International Championship 2019 – Day 1

It was a long Sunday in Daqing as the last 128 qualifying round concluded with the held-over matches being played and as well as half of the last 64 first round matches.

Plenty happened, however the daily report by Worldsnooker mainly focused on Judd Trump, the reigning World Champion who was in action for the first time this season.

World Champion Judd Trump got his season off to a strong start by defeating Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown 6-3 at the International Championship in Daqing.

It was Trump’s first appearance on the circuit since defeating John Higgins 18-9 to win his maiden World Championship title back in May.

The Ace in the Pack showed no signs of a Crucible hangover as he produced some scintillating snooker to overcome a valiant display from world number 80 Brown. Trump composed breaks of 93, 131, 100, 63, 100, 60 and 81 on his way to victory.

Trump said: “There is a big weight lifted off my shoulders now. It is nice to walk around as World Champion. That is a good feeling for me. It is important for me to do well this season. A couple of people in the past have won the World Championship and had a bad season after so it is important to get that confidence back.”

Defending International Champion Mark Allen got up and running with a fine 6-1 win over Peter Lines. The Pistol fired in breaks of 81, 52, 56 and 59 as he comfortably progressed.

Chinese number one Ding Junhui withstood a fightback from Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg to emerge with a tense 6-5 victory. Ding had led 4-0, but required a deciding frame to secure the win.

World number four Neil Robertson came through with a 6-2 win over 1995 Crucible runner-up Nigel Bond. While four-time World Champion John Higgins narrowly avoided a shock defeat, beating Chinese wildcard Wu Yize 6-5.

Judd Trump played very well and his scoring was impressive, no question, however it will be interesting to see how he fares when facing an opponent that is both stronger and more experienced than Jordan Brown. Jordan deserves a lot of praise for the way he fought back, but ultimately he was able to do that because a few mistakes started to creep into Judd’s game. That will always happen: very rarely, if ever, can a player sustain a nearly perfect level over a best of 11 or longer. I had the feeling though that Judd started to feel a bit uneasy at 4-3. All expectations are on him now. He responded well, but he wasn’t really pushed just yet.

Judd Trump’s ambition to regain the  n°1 spot is normal, he still has to prove himself, he’s not that far behind Ronnie and he knows that the latter is no more playing full time time.

Yan Bingtao, who, despite being the first winner of the season, doesn’t seem to deserve a mention in this report, was very solid against Alfie Burden. Nothing flash but good old solid stuff. Zhou Yuelong on the contrary seems to have lost his way a bit.

The Ding v Lichtenberg match was bizarre. Ding was cruising at 4-0. Came the MSI, and the match got lost in a quagmire. Ding forgot how to pot more than a few balls at a time, lost his concentration and looked bored out of his skull in his seat. Simon fought very hard, played some very decent safeties but remained error prone. As a result, the second half of the match was a long, broken play affair. Ding woke up just in time to grab the win.

In this mixed bag, Ding played this very remarkable shot

MissingClip 2019 International Championship: Ding Junhui shot – Simon Lichtenberg

I saw very little from the Higgins v Wu match, but from what I saw, Wu was really impressive, especially considering that he’s only 15. He took the game to John who eventually prevailed, largely because of his vast experience IMO.

There was this interesting controversial situation during the match

MissingClip 2019 International Championship: John Higgins – Wu Yize (free ball situation)

Other than that there were a few “casualties”: Barry Hawkins lost to Daniel Wells (who is now working with Sightright) and Ryan Day was beaten by Kurt Maflin despite the fact that Kurt arrived late for his match and was docked a frame.

Thepchaiya Un-nooh lost  heavily to Ricky Walden who had five breaks over 60 in the match. That’s not a shock at all. Ricky is top 16 material and it’s a shame that his career was crippled by recurring back problems. He’s coming back to form and that’s great. “Theppy” has no B game, and when he’s not on a good day he’s very vulnerable.

Gary Wilson and David Gilbert followed up on their Crucible form, Michael White, unfornately confirmed his spiralling down …

2 thoughts on “International Championship 2019 – Day 1

  1. Yes Wu Yize, Lei Peifan and Zhao Jianbo are the Zhao Xintong, Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao of their age-group, respectively. Wu pots amazing balls, but regularly makes terrible mistakes. It was always unlikely he would actually win the match.

    But John Higgins and Ding Junhui often play a scrappy match at the beginning of a tournament. I doubt whether Ding has had much practice time, with all the corporate commitments and his family. His match with Zhao Xintong will be very interesting…

    Barry Hawkins again starts a season in poor form.

    As for predictions? It looks like the favourites are Trump, Allen and Robertson. Then a handful of players with a decent chance: Wilson, Bingham, Lisowski, Higgins, Selby. In other words, not much has changed since last season!

    • Barry Hawkins always starts slowly but he also had a boating accident shortly before the qualifiers … damaged ribs as a consequence. This is very painful. He really struggled in the qualifiers. Ok it’s been a while, but my own experience is that this kind of injury doesn’t heal really quickly and the long tiring travel might have made it worse again.

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