the WDBS players at and off the table. Well done to them!
Shaun and Nigel tried special glasses simulating different kinds of vision impairments. A few images here on WDBS Facebook page.
It was also an opportunity to announce a new sponsor for the WDBS tour: 360Fizz
It was also “Awards day” with the “Vic Hartley WDBS Player of the Season Award” going to wheelchair player Daniel Lee. Well done Daniel!
WDBS PLAYER OF THE SEASON We are delighted to announce that the Vic Hartley WDBS Player of the Season for 2018/19 is Daniel Lee. He takes home a special bespoke cue case, presented by
@RRCueCases and Dawn/Ann, the daughters of Vic Hartley #Cue4All
We lost Vic Hartley quite suddenly end March and many like me couldn’t believe the sad news. He was a diamond of a human being. Creating such a worthy award named after him is a great initiative by WDBS. All of us who knew Vic are heartbroken. 💔
The inaugural winner of the prestigious Vic Hartley WDBS Player of the Season Award will be announced during Wednesday’s World Snooker Disability Day in Sheffield; an honour named in tribute to our friend and colleague who sadly passed away last month.
Vic was born on the 25th July 1931 in Shepherd’s Bush, London. He began work for a local coach company, first as a mechanic, then a driver, before commencing national service where he was based in Egypt. He discovered a passion for this way of life and later joined the Territorial Army, Royal Electrical Mechanical and Engineers Regiment. Afterwards he had a spell at the Royal Military College of Science in Shrivenham.
Loving husband to Beryl for nearly 50 years before she passed away in early 2010, the happy couple were proud of their two children, Dawn and Ann, and their three grandchildren Karl, Dean and Chloe. After feeling unwell on Thursday 28th March, Vic was taken to hospital where he passed away in the arms of his girls.
Enthusiastic about several different sports, Vic’s biggest affection was towards snooker – a pursuit that would involve him in various roles over many years.
Originally signing up for his local team, he was drawn towards the administration and running of the local league. He enjoyed crucial roles such as Treasurer and Results Secretary, and only up until last year he still had ongoing input.
His love for the sport also led him into refereeing. Vic qualified and later achieved Class 1 status – he would go on to have a long and distinguished career in officiating that would see him travel up and down the country and beyond. Away from his own baize duties he was eager to support upcoming referees too, using his years of knowledge and wisdom to tutor and mentor.
Vic represented the English Association of Snooker and Billiards impeccably, regardless of whether he was refereeing at local and national events, or further afield during major European and international competitions. One of his proudest highlights was in 2002 when he refereed at the Crucible Theatre during the World Ladies Snooker Championship.
Having gained experience refereeing disabled and wheelchair players at Stoke Mandeville earlier on in his career, Vic was very keen to be a part of, and promote, World Disability Billiards and Snooker which was established in 2015, officiating in the opening event at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.
Since then the WDBS circuit has grown in strength, and a constant within that uprising success was Vic’s participation at several tournaments; even after a spell of ill-health left him sidelined for a short period, he returned to action in 2018. Only in March – a few days before his passing – Vic was at Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon to greet players, guardians and staff during this year’s Southern Classic. He was with snooker right up until the end.
His fondness of WDBS was apparent and donations from his recent funeral were gratefully received by the organisation.
Vic was respected by all his peers and away from the table his energy and effervescent nature left us in high spirits. Whilst he leaves a hole within the sport, he will always be remembered by the snooker community.
In honour of his time, effort and commitment, his legacy will also live on through the new Vic Hartley WDBS Player of the Year Award that will be presented annually after each season. As well as the distinction of this title, the winning player will also receive a luxurious bespoke cue case designed and hand crafted by Rob Reed from RR Cue Cases.
A player from each disability category has been nominated for the prize, this year’s shortlisted contenders are Daniel Lee (Groups 1 and 2), Daniel Blunn (Group 3), Mickey Chambers (Groupsa 4 and 5), Michael Farrell (Group 6A), Daniel Harwood (Group 6B), Nick Neale (Group 7) and Shabir Ahmed (Group 8).