2021 WST Pro Series Phase 2 – Group 1

Ali Carter and Mark Williams boiked their spot into the final stage yesterday.

Here is the report by WST:

Captain Flies Through

Ali Carter topped Group One in the second phase of the WST Pro Series to progress to Sunday’s final stage in Milton Keynes.

The Captain won six of his seven matches today, scoring victories against Louis Heathcote, Sunny Akani, Martin O’Donnell, Ben Hancorn, James Cahill and Lyu Haotian. Carter’s only defeat came 2-0 at the hands of three-time World Champion Mark Williams, who claimed second spot.

Carter, a winner of four ranking titles, has shown signs of strong form recently. He reached the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open, before having to pull out due to illness ahead of a potential blockbuster clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan. Back to full fitness, the world number 24 has since progressed through two Pro Series groups and was the first player to clinch his spot in Sunday’s finale.

Welshman Williams won five out of seven games, but lost 2-1 against Akani and O’Donnell. He crucially recorded a 2-0 win over Cahill in the final game to pull through ahead of O’Donnell on frame difference.

Williams said: “I’m very pleased. It turned out to be a tough group in the end. Martin O’Donnell would have got through if he won 2-0 and I’d lost. He doesn’t know I won 2-0 yet, so he will be sick when he comes off.

I think my game is quite good. I’ve been playing alright for the last few months really. I’m just a little bit inconsistent, I can play really well for a few frames, then can’t pot a ball for two or three frames. That is the way it is, you just have to enjoy the ride. I must be a nightmare for people who support me, because I look a million Dollars for a couple of frames and then about £3.50 for the next couple.

What Williams says there also applies to Ronnie unfortunately. Inconsistency. In the course of matches and from one day to the next. I’m not about this event obviously, as Ronnie clearly didn’t apply himself, but it’s been the story of the season. Some great matches, some right beatings, four finals, no titles.

Screenshot 2021-03-18 at 07.48.30

8 thoughts on “2021 WST Pro Series Phase 2 – Group 1

  1. Yeah I can see where you’re coming from.

    There’s this massive myth that “Ronnie doesn’t do safety” following Selby WC semi, but I distinctly recall he threw caution to the wind to get to 16-16 and then got very businesslike with top class safety in the decider to finish it off.

    I reckon if he had played safe v Brown first at 4-3 and at then in the decider, he’d have got another chance. I usually hesitate to question Ronnie’s decision making because he has proved time and time again that he has both the cojones and ability to sail very close to the wind and get away with it, but I think in the Welsh he just got it wrong.

    I’d hope that if, in some weird eventuality, he ends up 17-17 in a WC final against an underdog, he remembers the Welsh and just plays safe here and there to make the other guy earn it.

    • Ronnie has always play that way: if he sees a chance, he will try to take it, and more often than not he does. His career proves that it’s not a bad policy. There is no certainty that he would have got another chance against Jordan. I remember a match in China, in the decider, he had a shot at a double for victory, missed it and lost. People went up in arms. Asked diuring his press conference he said this (from memory): if I had got it, people would be saying that I’m a genius, now that I missed it, I’m an idiot.

  2. In a way that also was the story at the Worlds, except for the amazing mental fortitude and will to win throughout, accompanied with the realization (especially in the final) that if certain things don’t work he should not attempt them. That’s why I thought a longer match was better for Ronnie, because there was more leeway for the occasional lapses. Now this belief was shaken to the core by the Welsh final, I know, you’ll say I should let it go, but for me that was the low point of the season since which I find it hard to imagine he’ll win any title ever again, but I’m always happy to be surprised and try to condition myself to enjoy the occasional great match without further expectations (not easy, to be frank).

    • I don’t understand why the Welsh final is such a drama for you. Ronnie lost to a much lower ranked player, ok, but that player in that particular tournament played really well. He had beaten Mark Selby at his own game, he had trashed Maguire by 6-1. Part of his success was that he wasn’t expected to win, he had a certain freedom and he has struggled to replicate that form now that he has expectations on his shoulders. More concerning for me is Ronnie’s inconsistency, the great performances mixed with heavy defeats. I’m sure that he will win again, not that often probably, but like Higgins, he will have purple patches and more titles.

      • I think for me the Welsh was also the one that will hurt the most.
        NIO – beaten by Trump, world number one by miles and who hit a 147 that week, not much you can do.
        Scottish – beaten by an in-form Selby out for revenge after humiliation in World semis. Arguably his head wasn’t right all tournament, lots of odd behaviour generally. Worst bit for me was missing a very easy red during a maxi effort in last frame with game more or less over (whether or not he goes for the maxi or a 146 is a different matter, but it showed me his concentration wasn’t there)
        Players Champs – John Higgins totally unplayable that week, don’t think anyone would have beaten him to be honest. Slightly disappointed in how ROS approached the first session, but that’s up to him.

        But the Welsh was one where Ronnie played beautifully all week, always seemed to be able to find the afterburners to put matches away. Get to a final against a guy who was also playing well, even gave him a bit of a head start, yet still ROS managed to get to 7-6 up… and still lost. There was that century to get to 8-8 I thought “here we go, he’ll win from here”… but no (similar to how I thought when he got to 8-8 v Cahill that time!)

        Don’t get me wrong, Jordan Brown deserved the victory but that is why the Welsh was the ‘worst’ of the lot from my perspective. I don’t agree with Csilla that it means he’s somehow washed up/past it and won’t win anything ever again, but it must have hurt way more than the other three. And as you say Monique, inconsistency is the main word here – certainly in Wales he looked to have found something… he was a couple refused safety shots away from the title for me. Again, that’s up to him of course.

        That said, in 25 years of following Ronnie O’Sullivan, you just know he’s got something up his sleeve somewhere, and that’s why we love him. Last season was an absolute shocker and he went and won 71 frames in Sheffield!

      • From memory there was a period last season, albeit late 2019, where everyone who beat Ronnie went on to win the tournament (Robertson in CoC, Trump in NIO, Ding in UK, Selby in Scottish).

        The same has happened this season – Allen in CoC + the 4 finals above. So he’s clearly still “the man to beat” in the top players’ eyes… ie you beat Ronnie, you’ll probably go on to get some silverware shortly afterwards.

        As long as that’s the case, I don’t see any reason to write him off at all – he’s probably the only top player where past results is no measure of future performance!

      • Those were top players, he lost to, Brown was 81. Not that it is unusual for Ronnie to lose to low-ranked players, but it usually happens in early rounds, shorter marches, not in finals. Also, the other two tournaments where he lost finals before the Welsh, were tournaments, where he did not play very well, so in the end it is a testament to his fortitude (and standing) that he actually made it to the final. Not in Wales. Yes, Brown played well, but Ronnie played well at that tournament too, it really looked it clicked for him, showed amazing patience and caution against Williams in that long drawn-out frame, and people expected the final to be quick and sweet for him. I did not expect that, but even with the slow start, he had good chances to go up 7-5 and played amazing to make it 8-8, so he had plenty of opportunities and losing that final just looks too ominous for me.(Hence the drama.) Of course, I certainly don’t wish my gloomy prediction to come true.

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