Ronnie O’Sullivan, competing in the event for the first time since 2015, beat Alan McManus to reach the second round of the BetVictor Shoot Out.
The Rocket meets Billy Castle in round two of the quickfire one-frame tournament at the Watford Colosseum on Saturday.
Breaks of 20 and 22 helped O’Sullivan to a scoreline of 54-10 against McManus, who had one clear chance early in the frame but missed the pink to a centre pocket.
On a day of dramatic incident, African Champion Amine Amiri lost to Michael Holt having failed to realise that in this event a ball must be potted or hit a cushion with every shot. On two occasions Amiri looked in control of the frame when he tried to roll up to the black to snooker his opponent. Both times Holt was gifted seven points and ball in hand, and he eventually won the frame 69-38.
Iran’s Soheil Vahedi came from 37-1 down to tie at 37-37 with Alfie Burden, then potted the blue in a sudden death shoot out after Burden had missed.
Ricky Walden had a chance to clear from 36 points down against Tian Pengfei, but missed the final black off its spot at 61-64. Tian potted the black to book his second round spot.
Ashley Carty trailed Noppon Saengkham 43-35 with less than a minute to go but potted red, blue and yellow then slotted in the green as the clock ticked to zero for a last-gasp victory.
Liang Wenbo trailed Oliver Lines 29-15 but snatched the result with a late break of 19, sealing it with a difficult thin cut on the pink to a corner pocket. Liang is one of 15 Chinese players among the last 64.
Ali Carter edged out Chen Zifan 52-50; in the last minute Chen needed to pot two balls but didn’t get a clear chance.
It was a good day for Irish amateur teenagers as 18-year-old Ross Bulman beat 2018 champion Michael Georgiou while 17-year-old Aaron Hill got the better of Robbie McGuigan.
Shaun Murphy made a break of 68 to beat Kishan Hirani while Jack Lisowski fired a run of 78 to beat Andy Hicks.
Here are Ronnie’s match and post-match at the counter …
Plus an interview with BetVictor
Ronnie clearly not too keen to give a definite opinion on the event ranking status then…
Ronnie was playing the last match of the last 128, and over the full two days of the round Eurosport had been bigging the match. When the time finally came for it, the crowd was in a frenzy.
There was an “incident” … of course there had to be one. As Ronnie was cueing the pink “over the black”, Judd Trump tweeded that he “thought” that Ronnie had touched the black, but that he wasn’t sure. You can see it in the above footage at 3’50”. The referee, didn’t call a foul. However a few seconds later, after her attention was apparently drawn to it by a member of the crowd, she shouted “Ronnie stop!”. Ronnie was on his next shot already and played it.
Judd almost immediately removed his tweet, but the seed was planted. All over twitter there were people, branding Ronnie a cheat – “surely he must have felt it” – and “he’s ignoring the ref”. And Desi got criticised rather harshly too.
Now, let’s get this straight. It was madness all over there. The noise was deafening. Ronnie was certainly trying to block it out and concentrate, as they all do, and he only had a few seconds to play his next shot as well. Almost certainly he didn’t hear the referee at all. If she had shouted “foul” maybe that would have caught his attention, but “Ronnie stop” was unlikely to be registered under the circumstances.
Rolf Kalb, the hugely respected German commentator and MC, took the common sense approach: he watched the video several times, still wasn’t sure AND he added that if Desi thought there was a foul, she should have shouted “Foul”, not “Ronnie stop”. End of story.
Amine Amiri “fouling” twice by rolling the white behind the black also triggered a lot of reactions. The commentators couldn’t quite believe it and the poor guy got crucified on social media. Even after the first foul, it was quite obvious that he hadn’t understood that he needed to hit a cushion on every shot – unless he potted a ball – even on safeties like this. I’m not sure how well he understands English. He’s Morrocan, his native language is probably Arabic, with French the second one. I do think that he had read, or been told about the alternate rules, because he took care to hit a cushion when playing his other shots, but, for some reason, hadn’t understood that it applied to all types of shots, including such safeties. In 2011, on the first year of the Shoot Out, there were quite a number of such incidents, by players who were native English speakers. Now they are used to this, but Amine is a rookie. Give the lad a break!
Soheil Vahedi waiting too long to play the red that would have given him the victory against Alfie Burden was another strange one. Asked after the match what had happened, Soheil explained that he had somehow been puzzled because the crowd remained silent whilst he was about to play the shot. He was expecting a cheer that didn’t come and just “froze”, waiting for it. He did win on the blue ball shoot out eventually though.
Finally, all credit to Barry Pinches, who DID call a foul on himself, when nobody had seen it, and knowing it could cost him the match as well. It did.