The last 64 round, played yesterday in Watfort, saw more big names depart, including Ronnie.
The field is reduced from 32 to one on Sunday, with the winner to take the £50,000 top prize at snooker’s unique one-frame knockout tournament.
O’Sullivan’s natural fluency made him a strong contender for the title, but he missed several chances early in the frame against Castle. And when the Rocket failed to escape from a snooker, his opponent compiled a break of 43 which proved enough. Castle now meets Luo Honghao in the third round
O’Sullivan’s place at next week’s Coral Players Championship in Southport is under threat – he is clinging on to 16th place in the one-year rankings but there are nine players who can still leapfrog him.
There were thrills and spills galore on day three at the Colosseum, not least in Brandon Sargeant’s win over Ali Carter. A break of 63 looked to be enough for Carter, but Sargeant got the chance he needed with four minutes to go and made 61 before missing a tricky cut on the final black. After a safety exchange, world number 115 Sargeant rolled the black into a baulk corner for victory.
World number 83 Ashley Carty caused another upset as he knocked out three-time World Champion Mark Williams. Trailing 47-0 with two minutes to go, Williams sprinted around the table in making a break of 43, but missed a tough red to a centre pocket with ten seconds on the clock.
Three amateur players are still in the draw: Ross Bulman who beat Andrew Pagett, Dean Young who saw off Liam Highfield, and Aaron Hill who scored a superb win over Kyren Wilson thanks to a run of 47.
Two-time Shoot Out runner-up Xiao Guodong made a 101 to beat Ashley Hugill and he is one of ten Chinese players through to the third round.
One of those, 16-year-old Lei Peifan, scored a dramatic win over Kurt Maflin, who trailed 28-30 in the closing seconds and didn’t have enough time to pot the brown before the cue ball stopped rolling.
Ryan Day’s match with Joe Perry also went down to the wire, as Day came from 43-1 down to set up a winning chance, only to miss the last red when he needed two pots for victory.
Defending champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was beaten by Peter Lines while Anthony Hamilton made a late break of 39 to get the better of David Gilbert. Welsh Open champion Shaun Murphy made a 62 to beat Alexander Ursenbacher.
Below are the 20 players who went into this week’s BetVictor Shoot Out still with a chance of breaking into the top 16 of the one-year ranking list and earning a spot at next week’s Coral Players Championship in Southport.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, having been knocked out of the Shoot Out in the second round, is in 16th place with £97,500 but not yet sure of his spot in Southport.
17th – Gary Wilson – £91,000 (needed semi-final minimum) – knocked out first round
18th – Tom Ford – £83,250 (final minimum) – knocked out first round
19th – Jack Lisowski – £82,750 (final minimum)
20th – Zhou Yuelong – £80,250 (final minimum)
21st – Zhao Xintong – £73,250 (title minimum) – knocked out second round
22nd – Kurt Maflin – £72,000 (title minimum) – knocked out second round
23rd – Ali Carter – £71,500 (title minimum) – knocked out second round
24th – Barry Hawkins – £68,250 (title minimum)
25th – Matt Selt – £65,250 (title minimum) – knocked out first round
26th – Liang Wenbo – £63,500 (title minimum)
27th – Xiao Guodong – £62,500 (title minimum)
28th – Stuart Bingham – £62,500 (title minimum) – knocked out first round
29th – Matthew Stevens – £62,250 (title minimum) – knocked out second round
30th – Scott Donaldson – £62,250 (title minimum) – knocked out first round
31st – Michael Holt – £52,000 (title minimum)
32nd – Anthony McGill – £50,500 (title minimum)
33rd – Li Hang – £50,500 (title minimum)
34th – Ben Woollaston – £50,250 (title minimum)
35th – Luca Brecel – £49,000 (title minimum) – knocked out first round
36th – Ricky Walden – £47,750 (title minimum) – knocked out first round
A win yesterday would have taken McGill, Li Hang and Woollaston out of the equation, but there was no win…
The last 32 draw is good and bad news, depending how you want to look at it:
Zhou Yuelong v Jack Lisowski
Liang Wenbo v Anthony McGill
Barry Hawkins v Ben Woollaston
This means that three of the remaining nine will certainly go out in the last 32 round, but it also means the three will certainly reach the last 16 round. The first match though guarantees that only one player will temain the the draw that would not need the title to push Ronnie out of the one year top 16.
Yesterday results also mean that, provided Ronnie keeps his 16th spot, he will certainly face Judd Trump first round in Southport, a very hard draw, but probably the best chance to beat him as Judd tends to get stronger as tournaments progress.
Regarding the match it self, here it is:
Yes, Ronnie missed a couple at the start, as did Billy BTW. Actually, except for the first black maybe, none of those missed balls were easy, especially when you are playing in this environment and struggle for concentration. The noise was really deafening. In the session preview, ES showed Ronnie being interviewed by Rachel (ES) and telling her how difficult it is to concentrate whilst keeping track of the clock, of the scores, and of what’s the situation on the table. You can hear him here:
Eventually the early misses were irrelevant. Billy won because he laid an excellent snooker, of which Ronnie could not escape, because of the ball in hand rule, and because he held himself together and constructed an excellent break when it mattered. He deserved the win, and good luck to him from here on!
The ball in hand rule is very harsh. In this case Ronnie played the right shot: he tried to nestle on left side of the red closest to the left side “black pocket” (as we look on TV). That wasn’t a big target. Under normal circumstances it would probably have gone back – he had not left anything really easy – and there was a good chance for him to get it right on second time asking. With ball in hand for his opponent, it was his last telling shot. There have been plenty of other examples in this tournament. Actually Ronnie would have been better off with trying to hit one in the little cluster in the middle of the table. He would probably have left something, but unlikely to be as easy as when the opponent can put the cue ball anywhere they like on the table, and he would not have given Billy 7 points in penalty. But snooker players don’t think that way … this is a “pool” rule.
Other than that, the day produced one of the best and most satisfactory frames of the season … here are extended highlights of it
And this extraordinary, but ultimately vain, effort by Mark Williams
That’s called panache!
Now some mild stat attacks…
There are only three top 16 players remaining in the event – Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins and Jack LIsowski and there are still three amateurs in the draw – Aaron Hill, Dean Young and Ross Bulman – three teenagers.
There are 22 professional players from China on tour, roughly one in six, and 10 of them are still in the draw, that’s roughly one in three. they are doing well in this format.