2019 Champion of Champions – Provisional Draw and Schedule

This was published today by Worldsnooker

The draw and schedule for the group stage of the ManBetX Champion of Champions has been made, with the tournament set to break off at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena on Monday.

Reanne Evans, the 12 time Women’s World Champion, will compete in the event for the first time and has been drawn against world number eight Shaun Murphy, with that match to take place on the opening day of the tournament on Monday November 4.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will begin his tournament defence on Thursday, November 7 against the eventual winner of this week’s Yushan World Open. Should that player have already qualified for the ManBetX Champion of Champions, World Seniors Champion Jimmy White will take that place in the draw.

The 16-player field was split into eight seeded players – based on World Ranking with defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan the No.1 seed – and eight unseeded players for the purposes of the draw, with the seeded players drawn at random against unseeded players. The top four seeded players were allocated into groups 1-4, with O’Sullivan seeded first and Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson heading groups 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

Each day’s play during the group stage sees two matches in the afternoon, with the winners of those matches facing off in the evening session for a place in the semi-finals.


| Group Semi-Finals (best of 7)
Neil Robertson vs. Martin Gould
Shaun Murphy vs. Reanne Evans

 7pm | Group Final (best of 11)
Robertson/Gould vs. Murphy/Evans

| Group Semi-Finals (best of 7)
Mark Selby vs. Yan Bingtao
Mark Allen vs. Matthew Selt

7pm | Group Final (best of 11)
Selby/Yan vs. Allen/Selt

| Group Semi-Finals (best of 7)
Judd Trump vs. Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

7pm | Group Final (best of 11)
Trump/Maguire vs. Wilson/Un-Nooh

| Group Semi-Finals (best of 7)
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Yushan World Open Winner
John Higgins vs. Stuart Bingham

7pm | Group Final (best of 11)
O’Sullivan/Yushan vs. Higgins/Bingham

Winner Group 1 vs. Winner Group 4

Winner Group 2 vs. Winner Group 3

The Final

Tickets for the 2019 ManBetX Champion of Champions are on sale now. Prices start from just £11 per session with Premium and VIP packages also available. For details click here.

Featuring tournament winners from the previous 12 months, the ManBetX Champion of Champions is broadcast live on ITV4 and has become one of snooker’s biggest tournaments since launching at Ricoh Arena in 2013. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy have all lifted the trophy.

The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 4 until Thursday, November 7. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 8 and the other on Saturday, November 9. The final on Sunday, November 10 will be over 19 frames.

Ronnie is in a seriously difficult group with Stuart Bingham or John Higgins, both former World Champions, waiting in the QF. Should he get past the group stage, he’s likely to face either Neil Robertson or Shaun Murphy … both former World Champions. But of course Ronnie needs to win his first match to get there, which in current form is certainly not guaranteed.

Currently three players who haven’t yet qualified for the Champion of Champions are still in the World Open draw: Michael Holt, David Gilbert and Zhou Yuelong. If one of them wins in Yushan come Sunday, he will be Ronnie’s first round opponent. If the World Open Champion is someone who has already qualified, then Ronnie will play Jimmy White.

Zhiyuan World Open 2019 – Last 16 round – up

No personal comments today, as I didn’t see a thing… but here is the report by Worldsnooker

World number one Judd Trump edged out Joe Perry 5-4 in a contest which came down to the last two balls at the Zhiyuan World Open.


Trump, aiming to win a sixth title within the past year, is through to the quarter-finals in Yushan and will face Michael Holt on Friday. But he would have been on the plane home from China had Perry taken one of numerous match-winning chances.

After winning the first three frames with top breaks of 135 and 74, Trump saw his opponent take four in a row with top runs of 123, 70 and 129. World number 15 Perry could have clinched the match in frame eight but missed a red to a centre pocket at 41-37 and Trump took advantage for 4-4.

The decider came down to the last two reds and, after Perry failed to convert a tough long pot to a baulk corner, Trump cleared to the pink before missing it along the right-hand side cushion, leading by nine points. Perry was left with a difficult pink along the top cushion and rattled it in the jaws, leaving Trump a pot to a centre pocket which he slotted home.

“I was in control at 3-0, then at 3-1 Joe had a big fluke and that turned it around,” said World Champion Trump. “A few things weren’t going my way and I was getting frustrated. In the end I just fell over the line. He had chances so he’ll be massively disappointed. There was a lot of tension in the last frame, it means a lot to everyone.

“There’s so much pressure here, you don’t want to be thinking about a tough loss on your flight home. Usually he wouldn’t miss those balls but in those situations you start taking too long and thinking about things that can go wrong. It’s a lifeline for me.”

Stuart Bingham’s 5-2 win over Mark Selby was one of the best performances of the season so far as he fired breaks of 108, 97, 114, 104 and 117 to win the last five frames.

“From 2-0 down I didn’t miss a ball,” said 2015 World Champion Bingham. “I felt better today than I did in my previous two matches. My game has been there but I have thrown in some bad performances. Every season my aim is to pick up a trophy. I haven’t had a good season so far so hopefully this week will kick it off.”

John Higgins trailed 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 in a Scottish derby against Graeme Dott, but still came through 5-4, making breaks of 60 and 69 in the last two frames.

“I feared the worst after the first two frames so I’m delighted to come back and win,” said four-time Crucible king Higgins. “I know I am hitting the ball better now so even at 2-0 down I was thinking if I got chances I had to take them.

“I was enjoying the game, even if I had lost I was enjoying competing and making some breaks. You can tell Graeme is hitting the ball really well at the moment and he is a great competitor.”

Michael Holt top scored with 83 in a 5-1 defeat of home favourite Ding Junhui, while Kyren Wilson was in superb form in a 5-1 win over Jack Lisowski, knocking in 77, 86, 108, 102 and 72.

China’s Zhou Yuelong impressed in a 5-2 win over Ali Carter, making breaks of 131 and 134, while David Gilbert came from 2-1 down to beat Mark Allen 5-3. Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh top scored with 74 in a 5-3 win over Sunny Akani.


Judd Trump v Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham v John Higgins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v David Gilbert
Kyren Wilson v Zhou Yuelong


Zhiyuan World Open 2019 – Last 32 round-up

There were two unexpected outcomes to day: Graeme Dott’s 5-1 win over Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins defeat to Michael Holt. There were also two more unexpected scorelines: Sunny Akani beating Elliot Slessor by 5-1 and Zhou Yuelong trashing Fergal O’Brien by 5-0. Zhou had five breaks over 50, in five frames, including a 106 and a 127; his opponent was restricted to 82 points in total.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump insisted he could end his career with well over 1,000 century breaks after making two tons in a 5-3 win over Liang Wenbo in the last 32 of the Zhiyuan World Open.


Earlier this year, Ronnie O’Sullivan became the first player to take his career ton tally into four figures. Trump’s brace of centuries today took his total to 642. At the age of 30, he is 14 years younger than O’Sullivan so has time on his side.

“If I can keep at the same rate I can easily get past 1,000 – I fancy my chances of that,” said world number one Trump. “It’s something to go for. I always go for centuries at the end of frames because it gives the fans a chance to celebrate. It might end up being one of the only records I take off Ronnie.”

Trump trailed Liang 3-2  in Yushan before winning the last three frames with breaks of 129, 61 and 105. In the last 16 he meets Joe Perry, who saw off Stuart Carrington 5-3.

“It was a tough game, we both struggled a bit,” admitted Trump. “In the last couple of frames Liang had chances. I just fell over the line. I’m not in title winning form yet but I have the chance to improve.

“Joe Perry is always a  big hurdle, he’s always there in the later stages of a tournament. You have to be playing well to beat him, and if you do that you know you have a chance of winning the title.”

China Championship winner Shaun Murphy saw his hopes of winning back-to-back titles in the Far East end as he lost 5-1 to Graeme Dott. Murphy took the first frame of a battle between the 2005 and 2006 World Champions, before Dott won five in a row with top breaks of 57, 70 and 62.

“I played well, it’s nice when my game comes out now and again and I remember how to play,” said Scotland’s Dott. “Shaun is one of the form players so I needed a really good performance to beat him. My safety was good and I scored well.

“I am always working on my game and I enjoy that. You can’t be in the top 20 of the rankings in your 40s if you’re not developing your game all of the time. You need to win matches with your bad game because you can’t always play well.”

Murphy said: “Graeme had me in a world of trouble with his safety game, and when he got chances he capitalised. That’s how you play snooker. If he plays like that he’s close to unbeatable.”

Home favourite Ding Junhui top scored with 122 in a 5-2 win over Martin O’Donnell, while Michael Holt made a 121 in a 5-3 defeat of Barry Hawkins.

Kyren Wilson came from 4-3 down to edge out Hossein Vafaei 5-4, making a 104 in the eighth frame before taking the decider 61-17. Mark Allen compiled runs of 108 and 129 in a 5-3 defeat of Zhang Anda.

David Gilbert top scored with 110 in a 5-0 thrashing of Anthony McGill. Mark Selby – who beat Gilbert in the recent English Open final – saw off Noppon Saengkham 5-2.

Well, of course, Judd, you will “smash” it. You have potentially 26 events to play in this season… Ronnie had potentially 9 to play in when he was your age (and that paucity of  main tour events lasted for a good part of his “prime” years). Opportunities over your respective careers not exactly comparable isn’t it?

The only match I had the opportunity to watch was Mark Selby v Noppon Saengkham. Mark Selby played well, indeed better than anyone else I watched in this event so far. But then of course I didn’t watch everyone, far from it.

Some news about the 2019 Northern Ireland Open

Worldsnooker has today published this:

Judd Trump will be defending the title against a strong field at next month’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast, with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and home favourite Mark Allen among the star names in the line-up.

The tournament runs from November 11 to 17 at the Waterfront Hall Belfast and tickets are still available to see the best players in the world, starting at just £10. For details click here.

Selby won the 19.com English Open earlier this month so he’s the only player who can win the unique £1 million bonus on offer for capturing all four Home Nations titles in the same season. Victory in Belfast would mean he would need to win those in Glasgow and Cardiff to complete the clean sweep.

Antrim’s Allen, the world number seven, will be looking to improve his record in the tournament, as he has not got past the quarter-finals since the event was first staged in 2016.

Local fans will also be able to cheer on tour pro Jordan Brown, and amateurs Patrick Wallace and Declan Lavery who have been handed the two spots available for national wild cards.

World number one Trump beat O’Sullivan 9-7 in last year’s fantastic final.

The draw and format will be announced next week

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We’re delighted to see such a strong field for what is going to be a tremendous week of snooker in Belfast. So many of our sport’s biggest names are in the draw, and what an opportunity for fans to come and see their heroes in action. With up to eight tables in play at the same time during the early rounds, fans can see a wide range of players in a single session.

“Last year’s final between Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan was one of the best we have seen on the circuit in recent years. Trump went on to become World Champion and world number one and he’ll be determined to live up to that status when he competes in Belfast. Mark Selby has no shortage of motivation as he chases the £1 million bonus, while home favourite Mark Allen will expect the support of the local crowd as he aims to reach the final weekend for the first time.

“It will be a fascinating week as these storylines unfold. The experience of watching snooker live is not to be missed!”

Good news that Ronnie has entered. Hopefully he will be able to find some form.


Zhiyuan World Open 2019 – Held over and last 64 round-up

The main talking point of day 1 in Yushan was – unfortunately – Ronnie’s defeat to Dominic Dale in their held over match. You can read all about it here.

Other than that Worldssnooker report on day 1 was rather minimal

The results are all on snooker.org


Recent English Open champion Mark Selby came through a hard fought battle with former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton, emerging a 5-3 victor.

The Jester from Leicester produced one of the circuits most impressive performances in recent years to win the English Open. He missed just seven balls in a 9-1 defeat of David Gilbert in the final in Crawley.

Three-time World Champion Selby top scored in today’s defeat of Hamilton with a run of 111 in the opening frame. Next up he will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.

World Champion Judd Trump put on a fine display to brush aside Zhang Jiankang 5-0. The Ace in the pack composed breaks of 80, 104, 63, 70 and 69 on his way to victory.

2019 China Champion Shaun Murphy continued his red hot spell of form by booking a place in the second round thanks to a 5-2 defeat of Alan McManus. While China’s 13-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui saw off Billy Castle 5-2.

Yesterday evening, I watched Judd’s match against Zhang Jiankang and I’m a bit surprised at the “fine display” description. From what I remember, Judd, in that match, didn’t manage a long pot until the middle of frame 3, and his long pot sucess must have been rather low over the course of the match. He also missed quite unexpectedly at short range in nearly every frame. He didn’t create many opportunities for himself, he was offered them on a plate by an opponent who struggled to string three balls in a row for most of the match. Yes, Judd eventually managed a telling break in every frame, but the whole display left me unconvinced.

As I didn’t have the opportunity to watch anything else, I can’t comment on the other matches. David Gilbert though was 4-1 down to Zhao Xintong and managed to beat him by 5-4. It was a high scoring match. I wonder if Zhao was guilty of impatience and tried to “force” things or if Gilbert just found another gear or two.

Ding beat Billy Joe Castle by 5-2, a comfortable score on paper, but the frames scores are telling a slightly different story: the match was apparently quite close.

Other than Ronnie’s defeat that there weren’t real surprises on day 1.

Worldsnooker report on day 2 doesn’t cover the evening session… 

John Higgins reached the last 32 of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan with a 5-4 win over China’s Lu Ning.

World number six Higgins was pushed all the way by a player ranked 56 places below him but eventually came through to set up a meeting with Mark Davis.

Scotland’s Higgins took a 3-1 lead with a top break of 81 then Lu recovered to 3-3. The next two were shared before Higgins got the better of the decider, helped by a run of 48.

Dominic Dale knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan on Monday but his joy was short-lived as he lost 5-3 to Fergal O’Brien, who made breaks of 104 and 107.

Mark Allen scored a 5-3 win over Ken Doherty but not before he was given a scare by a Doherty fight back. Allen led 4-0 with a top run of 130 then his opponent took three frames in a row, making a 108 in the seventh. But a break of 77 was enough to give Allen the eighth. He now meets Zhang Anda.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh saw off Zhang Yang in just 65 minutes with top runs of 104, 85, 102 and 65. Jack Lisowski eased to a 5-1 win over Luo Honghao with a top break of 87.

Both John Higgins and Lu Ning played really well. It’s a shame for Lu that they had to meet so early: he’s a much improved player and a fighter.

Theppy’s 104 was his 100th competitive century.

There were a few noticeable results in the evening though.

Yan Bingtao was beaten comprehensively by Stuart Carrington (5-1). Already in his held-over match, he didn’t have it easy: he needed all nine frames to beat the 17 years old Bai Langning on the last black in the decider. It seems to me that the young man – he’s still a teenager – struggles to cope with the pressure of expectations.

Michael Holt beat Luca Brecel by 5-2. Not a surprise, but a confirmation that the Belgian’s form is worryingly bad and has been for quite some time. Another player whose form seems to have vanished is Ben Woollaston who lost by 5-1 to Zhou Yuelong.

Judd Trump needed all nine frames to beat Sam Craigie, despite scoring a 144 – currently the highest break at the main venue (*) – and leading 3-1 and 4-2. Now I’m curious to watch that one…

Nearly all top players are over to the last 32. Stephen Maguire though had to withdraw with a leg injury, giving Sunny Akani a free pass to tomorrows round.

Tomorrow John Higgins will face Mark Davis who is a bit of his nemesis … “Dark Mavis” has won 6 of the last 8 matches they played in full ranking events.

Judd Trump will play Liang Wenbo. That should be fast and furious.

(*) the current HB of the tournament is 145 by Jack Lisowski at the qualifiers in Barnsley.


Ronnie’s run in Yushan ends in last 128

Ronnie is the poster boy of the the tournament but he was beaten in the first round by Dominic Dale.

Yushan - ROS last 128

This is certainly not what Ronnie hoped for, he will be bitterly disappointed. Dominic of course is an experienced veteran, and it’s easy to forget that he’s a double ranking event winner. He’s been struggling in the past couple of seasons but he seems to play better this season and he needs to: he’s in danger to drop off the tour, being provisionally ranked 96  on the “end of season” projection list. This was never going to be an easy first round match. Also, those two know each other since their junior days: no way Dominic would be “intimidated” or feeling uneasy playing on the match table. It is however a shock as this is the first time ever that Dominic has beaten Ronnie in a ranking event and it is also the first time he loses in at the last 128 stage since the German Masters 2014.

For Ronnie though this is a bit of a disaster, and it’s worrying as well. He needs results in ranking events if he wants to qualify for the Coral Cup events and the first one already comes in February. This puts a lot of pressure on him for the coming ones: Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and Scottish Open.

Here are a few great pictures by Tai Chengzhe – thank you Tai

Having now watched the match, this is my assessment: Ronnie simply didn’t play well enough. His long potting was poor, his safety game wasn’t accurate enought and he seemed to struggle with the pace of the table as his positional game wasn’t as good as it usually is. Tables often play heavy in China, and this appeared to be the case here, but it’s the same for both players. Dominic played better than Ronnie without being outstanding and had a bit more run aswell although that certainly was not the determining factor. He was the better player and fully deserved the win.

The one positive factor was Ronnie’s attitude: he never stopped trying, didn’t play any rash shot, and, when defeated, still took time for the fans.

This is the match:

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Dominic Dale recorded a shock 5-3 defeat of 36-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan on day one of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.

It was a momentous victory for Welshman Dale, who had lost all of his eight career meetings with the Rocket coming into this afternoon’s clash. The world number 94 also narrowly avoided relegation from the circuit last season. Despite finishing the campaign outside of the world’s top 64, he retained his tour card thanks to his position in the one-year earnings list.

O’Sullivan claimed victory at the invitational Shanghai Masters earlier in the season, winning the event for the third year in a row. However, the world number two currently sits 72nd in the one-year ranking list and has work to do to secure his position in the Coral Series later in the season.

The Spaceman secured an early advantage over the Rocket this afternoon, taking the opening two frames to lead 2-0. However, O’Sullivan bounced back to claim two on the bounce and level at 2-2.

Dale edged back in front courtesy of a 76 break, but was again pinned back by O’Sullivan who levelled at 3-3.

From there two-time ranking event Dale surged to the line. He made breaks of 51 and 72 to come through a surprise 5-3 victor.

“It’s taken 27 years to beat Ronnie, that might be the beginning of my career now,” said Dale. “It is always an honour to play the greatest player in the game. In some respects when you play Ronnie, focus and application is guaranteed. If it isn’t then something is wrong. I didn’t expect to beat him, but I have a lot of experience and I was just there to perform.

“Ronnie looked like he was taking the match very seriously. There have been times in his career we know that hasn’t been the case, but it was today. He seemed very focussed and put in a good effort there.”

There is this post-match interview on weibo.

Here is a summary of it (not exact quotes, but the essence of it)

“I made too many mistakes. Dominic played better than me and deserved the win. Really disappointed really. I like to play in China, want to do well, but it wasn’t meant to be today. The conditions were good. No excuses. I probably didn’t play enough. I’ll need more matches under my belt, I’l need probably 2 or three tournaments to get where I want to be. No excuses, It wasn’t jet-lag, I felt OK. I had to be a little bit for the sponsors this morning, but it’s normal and I enjoyed it. It’s good for the sponsors and the tournament. No excuses. But I feel bad for the fans, they want to see me play well, make centuries. And for the sponsors. But I will be back. I want to play in the China tournaments. It’s a a fantastic tournament, it’s a fantastic tournament, fantastic venue and fantastic crowd. I hope to come back next year.”

Not great obviously, but life goes on and the tournament continues.