2021 German Masters – Day 4

As I expected, Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski came out the winners yesterday and will face each other in the Final today.

In the afternoon, Judd Trump beat Barry Hawkins but 6-5. Here is WST report:

Defending champion Judd Trump admitted Starbucks and the road home was on his mind when he trailed Barry Hawkins 5-1, but he staged a stunning fightback to win 6-5 and reach the BildBet German Masters final.

The Ace in the Pack lifted the title 12 months ago in Berlin, when he defeated Neil Robertson 9-6 in the final. World number one Trump will face either Jack Lisowski or Tom Ford in tomorrow’s final.  If he were to win and pick up the £80,000 top prize, he would become the first ever player to successfully defend the German Masters.

Triple Crown winner Trump has enjoyed an extraordinary season so far, he’s notched up three ranking titles and has now reached six finals from a possible nine.

It had looked as if Hawkins was set to coast to victory this evening. He was in complete control when breaks of 101, 53, 55 and 140 helped him to a 5-1 advantage.

At that point the highest break Trump had been able to muster was 46. However, he sprang into life with three consecutive century runs of 131, 131 and 100 to reduce his arrears to 5-4.

Hawkins then had an opportunity to clinch the tie, but missed a routine red on 30. Trump stepped in with a steely run of 67 to take the match to a decider. In a hard fought, 45-minute frame, it was 20-time ranking event winner Trump who eventually crossed the line and clinched his place in the final.

Trump said: “I’m very proud of the way I dug in. It would have been easy to give up. At times I was questioning what drink I was going to get from Starbucks on the way home. You just have to put that to the back of your mind. It is so easy to give up. Something clicked at 5-1.

“I’m in the tournament and I shouldn’t be. I’ve got a free shot at it. The way I’ve played the last couple of seasons, I don’t put any pressure on myself and enjoy my snooker. Even when I’m losing 5-1, I just try to give it my best shot. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I look at it as a good thing and motivation for the next tournament.

“I think it will be a close game between Jack and Tom. Jack will obviously be a big favourite, but that can sometimes be difficult when you are coming through. Tom Ford knows he has never lost to Jack before. He is probably looking at this tournament that if he was ever going to win one then now is as good a time as any.”


This is a match Judd Trump should never have won. He should have lost it by 6-0. When the match was at 5-1, the only frame he had won, frame 2, should have been Barry’s if it wasn’t for a humongous fluke benefitting Judd at a crucial moment. Barry had just scored a marvellous 140, the highest break of the week so far. What happened next is not uncommon: with the match as good as lost and over, Judd probably relaxed, and, all of a sudden, all the shots started to go in. The blitz of three consecutive centuries clearly rattled Barry, and he went cold.  He was now the one under pressure. Barry hasn’t done well in the last couple of seasons, his confidence is probably low. What happened yesterday will only damage it further I’m afraid.

In the evening Jack Lisowski beat Tom Ford by 6-2 (WST report):

Lisowski Sets Up Trump Showdown

Jack Lisowski secured a 6-2 win over Tom Ford at the BildBet German Masters, to set up a second consecutive ranking final with world number one Judd Trump.

Lisowski met Trump in the final of the World Grand Prix before Christmas. On that occasion it was Trump who emerged a 10-7 victor.

Both players will be hoping to make up for lost time with victory tomorrow. They were forced to watch the Masters from home earlier this month, after returning positive Covid-19 tests prior to the opening round.

Lisowski is seeking an illusive maiden ranking event win. The 29-year-old will be appearing in his fifth ranking final tomorrow. So far he has suffered defeats in title matches at the 2018 Riga Masters, 2019 China Open, 2019 Scottish Open and the 2020 World Grand Prix.

He made an electric start this evening, breaks of 68, 68 and 46 helped Lisowski into an early 3-0 lead. However, Ford did get a frame on the board prior to the mid-session with a fine century run of 104 to make it 3-1.

When they returned they traded frames to leave the score at 4-2, but it was Lisowski who made a decisive burst for the line. Breaks 81 and 87 saw him wrap up the 6-2 win and book another final against close friend Trump.

“I had to dig in at the right time, make some good clearances and it was a good game for me,” said world number 14 Lisowski.

“I practised so hard for the Masters and I was gutted I couldn’t go in it. Then you have to sit at home for ten days. I don’t think it did me any good, I’m on form and I’m lucky I am managing to keep it going. It is brilliant to be in two finals in a row.

“My game is as good as it has ever been. I’ve got Judd tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. I know I’ve got to be on my A game. It is cool that we are playing each other in the final again.

“I will probably need him to miss a few. He hasn’t been as on point as he usually is this week. He has scraped through in a few games. I need him to have some sort of off day or I need to play an A star game. Hopefully he wakes up tomorrow and doesn’t feel too good and I cruise it.”

Before this match, Jack had never beaten Tom in seven attempts. One of those defeats had come in the Shoot Out which is insingnificant. All others had been in best of 7 matches. It was the first time they played each other in a longer format, with an MSI. Jack has improved a lot over the last couple of seasons: all his previous finals have come in the last 2 1/2 years. Can he finally win a title today? It will be very difficult, but I certainly hope so. He will need a good start though.

2021 German Masters – Day 3

There were no real surprises yesterday.

I had hoped that Ding could replicate his last-16 form, but he looked subdued, especially at the start of the match. He did fight well from 3-0 down, but it was too much to do, too late.

Barry Hawkins had too much experience for Jordan Brown who ws playing at the QF stage for the first time.

Tom ford has always been a heavy scorer but unfortunately rarely plays to his full potential on the big stage. Yesterday though he was too strong for young Joe O’Connor.

Jack made the best start against Bingham and managed to keep ahead when Stuat fought back.

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

Trump Reaches Yet Another Semi-final

World number one Judd Trump is through to the semi-final stage for the eighth time this season, after battling past Asian number one Ding Junhui 5-3 at the BildBet German Masters.

The Ace in the Pack has already notched up three titles so far in the campaign, having won the English Open, Northern Ireland Open and the World Grand Prix. His eight semi-final appearances have come from just nine tournaments so far.

Defeat for Ding extends his run without silverware. China’s 14-time ranking event winner has now gone over a year without capturing a title, his last coming at the 2019 UK Championship.

After Trump took the opener, he produced a phenomenal shot during a break of 101, which saw him claim the second to move 2-0 ahead. Trump came in and out of baulk with check side to develop the final red, in a shot which commentator David Hendon described as “criminally good”.

A break of 79 saw Trump go 3-0 up, before Ding got his first frame on the board with a run of 83. He then fired in a contribution of 93 to pull within one at 3-2.

They traded frames, as Trump edged 4-3 ahead. The Bristol cueman then got over the line in a hard fought and decisive eighth frame, which lasted 36 minutes, to emerge a 5-3 victor.

Trump said: “It was solid, but there were quite a lot of mistakes with my safety. That is something that has happened quite a lot in this tournament. I think that is something that is down to not having a lot of match practice and being a bit rusty.

“It has been incredible consistency (to reach eight semi-finals), that is something I’m proud of. I have worked very hard this season and I’ve practised very hard for this tournament as well. With what is going on, I’ve moved back to Bristol in the mix of things. I’m proud of how I’ve dealt with it and it has been an excellent season which will be very tough to top.

“The shot in the second frame is one I love playing. I love the exhibition shots at the end of the frame. For that to come off is one in a thousand. It is literally that hard. As soon as I hit it, I knew I hit it well.”

Trump will face Barry Hawkins in the last four tomorrow afternoon, after Hawkins produced a 5-1 demolition of Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown.

World number 18 Hawkins hasn’t appeared in the last four of a ranking event since the 2019 World Grand Prix, when he lost to Trump. However, in the five semi-final meetings between the pair, he has won three of them.

Evening session

Lisowski Clinches Semi-Final Spot

Jack Lisowski booked his place in the semi-finals for the second consecutive event, beating Stuart Bingham 5-3 to reach the last four of the BildBet German Masters.

Lisowski, 29, was runner-up to Judd Trump at the World Grand Prix before Christmas. However, he was forced to sit out the Masters earlier this month, after returning a positive test for Covid-19 before his first round match.

World number 14 Lisowski is yet to claim a maiden ranking title, but his last four clash with Tom Ford tomorrow evening will be the seventh ranking semi-final of his career. The talented Lisowski has been a ranking event runner-up on four occasions.

Lisowski came flying out of the blocks this evening, breaks of 88 and 80 helped him to a 3-0 advantage early on.

Bingham hit back with runs of 81 and 101 to pull within a frame at 3-2. In a crucial sixth frame, Lisowski missed a straightforward frame ball blue. However, he fluked the snooker and eventually potted the pink to move 4-2 up.

Bingham then pulled within one, but it was Lisowski who claimed a 32-minute eighth frame to seal a semi-final spot.

Lisowski said: “I started really well. Then Stuart got back into it and I was twitching at the end. I felt like I had a bit of luck at the right time today. I managed to get over the line and into the semis.

“I have been starting the matches well. Maybe I need to reset at the interval and start again. Sometimes I am a bit too relaxed when I get back out there. It’s not nice when you get a lead and it starts slipping away, so it is extra sweet to win.

“Looking at the match sheets, Tom looks like he is playing as well as anyone in this tournament. I am going to have my work cut out. I have to play my A game to beat him. I think it will be good. He is a fast and attacking player, so lets have it.”

World number 29 Ford clinched his place in the semi-finals with a 5-1 defeat of fellow Leicester cueman Joe O’Connor.

Ford composed breaks of 57, 62 and 134 on his way to victory today. So far this week he’s made 13 breaks over 50, including four centuries.

Tomorrow’s meeting with Lisowski will be the sixth ranking event semi-final of Ford’s career. He’ll be seeking to reach the final for just a second time, after his 2016 Paul Hunter Classic final loss to Mark Selby.

I think that Jack will be too strong for Tom on the main television table, and over a slightly longer format.

I hope that Barry Hawkins will further improve his SF record over Judd Trump.

I know that Judd is a fantastic player, I can’t help admire some of the shots he plays, but I definitely can’t warm to him and this article by Hector Nunns – who I trust for his integrity – isn’t doing anything to endear me to Judd.

Judd Trump slams “joke” exclusion from Snooker’s Masters and says Covid test “inaccurate”

Snooker’s world number one Judd Trump was unable to participate in this month’s Masters tournament after he tested positive for Covid-19 – but The Juddernaut has hit back at the exclusion and his test

Judd Trump claims that his exclusion from this month’s Masters was “a joke” – and down to an “inaccurate” Covid test.

But the world No1’s allegations have been swiftly challenged by governing body World Snooker Tour, and also healthcare company Cavendish that performed the testing.

The Juddernaut, along with Jack Lisowski, tested positive for coronavirus and in accordance with strict protocols had to withdraw.

He had been a hot favourite to win the £250,000 first prize, but ended up not even receiving the usual £15,000 guaranteed minimum for the top 16 players having qualified.

Trump is unhappy with his enforced withdrawal from The Masters earlier this month
Trump is unhappy with his enforced withdrawal from The Masters earlier this month

WST officials were angry about Trump’s comments, after adhering to strict government guidelines to keep the snooker show going and the players earning.

Trump, questioning the legitimacy of his procedure, said: “I don’t even think the test is accurate. So, to pull you out of the tournament and also take away prize money is a bit of a joke.

“I didn’t think I had it and felt absolutely fine, and it is an inaccurate test that determines it.

“When I was first told I thought it was a joke, and I asked them if they were joking, but they said there was nothing they could do. On another day it could have come back that I could have played.

“I had a few symptoms after Christmas but nothing I haven’t had before, I thought it was a cold so I didn’t even bother getting checked.

“Jack Lisowski got checked after the World Grand Prix final, it came back inconclusive. He got tested again, it came back negative. So he didn’t have it, he comes to the Masters, and he’s positive.

Trump isn't the only one to have had issues with Covid-19 tests - Jack Lisowski has had problems too
Trump isn’t the only one to have had issues with Covid-19 tests – Jack Lisowski has had problems too

“You will always get some strange goings on. As for my trip to Dubai, if I had it then I already had it. I have had worse colds. Do I go and get checked because I have a runny nose?

“It is ridiculous. In any other year it would just be dismissed as a cold. And also World Snooker shouldn’t be taking the prize money away.

“Doing that when it is nobody’s fault is very strange whoever made that decision up, I think that’s the only tournament where it has been done. I know Jack has questioned it.”

But WST chairman Barry Hearn dismissed Trump’s views. He said: “I was disappointed with his comments. Judd is a great champion and a huge asset to our game.

“But that comes with responsibilities, including understanding issues like Covid that affect not only snooker, but the whole nation.

“I am sure in hindsight when he reads them through he will realise how ridiculous and ludicrous they were. He is not a doctor, and certainly has no idea whether a test is accurate or not.

Snooker supremo Barry Hearn had dismissed Trump's criticism
Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has hit back and dismissed Trump’s criticism

“He can’t back that comment up, because he isn’t qualified. We have gone almost further than any other sport and that is one of the reasons the government have allowed us to continue.

“Without that regime Judd and others Would be sitting at home. So if you do fail a test, you can’t question the validity of it when you aren’t qualified to give that opinion.

“I think he probably caught it in Dubai, and really this is about him being prickly about losing any prize money from the Masters, and he feels aggrieved.”

A WST spokesperson said: “The Covid-19 tests carried out on players have the approval of Public Health England and local authorities, as well as our Chief Medical Officer.

“And they are the same as applied by other leading sporting bodies, for example the English Football League.

“Both Judd and Jack (Lisowski) received a PCR test, which is the gold standard of Covid-19 testing, and the complete process was performed by healthcare professionals.

“Players are in a privileged position to be able to continue to play and compete at tournaments.

“Everyone on site at our events, including the vast majority of players, understand that we must follow the guidelines in order to maintain a safe environment.

“And the rules on prize money were clear and only players who competed in the Masters were eligible.”

Dr Akbar de Medici, medical director for Cavendish Health, said: “We are not able to discuss individual cases.

“But we are very experienced in Covid-19 testing and have been providing ‘gold standard’ PCR tests since March 2020 on behalf of professional sports and entertainment organizations and directly for individuals.

“The swabs are processed by one of the UK’s leading labs with bases within several of London’s leading NHS hospitals and subject to very stringent standards as you would expect.

“If a client is dissatisfied with a result we are always happy to perform a confirmatory test.

“But no request has been received, and in any event guidelines do not allow for any positive test result to be overturned.”

Where do I start?

  • Judd has no ground to claim that the test is inaccurate. He’s not qualified to back such clasims.
  • WST does every effort to make sure that the players can play and earn a living. They said they trusted the players to act responsibly. Judd did not do that.
  • Going to Dubai to party in restaurants and bars with a large group of young people, was certainly not “acting responsibly” under the cureent circumstances.
  • If, like he claims, he had symptoms before traveling, he should certainly NOT have traveled at all.

And this coming after his unsympathetic comments about Anthony Hamilton  is … pathetic.


2021 German Masters – Day 2

The morning session yesterday saw the conclusion of the last 32 round, with both top 16 members involved, Stuart Bingham and Jack Lisowski, winning their match. Stuart beat Zhou Yuelong by 5-2 in a match that featured a 50+ break in every frame bar one. Jack Lisowski and Louis Heathcote offered the fans a very entertaining affair, played on a high tempo: both had some baffling misses, but, equally, both came up with great daring shots. It was a “youthful” game. I found it quite refreshing. Luca Brecel and Robbie Williams were the other winners. Robbie Williams scored a 135 in his match against Pang Junxu and it’s currently the highest break of the television stage. That’s likely to be beaten…

The last 16 round was completed in the afternoon and evening sessions.

Here is the only report by WST:

Ding Progresses To Continue Trophy Pursuit

Ding Junhui admitted he is determined to return to the winner’s circle after whitewashing Dominic Dale 5-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the BildBet German Masters.

China’s Ding, a winner of 14 career ranking titles, last lifted silverware over a year ago at the 2019 UK Championship. He is keen to add to his title tally this week.

If the Asian number one is to do so, he is going to have to overcome world number one Judd Trump, who he faces in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

It was a straightforward victory over Dale this afternoon for Ding, who eased to the win in just one hour and four minutes. Ding composed breaks of 104, 101, 57 and 66 on his way to the whitewash.

After the match Ding stated his desire to return to the winning ways and complimented compatriot Yan Bingtao for his recent victory at the Masters.

Ding said: “I haven’t won since the UK Championship last season. I am looking forward to winning another one. I’m watching Judd, Neil, Ronnie and Selby keep winning all of the tournaments. I want to join them. I’m not that bad!

“He (Yan Bingtao) deserved to win. He tried so hard. He played great and gave everything for the Masters. Every time his opponent missed he took chances and won some very important frames.

“It is good for the young players. They are starting to believe in winning tournaments, even the very big ones. Yan Bingtao has also now got a lot of confidence to win more tournaments. He is only very young, just over 20 years old. He has ten or fifteen years to win a lot of tournaments.”

Defending champion Trump booked his place in the last eight with a tense 5-3 win over former Players Champion Joe Perry.

World number one Trump is aiming to hit the ground running in 2021, having missed the first event of the year due to returning a positive Covid-19 test at the Masters.

The Ace in the Pack has already notched up three ranking titles this campaign, after winning the English Open, the Northern Ireland Open and the World Grand Prix.

Trump led 4-3, but the match had looked set to be going to a decider when Perry led 65-8 in the eighth frame. However, Trump produced a crucial clearance of 58 to steal on the black and win 5-3.

Trump said: “It is always tough against him. You never win easily against Joe. He is the sort of player you need to beat to win these big events. In the end I made a good break to finish the match.”

Tom Ford defeated Stuart Carrington 5-2 to set up an all-Leicester quarter-final against Joe O’Connor, who whitewashed Fergal O’Brien 5-0.

World number 14 Jack Lisowski booked his place in the last eight with a 5-2 defeat of Luca Brecel.

Ding’s quotes are interesting for two reasons: first because he explicitly mentions how Yan’s win at the Masters will help the other young Chinese players to truly believe that they can do the same and win tournaments. Ding is their hero, but Yan is one of their own. Psychologically that makes a huge difference. The other notable thing here is that it’s been a very long time since Ding has actually expressed that much hunger for winning. Yan’s victory at the Masters means sharing the weight of expectations, which must be a relief for Ding, but it also means that he now has an actual challenger on the Chinese scene. This could become very competitive … bring it on!

Again, Jack Lisowski provided a lot of entertainment, this time with Luca Brecel. There were some incredible shots from both, and they were not hanging around! In complete contrast, Stuart Bingham’s win over Robbie Williams was hard work, as was Jordan Brown’s win over Jamie O’Neill. Jordan came back tom 4-1 down to win by 5-4. Tom Ford was in high scoring mode against Stuart Carrington; Stuart made the best start, winning the first frame, aided by a 58, then scoring a 61 in the next, and, yet losing it.  Tom took over from there with breaks of 55, 66, 124, 77 and 89. Unfortunately for Tom he rarely seems to be able to produce that sort of snooker on the main table in the latter stages of tournaments.

This all leaves us with an unusual quarter-finals line-up. The four remaining top 16 members play each other:

Judd Trump v Ding Junhui
Jordan Brown v Barry Hawkins
Joe O’Connor v Tom Ford
Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski

The German Masters has yielded surprise winners in the past: Martin Gould and Anthony Hamilton. Could we have another one this year?

2021 German Masters – Day 1

Only seven top 16 players had qualified for the  final stages of the 2021 German Masters. John Higgins tested positive for covid-19 meant that only six remained in the draw. Four of them were in action yesterday, and we lost two more: Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire.

Here is the report by WST:

Trump Victorious On Return

Judd Trump bounced back from the disappointment of sitting out the Masters earlier this month by securing a comprehensive 5-1 win over Mark Davis at the BildBet German Masters.

World number one Trump was forced to watch from home during the Masters after returning a positive Covid-19 test before his first round match. Following a period of self-isolation, this evening provided the perfect opportunity to make up for lost time.

The Ace in the Pack is aiming to defend his title this week, having won the German Masters 12 months ago. He beat Neil Robertson 9-6 in the final in Berlin.

Trump eased to victory in under an hour and a half tonight. The 2019 World Champion composed breaks of 57, 78, 68 and 52 to sweep world number 45 Davis aside. He now faces an intriguing last 16 clash with Joe Perry

Trump said: “I am trying to play in as many tournaments as possible at the moment. I’m really enjoying my snooker and it is just nice to be back in the swing of things, nice to be back at a tournament and nice to be playing again.

“Joe is a really solid player, same as Mark Davis really. They have both been around for a while and you have to play at the top of your game to have a chance.”

Dominic Dale never led Stephen Maguire until the final frame, as he edged a 5-4 win in their last 32 clash.

Dale, a winner of two ranking titles, crucially stole the fourth frame by a point, having required three snookers at one stage. That ensured the Spaceman went into the mid-session level at 2-2.

They shared the following four, as the match came down to a deciding ninth frame. Welshman Dale produced a fine break of 70 under pressure to seal the win. He faces Ding Junhui up next.

Tom Ford went on a break building blitz as he eased past Yuan Sijun 5-0. Leicester cueman Ford fired in runs of 131, 54, 79, 66 and 132 on his way to the win.

World number 82 Jamie O’Neill stunned Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy with a shock 5-4 victory, while Jordan Brown defeated Graeme Dott 5-2.

I find it quite strange that there is no mention of Ding in this report, as he is the only member of the top 16, other than Judd Trump, who went through. He beat Kaçper Filipiak by 5-4. I only watched the deciding frame of that match. Both players had a lot of chances, and neither could string more than a few balls together. Ding should have lost that match really, Kaçper was well ahead in that final frame. But eventually Ding  got over the line with a decent clearance. If he doesn’t play better today, Dominic Dale has every chance to reach the quarter finals.

Judd Trump played well, but Mark Davis certainly had chances. He couldn’t take them. Other than his 78 in frame four, he struggled  to construct any telling break, mainly because more often than not he found himself out of position after only a few shots.

I felt for Shaun Murphy yesterday. He isn’t in a good place mentally, travel restrictions mean that he has been away from his family a lot, he’s still grieving his close friend and former manager, Brandon Parker, and this particular tournament has certainly brough back all the memories very vividly. I’m sure that Shaun badly wanted to win it, in honour of Brandon. He probably put far too much pressure on himself. I can’t remember him playing that poorly for a long time. He kept misjudging his shots, colliding with balls unintentionally and sending them everywhere. It was strange and unsettling.

Ronnie discusses why snooker players are particularly exposed to depression

In an exclusive interview with Desmond Kane, Ronnie explains why snooker players are particularly exposed to depression, how to manage it and about his desire to help others.


World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is keen to help snooker confront its mental health malady during the UK’s third national lockdown. O’Sullivan has battled depression throughout his life and is not surprised to discover a number of players opening up about their own experiences of the illness during such a bleak time for society.



Amid potting black balls, the black dog of depression is never far from the darkened domains of the professional snooker table. During the global coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing onset of a third national lockdown in the UK prior to Christmas, the old green baize has been disturbed by some despairing comments from some of its leading figures about a familiar incurable gloom affecting the human condition.

Former world champions Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy and world semi-finalist Gary Wilson have all opened up in recent weeks about a sense of personal despair blighting their mental health.

Their revelations come after the former German Masters winner Martin Gould – who lost 9-8 to Selby in an epic European Masters final in September – explained how he almost quit the sport before the UK’s first lockdown last March after seeking medical help because “I felt mentally and physically drained” in fighting his inner turmoil.

Selby revealed during the Masters that he contemplated suicide as a teenager after the premature death of his father David when he was only 16. He continues to take medication to help him cope.

“When people are going through depression it’s very tough and times like this don’t make it any easier because you’re locked in your house and you have so much time to think about stuff,” said the former world number one in an interview with Eurosport.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has always spoken openly and candidly about the importance of mental health and physical well-being having faced bigger challenges in confronting himself than any opponent he has met during a gilded 29-year career that brought him a sixth world title last August.

Ronnie about depression tweet

He is keen to use his own personal experience of anguish by providing help, support and advice on the best way to cope with the illness via his social media platforms.

“I thought can we do some stuff to help people by putting a few videos online,” said O’Sullivan. “Just all sorts of stuff and we’re looking to produce a lot more content and channel it into a certain area where I have an interest.

“If you feel like you can help someone, it’s great you can do it from a point of view where I can actually enjoy it and have something to give back.

“I understand a bit about that side of mental health if you like, and that is definitely something I’m passionate about.


“Most people go down the club, have a laugh and chat with their mates while they are playing, but when it becomes a job you don’t talk.

“You just keep quiet, concentrate and stay in that bubble for as long as you can. I just think that’s not healthy in general to do that day in, day out.”

O’Sullivan checked into a hospital for several days in 2016 suffering from exhaustion after lashing out in a dressing room after a 10-7 win over David Gilbert in the first round of the World Championship.

The record 37-times ranking event winner is not alone in suffering the loneliness of the long-distance potter. It is an affliction the game’s greatest player has described as “snooker depression” during a gloriously successful but wildly undulating rise to the summit of his sport. It is an ailment which is instantly recognisable to several of his fellow professionals.

“I’ve got no motivation to play snooker, to get out of bed, I’m struggling to see a purpose or an end goal,” said the 2019 world semi-finalist Gary Wilson during the Championship League earlier this month. “I don’t know what the experts would say, but it sounds like depression and that’s what I’ve been going through.”

Apart from the World Championship in Sheffield last August, snooker has been shunted behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena next to the MK Dons football ground.

Murphy, the 2005 world champion, admits the lockdown took a heavy toll on him as he battled weight gain without the oxygen of his daily practice routine from a sport that has found itself marooned in Milton Keynes to enable players to earn a living amid constant Covid-19 testing and isolating in hotel rooms since last June.

“When we did return, we were trapped in a hotel in Milton Keynes, I just really struggled with it. I didn’t go and see a doctor or anything, but I would say I was borderline suffering with depression really. I was very low,” he said.

O’Sullivan enjoys running for fun to keep his mental compass pointing in the right direction, but feels the solitary existence of a snooker player is detrimental to achieving harmony away from the table.

“At least in football, you have your mates to lean on,” commented O’Sullivan. “They know when you are not having a good time and know what to say to pick you up.

“In some team sports, they actively seek out different players because everyone complements each other, but in snooker you don’t get that.

“Even in golf, you get to have a caddie and if you choose the right person, they can have an influence on how your mental state is and how your mood is.
“In snooker, you don’t get that, so that is why I find it really challenging.


O’Sullivan admits in the past he would accept a low mental state as a natural by-product of his desire to win trophies, but believes he has had to curtail his own expectations to cope.

He has been helped by the sports psychiatrist Steve Peters since 2011, winning three of his six world titles over the past decade after working closely with the Middlesbrough-born professor, author of the 2012 book The Chimp Paradox, which has sold over one million copies.

The toughest frame in snooker appears to be building a positive frame of mind that can buffet the mental storms that rage. Sportsmen should not define themselves by material success in their respective fields.

Are you a positive person who can motivate others?” said Peters. “Are you kind? Do you have integrity? If you are measuring success against your values – rather than what car you own or how much you earn – then building self-esteem is in your own hands.”

O’Sullivan feels that not every player can treat success and failure the same in trying to justify their self-worth to the wider world.

“Everybody is at different stages of their careers,” he explained. “When you are in your pomp, and getting victories, trophies and are at number one you don’t mind taking the snooker depression because you think I’m getting rewarded for it.


“So what you do? Do you become philosophical? So it’s like a self-preservation thing, but with that you probably lose that intensity.

“Rather than play with the attitude it’s life-and-death, you think if you win, you win, if you lose, you lose, it doesn’t really matter.

“But then if you don’t play with the attitude that it’s life-and-death, are you really committed to wanting it as bad as the other guy, possibly?


“For me, I’ve had to get a bit more philosophical because I’m not winning as much as I used to. Why would I want to hurt after putting all that effort in? It’s all about getting the right balance really and how to approach it.”

O’Sullivan has consulted the six-times world champion Steve Davis on how he managed to cope with the perception of failure when Stephen Hendry usurped him as snooker’s dominant force in the 1990s.

Davis recovered from trailing O’Sullivan 8-4 to lift his third Masters in 1997, but the last of his 28 ranking event victories came two years earlier at the 1995 Welsh Open, 21 years before he retired from playing the sport.


“When I spoke to Davis, he said to me once the 10 years when Hendry came on the scene and began dominating were the worst 10 years of his life because he was trying to find a way to compete with Hendry,” said O’Sullivan.

“It took him 10 years to finally give up, and I think once he gave up in his mind, he started to enjoy it again.

“He would turn up, hit a few balls, get the odd result and win a tournament. He was just as happy with his defeats as he was with his wins. You end up not getting as disappointed if you lose, but don’t get as excited when you win.

“You flick that switch off. You detach emotionally from wanting it so bad. By doing that, you don’t get fired up like you used to which is like a self-preservation thing. You don’t get the joys of winning.


“It’s a really fine line to work out what approach you take to it.”

Desmond Kane



Some days I wake up and I just can’t be bothered, I don’t have the motivation to do anything. It does get very lonely when you’re looking at the four walls of a hotel room for most of the year. It can be a great life, but it can also be tough and I suspect there are others secretly battling away with this, feeling they have to deal with it on their own as I did for a long time.”


As far as my depression is concerned, it is something I will probably have to live with for the rest of my life, but I recognise the warning signs now and know when it is time to go back to the doctor and ask for more tablets.


I didn’t want to be there. I just turned up and thought I’d get the match out of the way. I had no expectation of winning, and I thought to myself: ‘I can’t keep doing this’. I would have been more than happy to drop off the tour, give up playing on the main tour and concentrate on playing some seniors stuff later on after giving myself a year or two to get back to normal.”


Some of the comments on social media are just vile. I often wonder how we got into this body shaming culture, when did we start bullying each other about the way we look? I wanted to do something about it. I decided on New Year’s Day that I would start highlighting people saying these things. I’m going to start calling it out when they are vicious and bullying you. If you aren’t mentally strong, these things can have a real knock-on effect. We’ve seen some really high profile celebrities take their own life. It is awful really.


When I was going through it – and even now, I’m still on the medication to this day – I went to see the professional people and they were telling me to do things that you enjoy and try to keep your mind active. But it’s difficult when you go through times like this because the things you do enjoy you cannot go and do. The only thing you can do is speak to the professional people, speak to your family and cry for help and get them to help you as well.


I’m just totally gone, including snooker. I can’t play at all. I feel the worst I’ve ever felt and can’t see a way back anymore. I let John (Higgins) back in and apologised for the foul as he was plumb in. All I could do. First world problems. Although I do feel depressed generally and I’m not one, as many will know, to play on stuff like that or use them words lightly.


And that’s all top players speaking out here. You have to wonder what those who struggle to earn a living, just put food on the table and pay their bills are going through.

2021 German Master – John Higgins tests positive for covid-19

Here is WST statement:

John Higgins has tested positive for Covid-19 at the BildBet German Masters in Milton Keynes and has been withdrawn from the event.

Higgins was due to play Stuart Carrington on Wednesday afternoon. Carrington receives a bye to the last 16 of the world ranking event.

All other players involved in the remainder of the event have had negative results.

Higgins will now undergo a period of self-isolation and will receive the support of WST and the WPBSA.

Since WST events restarted last June, strict Covid-19 regulations have been and continue to be followed, under UK Government guidance.


Celtic Manor in Newport to host the 2021 Welsh Open

It’a a strange covid twist…  The Welsh Open left Newport for Cardiff in 2015, and many players felf like it had left its home. The tournament was first played in 1992, in Newport. In 1999 it moved to Cardiff, only to return to Newport from 2005 to 2014. That year Ronnie gave it a great send-off as he made a fantastic 147 in the last frame of the final. The tourmanent then returned to Cardiff, at the Motorpoint Arena… you know car boot sales and all that … 😉. Now it’s going back to Newport in the iconic Celtic Manor.

It will be some change from Milton Keynes… and one that most players will welcome.


Here is WST announcement:

Celtic Manor Resort To Host Snooker’s BetVictor Welsh Open

The Celtic Manor Resort will stage snooker’s BetVictor Welsh Open for the first time next month, behind closed doors.

The world ranking event will run from February 15 to 21, with 128 of the world’s best players battling for the Ray Reardon Trophy.

Televised by BBC Wales, Eurosport, CCTV5 and various other broadcasters, the tournament has a global television audience of hundreds of millions.

Shaun Murphy beat Kyren Wilson in last year’s final

Shaun Murphy will be defending the title against a field packed with snooker’s top stars. The draw and format will be announced in due course.

Since June 2020, WST has staged the majority of tournaments at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, where strict Covid-19 regulations can be followed. The only exception was the World Championship which was staged in Sheffield.

WST has full confidence that the same rigorous Covid-19 regulations can be followed at Celtic Manor, which successfully staged the Celtic Classic and ISPS HANDA Wales Open tournaments on golf’s European Tour behind closed doors with Covid-secure protocols in August 2020.

Also the host venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, the resort near Newport in South Wales will now stage a professional snooker event for the first time.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn OBE said: “We are delighted to be staging this huge tournament at Celtic Manor for the first time. This event has such a rich history in Wales, and along with our partners at BBC Wales and Eurosport, we were determined to keep it there.

“In order to stage events of this magnitude we need to ensure that the venue has the right facilities and is big enough to welcome 128 players plus everyone who works on the event while observing social distancing, hygiene, isolation and all of the other Covid-19 regulations which are essential on our events.

“We have no doubt that Celtic Manor ticks all of these boxes, it is a fantastic venue and the players will love it. Unfortunately fans can’t come to watch but it will be seven days of tremendous entertainment for television viewers across the globe.”

Celtic Manor Resort Chief Executive Ian Edwards said: “We are very excited to host a professional snooker tournament for the first time. It is a shame that fans will not be able to attend, especially as South Wales is such a hotbed for snooker, but we all recognise the public health priorities at this time and we will draw on our experience over the past 12 months to provide the safest possible environment for the players and officials.”

The BetVictor Welsh Open is the fifth event in the BetVictor European Series, with the leader of the Order of Merit after six events to bank a £150,000 bonus. Mark Selby is currently the front runner, but just two of the six events have been played so far.

It is also the fourth and final Home Nations event of the season, following the English Open, Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open.