International Championship 2019 Qualifiers – Days 1 and 2

We are two days into the International Championship 2019 qualifiers and already the combined impact of a longer format and good prize money is obvious.

All the top players – except Ronnie – have entered and those who have been in action already have all won their matches: Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Ryan Day, Barry Hawkins, Jack Lisowski … all are already through and China Bound. Even Michael White and Liang Wenbo have found something and won. Liang actually found … his scoring boots: he made 7 breaks over 50, including a 107, in winning only 6 frames. Zao Xintong and Xiao Guodong also qualified, but Lyu Haotian lost to Duane Jones

Two young players deserve a special mention. Louis Heathcote, who just turned professional last month, beat Noppon Saengkham by 6-4 to qualify for the main event. Going by the scores, it was a high quality match: Noppon had breaks of 126, 112 and 78 whilst Louis scored breaks of 67, 77, 103 and 78, the last three in the last three frames of the match. Louis, remember, did also beat Ryan Day a few days ago to qualify for the Riga Masters. Impressive from the rookie. Yuan Sijun, who attracted Stephen Hendry’s attention and is still only 19, beat Gerard Greene by 6-0 with breaks of 108, 75, 57 and 66. He also had qualified for Riga with a win over Noppon Seangkham.

I haven’t seen much of the action at all, but Mark Selby looked solid in his match against Sam Baird (who was quite poor, truth to be said). Neil Robertson demolished Oliver Lines by 6-0 with three centuries; that can’t have been too shabby.

It all continues today and tomorrow. Luca Brecel got a bye.


One thought on “International Championship 2019 Qualifiers – Days 1 and 2

  1. Of course it is very difficult to predict how the players will start the season, or even if they are properly prepared. Given the long and intense series of tournaments that take place later on, it would be quite reasonable for some to decide to take it easy at this stage, and preserve energy for later. However, a couple of wins in these qualifiers would be a great boost to confidence.

    Luca Brecel’s bye came as a result of another VISA problem for Zhang Jiankang. The hapless Zhang missed the World Chmpionship due to a lost travel document (in Gibraltar), and now missed the Riga and Daqing qualifiers because of a delay in the Beijing VISA office (which also impacted several other Chinese players). Not the start he wanted to his crucial second year on tour.

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