The 2021 Shoot Out starts tomorrow

The 2021 Shoot Out will start tomorrow, and I don’t know what to expect … it will be weird without a crowd for sure. Michael Holt is the defending champion. No player has defended the title since the tournament started in 2011.

None of the top 3 – Judd Trump, Ronnie and Neil Robertson – have entered.

There have been a few withdrawals, and WST has updated the draw and format

Four players have withdrawn from the BetVictor Shoot Out and have been replaced with a straight swap in the draw with the next players on the Q School 2020 Order of Merit, as follows:

Graeme Dott replaced by Jamie Curtis-Barrett (M6)
Alex Borg replaced by Kuldesh Johal (M63)
Igor Figueiredo replaced by Oliver Brown (M25)
Amine Amiri replaced by Daniel Womersley (M36)

Click here for the updated draw

Click here for the format

Looking at who has withdrawn, my guess is that for most it might be related to travel restrictions.

Junior and female players have been nominated to get a spot in the event:

Eight Nominated for BetVictor Shoot Out

The field for this week’s BetVictor Snooker Shoot Out will once again include eight WPBSA nominations aimed at promoting the development of junior snooker and women’s snooker at the highest level.

Set to run from 4-7 February at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, the unique ranking event tournament will see 128 players battle it out for the £50,000 top prize and a place at next season’s Champion of Champions.

Robbie McGuigan

For a third successive year, eight amateur players have been nominated by the WPBSA to promote grassroots snooker and sport development. All players have been selected from the Home Nations to minimise travel during the ongoing pandemic.

Among those included are England’s Reanne Evans and Rebecca Kenna who both compete on the World Women’s Snooker Tour. Record 12-time champion Evans will make her third appearance in the competition as she takes on China’s Si Jiahui, while world number four Kenna will face Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg.

They will be joined by promising juniors Connor Benzey (England), Dean Young (Scotland), Dylan Emery (Wales), Robbie McGuigan (Northern Ireland) and Fergal Quinn (Northern Ireland). Both Young and McGuigan will be making their second appearances in the event – Young having reached the last 32 last year – while Benzey won his first match in a professional event at this season’s English Open.

Emery was a semi-finalist at last season’s WSF Open in Malta, while Quinn is the current Northern Ireland Under-21 champion.

Competing the line-up will be Northern Ireland’s Declan Lavery after the reigning national champion missed out on competing at this season’s Northern Ireland Open following a positive COVID-19 test in Milton Keynes.

The BetVictor Shoot Out runs from February 4 to 7 in Milton Keynes. Top stars in the field include John Higgins, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy and defending champion Michael Holt.

The popular tournament, which was first staged in 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

Whilst Reanne Evans is very well known by the fans, this isn’t the case for Bex Kenna. WST has gone and interviewed her:

Kenna Ready To Grasp Shoot Out Chance

As a leading player on the World Women’s Tour, a qualified coach and owner of a cue sports shop, it’s fair to say that Rebecca Kenna has a deep love of snooker.

“If I’m not playing or coaching or working in the shop, then I’m watching snooker,” she smiles. “As a child, I often went with my dad to pubs and clubs and played pool and snooker, so if has been there throughout my life. I really enjoy watching and studying the game and the technical side, trying to improve and help others to learn.”

This week’s BetVictor Shoot Out will be a landmark moment for Kenna when she plays in a professional tournament for the first time. The 32-year-old from Yorkshire will face Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg in the first round on the opening day of the world ranking event on Thursday.

She will be one of two women in the 128-player field, alongside Reanne Evans. “It’s great that we get places in these televised events because we need as much publicity as we can get,” said Kenna. “If it helps more girls to get involved in snooker then that’s exactly what we need.”

It won’t be Kenna’s television debut because she played in the 2019 Women’s Tour Championship at the Crucible, broadcast by Freesports. But it’s her first time in the global spotlight as the BetVictor Shoot Out will be beamed to an audience of hundreds of millions across the planet. Each match lasts only ten minutes, but Kenna has spent many hours in preparation.

In action alongside Reanne Evans at the 2019 World Cup

“In more normal times I only practise for one or two hours a day,” she said. “But as my shop is currently closed I have a lot more time, so it’s more like three to four hours. I’ve also been watching a lot of Shoot Out videos on YouTube, just to get a feel for it.

“It will be different this year without a crowd, but maybe that will mean a bit less pressure as I have not played in it before. I’m just really looking forward to the whole experience.”

Kenna first played on the World Women’s Tour in 2016 and made an immediate impact, reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship before losing to Ng On Yee. She has since reached three ranking finals and climbed to fourth in the women’s world rankings.

“It was only when I started competing on the women’s tour in my late 20s that I realised I was pretty good,” she admits. “Up until then I had never had any coaching or even tried any practice drills. Over the last few years I have learned a lot and improved my game. I watch so much snooker because I feel I can learn so much just by studying the top players like Judd Trump and Neil Robertson.”

The BetVictor Shoot Out runs from February 4 to 7 in Milton Keynes. Top stars in the field include John Higgins, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy and defending champion Michael Holt.

The popular tournament, which was first staged in 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

It’s a bit strange that neither World numbers 4 and 5 , Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson, the two highest-ranked players in the draw, are listed as a “top star” … nor is Yan Bingtao who stole all the headlines by winning the 2021 Masters only a couple of weeks ago.

It’s only one frame, with a tight shot-clock and variant rules, so anything can happen, but here is my selection of potentially entertaining matches

M7 – Jack Lisowski v Peter Devlin
M17 – Pang Junxu v Jamie Clarke
M21 – Luo Honghao v Alex Ursenbacher
M22 – Luca Brecel v Shaun Murphy
M33 – Martin Gould v Kurt Maflin
M39 – Yuan Sijun v Tom Ford
M43 – Jamie Jones v Michael Holt
M45 – Mark Allen v Jimmy Robertson
M49 – Allan Taylor v Jackson Page
M52 – Sunny Akani v Dominic Dale