2020 Players Championship – Day 1

Despite the fact that Ronnie, the defending champion, won’t be anywhere in this competition, except on the poster, I have decided to still follow it on this blog. I’m a snooker fan, as much as a Ronnie fan.

So here goes…

Yesterday evening, Mark Selby whitewashed Mark Williams, whilst Stephen Maguire needed a decider to beat Ding Junhui.

This is the report by WST:

Mark Selby produced a superb display to whitewash Mark Williams 6-0 and reach the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship in Southport.

The result was a role-reversal of the pair’s first ever meeting in 1999, when Williams defeated a 16-year-old Selby 9-0 at the UK Championship.

The Jester from Leicester has enjoyed a strong season so far, winning at the English and Scottish Open to reach 4th position on the one-year list and earn his place at this week’s elite 16-player event.

Defeat for Williams acts as a severe blow to his chances of qualifying for the series finale, the Coral Tour Championship. The Welshman is currently in 13th spot on the one-year list and will now have to win the Gibraltar Open to stand any chance of edging into the top eight and sealing a spot in Llandudno.

Selby was in complete control throughout this evening’s tie, composing breaks of 60, 103, and 63 on his way to the comprehensive victory.

“I played really well from start to finish. I didn’t miss many balls,” said 17-time ranking event winner Selby. “Even at 4-0 I wasn’t getting ahead of myself. Mark was more than capable of doing to me what I had done to him before the interval. I’m really happy with the way I played and I hope I can continue that.

“In patches throughout this season, I have played as good as I possibly can. Against David Gilbert in the final of the English Open and even against Mark tonight I have played close to my best. It is there, it is just doing it consistently.”

His opponent in the last eight will be Stephen Maguire who battled back to win a 6-5 thriller against Ding Junhui.

Maguire, who lost to Ding in the UK Championship final earlier this season, had trailed 4-2 and 5-4. However, the tenacious Scot showed his steel to force a decider, where he composed an impressive break of 67 to secure victory and beat Ding for the first time in over 11 years.

As most of you probably know, I’m part of the snooker.org team and yesterday evening I was in charge of updating the scores. I decided to watch the “main match”, Selby v Williams, whilst keeping an eye on the scores of the other match.

I probably made the wrong choice: it was boring. Now, before anyone jumps on my back in anger, let me be clear: Selby played very well and there was nothing boring in his performance. The thing is, there was no fight, no tension, no suspense whatsoever. Willo was dreadful from start to finish. It’s sad to watch a great champion being reduced to this.

As I said, I was following the scores of the other match, without watching it. Maguire went 2-0 up, Ding then won 4 frames in succession to lead 4-2, only for Maguire to win the next three to lead 5-4, Ding responded to force a decider, that Maguire eventually took. So, it seems that the momentum switched from one player to the other and back a couple of times here. Ding seems to have made a 60+ break in all but one frames he won whilst Maguire took the scrappier ones.

Other than that, Laila Rouass, Ronnie’s partner, reacted to the article by the Sun, reporting alledged family issues after interviewing Ronnie’s sister. I touched on that yesterday.

Here is what Laila had to say on twitter:

Laila reacts to the Sun article Screenshot 2020-02-25 at 12.20.51

She is right of course, “using” a mentally fragile person’s vulnerability to make money of sensationalist “news” is abject. And, hopefully, the whole situation isn’t as bad as depicted in the above mentioned article.

5 thoughts on “2020 Players Championship – Day 1

  1. Apparently, the following was posted somewhere on the internet, after Ronnie lost in the WC last season:

    “I have some inside scoop on this one. I was in Sheffield staying at the hotel where wall the players stay. the Mercor. it’s right across from the crucible. all the players hang out in the bar there. you see all the players there. snooker is a small scene. it’s not Formula One.

    “First time at the crucible. anyway I was hanging out with a bookie pal from Belfast who seemed to know everybody. so we got chatting to to some charming Scouser gangster types who claimed “they were with Ronnie”. a big claim. but it turned out to be true. they were good pals with him. nice guys too. part of his entourage. there were rumors that Ronnie was sick. had the flu or something like that. but they knew better. ‘He’s not sick. it’s his bird. She’s doing his head in.’ They then advise us to in their words ‘lump in against Ronnie”, ie bet against him winning the next day against Cahill. which we did. when he showed up with the shaved head we knew they were right.'”

    It’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t, of course, but it does seem very likely that Ronnie has had off-table distractions for the past 10 months or so that are at least partly responsible for his erratic play and behavior…

    It’s really too bad that he has had such a difficult home life for such a long time. I would like to see him be happy, both for himself and for his snooker.

    • There’s all sorts posted on the Internet, so we should be cautious with this. For a start, Ronnie never stays at the Mercur, where indeed most players stay. He usually stays elswhere, a bit further from the city center, where he gets more privacy. But, yes, I also heard that, at the time, Ronnie and Laila were going through difficult times. They were however (back) together pretty soon after he lost, of that I’m certain. The thing is, Ronnie’s severe mood swings, and his single mindedness when he’s focusing on his snooker don’t make him someone easy to live with at times. He knows it and he is the first to admit to it, but he can’t really control the mood swings although he’s better at it than he used to be when younger.

      • Which makes me wonder if Ronnie’s efforts this season to just play snooker for fun (rather than trying his hardest to win) are a concession to Laila, a way to perhaps make himself easier to live with by not caring so much about winning and losing. Maybe Ronnie’s trying to find a balance of being able to be a good partner, while still getting to play snooker at least part-time.

        It seems to me that Ronnie’s life has been characterized by a lot of family/mental/emotional challenges, but very few (if any) healthy and effective coping mechanisms. Steve Peters has presumably helped Ronnie with the coping (and dealing with his “Chimp”, so to speak), but as you say, there might be limits on Ronnie’s ability to completely control his moods and such…

  2. No Question the Sun obviously took advantage of a vulnerable person however would she have made it up to the extent Leila was referred to as a Slag by Ronnies Mother. that is not a nice thing to say about a highly respected and in my opinion under used actress.

  3. Neither Ding nor Maguire was at their best, and the table (specifically the cushions) was unreliable. It could have gone either way in the decider. Selby was excellent, Williams started poorly and got worse. Both matches looked like typical first-round matches – you can hit the ground running (Selby) or crash (Williams), or are a bit nervy (Ding & Maguire).

    But it’s quite remarkable that the players were only told their playing times at midnight, although I do understand that the Shoot-out results impact the seeding. Perhaps this rigid seeded draw (1 plays 16, 2 plays 15, etc.) needs to be looked at. They might at least have been able to schedule some of the matches a couple of days ago.

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