The 2021 Players Championship – Day 6

There was just one match yesterday: the semi-final between John Higgins and Kyren Wilson. John Higgins won it by 6-1. Here is the report by WST:

Magnificent Higgins Sets Up O’Sullivan Final

John Higgins kept his sensational form going at the Cazoo Players Championship as he beat Kyren Wilson 6-1 to set up a final with Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Higgins came so close to becoming the first player ever to reach the final of a ranking event (other than the Shoot Out) without conceding a frame. Having whitewashed Jordan Brown and Mark Selby 6-0 in his first two matches this week, he led 5-0 tonight, only for Wilson to get one on the board. But missing out on that record will not bother Higgins as he looks ahead to a potentially epic clash with O’Sullivan, with both players at the top of their game.

First to ten frames on Sunday takes the trophy and £125,000 top prize. Scotland’s 45-year-old Higgins is chasing his 31st career ranking title and first since the 2018 Welsh Open. Not since he beat O’Sullivan 9-2 at the 2005 Grand Prix have the pair met in the final of a ranking event. However, including invitation events they have met in a total of 17 finals, O’Sullivan winning ten of those.

Higgins admits he is playing some of the best snooker of his 29-year career, having made a change to his technique, bringing the cue tip closerto the white ball at address. He was runner-up to Yan Bingtao at the Betfred Masters last month and will be determined to go one better this time.

A fragmented opening frame tonight went his way and he took the second with a break of 108. In frame three, Higgins had eyes on a 147 and potted 11 reds with blacks before missing a mid-range 12th red to a top corner on 88.

Wilson went for an ambitious long blue early in frame four, but missed his target and was punished again as world number six Higgins made 70 for 4-0. Kettering’s Wilson looked in control of frame five after a run of 65. But Higgins, 50 points down, converted a superb pot on a red to a centre pocket to set up a 51 clearance.

World number five Wilson at least had the consolation of becoming the first player this week to take a frame off Higgins thanks to his break of 102 in frame six. But his hopes were ended by a run of 74 from Higgins in the seventh.

“I won a massive frame to go 5-0, because if Kyren gets firing he can get on a roll,” said Higgins, who has made five centuries and ten more breaks over 50 this week. “He’s up there with the best players in the world so I’m over the moon to beat him 6-1.

I have moved my tip closer to the cue ball when I address it. One of my friends told me they had seen Ronnie and Stephen Hendry talking about it on Instagram, saying my tip was a long way from the cue ball. I looked back at recent footage and they were right, then I looked at footage of when I was younger, and I was a lot closer to the white. It must have crept into my game over the years like a bad habit. That has given me something to work on and now I have corrected it and I’m trying to repeat the same thing on every shot.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final, Higgins added: “I have always said Ronnie is the best ever, in my eyes. I grew up playing him, and he’s still winning the big events, challenging Selby, Robertson and Trump. The likes of me and Mark Williams are in the tier below, trying to nick a title here and there.

I will be honest: I don’t entertain any hopes of a Ronnie win today. Asked who will win today, Stephen Hendry on twitter answered “Higgins” and added that he usually does when he is on top form. Unfortunately, I have to agree. Ronnie’s game suits Higgins, as he knows that he will get chances, not many of them if Ronnie plays well, but, when himself is at his best just one is usually enough. Higgins’ game doesn’t suit Ronnie as Higgins leaving a good chance only comes once in a blue moon. Therefore Ronnie will have to take risks and go for difficult pots. There is no way he can beat Higgins playing defensively. Mind you, Mark Selby, probably the strongest defender in the game, got restricted to 3 balls and seven points. I just hope that Ronnie can make a fight of it, that he isn’t destroyed the way Jordan Brown, Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson have been. That John Higgins has lost just one frame so far in this event is a scary thought! And here is more bad news: if Higgins wins tonight, the two are currently set to meet in the first round of the 2021 Tour Champinship. Aargh!

I have put Higgins’ quotes in bold. The first part is particularly interesting. John Higgins and Ronnie, at 45, are still constantly looking for ways to improve. After nearly 30 years as pros, they are still students of the game, they are still putting work into bettering their own technique, into finding new ways to improve their reliability at the table. This is admirable and something a lot of younger players could learn from.

Neil Robertson will certainly not disagree with this last sentence. He has been speaking to Phil Haigh about his views on the younger players:

Neil Robertson: I agree with Ronnie O’Sullivan, young players don’t work hard enough

Neil Robertson feels Ronnie O’Sullivan was right to criticise young players (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson feels young players in snooker, specifically in the UK, need to work much harder at the game and has backed Ronnie O’Sullivan in trying to cajole them into action.

Robertson is referring to O’Sullivan’s comments from the World Championship last year when the Rocket said he would have to ‘lose an arm and a leg’ to fall out of the world’s top 50, so bad are the players emerging in the game.

Unsurprisingly these comments ruffled feathers but there have been positives to emerge from Ronnie’s scathing assessment of his competitors.

Jordan Brown came from nowhere to win the Welsh Open last week as a 750/1 shot, beating Mark Selby, Stephen Maguire and then O’Sullivan in the final.

The Northern Irishman began that event ranked #81 in the world and said that O’Sullivan’s comments had riled him up and spurred him on to victory in Newport.

Ronnie, despite tasting defeat at Celtic Manor, was pleased that his words had made an impact on Brown and Robertson has echoed the sentiments of the world champion.

The Australian believes there is much more work to be done by the young players in the game and if the senior players need to deliver some home truths then so be it.

Ronnie made comments about not producing or not reaching the standard that they should be…and by the way Ronnie would be so happy for people like Jordan, Jordan said those comments fired him up to practice more and work harder, that will make Ronnie really happy,’ Robertson said at this week’s Players Championship.

Ronnie O’Sullivan congratulated Jordan Brown after a 9-8 loss to the Northern Irishman (Picture: Zheng Zhai)

I’m in the same boat as Ronnie where I don’t think the players lower down the rankings are practicing hard enough, especially the younger ones from the UK.

A lot of tournaments they’re sort of partying, not putting in the hard work, all the time on Instagram checking their followers. You can’t be a top sportsman and do all that stuff, you have to put in the hard work.

‘Either that would have upset a lot of low-ranked players, they’d have gone into their shell and thought, “oh Ronnie’s saying all this” or they could go, “you know what, he’s right, I can work harder so I’m going to work harder.”

Ronnie wants to see all the lower-ranked players reach their potential as players, so what he did was good, I felt.

We wouldn’t have had the Jordan Brown story if Ronnie hadn’t said what he said, I’m almost convinced of that. Jordan was someone who maybe…I don’t like the tag, but a journeyman tag, I suppose, but he’s changed it.

‘He’s worked harder, got a coach, practiced with Mark Allen and what you’re going to get now is a lot more lower-ranked guys believing they can beat top players.

‘I’m really happy for Jordan, he’s so nice. Hopefully we can start seeing more of the younger players coming through from the UK.’

Robertson made a similar statement at the Masters in January when he was beaten by Yan Bingtao, who went on to win the event.

The Thunder from Down Under feels that the Chinese sensation, who turned 21 this month, is a perfect example for young UK players and how they should go about developing their careers.

‘Yan is 20 years old but seems to have the experience of someone who’s 40,’ Robertson said in January.

Yan Bingtao
Yan Bingtao claimed the Masters title in January (Picture WST)

‘I can’t praise him highly enough. He’s got all the attributes, the hunger, the determination to try to win these events and that’s really good to see from a young player.

You see a lot of them are on social media non-stop, they care more about how they look coming out of swimming pool than what they do on a snooker table. So you’ve got to credit the guys who want to make things happen in their career.’

Robertson added this week: ‘Yan Bingtao works harder than anyone at the game, absolutely 100% and there you go, he won the Masters.’

Ronnie and Neil know each other very well, they are friends. Neil wouldn’t say this if he wasn’t 100% convinced about it. He’s one of the nicest person you could want to meet; there is no nastiness in him or in what he says there. Both him and Ronnie care for the future of their sport. “Diplomacy” has never been Ronnie’s strong point. He says things as he sees them, and often in a colourful fashion as well. But, more often than not, there is truth in what he says. A lot of fans should think twice before getting up in arms about “being disrespectful”. Telling the truth is never disrespectful and accepting the truth is  usually useful as it’s the first step towards changing what needs changing.




The 2021 Players Championship – Day 5

None of the poster boys – the top three players in the one year list – are still in the tournament. Actually none of them reached the semi-finals. Indeed, yesterday afternoon, Mark Selby was beaten by John Higgins in one of the most extraordinary matches I’ve watched since I follow this sport, and that’ s about 16 years.

Just read the report by WST:

Higgins Hands Selby Record Defeat

John Higgins described his performance as the best of his career as he beat Mark Selby 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

Selby scored just seven points in the match – the lowest ever tally in a best-of-11 frame professional contest. The former world number one potted just three balls as he lost 6-0 for the first time since the 2015 UK Championship, and suffered his first ever whitewash against Higgins in a ranking event.

In fact Selby made no more than a handful of mistakes, but was demolished by one of snooker’s all-time greats at the peak of his powers. Higgins has been a pro for 29 years and won 30 ranking events including four world titles, but admits he has never been happier with his game.

The 45-year-old Scot is yet to conceded a frame in Milton Keynes this week, having beaten Jordan Brown 6-0 in first round. His next opponent is Kyren Wilson on Saturday evening.

Higgins hasn’t captured a ranking title since the 2018 Welsh Open but is now just two wins away from ending that drought and taking the £125,000 top prize. Today’s result is also crucial to his hopes of qualifying for next month’s Cazoo Tour Championship as he now moves into the top eight of the one-year ranking list.

Breaks of 60, 70 and 63 gave Higgins the first three frames today as his opponent failed to scored a point. Selby had a rare scoring chance in frame four but potted just a red and blue before running out of position, and Higgins took it for 4-0.

The interval changed nothing as Higgins compiled a run of 100 to extend his lead. Selby potted the first red of frame six but didn’t finish on a colour, and Higgins won it with breaks of 49 and 60. The Wizard of Wishaw finished the match with a  97% pot success rate and a points aggregate of 546-7 in his favour.

“It’s the best I have ever played or ever felt,” said Higgins. “Doing it against someone like Mark is incredible. I have felt good about my game since the turn of the year. I lost to Yan Bingtao in the Masters final, then I had Covid and missed the German Masters, but I played well at the Welsh Open so I came here in good spirits.

“It would mean a lot to win the event but it means more to me that I’m hitting the ball well and feeling confident. Over the last couple of years I have been scratching about at some tournaments, not sure where my next win was coming from. Now I’m putting myself in positions to win and hopefully it will open up for me.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Kyren Wilson in terms of the way he plays the game and goes about his career. He reminds of me of Mark Selby because he gives everything to the game and wants to keep on learning. He’s going to be around for years winning titles. I wish I was young like that, it would be brilliant to be involved at that age with so many big events now. Obviously I’m at the end of my career just hanging on.”

Selby said: “I’ve never had a match where I I had so few chances. John froze me out from start to finish, he played an incredible match.”

That’s scary news for the rest of the tour…

Ronnie who was waiting to play his semi-final match in the evening, was watching and here is what he thought about it:


Ronnie O’Sullivan hit back from trailing 3-0 to complete a 6-4 win over Barry Hawkins in the Players Championship semi-finals, but the six-times defending world champion was still reflecting on the “granite” display of John Higgins to whitewash Mark Selby 6-0 earlier. O’Sullivan believes Higgins produced the “toughest” snooker he has ever witnessed to secure a semi-final meeting with Kyren Wilson.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has heaped praise on John Higgins for his “incredible” 6-0 whitewash of Mark Selby in the Players Championship quarter-finals on Friday.

I watched it. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t watch it in the end. It was granite. It was evil, evil,” said O’Sullivan after completing a 6-4 win over Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals from 3-0 behind.


But Higgins, you could see it was almost like he didn’t want it to end. It was ridiculous snooker really.


Why would you want to be that tough? It was incredible snooker. It’s not easy to play. It’s okay playing defensive snooker, but you have to play it well.
“John and Selby play it better than anybody so if you can play it well, you play it.

For me, it’s a waste of time trying to play that stuff because I do a lot of hard work 80 percent of the time, but then mess it up with one shot. They are very astute around that stuff. It was a real purist’s game of snooker.

If he starts doing that to me, I’m going to be sitting in that chair quite a lot.

Needless to say, should he face John Higgins tomorrow, he will be hoping that his opponent level goes down a notch … or two. It’s entirely possible as, when players get older, it’s not so much their asbility that declines, it’s the consistency that goes. We have seen it with Ronnie and Mark Williams and even with John Higgins this season.

Ronnie had been sublime in beating Jack Lisoski in the quarter-finals, but he struggled badly en route to his win over Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals. All about that match here

The 2021 Players Championship – Ronnie beats Barry Hawkins to reach his 57th Final.

After his spellbinding performance against Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals, Ronnie was always going to struggle to replicate the same standard. He was actually well below par at the start of the match, and, although he improved mid-match, he was never close to the perfection he had shown against Jack. What he DID show though was remarkable determination and will to win despite the struggles, the misses and the the frustration.

Here are the scores:


Here is the report by WST:

O’Sullivan Beats Hawkins To Equal Record

Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 3-0 down to beat Barry Hawkins 6-4 at the Cazoo Players Championship and reach a record-equalling 57th ranking event final.

Hawkins has now lost 18 of his 25 ranking event semi-finals

After the effortlessness of last night’s win over Jack Lisowski, this time O’Sullivan was given a much tougher examination, but came out on top to set up a clash on Sunday with John Higgins or Kyren Wilson. Only Stephen Hendry has appeared in as many ranking finals.

O’Sullivan has won 37 of his previous 56, but has lost three in a row this season. He was beaten by Judd Trump at the Northern Ireland Open, Mark Selby at the Scottish Open, and surprisingly by Jordan Brown at the BetVictor Welsh Open five days ago. The 45-year-old has bounced back quickly from that setback and has another opportunity to capture his first silverware since landing his sixth World Championship crown last August.

Both players missed chances in the opening frame tonight and Hawkins won it on the colours, then he made breaks of 109 and 87 to extend his lead. Frame four came down to a safety battle with two reds remaining, and O’Sullivan trapped his opponent in a tough snooker, then scored the points he needed from the chance that followed to gain a foothold in the match at 3-1.

After the interval, O’Sullivan found a scoring groove, winning four frames in 48 minutes with 83, 75, 90 and 79. Hawkins took frame nine with an 81 to draw within one at 5-4.

In frame ten, O’Sullivan led 32-24 when he missed a red to a top corner. Hawkins replied with 38 then was unlucky not to finish on a red when he cannoned a cluster of three near the baulk cushion. A tactical exchange ended with a botched safety from Hawkins, letting O’Sullivan in to clear with 42 for victory.

It was a tough match, I wasn’t at the races early on,” said world number two O’Sullivan, who won this event in 2018 and 2019. “I had to find a way of getting back into the match and after the interval I managed to play better.

“In the last frame I was getting tight, I knew I would miss something. Barry was looking good for 5-5, but he was unlucky when he cannoned the reds.

Earlier today O’Sullivan watched a masterclass from John Higgins, beating Mark Selby 6-0, and the Essex cueman knows it will be a formidable task if he faces Higgins in the final.

It was ridiculous, I couldn’t watch in the end. It was so granite, it was evil,” said O’Sullivan in admiration. “John showed what a class player he is because Selby is one of the best in the business at those type of matches. It was the toughest matchplay I’ve ever seen, it was bordering on the obscene.

“How can you be that tough? It’s not easy to play defensive snooker that well. John and Mark are better at it than anyone. It’s a waste of time for me to try because I can do it for 80% of the time, then mess up with one shot. But those guys are very astute, it was real purists’ stuff. If I play John in the final and he does that to me, I’ll be sitting in my chair a lot.

And here is the report by Eurosport:


Ronnie O’Sullivan held his nerve amid the torment of the dreaded “twitches” to reach the Players Championship final with a 6-4 win over Barry Hawkins having trailed 3-0 in their semi-final in Milton Keynes. The world champion will face John Higgins or Kyren Wilson in the final on Sunday with a £125,000 top prize on the line as he chases his first ranking event victory of the campaign. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan overcame Barry Hawkins and a bout of the “twitches” to complete a 6-4 win in the Players Championship semi-finals at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Less than 24 hours after he produced a majestic display in a 6-1 drubbing of Jack Lisowski in a quarter-final lasting only 78 minutes, O’Sullivan was forced to scrap his way to victory against Hawkins having looked all at sea in falling 3-0 behind to the man he defeated in the 2013 world final.

I was waiting around all day. It felt like forever and I thought I was going to play useless tonight,” said O’Sullivan, who will meet John Higgins or Kyren Wilson in Sunday’s final.


“If you start struggling, you feel like you have wasted a day. It was a struggle at the start.

“I had some chances. Barry played well, every credit to him, but I just had to hang in there.


It’d be great to win on Sunday. I’m pleased I’ve got a day off. I don’t know if the nine-mile run had an effect, but I’m not going to stop. It’s the best thing in my life at the moment,” he added.

I was twitching there at the end and Barry should have had me. I got lucky there.

Hawkins, who completed a 6-2 win over 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the last eight, edged an error-strewn opening frame before breaks of 109 and 87 saw him gallop 3-0 clear of the world number two.

O’Sullivan stemmed the tide by winning the fourth frame and further timely knocks of 83, 75, 90 and 79 saw him reel of four straight frames for a 5-3 advantage.

An 81 by Hawkins extended the match to a tenth and penultimate frame with the world number 18 narrowly failing to gain position on the final three reds in baulk.

It proved a pivotal error as a safety mistake moments later saw O’Sullivan return to the table to clear up and pinch the frame and final spot by only four points on the black.

Barry is a class act, and plays a great game. He’s a fantastic player. I just had to grind it out to stay in there,” said the 37-times ranking event winner, who lost 9-8 to Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final last Sunday.
“The continuous tournament keeps going.”

O’Sullivan could face old rival Higgins for the first time in a ranking event final since the 2005 Grand Prix with the four-times world champion dismissing Mark Selby 6-0 in the final quarter-final on Friday.

Higgins faces Kyren Wilson in the second semi-final on Sunday evening.

I don’t want to be having wars and tough matches,” said O’Sullivan, who has equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of appearing in 57 ranking event finals.

I want to go out and play half decent. I was watching Selby and Higgins today, and I struggle to watch that because that’s not the way I want to play snooker.


Why am I putting myself through the grind? I was feeling it. It’s tough.

Ronnie has never been the best at dealing with hanging around for hours waiting for his match to start. That won’t happen on Sunday. However, whoever he faces, it will be though.

He’s into his fourth final this season, but still waiting for a title. He has an opportunity to put that right tomorrow, but it will not be easy, no matter who wins tonight: both Kyren and John look in ominous form.

Here is the post-match with WST:

There also share this short video, showing Ronnie’s exemplary pack split


The 2021 Players Championship – Day 4

Two matches were played yesterday in Milton Keynes.

The afternoon match was the second of the quarter-finals. Kyren Wilson impressed in beating Neil Robertson by 6-2.

Here is the report by WST:

Wilson Makes Semi Breakthrough

After losing seven consecutive quarter-finals matches this season, Kyren Wilson broke that sequence in fine style with a 6-2 win over Neil Robertson at the Cazoo Players Championship.

Wilson already has one title to his name this season having won the BetVictor Championship League, but given his consistency he feels he could have landed more silverware. He has now broken that quarter-final stumbling block and will go into his next match with John Higgins or Mark Selby on Saturday night brimming with confidence, after a superb display against Robertson.

World number five Wilson made two centuries and three more breaks over 50 as he beat Robertson for the second time in four attempts.

Kettering’s Wilson took the opening frame with a break of 130, then Robertson had the chance to clear from 54-26 down in frame two, but wobbled the final black in the jaws of a top corner. Wilson clipped in the black for 2-0 and added the next in two scoring visits.

Wilson might have gone 4-0 ahead had he not missed a short-range green along the baulk cushion late in frame four. World number three Robertson got one on the board then appeared to have the momentum as he fired a 101 to close to 3-2. But Wilson proved the stronger player in the closing stages as he made 95 and 126 to stretch his lead to 5-2.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

In frame eight he potted ten reds with blacks, and though the 147 attempt ended when the 11th red stayed out of a centre pocket, he had done enough to book a semi-final spot.

“I was really strong today, my scoring was good, I was aggressive form the start and took the game to Neil,” said 29-year-old Wilson. “When he starts stomping around the table and gets his wonderful cue action working, he is hard to stop. I had to regroup at 3-2. I took on a risky red in the sixth frame, potted it and made 95, that was the key moment for me. I’m just a bit disappointed not to make the maximum in last frame.

“It’s hard to break runs like losing all those quarter-finals. I have played the top three or four players in the world in most of those matches and just come up short. I have just kept believing and doing the right things.

“I’m still motivated on the end goal which is to win the Players Championship. For the next two days I’ll be on the practice table. Everyone at this event is very sharp. Mark Selby or John Higgins will be a very tough opponent, I can see their game going 6-5 either way.”

Australia’s Robertson, who has won just one match since landing the Betway UK Championship title in December, said: “There were a few shots which rattled and stayed in the jaws like the black in the second frame, I hit it well but it stayed out. There were other long reds which rattled and didn’t go in. I felt just as good in the balls as I did in my first match. But Kyren played a brilliant match and if he carries on like that he can win the title. He’s got the belief and desire, he’s not scared of anyone.”

Kyren has often been criticised by pundits and commentators over his (lack of) cue ball control, considered to be the weakest aspect of his game. Yesterday, however, there were only praises as he was as good as anyone in this respect. This was a truly impressive win by Kyren yesterday and, if he can sustain that level, he will be a handful for anyone.

In the evening, Ronnie beat Jack Lisowski by 6-1 in the third quarter-final. It only lasted 79 minutes…


The 2021 Players Championship – Ronnie beats Jack Lisowski in the QF

Ronnie was in fine form yesterday evening as he beat Jack Lisowski by 6-1 in the quarter-finals round of the 2021 Players Championship.

Here are the scores, and stats at the MSI:



And this is the report by WST:

‘Magic’ O’Sullivan Crushes Lisowski

ITV commentator Stephen Hendry compared Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cue to a “magic wand” as the Rocket beat Jack Lisowski 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

PlayersChamps2021ROSQF-1O’Sullivan won this event in 2018 and 2019

In a magnificent display which can rank alongside his best of his recent years, O’Sullivan made two centuries plus four more breaks over 50, and averaged just 16.9 seconds a shot. He is still seeking his first title of the season but on tonight’s form, O’Sullivan will be hard to stop. He meets Barry Hawkins on Friday night for a place in the final.

A bamboozled Lisowski said simply: “It’s as if he is playing a different game. It’s not like playing any other opponent. I didn’t do a lot wrong in fact I’m proud that I kept trying and avoided losing 6-0”

Breaks of 63, 79, 124, 93 and 125 put O’Sullivan 5-0 ahead. Lisowski showed his own talent and fluency in frame six with rapid breaks of 57 and 68. But the match was soon over as O’Sullivan converted an excellent pot on a red to a centre pocket early in frame seven to start a break of 59. Lisowski’s chance to counter ended when he went in-off in potting the black, and the elbow bump soon followed.

PlayersChamps2021ROSQF-2World Champion O’Sullivan, seeking his 38th ranking title, has now won all three career meetings with Lisowksi.

I had a good practice session today, I wanted to find something to take out there,” said O’Sullivan. “I got into the match early. I hit a little purple patch, but tomorrow the wheels could fall off and I might not pot a ball for three or four tournaments.

“Jack is an unbelievable talent. He’s a bit like me, he can be really good or a bit loose and open. When he’s on, he’s very dangerous. When I stop playing, if he picks the phone up and asks me if I can add anything to his game, I wouldn’t hesitate. He’s such a nice lad and fans want to see players like Jack do well. All my friends who follow snooker enjoy watching him.

Asked about Stephen Hendry’s return to the tour at next week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, O’Sullivan said: “I support him, he’s a true great of our game. I hope he enjoys it and has some fun. If people want to see him in the game they should support him, and not be on his back if he doesn’t play so well.

“I said to him he shouldn’t expect anything for a long time, because it will take time for him to bed himself in. At some point he’ll get up to speed, but the game has changed, it’s really tough now.

They also shared this funny video

Jack wasn’t exactly slow around the table either in the only frame he won

Ronnie’s postmatch speaking practice, Jack Lisowski, Stephen Hendry’s return, and his semi-finals chances

Ronnie on Hendry

After playing Barry in the 2013 World Final, Ronnie said that this was probably the best he had ever played and for three sessions he couldn’t shake Barry off, so he knows how good Barry is on his day. Ronnie will need to be on his game tonight.




The 2021 Players Championship – Day 3

Yesterday afternoon saw the conclusion of the last 16 round, with John Higgins beating Jordan Brown comprehensively, and Mark Selby getting the better of Mark Williams in rather close match.

Here is WST report:

Higgins Hands Brown A Dose Of Reality

Jordan Brown may have beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan to win his first ranking title last Sunday, but he was no match for another snooker legend at the Cazoo Players Championship as he was thumped 6-0 by John Higgins in the first round.

Brown’s amazing triumph at the BetVictor Welsh Open earned him a place in the field for this week’s 16-man event, but he was outplayed by Higgins who started with three consecutive centuries and showed his opponent no mercy. The Wizard of Wishaw goes through to the quarter-finals to face Mark Selby on Friday afternoon.

Higgins was runner-up to Yan Bingtao at the Betfred Masters in January and the 45-year-old continues to show fresh enthusiasm on the baize as he seeks his first title in three years.

Breaks of 122, 133 and 121 gave the Scot the first three frames as Brown failed to pot a ball, and a run of 57 from Higgins made it 4-0. Frame five came down to the last three colours and Northern Ireland’s Brown potted a long blue but then missed a much easier pink to a baulk corner. Higgins punished him to extend his lead and sealed the result in the sixth with 48 and 53.

“I started really well, made some big breaks, put him under pressure and he never seemed to relax,” said four-time World Champion Higgins. “He is probably thinking of getting back home and seeing his friends and family so it was a difficult match for him today.

I knew he’d still be on such a high, then you are put into the bear pit out there. It’s difficult to bring yourself back down, especially if you have never won anything before. I can’t remember my first ranking title (the 1994 Grand Prix) clearly, except for having a great party for a couple of days afterwards! I have always said you have got to enjoy the victories, though in the current times Jordan can’t do that.”

As for his own game, world number six Higgins added: “I am trying to set up for the same shot repetitively. Mark Selby gives every shot the same detail, and it’s something golfers do as well. I just try little things and hope they work.”

His fellow Scot Stephen Hendry discovered today that he will face Matthew Selt when he makes his long awaited return to the pro tour at next week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, and Higgins will be among those glued to the screen.

“The whole snooker world will tune in,” he said. “Who knows what will happen? It will be interesting. Stephen is obviously excited. It’s the worst possible match for Matt Selt because they are mates and I imagine there will be a lot of banter and text messages beforehand.”

Selby is seeking his third title of the season

Selby came from 2-0 down to beat Mark Williams 6-4 in a battle between two three-time World Champions. Breaks of 98 and 66 helped world number four Selby win three in a row to lead 3-2, then Williams took two fragmented frames to regain the advantage at 4-3.

In frame eight, Williams tried to roll into the pack with his break-off, but left a red on and Selby potted it to initiate a run of 78. That proved the turning point as Leicester’s Selby added the next two with 73 and 64.

“Mark has been playing well recently and he started off great today,” said Selby. “I grafted my way back into it – I wasn’t fantastic but it was all about getting the win. I understand why Mark plays that ‘roll-up’ break off because you often leave a shot-to-nothing with the traditional break. He said he’ll keep doing it until someone wins a frame from it so maybe he’ll stop now!”

What happened to Jordan is not surprising really. He suffered a “hangover” and John explain it perfectly in his interview.

Maybe indeed losing a frame from his “safe” break-off was the shock that derailed Willo.

In the evening, the QF round started and  Barry Hawkins won a match that was all important in the context of his seeding at the Crucible.

Here is the report by WST:

Hawkins – I Needed Kick Up The Backside

Barry Hawkins has rededicated himself to hard work on the practice table this season and his impressive run of results continued with a 6-2 defeat of Stuart Bingham to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Players Championship.

The former world number four has slipped down the rankings in recent years and is currently 18th. But his form has improved this term and tonight’s result leaves him well positioned for a place in the top eight of the one-year list in time for next month’s Cazoo Tour Championship.

Hawkins goes through to play Ronnie O’Sullivan or Jack Lisowski on Friday evening and is just two wins away from the £125,000 top prize in Milton Keynes. He will hope to improve his success rate in ranking semi-finals, having won just seven of his previous 24.

“Dropping down the rankings has given me a goal,” admitted the 41-year-old Londonder.  “I needed a kick up the backside. I have dedicated myself this season and prepared properly for tournaments, rather than being half-hearted. It’s starting to pay off.

“I feel as if I am slowly improving. I have been consistent this season. I’m close to my best but until I win a tournament my confidence will not be sky high.”

From 2-1 down tonight, Hawkins made breaks of 80 and 54 to go 3-2 ahead. Frame six lasted 54 minutes and came down to a long safety battle with two reds left. Hawkins knocked in an excellent long pot on the penultimate red and took the frame, then added the next with a break of 70 for 5-2.

Three-time ranking event winner Hawkins led 40-0 in frame eight when he was unlucky to knock a red in as he split the pack from the blue. But he later made a crucial clearance on the colours, including a superb pot on the brown along the baulk cushion, to seal the result.

“It was a cagey start then the fourth frame was the pivotal moment, I got into the match after that,” said Hawkins. “The rankings issues have been going on in the background and it has been hard to put it out of my mind. It would be great to be at the Crucible at a seed because qualifying is every tough. If I could get into the Tour Championship as well that would be a bonus.”

Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, lies 22nd in the Race to the Crucible so must now hope for a deep run in the BetVictor Gibraltar Open or WST Pro Series, otherwise he’ll face the qualifiers in Sheffield.


The 2021 Gibraltar Open Draw and Format

WST has published the draw and format for the coming 2021 Gibraltar Open. That tournament is actually the last survivor of the PTC era. It’s best of 7 from start to finish, and in a “normal” year it involves amateurs, with the pro stages played over three days.

It will be different this year for obvious reasons. No amateurs other than the top ups and played over seven days on just four tables.

So here is WST announcement:

Hendry To Face Selt On Comeback

Stephen Hendry will play his first professional match for nine years next week when he faces Matthew Selt in the first round of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Hendry has been a friend and mentor to Selt in recent years

The draw for the world ranking event has been made, with the top 16 players seeded and all others drawn at random. Hendry’s opponent Selt is ranked 25th in the world and won the Indian Open in 2019. That match will take place on Tuesday March 2nd at 7pm, televised live by Eurosport. The event will run from March 1st to 7th in Milton Keynes.

Seven-time World Champion Hendry retired from the pro circuit in 2012, but last year accepted the offer of an invitational tour card for two seasons.

The 52-year-old Scot told ITV Sport: “I’m looking forward to it and I am prepared for any result. In practice I am hitting the ball better than I did when I retired, but that means nothing when you are out there. I have no expectations. I have been practising with Matt as we’re friends. He will be under pressure – he can’t lose to me surely!”

The BetVictor Gibraltar Open is the sixth and final event of the 2020/21 BetVictor European Series. The leader of the final Order of Merit will earn a £150,000 bonus. Judd Trump currently leads the way with £124,500, ahead of Mark Selby with £118,000. Selby must reach the final of the Gibraltar event to have a chance of landing the bonus.

Trump, the defending champion, will face Robbie Williams in the first round while Selby will meet Sam Craigie. Jordan Brown also has a chance of winning the bonus but must win the tournament – his first round opponent will be Rod Lawler.

World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Ali Carter while John Higgins will meet teenage rookie Jamie Wilson.

Details of how to watch the tournament on Eurosport and other broadcasters will be released soon.

Stephen Hendry is due to play on the Tuesday evening, Ronnie on the Wednesday evening. It’s fair to say that Ronnie has got a particularly tricky first round match. Neither him, nor Ali will be too happy with this draw I guess.

As for Stephen Hendry, I’m not sure what to expect. He hasn’t really performed on the Seniors tour and the main tour is much harder. On the other hand, he has delayed his return in order to prepare better and avoid embarrassment. I don’t expect him to beat Selt, but I hope that he will not get humiliated. He has to start somewhere…