Riga Masters 2019 – Last 32 and last 16.

There isn’t a single top 16 player left in the draw as we enter the QF stage in Riga. This is the line-up for this morning:

RigaMasters2019QFLineup

What happened to the top players yesterday then?

Mark Selby had reached the last 32 without potting a ball. He faced Graeme Dott and promptly found himself 3-0 down. Graeme was positive, playing really well and he was first in the next frame too. From what we had seen before a whitewash was definitely a possibility. But Graeme missed a couple, and it turned the match on its head. Mark Selby made 71, 53, 63 and 55 en route to victory. Having said that, it’s not as if Mark was playing great despite the godd break building. Graeme had opportunities to win, especially when he made a 58 in frame six; he should never have lost this match. Mark Selby though was found out in the next round. He won the first two frames but after that scored only 51 point in the next four against Suart Carrington, a solid player who, in many ways, has a very similar game to his own. No return to form – and confidence – in sight just yet for Mark then.

Mark Williams was outplayed by Luo Honghao. The boy (he’s only 19) was the better player in all departments and he clearly didn’t come in Riga unprepared. It was a bit of a question mark how he would react after being whitewashed at the Crucible. Here’s your ansewer: by working hard and coming back fighting. Luo played very positively, and his breakbuilding was impressive, as was his temperament. He went on to beat Gary Wilson – the Crucible semi finalist – by 4-0 to book his place in the QFs. Willo isn’t too dispirited if his twitter feed is anything to go by.

Jack Lisowski¬†was blowing hot and cold all day. He first beat Daniel Wells by 4-2, then lost by 4-1 to Mark Joyce. He had a 145 against Wells and a 140 against Joyce. There were basically two types of frames in his matches: the ones were he took control early and won with a big break, and the ones where he had to battle, get involved in safety exchanges, which he lost. His safety game was poor and that’s an understatement. That said Jack looked extremely tired at the end of the day and, not for the first time, watching him I couldn’t help to wonder how much his long battle against cancer as a teenager has taken out of him, physically and mentally.

2019 Riga Masters: Jack Lisowski 145 – Daniel Wells

* Jack’s 145 ended up being the tournament HB

Yan Bingtao wasn’t on the main televion table but going by the scores he’s playing well, scoring heavily. I’d love to see him or Luo win this tournament. One reason for that is because I’m sick and tired of some British fans snearing at the young Chinese because they haven’t quite met the expectations piled on them. Neil Robertson reapeatedly told the media how hard it has been for him being in the UK as an expat young player. However, the Aussie culture is certainly closer to the UK one than is the Chinese culture, and Neil didn’t have the additional huge hurdle of having to learn a different language – different in its structure, grammar and using a different alphabet too – just to communicate in every day’s life. Plus, the way the tour is organised is hugely biased in favour of UK/Irish players. The Chinese lads don’t have it easy, and they are under a lot of pressure from back home too.

6 thoughts on “Riga Masters 2019 – Last 32 and last 16.

  1. in the grand scheme of things this tournament is not on a par with others that will be played this season however credibility of the event has nothing to do with who is in the latter stages a final of Neil Robertson v Mark Selby or Li Hang v Mark Joyce its exactly the same tournament.

  2. Generally, the last-16 results yesterday were disappointing for the crediblity of the tournament: Selby, Lisowski, Thepchaiya and Wilson all losing. Not only are there no top-16 players, but only Mark King has ever been in the top-16 (back in 2011).

    I suppose the only positive thing that can come out of this tournament now is if one of the ‘Centennials’ born in 2000 wins: future top-16 no doubt. Yan Bingtao struggled to finish off McManus, but then had an easy match. Luo Honghao will most likely run out of energy or just make too many mistakes – if he can get to the semi-final it will be his best ever result. His flatmate in Sheffield is Rodion Judin, the local boy, so he’s probably being well looked after!

    It’s more likely one of the older players will muscle through and win it. I doubt whether Li Hang or Stuart Carrington can hold their technique together to cross the winning line. Mark Joyce is definitely an outsider. Mark King and Matt Selt have won a tournament before but can be unreliable, particularly if they get behind. Kurt Maflin will probably never get a better chance, and he’s scoring well. I don’t think he suffers under pressure, and he has some good memories in Riga. But it’s unchartered territory for him.

    With best-of-7 and best-of-9 the matches are also short enough for just about anything to happen!

    • These are short matches, but three of them means a potential 24 frames in one day for the finalists. Stamina will matter!
      Luo indeed either ran out of steam or was second to Kurt Maflin experience and scoring power. Kurt can be vulnerable under pressure. I’ve seen it close-up.

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