2021 Best Matches …

It’s of course this time of the year … “Best”, “Top” and “Highs” of about anything, as well as relevant statistics are everywhere whilst actual action stops for a while. It’s just part of the end of year tradition along with Christmas baubles, puddings, and carolls …

And so, true to tradition, WST has published its top 10 matches of the year:

Top Ten Matches Of 2021

As the year draws to a close, here’s a look back on the best matches of the past 12 months…

10. John Higgins 6-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan
BetVictor English Open semi-finals
One of two ‘El Clasico’ matches in this list between two snooker titans who have now clashed 72 times in careers stretching back 30 years. On this occasion in Milton Keynes, Higgins led 2-1 early on, making a break of 104 in frame two, before O’Sullivan took control, racing into a 5-3 lead with runs of 108 and 103. The Englishman had chances to win in the last three frames but couldn’t capitalise as Higgins recovered to 5-5. The decider came down to an exciting safety battle on the green, Higgins riding his luck as he escaped from one snooker and fluked one in return. He eventually potted green and brown for victory. “We were both gone in the last frame. It is a tough game when you are out there with the pressure on,” smiled the Scot.

9. Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 Neil Robertson
Cazoo World Grand Prix final
2021WGPROSWinner-16The last ranking event match of the year proved a perfect way to round off 2021 for O’Sullivan’s legion of fans, who may have doubted his capacity to fight for success on the main stage.  The Rocket acquired an unwanted record last season when he lost five ranking finals, and hadn’t held silverware since the 2020 Betfred World Championship. And when he trailed 7-5 against a fierce competitor in Robertson, the losing streak looked likely to continue. What followed was a reminder of just how good O’Sullivan is when everything clicks – and a warning for his rivals that the old magic is still there. One break of 90 and three of 77 helped him win five of the last six frames. O’Sullivan said: “The difference in the atmosphere when I’m playing well is a different energy, and it’s nice to bring that energy to the people, to a venue and to a game.”

8. Luca Brecel 6-4 Kyren Wilson
Cazoo UK Championship semi-finals
Many top seeds went out early in York and the semi-finals featured four players who had never been that far in this event. Brecel got to the semis by relying heavily on his much-improved safety game, in fact he made only one century in his first five matches. But against Wilson he showed the flair and fluency for which he is renowned. The match started with three centuries, runs of 130 and 105 from Brecel either side of a 121 from Wilson. World number five Wilson, who must have gone into the match feeling this was his chance for a Triple Crown breakthrough, edged 3-2 ahead, but there was little he could do from that point. Brecel’s scoring barrage, breaks of 102, 97, 80 and 112, saw him fly past the winning post, rounding off the match with a series of crowd-pleasing exhibition shots. “It feels like the best I have played because of the stage of the tournament,” said the Belgian. “When I potted a red on 67 I cried a little bit, it was very emotional.”

7. John Higgins 6-0 Mark Selby
Cazoo Players Championship quarter-finals
After everything Higgins has achieved in snooker, for him to describe the 2021 Players Championship as the best he has ever played over a tournament was quite a claim – but nobody in Milton Keynes was arguing. In terms of quality of performance, any of his four matches could have made this list – including his 10-3 dismantling of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final – but his second round whitewash of Selby was the ultimate demonstration of matchplay. Frozen out of every frame, Selby scored just seven points, the lowest ever tally in any best-of-11 professional match. “It’s the best I have ever played or ever felt,” said Higgins, whose top break was 100. O’Sullivan summed it up best when he said: “I watched it. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t watch it in the end. It was granite. It was evil.”

6. Neil Robertson 9-8 John Higgins
BetVictor English Open final
Heartbreak for Higgins as he lost a second consecutive final by a 9-8 scoreline, having led 8-6 on each occasion. Robertson was the stronger player in the early stages, making breaks of 140 and 123 to lead 5-3, then Higgins gradually gained momentum during the evening session as he went 8-6 ahead, only for Robertson to fire runs of 52 and 120 to set up the decider. Higgins had first real chance but made only 22 before over-cutting a tricky red to a top corner. Robertson clipped a red into the same pocket, rolled in a tough yellow to centre, and went on to make a title-winning 65. Robertson’s delight came from providing a great spectacle for a capacity crowd. “There will have been a lot of people in that crowd tonight that will have had it really tough over the last 18 months,” he said. “I was so happy to see so many people cheering and really enjoying themselves. That is the real thing to take away from this.”

5. John Higgins 6-3 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Betfred Masters quarter-finals
The pair met six times in 2021, Higgins coming out on top in five of those, and this was the pick of the bunch – an absolute humdinger of a tie at snooker’s biggest invitation event. O’Sullivan opened with a break of 97, Higgins levelled at 1-1, then the real fireworks were launched. Between them, the duo made a record-equalling five consecutive century breaks, O’Sullivan compiling 125 and 103 while Higgins knocked in 145, 110 and 134 – and the Scot could have made it six in a row but broke down on 88 in the next. That was enough to give him a 5-3 lead and he sealed the result in the ninth frame. “We’ve been playing each other for nearly 30 years at the top end of the game and I’m proud that I’m still competing,” said Higgins. “There will be a time sooner rather than later when we won’t be playing these games, so you have to enjoy them while you still can.”

4. Mark Selby 18-15 Shaun Murphy
Betfred World Championship final
This match scores extra marks for sheer atmosphere and the significance of the occasion as it was the first British sporting event for over a year to welcome a full-capacity crowd. The enthusiasm of the fans at the start of the Monday afternoon session was a joyful experience for everyone present. Selby’s long potting and heavy scoring were features of the final, and when he made a 120 to lead 17-13 it looked like a stress-free finish for the Leicester cueman. Murphy had other ideas and gained the support of the crowd as he battled back with breaks of 100 and 110. He might have closed to 17-16 but, brave or reckless, went for a difficult pot on the last red along a side cushion and left it in the jaws. Selby’s cool clearance was followed by a roar of elation with his fourth world crown secured. “Life has been very difficult for everyone in the last 12 months,” said Murphy. “I want to say a very deep personal thank you to everyone who has bought a ticket and come here over the last 17 days. Sport is nothing without the fans.”

3. Anthony McGill 13-12 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Betfred World Championship second round
Much like Barry Hawkins and Graeme Dott, McGill has a range of attributes which make his game particularly suited to the Crucible: composure, patience, intelligent shot selection and calmness under pressure. He had already beaten the likes of Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire over the long distance in Sheffield, and added O’Sullivan to his list of scalps with a hugely impressive display last season. In a high quality contest which featured five centuries and 14 more breaks over 50, O’Sullivan led 4-1 early on, then fell 10-5 behind, before rallying to lead 12-11. In a tense finish, McGill made a tremendous 136 to level at 12-12, then came from 42-0 down in the decider to make an 85 clearance. “It’s the best win of my career, no doubt about it,” said McGill. “Ronnie was really up for it. A few years ago I thought I was rubbish, but now I believe in myself to at least play well.”

2. Jordan Brown 9-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan
BetVictor Welsh Open final
During his eight year spell away from professional snooker, in which he worked in a petrol station, Brown must have dreamed regularly of this moment – beating the best player of all time in a fantastic final to win his first title. So it would be no surprise if he’s still pinching himself to make sure it really happened, ten months after his great moment. The Northern Irishman had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event, but went on an extraordinary run at Celtic Manor, knocking out the likes of Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire.  The final was close all the way through and O’Sullivan looked likely to ride the storm when he made a break of 119 to level at 8-8, but it was Brown, a 750-1 shot with the bookies before the event started, who stayed cool in the decider with a run of 74. “It is unbelievable,” he said. “To beat the greatest player of all time in a major final. It was an honour just to play him. But my strategy was to focus on my own game rather than trying to play Ronnie, and it worked.” His reward was a cheque for £70,000 – that’s a lot of hours of selling Mars bars and anti-freeze.

1. Mark Allen 9-8 John Higgins
BetVictor Northern Ireland Open final
Another moment of glory for a Northern Irishman, and this one just edges Allen ahead of Brown at the top of our list because of the presence of a capacity crowd at the marvellous Waterfront Hall – another occasion, like the Crucible final, which reminded us just how much snooker needs fans. Perhaps only a Masters match featuring Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jimmy White has generated such vociferous and partisan support, as the Belfast brigade cheered on their man. And after a year in which Allen’s problems away from snooker have been well documented, this was his chance to focus on the green baize and show what he does best. The match itself was a classic, with two centuries and ten more breaks over 50. Runs of 64 and 136 put Higgins 8-6 ahead, then Allen fought back to take the next two as the excitement in the arena reached fever pitch. Both players had chances in a thrilling decider but Allen’s break of 38 got him over the line. “The buzz towards the end there on the last few balls, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to stand up and pot them,” he said. “The roar from the crowd on every shot of that clearance was something I’ve never ever experienced in my life and maybe never will again. It spurred me on. That is why you play the sport. You want to play the very best on the biggest occasions.”

Here’s hoping for many more great matches in 2022….starting at the Cazoo Masters in January

Of course, there is no definite, scientific way to define “the best”. It can be about many things, and indeed different things for different persons. It can be about the quality of the snooker played, the context and importance of the match, the record(s) broken, the “tale of the unexpected” factor, the involvemenent and reactions of the fans…

So here is my “top three”, and why I chose those three…

  1.  Ronnie beats Neil Robertson by 10-8 to win the 2021 World Grand Prix. There are so many reasons why this is my “Number One”! Although, objectively, Ronnie’s results since winning the 2020 Worl Championship were far from “bad”  – five finals, and three more semi-finals – there had be no title in the last 16 months. What would have been a fantastic 16 months for 95% of the players, was branded “a disaster”, and seen by many as a sure sign of terminal decline. Many wrote Ronnie off. “He can’t win a title to save his life” said Judd Trump. Right. Ronnie proved his doubters – and the trolls – wrong and did it without playing at his best for most of the tournament and indeed for most of the final. But he showed tremendous determination, played some of the best hard match snooker and safeties you’ll ever see – Mark Selby would have been proud of the way Ronnie ended the first session – and finished in style. In the last mini-session it all clicked, the old magic was back and with it the fascinating grace … it looked so easy again. So, it’s my number one because I brought me so much joy after a barren spell.
  2. Zhao Xintong beats Luca Brecel to win the 2021 UK Championship. That’s my number 2, and it’s not about the intrinsic quality of the match. It’s because, for the first time in ten years a triple crown final was competed between two young players: Zhao is 24 years old, Luca is 26. And to make it better both of them are “oversea’s players”, Zhai is fom China, Asia, Luca from Belgium, mainland Europe. This is exactly what snooker needs: fresh, young talents and a true “global”, international feel. They both wowed the crowd and the media. There was genuine joy and enthusiasm out there.
  3. Mark Allen beats John Higgins to win the 2021 Northern Ireland Open, his home event. It was an excellent match, it was played in great spirit, but that wasn’t the main thing. It was an extraordinary win for Mark Allen who is in the middle of all sorts of personal issues, had a rather terrible record in the event and wasn’t even sure that he would be able to play. The Belfast crowd supported and “lifted” its Champion from start to finish, but at the same time showed genuine appreciation for John Higgins’ excellence as well. This was sports at its best.




An Award for Ronnie …

This is rather late news and it didn’t really get a lot of publicity. Actually, it’s only thanks to Silvry that this hit this site.

Ronnie got an award, earlier this month…


He was competing in the Scottish  Open at the time and sent them video message to thank them. It’s on youtube and is/was on Ronnie’s Instagram.

I have to admit that I had never heard about this organisation before, or how they choose and proceed to select their nominees, but it’s nice all the same.

This is how they describe Ronnie’s award:

Competitive Sports Award

This award is for someone who has demonstrated tremendous belief, focus and determination to reach the pinnacle of sporting glory. This may also be someone who has set up an entity that manages fosters or facilitates sports or involved in a sports league.

This is their website.

And their Instagram page.


Neal Foulds reflects on Ronnie’s World Grand Prix Victory

There isn’t much going on during the Christmas and New Year holiday, but I stumbled upon this by Neil Foulds:

Neal Foulds snooker column: Eurosport and ITV pundit reflects on Ronnie O’Sullivan’s World Grand Prix victory

By Neal Foulds – WED December 22, 2021

Neal Foulds is back with his latest column which pays tribute to Ronnie O’Sullivan following his brilliant victory over Neil Robertson in the final of the World Grand Prix on Sunday.

What an incredible night. Just when many of us were beginning to doubt him, Ronnie O’Sullivan is a champion again, having beaten Neil Robertson with a quite stunning display in the final of the World Grand Prix on Sunday.

I’m O’Sullivan’s biggest fan. I think he’s the greatest player the game of snooker has ever seen but, I have to admit, I didn’t fancy him on this occasion. Not given how he had struggled with his form all week in Coventry, and not against a player as good as Robertson, one who had just knocked out the world champion in the semi-finals.

But that’s Ronnie O’Sullivan for you. Having toiled early and battled just to stay in the match, the sleeping giant awoke just as you thought he might have cried enough, playing beautifully to win five out six frames in rapid time to complete a remarkable turnaround – not just in terms of this week, either – and win his first title since the 2020 World Championship.

At 7-5 down, I saw him leave his cue with someone backstage as the players went for the mid-session interval. It was obvious he wasn’t going to thrash it out on the practice table, and I wondered whether he thought his chance had gone.

And then, from nowhere, he returned from the break a completely different player, reeling off frame after frame in one visit in a manner very few others could. At 46 years of age and having lost in five finals since that last Crucible success, O’Sullivan springing into life and producing such a breathless session of snooker was really quite unbelievable – even by his own standards.

O’Sullivan defies the doubters once again

Maybe Judd Trump could have produced a similar level of snooker to win from that position, but given that Stuart Bingham is the only other top 16 player O’Sullivan has beaten all year, and also the fact that he has openly admitted he might not be the force he once was, I think this has to rate as one of his biggest achievements.

He knuckled down, too. He could have easily lost the match in the first session when playing poorly but, somehow, finished all square at 4-4. Looking back, the eighth frame, which he managed to win having needed two snookers, might have won him the match and they were two terrific snookers he laid.

The second one, in particular, was a brilliant shot and left Robertson in a terrible position. Even before he played his attempted escape, you felt O’Sullivan was favourite to win the frame with a free ball almost certain if the former missed. Like always, O’Sullivan cleared up but, even then, I fancied Robertson to press on in the evening session.


O’Sullivan though had other ideas and it was nice to see. We’re all snooker fans and we want to see new blood coming through and new winners emerge, and we’ve had that this season. But O’Sullivan is a great champion – the greatest of them all – and watching him win again was a special moment on a special night, in front of a really good crowd. He’s still got it and he reminded us of that in Coventry.

In my last column, I talked about a changing of the guard and I know John Higgins has referred to it a lot recently as well. It’s been fantastic to see guys like Zhao Xintong and Luca Brecel winning events this season, but don’t forget that of all the five events ITV have covered in 2021, every one of the finals have been contested by one member of the famous class of ’92. They aren’t finished yet, not by a long chalk.

Snooker in good health ahead of 2022

That being said, it’s been pleasing to see so much young talent finally break through and to have two of the three Triple Crown titles currently held by Chinese players is very impressive, given the players from the Far East have been so badly affected by the pandemic.

We have, of course, lost all of the Chinese events from the calendar this season, but there is talk that the Shanghai Masters will be held in China as early as August and that would be a good step back in the right direction. I do hope we get back there for that event.

Zhao Xintong

If we do, I think we’ll see the Chinese players really thrive and that has to be good for the game. When I was playing, Steve Davis was incredibly dominant before Stephen Hendry took over the mantle in even more ruthless fashion. They won everything but, the mix of winners we’ve seen so far in this campaign showcases the healthy state of the game and long may that continue.

2021 has been a good year, though clearly with its challenges, but the snooker continues to carry the sport with some incredibly popular older players locking horns with an exciting new generation.

The game is in good health, as I hope you all are as you read my final column of the year. The ongoing pandemic seems to hang over all sport like a black cloud at the moment, but fingers crossed for better news in the new year as we look forward to the Masters in January. It’s hard not to feel hopeful when we head to that event with Ronnie’s name back up in lights, where it belongs.


2021 Christmas Awards and Golden Turkey

First of all …

Wishing a happy, peaceful Christmas to all of you and your loved ones, whether you celebrate it or not.

Olivier Marteel was on social media earlier today, wearing a mask and a green outfit, wishing everyone a happy Christmas, just as I did, but also urging everyone to be careful and stay safe. Olivier is a nurse working at the A&E ward in one of the biggest Belgian hospitals, he has gone through this whole crisis as a frontline worker,  and he was at work again today, Christmas day, ready to take care of anyone in need of help.

Of course, he’s just one of the many thousands of unsung frontline heroes, but he is also a top snooker referee and he gets my

Snooker Person of the Year: Olivier Marteel

Now … Phil Haigh has given his own awards here:

Snooker review of 2021: Awards for Player, match, upset, disappointment of the year and more

Jordan Brown produced one of the moments of 2021 against Ronnie O’Sullivan (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

It has been a memorable year on the baize starting with the Masters back in January when Yan Bingtao sprung a surprise to win the trophy and culminating this month when Ronnie O’Sullivan made more history with his 38th ranking title at the World Grand Prix.

2021 started behind closed doors and saw fans return in spectacular fashion at the World Championship as a full Crucible watched Mark Selby win his fourth world title.

We’ve seen new ranking event winners in Dave Gilbert, Jordan Brown and Zhao Xintong and a host of established stars continuing to pick up titles in a year that has seen 12 different men pick up ranking crowns.

Some of these awards had very obvious winners others were completely up for grabs, none more so than this first one…

Player of the Year – John Higgins

John Higgins
John Higgins is maybe a surprise winner of Player of the Year (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

This wasn’t an easy choice. Mark Selby is the world champion and world number one, but he’s only won that one title in 2021 and his only other final was at the Shoot Out. It’s still been a great year for the Jester, but he can’t claim consistency.

Judd Trump has picked up three titles in 2021 – more than anybody else – but while the Champion of Champions is a big one, the German Masters is less so and the Gibraltar Open is even smaller. No other finals and nothing beyond a quarter-final this season for the Ace.

Neil Robertson and Mark Williams have both won two titles in 2021, Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong have each won a first Triple Crown title but it is John Higgins who wins Player of the Year.

The Wizard of Wishaw has only won the Players Championship this year, which he did in the most incredible fashion, but he has been to five more finals. From the Masters in January until the Scottish Open in December, which is superb consistency across the year.

With more finals than anyone over the year and one of the bigger tournament wins on the calendar, Higgins just edges this one.

Match of the Year – Mark Allen 9-8 John Higgins

Mark Allen
Mark Allen’s win in Northern Ireland was one for the ages (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

Early in the season we were realy shown just how good it was to have crowds back as the Belfast fans roared on local hero Mark Allen to the Northern Ireland Open title.

The Pistol looked like he was going to miss the target when he foudn himself 6-8 behind to John Higgins in a race to nine.

The Wizard had just made breaks of 59, 64 and 136 to take that lead and looked very unlikely to toss away that lead in that kind of form.

However, Allen scrapped his way back into contention and amid an incredible atmosphere he picked up an emotional and career-defining win.

Shot of the Year – Shaun Murphy

Not much of a clue about how to remember the possible contenders for Shot of the Year, never mind how to pick out a winner, so here is the first one that sprung to mind.

Shaun Murphy had been 10-4 down to Kyren Wilson in the World Championship semi-final and looked set to be on his way home with the Warrior in firm control.

The Magician then conjured up a quite incredible comeback which ended with him winning 17-12 and there was one shot that really characterised that immense effort.

The 20th frame came down to the black with both men level on points and Murphy crunched in a really difficult long pot before giving it a fist pump to the crowd followed by an even bigger one as Wilson wandered off dejected.

It wasn’t just the superb shot, but the fist pumping was an ongoing story of the World Championship, with Wilson also admitting it was bothering him after the match.

Great shot, great celebration, great comeback, great storyline.

Breakout Star – Zhao Xintong

This could well have been Yan Bingtao for winning the Masters, but the Tiger had already won a ranking title and was clearly already in the top 16 to have a crack at the title at Alexandra Palace.

Zhao Xintong winning the UK Championship was an even bigger surprise, having been to just one semi-final of any event in his career beforehand.

The great talent of the Cyclone had been known since he was a schoolboy, but he had largely failed to deliver on it until he surged to victory in York.

Zhao Xintong
Zhao Xintong became a superstar in York (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

Superb wins over John Higgins, Thepchaiya Un-nooh, Jack Lisowski and Barry Hawkins took him to the final where he comfortably dealt with Luca Brecel to lift the trophy.

The pressure will now be on for him to cement his position as a top player in 2022 after the remarkable, out-of-the-blue success in 2021.

Upset of the Year – Jordan Brown

Incredibly, Zhao’s win at the UK was not the biggest shock or upset that happened at a big tournament in 2021.

Jordan Brown went to the Welsh Open in February without a single individual on the planet tipping him for the title. The Northern Irishman had been to one quarter-final ever and came into the event as a 750/1 shot.

It had been an impressive but largely unnoticed run to the quarters at Celtic Manor as he beat Luo Honghao, Sam Craigie, Alexander Ursenbacher and Mark King, but that’s where it looked set to end as Brown faced Mark Selby next.

Few would have backed the Antrim Ferrari to beat the Jester, but that he did in a dramatic deciding frame, before comfortably upsetting Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals.

This was sensational stuff, but Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final was surely too much for Brown, where he was an 8/1 underdog just for that match.

He played brilliantly, with the Rocket playing perfectly well himself, and it was Brown who held his nerve in a deciding frame to claim a 9-8 win and the 2021 Welsh Open title.

Disappointment of the Year – No fans for months

A huge shame for Brown, not that he would have cared much at the time, was that there were no fans at Celtic Manor to see him stun the Rocket and win the Welsh Open.

There were also no fans to see Yan shock Higgins in the final of the Masters and the same can be said for Higgins’ immense win at the Players Championship and Robertson’s superb victory at the Tour Championship.

These were brilliant tournaments and finals and really special moments that could have been even better with the atmosphere of packed crowds in the arenas.

Highs feel much higher after lows and the full crowd at the Crucible for the World Championship final was one of the best moments of the year. An emotional, spine-tingling moment as the players walked out in Sheffied.

It was great to have competitions on in the first half of the year but there’s no denying it was disappointing to have no crowds in to enjoy them.

In general, I agree with all of Phil’s choices although

Jordan Brown’s Welsh title is “Achievement of the Year

rather than the “Upset of the year” in my view, an achievement that wasn’t followed by a real breakthrough which is a bit disappointing.

Now, I’d like to make a case for Ronnie O’Sullivan  …

A lot has been made from the fact that, until last Sunday, he hadn’t won a title since August 2020, and hadn’t beaten a top 16 player since March 2021. All that is true but …

  • Except for his 5-0 defeat to Hossein Vafaei in the 2022 German Masters qualifiers, in 2021, Ronnie has reached the last 16 in EVERY “non league” tournament he has competed in.
  • He has been in four finals, losing the first three, and in two more semi-finals. 
  • He was beaten heavily in the Players Championship Final and in the Tour Championship Final, struggled with confidence, motivation and his game, He was written off by many …
  • And what does he do? Not playing well, but through sheer grit and determination, he gets to the final of the last comp of the year, finds some magic in the last mini session of that Final and wins his first trophy in 16 months, extending two of his records: most ranking titles and longest gap between the first and last (for now).

Ronnie gets my “Comeback of the Year Award”

Alternatively this award could be named the “Prove Your Doubters Wrong Trophy“.

Another person who deserves recognition this year – again – is Jason Francis who somehow has managed to keep the Seniors Snooker circuit going, against all odds. He had to show incredible resilience and creativity as events had to be canceled and rescheduled, some of them more than once, venues changed, rebooked or repurposed.

Jason gets my “Snooker Promoter of the Year Award”

with a special mention as well for faithful acolyte, tournament director, sound and light engineer … and more … Paul Tett 

My “Disappointment of the Year Sad Award”

goes to Ding Junhui

I don’t think I need to explain…

and now …

Golden Turkey

For the man who hasn’t got past the quarter-finals of any ranking event since early March 2021, The man who has come across as an ungracious loser countless times in post-match interviews, the man who has only won each of the triple crown events once (and the UK Championship was in 2011) and downplays their prestige as a result and wants them “shortened”, the man who expressed the opinion that he, not Mark Selby, should be World Number 1 after Mark became World Champion again last May but didn’t complain when winning that same title helped him massively to get to that position in 2019, the man who said about Ronnie : ‘he can’t win an event to save his life at the minute.’ before being promptly proven wrong.

Judd Trump gets my “Big Headed Golden Turkey” Award

It’s Christmas after all so that turkey may be appreciated… who knows? 😇

In all seriousness, Judd is a fantastic player. Not everybody likes his style, but he has trememdous ability and cue power. He can play shots nobody else can. His form has dipped over the last months, but such thing happens to ALL sportspersons. Form comes and goes, and it’s normal. He should know that, he probably does know that. He comes across as someone desperate for regognition and being loved. He wants to be the voice of the younger generation of players… He is not helping his cause with such quotes, same as Ronnie didn’t help his own cause in 2002 when he had a dig at Hendry ahead of their Crucible SF, saying things he still regrets to this date.

Graeme Dott through to the 2021/22 CLS Winners Group

Graeme Dott has been the best player for most of the week and, yesterday, booked his place in the Winners group with a 3-1 win over Lu Ning in the Group 2 final.

Here is the report on WST website:

Dott Wins Group Two

Graeme Dott won Group Two of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, beating Lu Ning in the Group Final.

Group Two Standings and Scores

Dott suffered heartache on Tuesday evening after winning all six group games only to miss out in the Group One semi-final but there was no such pain for the Scot, who racked up three wins in the group stage against Jack Lisowski, Gary Wilson, and Lu to set up a playoff tie with the heavy scoring Ryan Day.

The group was tight throughout, with nobody breaking away from the pack with Xiao Guodong threatening to take fourth place but just missing out as Dott, Lu, Day and Joe Perry took up the playoff spots. Xiao is set to return in Group Three. Lisowski and Wilson bowed out after finishing 6th and 7th respectively.

When it came to the semi-final, Dott defeated Day 3-2, clinching it in the decider with a break of 49 helping the 2006 World Champion across the line to face Lu in the final.

Dott took the opening two frames before Lu made the third to close the gap, but it was Dott who delivered the break of the match for 97 to win it 3-1 and take the Group Two title.

Dott said: “I would’ve taken fifth, to be honest the way it was. I struggled yesterday but played well today. It was great in Group One. It was the first time in a long time I felt like a snooker player. I felt good. I didn’t play great until the second day here but the snooker I played yesterday was really bad. I was just happy to win a match. It was a close match (against Day) – you must win some of those games though, it could go 3-2 either way. I played okay. He is very hard to play. He is a good player and he is very methodical and slow, and it can be quite off putting at times. I managed to get the frames open. I didn’t want it to get too scrappy. I dealt with it okay.

The 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational returns on Monday 3, January with Group 3 seeing Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham enter the field alongside Xiao, Perry, Day, and Lu.

Jack Lisowski who had made the final in Group 1, was poor in Group 2, especially yesterday. It’s hard to explain other than by mental tiredness. This competition is quite intense.

2021:22 CLS Group 2 results

WST confirms the “relocation” of the 2022 European Masters but the 2022 German Masters is still planned in Berlin … for now.

Here is the announcement:

Snooker’s BetVictor European Masters To Be Staged In Milton Keynes

The BetVictor European Masters, to be staged in February 2022, has been relocated from Fürth in Germany to Milton Keynes in England.

Due to Covid-19 rates and the consequent restrictions for sporting events in the Bavaria region of Germany, WST has taken the decision to move the world ranking event to the UK.

The tournament will start on February 21, rather than February 22 as previously planned, and run until February 27 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. Fans will be welcomed, with ticket details to be announced shortly.

The £407,000 event has a strong line up of players including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson and defending champion Mark Selby.

Televised by Eurosport and a range of other broadcasters and online platforms worldwide, the tournament forms part of the eight-event BetVictor Snooker Series, from which the player earning the most prize money will receive a huge £150,000 bonus.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We love going to Germany because of the incredible enthusiasm of the local fans for our sport, and we were particularly excited to stage this event at the Stadthalle in Fürth for the first time as it has proved a fantastic venue for other tournaments. Unfortunately it is not viable to stage the event in Fürth this time.

“Milton Keynes is an excellent alternative and we have hosted many of our tournaments at the Marshall Arena over the past two years, including this season’s BetVictor English Open which drew packed crowds and a great atmosphere.

“In these testing times we continue to work within the rules set down by Governments both in the UK and overseas and to find solutions to maintain momentum on our tour, allowing our players to keep competing and our fans to watch snooker live in the venues or on television.”

While we are constantly monitoring the ever changing Covid-19 regulatory position in the UK and in Germany, the BetVictor German Masters is still scheduled to take place in Berlin on the original dates, we will continue to monitor the situation.

Thomas Cesal posted on the Snookerstars site (in German) confirming the above. However he added that the Tempodrom will welcome fans but maks and proof of negative test will be mandatory.  Also gold and silver “hospitality” have been canceled with “replacement” options for the fans. Here is the link.