2020 Players Championship – Day 5

The unusual ITV schedule provided us with a QF match in the afternoon yesterday, and the first SF in the evening. You’ll find the WST reports below.

Today there is just one match, the second SF played this evening.

Afternoon session – QF – Shaun Murphy 6-2 Mark Allen 

Shaun Murphy defeated close friend Mark Allen 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Coral Players Championship in Southport.

The Magician will now face Yan Bingtao for a place in the final. It will be a repeat of the pair’s marathon semi-final meeting at the recent Welsh Open. On that occasion Murphy prevailed, battling from 5-4 down to win 6-5 with the clock past midnight.

Today’s victory sees Murphy extend his head-to-head advantage with Allen to 13-5, he’s now also won their last three meetings. Tomorrow’s meeting with Yan will be the 43rd ranking semi-final of 37-year-old Murphy’s career.

Murphy is already assured of his place in the eight-man series finale at the Coral Tour Championship, sitting in second position in the one-year list. However, Allen is not yet certain of qualification. The Pistol currently occupies 7th place in the live rankings with just the Gibraltar Open now left to go.

Breaks of 53 and 93 helped Murphy into a 3-1 lead as they went into the mid-session this afternoon.

After the interval Allen composed a fine break of 69 to pull within a frame at 3-2. From there, Murphy took control of proceedings. Three frames in a row, including runs of 69 and 55, saw the 2005 World Champion over the line.

“I felt happy with my game and where it is at. I was really looking forward to the match, especially with how Mark played in the first round, I was up for it today,” said Murphy. “Mark and I have a lot of respect for each other. A lot of frames had tactical play in them. That doesn’t really suit either of us but when you know each other can score so heavily that is the way it is going to go.

“I hope the semi-final isn’t the same as it was a few weeks ago. It was just carnage for us both and I think we both had a heart attack towards the end. It was after midnight, he had a birthday halfway through the game and we dredged each other down. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the crowd.”

There is not much to add to that report. Mark Allen didn’t look ill anymore but he probably wasn’t 100% yet either. Shaun has been very solid all season and the outcome never looked in doubt.

Evening session – SF – Judd Trump 6-5 Stephen Maguire

Judd Trump pulled off a deciding frame clearance, which he described as the “best of his career”, to beat Stephen Maguire 6-5 and reach the Coral Players Championship final in Southport.

With the scores locked at 5-5, it was Maguire who had the first opportunity to clinch a place in the final. The Scot broke down on 49, before Trump deposited a risky red to the middle and embarked on a sensational break.

The key shot came when Trump delicately developed the last red, leaving it over the middle with the colours at his mercy. The World Champion and world number one made no mistake, completing his run of 70 to seal a stunning win.

Trump had looked to be on course for a more routine victory in the early stages. After taking an intriguing first frame on a re-spotted black, breaks of 69 and 132 had moved the 30-year-old into a 3-0 advantage. However, a brilliant run of 56 saw 2004 UK Champion Maguire steal the fourth frame and wrest the momentum, making it 3-1.

Maguire then claimed a further four on the bounce, with contributions of 73, 67 and 70, to move one from victory at 5-3. It wasn’t to be for five-time ranking event winner Maguire, as Trump clinched the next two frames to set up the grandstand finish where he dramatically stole the win.

Defeat for Maguire acts as a massive blow to his chances of earning a place at the Coral Tour Championship. Only the top eight players in the one-year list will make it to the elite Llandudno event. Maguire currently trails compatriot John Higgins by £6,500 in 9th position. He will require a strong showing at the upcoming Gibraltar Open to book his spot.

Victory leaves Trump just one match away from a fifth ranking title of the season. That would see him equal the record for events won in a single campaign, which is held jointly by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan. Bristolian Trump has already notched up victories at the International Championship, World Open, Northern Ireland Open and German Masters.

Trump said: “For a deciding frame that was probably the best clearance I’ve ever made. It is definitely in the top five or top ten in any frame. It was under the utmost pressure, with what had happened before.

“I actually felt more relaxed in the decider than I had in the rest of the game, apart from the first couple of frames. Stephen put me under pressure and at 5-3 down I was gone, it was done and dusted. I managed to find something from somewhere and probably the belief of being world number one and World Champion was what helped me to make that clearance.

“It is very tough mentally and it is something that I haven’t particularly worked on, but as I’ve grown older I’ve managed to get that self belief to be able to really dig in under pressure and give myself a chance. In the past I would maybe give up a bit easier, today I really fought for it and made a brilliant break at the end.”

This is a match that Stephen Maguire should have won really. He was on the verge of victory, in the balls, leading 5-3; just two reds remained on the table, and Judd in his chair looked well an d truly gone… Stephen wasn’t in prime position to take the penultimate red, he had shown a lot of patience through the match, but he probably saw the winning line; he took it, missed it and left Judd an opportunity, both to pot that red and to develop the last one as well. Credits to Judd at this stage of the match for taking the chance, it wasn’t an easy one under the circumstances. It turned the match around. Judd is now in his fifth final of the season. He hasn’t lost in a final since the 2017 Shanghai Masters, when Ronnie beat him by 10-3. This one is his 9th final since… it doesn’t bode well for Shaun or Yan but, whoever wins tonight,  he shouldn’t think about it.

12 thoughts on “2020 Players Championship – Day 5

  1. Anyway,Trump lost the CoC final to Robertson, let’s not forget that. I know, it’s not ranking, but sill a wonderful moment.

  2. Following the lines of the discussion below, for me this season has turned into a mini-preview of what snooker will be like when Ronnie is gone. I don’t really have a second favorite player after him, so there’s no one I particularly find myself rooting for when he’s not playing. Plus, it seems clear that the 2020s are likely to be dominated by Judd, which doesn’t appeal to me.

    Realistically, there’s a decent chance I’ll just stop following the sport altogether…

    • Pretty much. I thought it would be fine without Ronnie, because I would just enjoy the game without getting emotionally involved. But then came Trump. It is not possible to enjoy the game when one keeps hoping that someone (Trump) misses. Plus it is already a strain to watch it when he plays Ronnie: I will watch for Ronnie, but as Trumps irritates me to no end and he will appear at the table, it takes the enjoyment out of it. 😦

      • Csilla, you pretty much nailed my thoughts too. If it was, I don’t know, Murphy, or Perry, or whoever I guess I wouldn’t mind it. Even Selby to a degree. But watching Trump is like pulling teeth without sedation. And it is not bc he knocked my man out of no.1 spot, it’s been so for years even when Trump was a bum who only played reckless shots. There is just sth with that guy I am at odds with, to me he is the ultimate anti-charisma in the game. Ron I could watch just walk round the table, he is mesmerizing.

    • Mark, what about your theory you pushed on here relentlessly that Ron is deliberately making the crap out of this season just to try sth new as to stay fresh and shine at the Crucible once again? Boy how I hoped you were right. Are you still a believer?

      • I haven’t given up on that theory, yet.

        I just think it makes a lot of sense that, after spending the past 2 seasons reaching/passing most of Hendry’s records, Ronnie (and possibly his “team”) would have sat down this past offseason to figure out what his goals should be for this season and the rest of his career, and there’s no more obvious or meaningful goal for him at this point than to win 2 or more additional WCs. And, if that were the goal that they set, then it also would make sense that he probably wouldn’t play as much (or as seriously) throughout the season, so that he could give 100% to the WC. Assuming he plays, Ronnie should show up at the Crucible this year much more motivated and rested than he has been in a long time, perhaps since 2013.

        The only thing that’s throwing me off a bit now is the story that came out recently about his family problems, which (if true) would provide an alternative explanation for Ronnie’s strange season beyond my “He’s saving himself for the WC” theory…(That being said, the two explanations are not mutually exclusive).

  3. You know what is the one thing that bothers me most with Trump. His anxious look when the heat is on, pointed directly towards the opponent sideways when sat in his chair and the opponent is getting ready to take the shot. Like a spoiled brat trying to somehow undermine your mind wondering and hoping that you are going to blow your chance. I don’t know or have ever seen any other player that does the same obnoxious thing. That just does it, it is so low class. I think I know what my goal in watching snooker will be when Ron is gone. I’m gonna watch Trump matches just to see him lose v whomever.

    • Ivan, we get that you don’t like Trump, but please don’t lower your own standards! Don’t go looking for players to boo, look for someone to support! There are young players who need support – the system is so heavily against them. In snooker today there’s too much bitter animosity, and too much focus on just a handful of players at the top. Despite the ‘apparent’ success, there are dangerous times ahead.

      • I love your advices Lewis and how you genuinely care about players and the snooker and just to give a nice word to a random anonymous guy on the net like me. I thank you for that. Unfortunately I am lifelong infected with the Covid Ron virus and it is too late for me to start following anyone else on a positive note. After Ron – burst. There was one and only one player tho that caught my attention some 3 years ago while still very young but seems he lost the plot along the way, the name was Jackson Page.

      • Jackson Page is doing well, he’s one of the players I have been following this season. I spoke to him in Austria – he was in Burger King with Mark Williams, who thinks the world of him! You will see him improving gradually. Next season I expect him to make an impact. Keep the faith!

      • Lewis, you are right. However, those of us who don’t go to tournaments like you do and are reduced to TV, are saddled with Trump, because he is the one shown. I know it was/is the same with Ron, but at least he is good to watch. Of course you are right, one cannot follow a sport to boo someone and that is why snooker will be difficult to follow after Ronnie. 😦

  4. It was a magnificent match. Maguire played extremely well, recovering from a 3-0 defecit where he had been unlucky. But Trump finished of the match brilliantly, in exactly the way great champions do. Maguire missed chances, but that’s quite normal when trying to close out such a big match. One of the best of the season.

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