2020 Shoot Out – Michael Holt is the Champion

Michael Holt beat Zhou Yuelong in the Final of the 2020 Shoot Out yesterday evening, and won his first ranking title in 24 years as a pro.

ShootOut2020HoltWinner

Congratulations Michael Holt

Here is the report by WST:

Michael Holt won his first ranking title after 24 years as a pro, beating Zhou Yuelong in the final of the BetVictor Shoot Out.

Nottingham’s 41-year-old Holt would certainly have been in the conversation on ‘best player never to win a ranking title’ but has now finally broken his duck by going one better than last year, having finished runner-up to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 12 months ago in Watford.

The Hitman earns his biggest ever payday by taking the  £50,000 top prize at snooker’s unique quickfire one-frame knockout event.  The tournament has never been won by a player ranked inside the top 16 since it was first staged in 2011 and world number 41 Holt continues that sequence.

Holt got in first in the final with an excellent long red and made 42 before missing a red to a top corner. Zhou had one chance to counter, but after potting a red missed a tough blue to a baulk corner. Holt added 22 which was enough to secure his milestone moment.

As a massive extra bonus, Holt earns a place in next week’s Coral Players Championship by climbing to 16th on the one-year ranking list. Ronnie O’Sullivan was 16th coming into this week but now he will not have the chance to defend that title, as instead Holt heads to Southport to face Judd Trump in the first round.

The spin-offs are far-reaching for Holt as he almost certainly gains a place in the Champion of Champions event in November. For the popular potter and his heavily-pregnant wife Amy, who was among the crowd, the financial rewards are life changing.

China’s Zhou was also seeking his first ranking title but has to settle for £20,000 and another runner-up medal, having lost to Neil Robertson in the European Masters final last month. Victory for the 22-year-old would have given him that spot in Southport and also boosted his hopes of topping the BetVictor European Series rankings and taking the £150,000 bonus. Instead, that race will be settled between Neil Robertson and Judd Trump at next month’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

“It’s amazing just to hold that trophy up,” said Holt, who turned pro in 1996 and had lost two previous ranking finals. “The clock forces me to trust my instincts and just play what I see in front of me. It’s in me to enjoy it and embrace the crowd, which helps.  I’ve had a bit of luck but you still have to pot the balls when you get chances.

“I’m 41 but that’s not old in snooker terms and I’m still eager. I’m not weathered or tired, I still have things I want to achieve. I’m as hungry as any 21-year-old. I want to keep getting better and be as good as I think I can be and see where that takes me. I have had a lean few years and it has been hard financially, so the money is brilliant.

“I can’t wait to go to Southport now because to be in big tournaments is what you play for. It will be tough against Judd but I have never minded competing against the top players. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season now.”

Although I’m genuinely pleased for Michael, I’m rather gutted about what this means for Ronnie, as explained by Matt Huart here:

Please note that this is strictly provisional and subject to event entries:

Judd Trump (1) v Michael Holt (16)

John Higgins (8) v Graeme Dott (9)

Ding Junhui (5) v Stephen Maguire (12)

Mark Selby (4) v Mark Williams (13)

—————————————-

Neil Robertson (3) v Joe Perry (14)

Yan Bingtao (6) v Kyren Wilson (11)

Mark Allen (7) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (10)

Shaun Murphy (2) v David Gilbert (15)

Players are marked in bold once their position can no longer change.

Latest qualification standings (23/02/2020):

14th – Joe Perry – £112,000
15th – David Gilbert – £104,000
16th – Michael Holt – £102,000
——————————————————————————
17th – Zhou Yuelong – £100,250 (F minimum)
18th – Ronnie O’Sullivan – £97,500
19th – Gary Wilson – £91,000 (SF minimum)
20th – Jack Lisowski – £83,750 (F minimum)
21st – Tom Ford – £83,250 (F minimum)
22nd – Zhao Xintong – £73,750 (title minimum)
23rd – Kurt Maflin – £72,000 (title minimum)
24th – Ali Carter – £72,000 (title minimum)
24th – Barry Hawkins – £69,250 (title minimum)
25th – Matt Selt – £65,250 (title minimum)
26th – Liang Wenbo – £64,500 (title minimum)
27th – Xiao Guodong – £63,500 (title minimum)
28th – Matthew Stevens – £62,750 (title minimum)
29th – Stuart Bingham – £62,500 (title minimum)
30th – Scott Donaldson – £62,250 (title minimum)
32nd – Anthony McGill – £52,500 (title minimum)
33rd – Ben Woollaston – £52,250 (title minimum)
34th – Li Hang – £51,500 (title minimum)
35th – Luca Brecel – £49,000 (title minimum)
36th – Ricky Walden – £47,750 (title minimum)
Players already out of the Shoot Out have been struck out

The sad state of affairs means that Ronnie won’t be defending his Players Championship title this week. It’s even harder to take because of the nature of this event, and because, had Ronnie beaten Kyren Wilson in the World Grand Prix, he would be 15th in this list and playing Shaun Murphy in the first round on Wednesday.

But somehow it sums up Ronnie’s season. In “proper” snooker tournaments he hasn’t done that badly: one win, the Shanghai Masters, one final, the NI Open, two semi finals, two quarter finals, two last 16 and just one first round defeat. He’s won 77% of his matches this season so far; that’s about the same success rate as Shaun Murphy; only Judd Trump and Neil Robertson have done better, and only slightly so. Reading this you’d expect him to be in the top 16 bracket in the season. He isn’t, he’s 18th.

The issues have been:

  • He hasn’t played in enough tournaments. It impacted his earning and his form.
  • Those he played in were not the most lucrative, except the one in China, where he suffered his only first round defeat.
  • His best results came in invitational tournaments.
  • When playing under pressure, he has looked more edgy and vulnerable than usual.

Ronnie would need something extraordinary to find himself in a position to defend his Tour Championship title He would need to enter the Gibraltar Open, to win the title, and hope that an all host of results go his way this week, starting with John Higgins losing in the first round to Graeme Dott, only for Dott to lose in the next round. Let’s just face it: it’s not going to happen.

So, there is probably only the World Championship remaining this season for Ronnie, provided he enters it. And he’s going to need to play more and get results next season to stay in the top 16 as he has a lot of points to defend.

What happened there? Well maybe the answer, or at least part of it, was revealed by his sister in an interview she gave to The Sun. Mark posted the link in the comments section of yesterday’s post (Shoot Out 2020 – Day 3) , and in my answer to Mark’s comment. It would also explain what happened at the Crucible last April.

Ronnie has looked edgy and anxious for most of the season, and if there are indeed off the table issues related to the family situation, it’s not surprising. Being privately happy and at peace is important and, when we are not, it impacts every aspect of our lives, including at work. We have had many examples over the years in snooker, most recently affecting Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy amongst the top players. And there are many more, hitting lower ranked players, we rarely hear about …

So that’s how things stand. There is nothing that we can do about it, except hoping that whatever issues Ronnie is facing, they will be resolved soon, and he’ll be happy and at peace again. That’s the most important thing.

As for the Crucible, should he enter, one factor that might help him, is that this year he won’t be favourite and the media attention and fans expectations will be on others: Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy being the obvious “targets”.

Ronnie was on the counter for the afternoon review…

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “2020 Shoot Out – Michael Holt is the Champion

  1. To Monique’s list of reasons why Ronnie has fallen into this predicament, I would add that he was a victim of Barry Hearn’s (silly) ranking system that (among other things, and in my opinion) places too much weight on winning tournaments and not enough on making it to the latter stages of tournaments on a consistent basis.

    A player can win one event and lose in the first round in every other event and still earn more ranking points than a player who makes it to (but loses in) just about every quarterfinal or so, which is patently absurd…

    • I agree Mark. The previous point system rewarded consistency too much, now it’s gone the other way around big time. And I don’t even want to think about the impact of that event next season in Saudi Arabia. £500000 to the winner for an event featuring all 128 players over a week, which means it’s likely to be a short format, which is a leveller, bbut surely suits the bookies!

      • It’s made even worse with ranking points awarded for the Coral series. Although it’s quite a creative way of papering over the cracks in the ranking problem, it pulls the top-16 and top-32 away from the rest of the field.

  2. Sad Monday. With time I quit watching and following most sports tho I’ve been in sports my whole life. It is only the genius of O’Sullivan that kept me interested in something, in snooker. Am to melancholic to say more. Sad day.

    • Ivan, do what I do. Follow some young players and watch them develop – there are rewards in that, as well as frustrations of course! But that’s sport, and that’s life!

  3. It’s sad to say, but there’s a decent chance that we’ll look back on Ronnie’s season as the beginning of the end of his career. Not only was it largely a failed season by itself, but as Monique points out, Ronnie will have a lot of points to defend next season and his ranking will be plummeting if he’s not able to turn things around quite dramatically.

    All of which highlights the importance of this year’s World Championship, where a win would make his season a complete success and even just a deep run could garner him some important ranking points to help offset the points he’ll be losing.

  4. When you have that kind of parents you’re always in trouble. His mother’s words are ashaming and stupid.I hope Ronnie won’t care about this. This type of maternal jealousy is the most dangerous feeling which a mother can have toward his own son, I believe that both his parents has ruined his career in a certain way, I suggest him to give them definitely a piss.

    • I tried to look back to the original post, about Ronnie’s family troubles and didn’t find them, so it is just from memory, but besides his mother’s words etc I think it is also a problem that his sister aired all this to The Sun.

      Otherwise this season was a nightmare and sad. Of course there was the occasional brilliance and some memorable performances to remember, but in the end it is the trophies that matter. 😦

      • The thing is, we have been so spoiled over the last years that this one looks terrible whilst, in fact, most players would be over the moon with it.

      • It is terrible nonetheless that Ron was kicked out of the season top 16 by someone who has won 15 and lost 13 matches this season. While Ron has had 77% win ratio. What I want to say you create an event to award consistency of players thruout the season, and then you have a circus event lime this that in one night plays with people’s destiny. It is very sad state of affairs for World snooker. As is this Monday a very sad day for me.

      • Yes, Ivan, I agree. When, in 2017, McGill won the Shoot Out, he kicked Mark Williams out of the top 16, the official ranking top 16. Mark had to win three matches to qualify for the Crucible and lost the third one. Needless to say he was gutted. He only came back with a vengeance the next year, becoming World Champion for the third time!

      • That is true. But it is Ronnie, not “most players”. 🙂

        He is not a journeyman and for him titles matter.

      • Of course they matter Csilla. What I meant is that, we, the fans, have been so spoiled, that we forget sometimes how difficult and demanding this sport is and we expect so much of him.

  5. I feel that Ronnie is currently structuring his schedule around trying to get that 37th ranking title. Unfortunately the PC & TC are probably his best chances but you’ve got to enter more tournaments to qualify if you don’t win a tournament during the season. Hopefully it doesn’t end up like Jimmy’s world title.

    Although it won’t benefit Ronnie going forward, it’s ridiculous that the defending champion doesn’t automatically qualify for a given tournament. Hopefully they change that rule going forward for the benefit of all players.

  6. What a sad Monday. Ronnie is the reason I still whatch snooker while I have abandoned watching and following practically any other sports altogether, spare for some boxing. And I’ve been in sports actively and passively all my life. I have never seen such a capable and charismatic sportsman as Ronnie O’Sullivan in anything, ever. The day he is officially gone will leave the void impossible to fill.

  7. Well done to Michael Holt, winning 13 out of 14 Shoot-out matches is remarkable, but statistically there are always extremes. The discusion of course is how a player can rise from 31st to 16th on the (1-year) ranking list on the basis of seven 10-minute frames. I’m a little relieved that it doesn’t look like a player may be relegated from the tour as a result of Shoot-out results (except perhaps Michael Georgiou, who has benefited from it before).

    The Chinese players did so well that it seems almost inevitable that there will be a Shoot-out held in China at some point. It could even become a series, which might actually help to divorce it from the main tour and rankings. I have never seen Lyu Haotian so happy, even when he lost. Indeed at one point he seemed to have millions of fans! But it didn’t work out for Ronnie as had been almost inevitable when he lost. With the demise of the China Open, it might help some of the top players to get together and play some kind of semi-competitive exhibition. Even a gap of 1 month is a little too much for those players who need some momentum.

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