We have only four players left, and they will do battle for the title today. They are Luca Brecel, Ryan Day, Ben Woollaston and Stuart Bingham. Not the line-up many would have predicted.
Wednesday 10 Jun 2020 11:37PM
Ryan Day booked his place in the Tournament Finals of the Matchroom.Live Championship League, claiming top spot in a high quality Group B over Judd Trump, David Gilbert and Barry Hawkins.
Day struck a significant blow in his opening tie of the group, blitzing World Champion Trump 3-0 with breaks of 122, 107 and 60. Trump went on to record a 3-1 defeat of Hawkins, but a 2-2 draw with Gilbert ended his hopes of progressing.
In his second match, Welshman Day compiled a break of 103 on his way to snatching a 2-2 draw with Gilbert, to put himself in prime position to qualify.
Going into the final tie of the group only Day’s opponent Hawkins, who also drew 2-2 with Gilbert, could catch him. The Hawk needed to win 3-0, but his hopes were ended after losing the opening frame of a match he and Day went on to draw 2-2.
“I am really pleased with the way I played all day,” said Day. “To start off against Judd, it doesn’t get any tougher than that and I really came out of the traps quite quickly. It was a good draw against Dave in the end, and being a Championship League veteran I was trying to do the sums and realised I only needed one frame in the last match there and I was delighted to get the first frame and secure my place in the final.
“I dropped into the zone as they call it and played lovely and felt great all day. It has been a long time since anybody has played competitive snooker so I think the break might have done me good and given me a bit of a boost. I felt okay with my game in general but I didn’t really enjoy going away and playing, which is strange, as that’s something I have never really struggled for but I think the lockdown has helped me get a bit of that back and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
On the other table, Belgium’s Luca Brecel completed the lineup for the Tournament Finals, edging out Gary Wilson, Ashley Carty and Mark Joyce to top spot in Group A.
Former China Champion Brecel got underway today with a 2-2 draw against world number 68 Joyce, despite losing the third frame to the three miss rule. He then fired in breaks of 109, 64 and 74 to seal a 3-1 defeat of Carty.
Brecel trailed 2019 World Championship semi-finalist Wilson 2-1, but crucially clinched the last frame to secure a 2-2 draw. That result ultimately booked his place in tomorrow’s finale.
“I am relieved to be through,” said the Belgian. “I didn’t really expect to top the group, especially after the third frame against Mark Joyce when I missed the red three times.
“I got a draw out of the game and knew if I beat Ashley I would have a good chance against Gary, but obviously I was lucky that Mark played really well to get two frames against Ashley. I will be relaxed tomorrow and anything can happen.”
Joining Brecel and Day tomorrow are yesterday’s winners Stuart Bingham and Ben Woollaston. The player who tops the final group will pocket total event winnings of £30,000.
It was all a bit strange yesterday, as no player managed to win more than one match. The day before, Ronnie finished third of his group with two wins…
Judd Trump was much hyped throughout the tournament, as you would expect given that he is the reigning World Champion and ranked number one but he never played anywhere near his best. An indication of that, is the fact that he didn’t make a single century in the six matches he played.
Judd who, a few weeks ago, had claimed that playing at the Crucible, without a crowd, would feel weird, and he didn’t fancy it, has now come up with the complete opposite in an interview with the Yorkshire Post:
I would defend world title in a car park – Judd Trump
Judd Trump would have no problem with the World Championship taking place behind closed doors as he revealed he would be satisfied with defending his title “in a car park somewhere”.
Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 10:19 pm
The world No 1 has returned to the baize in the Championship League, where there are no spectators because of the stringent protocols behind snooker’s resumption amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hushed silences are a common theme in snooker, interrupted intermittently by occasional cheers and more general applause, and it is for that reason why Trump feels there is little difference in the ‘new normal’.
If that extends into the defence of the title he won last year at the Crucible, which has been rescheduled to take place between July 31 and August 16, then so be it.
“I’d be happy to defend it in a car park somewhere,” Trump said. “I don’t really care. As long as it’s on, it doesn’t really matter where it is.
“It’s the same for all the players, we’re just happy to be out there playing. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on, we’re just here in our little zone in this tournament and it’s just good for everyone involved.
“There’s not a real difference playing with a crowd, it doesn’t make too much difference for anyone.
“I think this could work for every tournament. Snooker doesn’t necessarily need to have a crowd in every single tournament and it works on TV, it looks good on TV.”
The lack of spectators is most noticeable once someone has successfully made a long pot or played a particularly good snooker.
But Trump added: “You just don’t notice those kinds of things.
“The only way you do is if your concentration’s not great but when you’re in amongst the balls and potting balls, to be honest I just completely forget that there normally is a crowd there.”
Nevermind, I bet he would still find it very weird to be handed the trophy in front of nobody in a silent Crucible.