The Whirlwind is still blowing, how being an MC has helped Allan Taylor and Michael White fights back to keep his Tour card.
Jimmy White overcame Michael Georgiou 6-4 in a nerve-shredding encounter to book his place in the third round of Betfred World Championship qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The Whirlwind will now face world number 47 Robert Milkins, with the winner progressing to the final round of qualifying. White played Milkins for a place at the Crucible on his last trip to Judgement Day in 2013, losing out 10-5.
Today’s result acts as a crushing defeat for Cypriot Georgiou, who will now face relegation from the circuit and a trip to Q School next month to try and rescue his professional status.
The high stakes encounter produced a nervy, yet enthralling spectacle and it was Georgiou who coped best in the early stages. Breaks of 70 and 53 helped him to a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.
However, when they returned it was White who started to get the better of some tightly contested frames. The six-time Crucible runner-up took three on the bounce to lead at 4-3.
Georgiou stopped the rot with a superb break of 121, but it was White who took a tense 31-minute ninth frame on the colours to lead 5-4. The legendary ten-time ranking event winner then got himself over the line with a vital break of 41 to win 6-4.
White said: “It was huge. I was in and out of focus. I was dead and buried at 3-1 down after the way I played. Michael let me off a few times and I thought I was going to have to make him win this. Once it got to 3-3, I fancied the job.
“My game is there. Hopefully I can dig a bit of confidence out of this and get out of the traps with Milkins quickly. The standard is getting better and you have to win a lot more frames in one visit.”
Allan Taylor produced the performance of his career so far to thrash Welshman Lee Walker 6-1.
Taylor fired in a 145 break in the third frame, the highest of the tournament and his career so far. It could prove to be a lucrative contribution, with a £15,000 high break prize covering the qualifiers and the Crucible up for grabs.
The Liverpool cueman had trailed 1-0, but contributions of 78, 145, 134, 58, 98 and 112 in successive frames saw him storm to a phenomenal victory. Defeat for Walker sees him lose his place on the World Snooker Tour.
Taylor had swapped the cue for a mic this season, taking up the role of Home Nations Master of Ceremonies. However, he is riding the crest of a wave on the baize at the moment, having recently won the Challenge Tour Playoff to seal professional status for next season.
When asked if he was playing the snooker of his life, Taylor said: “It is looking that way. Considering before I came here, in six years as a professional, I hadn’t won a single match in the World Championship. The way I was performing before I came here, something clicked.
“When I finished those four events as MC I bottled all of the confidence that I got from going in front of the crowd and the cameras. It looks like I have brought it here with me and long may it continue.”
Michael White produced a remarkable display of grit and determination to keep his tour survival hopes alive, battling from 5-3 down to beat Jamie O’Neill 6-5.
The Welshman needed to win to stand a chance of maintaining his professional status. Gutsy breaks of 73 and 67 in the last two frames saw him over the line this evening. Next up he faces Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.
Michael White isn’t safe yet, far from it, but he’s currently third in the group of four who would receive a new tour card via the one year list.
Jimmy White’s run is truly remarkable. He struggled all season. He still loves the game and still has an army of fans who would love to see him at the Crucible. Mind you … he had only won one match so far in ranking events this season before these qualifiers and this is his 40th World Championship.
Speaking of fans watching at the Crucible, WST has published this, with some clarifications about the social distancing measures that fans will need to respect.
Snooker fans have the unique opportunity to be among a reduced crowd for the Betfred World Championship as a limited number of tickets are now available for the tournament in Sheffield which starts next week.
All fans who had tickets for the original dates have been given the chance to keep their tickets, and those who have chosen that option will have seats at the famous Crucible Theatre.
Where the full allocation has not been taken up, tickets are available and it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience one of the biggest events in global sport under unique circumstances.
At a later date next week there may be an additional limited number of tickets available.
Fans will be safely welcomed with all Government guidelines on Covd-19 in place. To ensure that these guidelines are met by following a code of conduct, spectators will be asked to:
– Wear face masks (which will be provided) while moving around the venue, though these can be removed while seated in the arena.
– Head straight into the arena and to their seats once the doors open, which will be 30 minutes before each session.
– Observe social distancing and avoid close contact with others outside their social bubble.
– Observe good hygiene – there will be hand sanitiser stations available.
– Follow signs and instructions from stewards giving directions around the venue.
– Avoid the venue if any member of a party displays Covid-19 symptoms.
– Tickets will only be available online in advance, there will be no sales at the venue.
The full code of conduct will be provided to ticket holders and this is a way of showing respect for public health and all others attending the event.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “The key message for fans is that we want you to enjoy what will be a remarkable occasion. There is a code of conduct to follow so that spectators can be assured that health and safety is our highest priority.
“A vast amount of work by our own staff, Sheffield Council, the Crucible and the UK Government has gone into the logistics of ensuring that all guidelines can be met and we have total confidence that this will be a successful pilot event. To stage the first indoor sporting event with a crowd is a fantastic triumph for snooker.
“Anyone who has never witnessed the amazing Crucible atmosphere now has the chance to buy a golden ticket. Hopefully next year we will be back to usual circumstances. But the chance to say ‘I was there’ the time the tournament was played with a small crowd is something fans will remember for a lifetime. Those in the arena will be the lucky few.
“We have kept the original ticket prices, starting at just £36, to ensure it is affordable and give fans something to inspire them in these difficult times. But get in there fast because we are expecting every seat to sell very rapidly.
“The very best players in the world, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, defending champion Judd Trump and many more, are ready to put on a spectacular show. This is your chance to be there.”
The event is televised across the planet on broadcasters including BBC, Eurosport and Matchroom Live, with a global audience of 500 million.
The Betfred World Championship is supported by Sheffield City Council.
The Crucible is the home of snooker, but its existence is under threat because of the current crisis.
Therefore it’s even more important that the Snooker World Championship runs smoothly and the fans have a HUGE responsibility here. One reckless person could possibly ruin the whole event, and with it, put the very existence of the Crucible even more at risk. If you are going to be there this year think about it, act responsibly, follow the rules and stay away if you have any symptom.