Tour Championship 2020 – Day 3 – QF

Day three at the Tour Championship 2020 delivered the most interesting match so far in my opinion. Yan Bingtao didn’t win, but he certainly didn’t disgrace himself. He gave Mark Selby a very stern test. Mark won by 9-6, which looks comfortable enough, but the match was extremely close.

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session (4-4):

Mark Selby and Yan Bingtao emerged from a keenly contested opening session of their Coral Tour Championship clash locked together at 4-4 in Milton Keynes.

The pair met at the Champion of Champions earlier this season, where Selby emerged a 4-0 victor. This afternoon’s action was a far closer affair.

Riga Masters champion Yan, who was runner-up to Judd Trump at the Coral Players Championship in Southport, could still win the £100,000 Coral Cup bonus if he takes home the £150,000 top prize this week. The bonus is awarded to the player who accumulates the most prize money throughout the three-event series.

Yan got the better of a scrappy first four frames this afternoon, taking a 3-1 lead into the mid-session interval.

When the players returned, they ramped up the standard. Three-time World Champion Selby fired in breaks of 99, 119 and 61 to lead 4-3. However, Yan ensured parity heading into tonight with a run of 68 to make it 4-4.

They return at 7pm to play their best of 17 encounter to a conclusion.

During the first mini-session, that ended on a 3-1 score in favour of Yan, Mark Selby had an AST over 30 seconds. Himself will tell you that he plays better when he plays faster, but, for some reason can’t help slowing down when not feeling confident. During that mini-session, Yan “out-selbyied” him. By that I mean that Yan played the type of old-school, conservative game, that is usually expected from older players, and Mark Selby in “torturer” mode, rather than coming from a 20 years old. And Mark Selby had little answers. Yan showed a maturity well beyond his years, and a very strong tactical nous. This earned him praise from the commentators. Joe Perry, in particular, was impressed.

After the interval, Mark came out in a much more aggressive mood, played faster and it paid off. It also exposed what is, in my opinion, Yan’s only real weakness: he tends to be too conservative at times. The commentators reflected on the fact that he always seems to “exhaust” all the available loose reds before attempting to develop the pack. That cost him a few times in this match, because, either he failed to open the pack, or it didn’t yield any opportunity to continue the break. When your opponent is Mark Selby, allowing him back at the table is never a good idea. But again, having lost the first three frames after the interval, Yan showed remarkable composure and maturity in the way he managed to win the last of the session.

Evening session (9-6):

Mark Selby defeated Yan Bingtao 9-6 to reach the last four of the Coral Tour Championship in Milton Keynes.

World number seven Selby qualified as third seed for this elite event, having notched up titles this season at the English and Scottish Opens. That made the three-time World Champion the first ever player to win two Home Nations events in a single season.

Defeat for Yan, who was runner-up to Judd Trump at the Coral Players Championship, ends his hopes of winning the Coral Cup and scooping the £100,000 bonus which is awarded to the player who earns the most prize money over the series. Only front-runner Trump, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy remain in the running.

This afternoon’s action saw Selby struggle in the early stages, trailing 3-1 after the first four frames. However, he improved after the mid-session to end level at 4-4.

Selby immediately established a cushion tonight, with breaks of 66 and 57 to move 6-4 ahead. Yan pulled a frame back, before a pivotal 12th. Selby was first in with a break of 64, but Yan rallied to force a re-spotted black. Leicester’s Selby eventually fluked the black to reach the mid-session 7-5 in front.

A superb century break of 105 helped Selby to the verge of victory when they returned. Yan pulled one back, but Selby won a 42-minute 15th frame to seal his 9-6 win. Next up, Selby faces either Shaun Murphy or Mark Allen for a place in the final.

“Overall, I’m happy with the way I played,” said 37-year-old Selby. “The first few frames were obviously quite ropey, but after that I felt I played alright considering we’ve not had that much match practice and aren’t that sharp.

“We are lucky that we have any snooker at all. I was looking at my calendar and thinking that we wouldn’t have any snooker until at least September. Barry and World Snooker Tour and even Matchroom for the Championship League, have done really well to get some events on.

“I’ve got two days off now, so I’ll get some practise in, watch a little bit of the game tomorrow and relax and look forward to Thursday.”

Mark Selby dominated the second session, scoring heavily. It could, however, have turned differently, had Yan won frame 12, and gone to the MSI at 6-6 instead of 7-5 behind. In that frame, and for the second time in a row, Mark had missed frame ball. Yan, however, hadn’t many points to play with, and at one stage, elected to play the brown, rather than to risk a more difficult pot on a higher value colour, knowing that, by doing this he could only tie. He managed to force the re-spotted black, and a lengthy, but excellent, safety battle followed. Yan lost it in the most heartbreaking way. Mark’s last two shots at the black were bad, but the last resulted in a fluke… The MSI came right after and this can’t have been easy for Yan. The difference between 7-5 and 6-6 was massive under the circumstances.

One thing this match definitely did for Yan is to gain him the respect of commentators and pundits. OK, Stephen Hendry still has his reservations – he doesn’t understand what kind of player Yan is – but others saw Yan’s versatility as a positive, something that could disturb his opponents as they would struggle to elaborate a “strategy” against someone they can’t “predict”. Neal Foulds, on the other hand, is now positive that Yan is the brightest young prospect the sport has at this moment in time.


5 thoughts on “Tour Championship 2020 – Day 3 – QF

  1. True. But it would take life to thank all the people involved in “snooker industry”. With regards to Monique I’m short of words to tell how immense her work is. Scope of her activity is amazing. Not only to watch the matches but to give an in-depth analysis and write all the articles one should posses both the ability and dedication. I take my hat off to you, Monique! Main point is stay healthy and take more care of yourself especially in these times of pandemic.

  2. It was clear to me that Yan Bingtao simply didn’t have any confidence in his scoring. He was always looking to pot a few easy balls first, and delayed opening the game, playing most shots plain-ball. That may be due to lack of practice time – both Yan and Selby are probably players who need lots of table time behind them to have full confidence. But of course it’s impossible to win at this level without scoring. It does strike me as strange that Yan didn’t play in the Covid ‘Championship League’ as a way to fast-track preparation.

    Joe Perry summed it up. He said that Yan’s results indicate that he can’t be playing like this in every match. That is true. He’s a different player on the outside tables away from the limelight. He should get past that at some point.

    • Lewis, I would like to use this opportunity to express my deepest respect to you for all the posts that you’ve posted here during the years. I read the majority of them. They are always brief and up to the point. Frankly speaking, if I’m short of time I prefer to read them rather than the long articles. The posts happen to be more important for me as some of the tournaments are not televised in our country (Belarus). So please keep posting while you can.

      • We should thank Monique for her dedicated work, and the snooker players who devote their lives for our enjoyment. But I appreciate your comment, thanks!

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