2021 Crucible – Day 12 – Quarter-finals

The semi-final line-up was decided yesterday and it’s a strong one: three former World Champions and last year runner-up: Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Kyren Wilson.

Here are the reports on the conclusion of each match by WST:

Mark Selby 10-3 Mark Williams

Selby Crushes Williams With Session To Spare

Mark Williams suffered one of his heaviest ever Crucible defeats as he lost 13-3 to Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

Selby is growing stronger as the event progresses and looks every bit the player who lifted the trophy in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He subsequently suffered a loss of confidence, but with the help of renowned psychologist Chris Henry he has rebuilt his mental strength and technical excellence. The 37-year-old Leicester cueman will face Anthony McGill or Stuart Bingham in his seventh Crucible semi-final.

Having beaten Kurt Maflin 10-1 and Mark Allen 13-7, world number four Selby has conceded just 11 frames in reaching the semi-finals. He has made six centuries and 24 more breaks over 50, while keeping his opponents under relentless pressure with his tactical intelligence. A winner of two ranking titles already this season, Selby appears fiercely determined to add to his trophy haul and take the £500,000 top prize.

Welshman Williams is also a three-time champion but has rarely been as comprehensively outplayed in Sheffield. Only a 13-3 reverse against Ding Junhui in 2016 and a 10-2 defeat against Matthew Stevens in 2015 can compare to today’s scoreline. The 46-year-old was outstanding in a second round win over John Higgins, but couldn’t make the step up to Selby’s standard.

Selby led 6-2 overnight and soon extended that to 10-2 today with top breaks of 96, 58 and 66. Williams pulled one back with a run of 79, and needed another frame to ensure the match would go to a concluding session on Wednesday night, but could not avoid that ignominy. Runs of 48, 50 and 54 helped Selby to finish the contest and he now has the rest of the day to recuperate.

I felt great from start to finish – I have done since the start of the event,” said Selby. “It’s nice to produce that out in the arena. I watched Mark play John Higgins and he played great, although John wasn’t at his best. I knew it would be a tough match but I was on my game. It’s nice not to have any stress tonight, I’d much rather have the night off than be going out there again at 8-8.

Hopefully I can sustain the same level and in a few days time win a fourth world title. But I’m not getting ahead of myself because I need to keep playing the same way. I will try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I don’t mind who I play next, when you are at the table it doesn’t matter who is in the other seat. If anything this means more to me because I know the feeling of being last man standing. That makes me want to go out and do it again.”

Williams said: “I was totally outplayed, I knew it was over once it got to 10-2. If Mark plays like that then no one can stop him.”

I don’t think that Willo fancied coming back in the evening either. The feeling I had is that he took the first for pride, and then just went through the motions. To his own admission, he didn’t believe he could still win and there was no fight left in him.

Mark Selby has been scary good from day one this Championship. He will take some beating.

Stuart Bingham 13-12 Anthony McGill

Bingham Makes Decider Ton To Edge McGill

Stuart Bingham made what he described as the best break of his career to beat Anthony McGill 13-12, setting up a semi-final with Mark Selby at the Betfred World Championship.

When it mattered most, Bingham compiled a fantastic run of 125 to finish a thrilling contest in style and reach the one-table situation in Sheffield for only the second time. The first was in 2015 when he went all the way to the title.

Bingham has now made two match-winning breaks at the Crucible this year, having beaten Ding Junhui 10-9 in the first round with a run of 70 in the decider

Having come through two matches just to make it to the Crucible, world number 18 Bingham is aiming to become the third qualifier to lift the trophy at the Theatre of Dreams, following Terry Griffiths in 1979 and Shaun Murphy in 2005.

Basildon’s 44-year-old Bingham is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in over two years and now meets three-time champion Selby over a possible 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be their first match at the Crucible.

McGill knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round by a 13-12 scoreline but couldn’t repeat the trick. Remarkably, five of his last seven Crucible matches have gone to a deciding frame and he has now lost two of those, heaving suffered a 17-16 reverse in the semi-finals against Kyren Wilson last year.

Glasgow’s McGill won the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 106 to go 10-7 ahead. He had first chance in the next frame but missed the black off its spot on 7, and that proved a turning point as Bingham took four frames in succession with runs of 75, 51, 90 and 91.

World number 16 McGill had a scoring chance in frame 22 but went in-off as he potted a red on 19, which handed Bingham the chance to make 41 and go 12-10 up. Bingham had match-winning opportunities in each of the next two frames, but couldn’t make the most of them as gritty McGill fought his way back to 12-12.

And the Scot had the first opportunity of the decider, but after making 11 he was desperately unlucky not to land on a red after smashing into the pack off the brown. After a brief safety exchange, Bingham slotted a mid-range red into a  top corner and was never out of position as he made his fourth century of the match and tenth of the tournament.

“At 12-10 I went into the reds and landed on nothing,” said Bingham, winner of six ranking titles. “After that I felt it wasn’t going to happen for me. Fair play to Anthony he came back strong to go 12-12. Luckily for me he didn’t fall on anything in the decider. My break was the best of my career.

Last night I had a great sleep because I was so drained. I was a bit gutted to be 9-7 behind but I felt I hadn’t done much wrong. I have lost a lot of deciders this year and that can make or break your season. But this time I held myself together and maybe that’s a good omen.

My game is getting stronger and hopefully I can keep scoring heavily. The emotion is coming out now when I think about playing on the single table for the first time in six years. It’s a totally different atmosphere. I will enjoy every second.”

McGill said: “I didn’t play that well today and Stuart played brilliant. I wish I could have put a bit more pressure on him. One part of my game I don’t doubt is my bottle. I made a great dish at 12-10, and then held my nerve for 12-12. In the last frame I couldn’t have hit the brown any better, but I didn’t finish on a red. I have played a lot of good stuff here, my game is so good right now. I won’t let today’s result get me down. What I am doing is working, I am going in the right direction.

Anthony McGill’s previous match could have ended in a defeat if Ronnie had not got a kick on a red when in on 37 in the decider, this one could have ended in victory had he landed on a red after potting that great brown. That’s snooker for you. Sometimes the snooker gods smile on you, sometimes they don’t…

Stuart played like he did in 2015 en route to the title. If he can maintain this level, he certainly has a good chance this year as well.

Kyren Wilson 13-8 Neil Robertson

Wilson – I Can Win Title

Last year’s Crucible runner-up Kyren Wilson came from 5-2 down to score a 13-8 win over Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship, then stated his belief that he can lift the trophy.

Wilson beat Judd Trump at the same stage last year and once again got the better of one of the giants of the game to reach the one-table situation. He has appeared in at least the quarter-finals for six consecutive years and is now through to his third semi. Wilson lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final last year; the only thing he has to do to prove his Crucible pedigree is to go one step further and lift the trophy.

The 29-year-old from Kettering certainly has the all-round game and self-belief to go all the way, having outplayed Robertson throughout the second and third sessions. His next opponent will be Trump or Shaun Murphy.

Australia’s Robertson came to Sheffield at the top of his game having won the UK Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship this season, but once again was not able to produce his free-flowing best on the biggest stage. The 2010 champion has not reached the semi-finals since 2014.

World number six Wilson made a 133 in the opening frame today to take a 9-8 lead. Robertson had first chance in frame 18 but made only 23. He didn’t score another point until he was 11-8 down as Wilson made breaks of 59 and 62 to extend his lead.

Wilson got the better of a fragmented 20th frame to make it 12-8 at the interval, then sealed victory in the next with a run of 84.

I am delighted to get over the line,” said Wilson. “Today I focussed on what was at stake and what I needed to do. I channelled the positive thoughts and went for it. The century in the first frame today got me motoring. Neil can go off into the distance if you let him so I had to put a stop to that and make him think. He can go into his shell sometimes. When he is scoring fluently he is probably the best player in the world so I had to neutralise that.

I wasn’t going to hand him the table and say mop them up. I was going to try to make him earn it and work for it. Neil started the match strongly, he had his scoring boots on. I had to get the best result I could out of the first session, and to be 5-3 down and then 8-8 last night gave me a great opportunity going into today.

Last year Judd was tipped to win the event and I managed to beat him, this time Neil was tipped for it and I have knocked him out. I believe in what I can do, I can beat anyone on my day. I don’t see the point in being in this sport to just turn up for the money and say quarter-finals will do. If I lose in the semi-finals I will go away from here annoyed, it wouldn’t be good enough. I want to push on and I believe I can win it.

World number three Robertson said: “I wasn’t able to reproduce the form I showed in the last few weeks. It has still been a brilliant season, it’s just a shame I couldn’t finish it on the single table here.

I feel I lost it in the second session yesterday. Not every session is going to be free flowing, certain players will make it tough and Kyren did that very well against me. I wasn’t good enough to keep the game open. I allowed the frames to go on for too long and that knocked me out of my rhythm.

Kyren got stronger and stronger as the match unfolded. He was well outplayed in the first session, came back strong in the second and won the last by 5-0. He’s full of self-belief.

For Neil is was another disappointing run at the Crucible, a venue he doesn’t like in the early rounds because it’s too small and cramped.

I don’t like the venue, from a technical point of view it’s very difficult for me to walk into my shot properly, it’s actually almost impossible to do,’ Robertson told talkSPORT.

I know other players do struggle with it.

‘To get to the one-table set-up I need to negotiate that and it’s something that I have to work on.

Whether it’s change my technique slightly so I’m not always backing into those walls.

I know a lot of players don’t like the set-up, it’s very cramped, not much room. If you put the white in the jaws of the yellow pocket you can’t really play the shot without sitting on that table.

It’s just something I have to deal with, it’s just on me, no excuses.

Indeed, he’s not the only one struggling with this cramped and rather claustrophobic theatre.

Shaun Murphy 13-11 Judd Trump

Murphy Stuns Trump To Reach Semis

Shaun Murphy scored one of his best Crucible wins since he won the title 16 years ago as he beat world number one Judd Trump 13-11 in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

Going into Wednesday’s play, many would have anticipated a Trump against Neil Robertson semi-final, but both favourites lost on a day of surprises at the Crucible. Murphy was hauled back from 10-6 to 11-11 but came good in the last two frames, and will now meet Kyren Wilson who knocked out Robertson.

World number seven Murphy is through to the semi-finals for the fifth time in his career and first since 2015 when he lost to Stuart Bingham in the final. The Dublin-based cueman has had a disappointing season, reaching just one other ranking semi-final, but has found his trademark sweet ball striking in Sheffield. Memories of 2005 when he beat Matthew Stevens in the final will now come flooding back for the 38-year-old.

Trump has had a tremendous season, winning five titles and stretching his lead at the top of the world rankings, but finishes on a low note. He was far from his fluent best in his three matches and missed too many balls over his three sessions against Murphy.

Trailing 10-6 going into the last session, Trump got the start he needed by taking the first two frames to close the gap to 10-8. Frame 19 came down to a safety battle on the last red, resolved when Murphy converted a tricky pot to a baulk corner and cleared to go 11-8 ahead.

The 20th was also settled on the last red and this time it was Trump who rolled it into a centre pocket and added the points he needed to narrow the gap to two frames. After the interval, Murphy had first clear chance in frame 21 and made 20 before missing a straight-forward red to a top corner, raising his hands in the air in a sign of frustration. Trump punished him with 67 to close to 11-10, then made a superb break of 111 to level the tie for the first time since 6-6.

In frame 23, Trump made 9 before missing a tricky thin-cut black to a top corner, and Murphy’s excellent 70 restored his advantage at 12-11.  Nine-time ranking event winner Murphy looked to be cruising over the line in the 24th until he missed a tough red to a baulk corner on 62. Trump had a chance to counter but made only 14 before wobbling a red in the jaws of a top corner, which proved his last shot.

Murphy said: “It was epic, it was a really high quality match. I’m just thrilled to take the chances in the last two frames having taken an onslaught before that.  Between sessions I was watching the other match on TV, then they were talking about our game and Stephen Hendry said ‘I expect Judd Trump to come out and play like a world number one.’ I was thinking ‘I don’t want that!’ But the way Judd started tonight was outrageous.

I’m not an O’Sullivan, a Williams or a Higgins where runs to semis and finals of this event are commonplace. My career has taken a different path. These matches are a big deal. I will savour it because Judd has been the best player on the planet for the last two years. I have won a match that nobody expected me to win.

Without doubt it’s one of my best wins of recent years. Judd threw everything at me. But at 11-11 it was the calmest I felt all night because the equation was simple, I still had to win two frames. I have played enough of those matches to know that I will get a chance, I just had to be patient.

The Crucible has been a house of horrors for me to come back to every year since 2015. I had only won two matches here in the last five years. Usually I’d be at home now watching it on the sofa so I’m very excited to be here.

Kyren and I grew up close together, I was in Irthlingborough and he was in Kettering, and there’s an intense rivalry between those two towns, though Kyren and I get on very well, we have practised a lot together. He is now a course and distance runner here, he builds his whole life around performing well here. It’s going to be tough.

Trump, who won the title in 2019, said: “I just couldn’t get going. Shaun played amazing in the second session and built a strong lead. I had kind of given up, but then Shaun really struggled tonight and at 11-11 I was in full control until I missed the black and let him back with an easy chance. That shot summed up the whole match for me. It’s disappointing because I felt it was mine to lose at that point.

I had a lot of support and it was amazing to feel the energy of the room, that was the only thing that kept me going because I was poor all day. I tried to dig in and find something but I couldn’t get into a rhythm and missed too many easy balls.”

Semi-finals, best of 33 frames
Stuart Bingham v Mark Selby (starts 1pm Thursday)
Shaun Murphy v Kyren Wilson (starts 7pm Thursday) 

For once Judd isn’t blaming bad luch for his defeat which is refreshingly positive.

Judd was also asked to give his views regarding the outcome of the semi-finalsand here they are reported by Phil Haigh:

First looking at Selby and Bingham, Judd dismissed the idea that it would be a one-sided contest like Selby’s quarter-final in which he hammered Mark Williams 13-3.

It’s tough to predict, Stuart made an amazing break earlier in that decider,’ Trump said of Bingham’s epic 13-12 win over Anthony McGill in the last eight.

Mark Selby wasn’t really tested against Mark Williams, he didn’t put up much of a fight, he just kind of rolled over.

It’s hard to tell just how well he is actually playing.

Stuart’s someone who actually loves being back at the Crucible and being in the semi-finals, you can see how much it means to him so I think it will be a completely different game.

Trump wouldn’t quite go far as predicting the second semi-final either, in fact he said it is a very difficult one to forecast as Murphy is not entirely reliable when it comes to his form.

The Magician was immense in the middle session of his win over Trump, but less so before and after.

Kyren and Shaun, I have no idea,’ said Judd. ‘It depends what Shaun turns up. If the middle session Shaun turns up it wouldn’t surprise me if he blows him away, but Kyren can put you out of your rhythm.

He [Kyren]’s a great player, great battler. He did what he needed to do against Neil [Robertson], just put him out of his rhythm, grinded him.

I think it’s a fair assessment of the matches ahead.

The only thing I disagree with in this article is once again the “shock defeat” tag. There was no shock. Judd had not been playing well for some time and Shaun is a former World Champion and a true showman. He loves the limelights and it motivates him big time to play at the Crucible.

2021 Crucible – The Day 11 story

No match concluded on the first day of the quarter-finals, but a bizarre and rather uncomfortable story emerged.

Indeed Reanne Evans, who works as a pundit for the BBC, was briefly asked to leave the studio – where she was doing her job – at the request of her ex-partner Mark Allen.

Snooker pundit Reanne Evans kicked out of the studio after her ex complained she was distracting him

Snooker pundit Reanne Evans, 35, (pictured) was told to leave the studio at the World Championships by BBC chiefs on April 20 after her ex, who was set to play, labelled her a distraction
Snooker pundit Reanne Evans, 35, (pictured) was told to leave the studio at the World Championships by BBC chiefs on April 20 after her ex, who was set to play, labelled her a distraction

A snooker pundit was told to leave the studio by BBC chiefs after her ex, who was set to play, labelled her a distraction.

Reanne Evans, 35, was set to join a live discussion at the World Championships before being hooked on April 20.

The BBC studio was next to the practice area, where her ex, Mark Allen, had been preparing for his upcoming match against China’s Lyu Haotian.

Presenter Radzi Chinyanganya and Evans, who is the women’s world snooker champion, were preparing for the start of the show when world no 13 Allen complained that Evans was a ‘distraction’.

After a discussion between World Snooker Tour officials and her producers, Evans agreed to leave.

The BBC said: ‘For the sake of ten minutes, Reanne left the players’ practice room so Mark Allen could practise before his match without distraction upon his request.’

The broadcaster also said that Evans’ broadcast commitments had not been affected by the incident.

Record 12-times women’s world champion Evans, who is currently battling Allen for maintenance for their 14-year-old daughter, was reported to have been ’embarrassed’.

Speaking about his plea for Evans to leave, Allen said that there had been several cases of other players asking officials for people to be removed while they were practising.

Allen (pictured) said afterwards that there had been several examples of other players requesting for people to leave while they were practising
Allen (pictured) said afterwards that there had been several examples of other players requesting for people to leave while they were practising

‘I’m not sure why there is a fuss about this one,’ he added.

MailOnline has approached the World Snooker Tour (WST) for comment.

Mark Allen was knocked out of the competition on Monday after being beaten by Mark Selby.

Following his defeat, Allen said he is planning on having ‘a bit of break’ from snooker in order to address some personal issues, the BBC reports.

Speaking after his defeat, Allen said: ‘There’s numerous things going on off the table which I’d rather not talk about.

‘I will come back but I can’t see me coming back any time soon.’

He added that it is difficult to compete against the best in the world without having a clear head to focus on his game.

Later Hector Nunns came on twitter to share his own views about the incident.


Hector is asking the right questions there.

Whilst I’m sure that there were cases of people removed from the practice room because their behaviour was causing distraction, I doubt that it ever happened to a pundit in the nearby studio. For all we know she was doing her job and was not bothering anyone.

It was very likely World Snooker Tour’s decision but why? For me, they should have told Mark Allen to mind his own business and get on with it instead pandering to his whim. Would they have asked Steve Davis or John Parrott to leave if it had come into Mark’s mind that they are a “distraction” for whatever reason? I strongly doubt it. This is setting a dangerous precedent.

That said, it’s obvious that Mark Allen isn’t in good place at the moment. He has several private issues to sort out, and not just with Reanne. He needs time out of the game to sort them out, and sort himself out as well. I hope he gets the help he needs but I stand by the opinion that I expressed above: Reanne should have stayed and been allowed to do her job. If Mark wasn’t happy he had the choice to leave the practice room himself.

2021 Crucible – Day 10

This is what happened yesterday, on the last day of the last 16 round. All reports by WST.

Stuart Bingham 13-6 Jamie Jones

Bingham Blitzes To Quarter-finals

Stuart Bingham required just 43 minutes to wrap up a 13-6 defeat of Jamie Jones and reach the last eight of the Betfred World Championship.

World number 18 Bingham is aiming to make history by becoming only the third qualifier in history to win the title at the Crucible. Terry Griffiths achieved the feat back in 1979, while Shaun Murphy was the most recent qualifier to claim the trophy back in 2005. Asian number one Ding Junhui made the final as a qualifier in 2016, but was runner-up to Mark Selby.

This is the first time Bingham has required the qualifiers since 2011, after dropping out of the world’s top 16 this season. He defeated Belgium’s Luca Brecel 10-5 on Judgement Day to clinch a Crucible place.

Next up for 2015 World Champion Bingham is an intriguing showdown with Scotland’s Anthony McGill, who reached the quarter-finals courtesy of an epic 13-12 win over defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. Basildon cueman Bingham and McGill are level in their head to head, at 2-2.

Defeat ends a positive season for Jones, who only returned to the World Snooker Tour via Q School last year. He went on a run to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open before Christmas, as well as coming through qualifying to reach the Crucible. Jones beat Li Hang on Judgement Day and recorded a fine 10-4 defeat of Stephen Maguire in round one.

Bingham came into this afternoon’s concluding session 10-6 ahead. He wasted little time in getting himself over the line. Breaks of 111, 68 and 102 saw him sweep to the first three frames of the afternoon to complete the 13-6 victory.

Coming through the qualifiers has definitely helped me. In the first match I was confident. Normally being in the 16 you have to wait three or four weeks between the end of the season and the World Championship. Going there and getting the confidence by winning matches, you can’t buy that. I was ready more or less from the first ball in round one,” said 44-year-old Bingham.

I’m not sure what my record is with Anthony. I remember all the losses and I’m not sure if I have actually beat him. He is a class act. He’s happy in himself with the way he is playing. It was a great last two frames to get over the line against Ronnie, so I’m expecting a tough game.

I always think you should play to your strengths and you look at Mark Williams with his carefree attitude. I know if I have a chance to win matches it is because of my scoring. I have to take my chances and go from there.

Judd Trump 13-8 David Gilbert

Trump Into Last Eight – And Building Form

Tournament favourite Judd Trump hopes he is gradually moving towards the top of his game as he made four centuries in a 13-8 defeat of David Gilbert to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

The world number one has not been at his magnificent best at the Crucible so far, but has had more than enough firepower to see off the challenges of Liam Highfeld and Gilbert. Trump may face a tougher assignment in the next round against Shaun Murphy – if the 2005 champion can convert a 10-6 lead over Yan Bingtao into victory on Monday night.

Trump is through to the quarter-finals at the Crucible for the fourth time in a row, and eighth in total

Bristol’s Trump has been snooker’s dominant force over the past 30 months, winning 14 ranking titles in that period, while no other player has landed more than six. He captured his first Crucible crown in 2019 and now hopes to double his tally.

The key part of Trump’s match with Gilbert was the second half of the first session and the whole of the second, as he came from 3-1 down to lead 11-5, making top breaks of 114, 105 and 111.

World number 15 Gilbert took the first frame of the concluding session with a break of 68 to close the gap. In frame 18, Trump made 45 before running out of position, and his opponent made an excellent 79 clearance to raise his hopes of a fight back.

Trump regained the momentum with a run of 107 to go 12-7 ahead. He might have sealed the result in the 20th but missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when trailing 49-12. But Trump clinched victory in the next frame by getting the better of a safety battle on the colours, potting yellow, green and brown to get over the line.

In the 1990s, Stephen Hendry was renowned for gathering steam over the early rounds, and Trump hopes he is on a similar trajectory. “It’s a long tournament, we are not even half way through and it’s very difficult to play well for 17 days,” said the 31-year-old. “Hopefully I am saving my best for the coming week. Now is the time to find my form and feel comfortable out there.

I don’t feel as if I played well against David, but my scoring is there and I can’t be too critical of myself. My brother told me I am playing solid snooker. I will take any win against David because it was a tough second round draw. There are so many players looking good and a lot of the quarter-finals matches will be 50/50 games.

Trump admits that if he faces Murphy next, he’ll be up against a dangerous opponent. “Shaun hasn’t had a great season but he is due a run, and he loves the limelight and being centre of attention here,” he added. “He still plays like a kid, and when the balls are going in it is intimidating to play against. You can’t feel comfortable against him because nothing is safe.”

Judd indeed didn’t play well. David Gilbert seems to continue to struggle when the pressure mounts. It’s a shame given his ability.

Shaun Murphy 13-7 Yan Bingtao

Murphy Sets Up Trump Showdown

Shaun Murphy swept Yan Bingtao aside 13-7 to set up a last eight clash with Judd Trump at the Betfred World Championship.

Today’s victory sees Murphy reach the quarter-finals at the Theatre of Dreams for the first time since he was runner-up to Stuart Bingham in 2015.

The 38-year-old Englishman is now three wins away from a second career Crucible crown and a first in 16 years. His only World Championship title to date came after he defeated Matthew Stevens in the 2005 final.

The Magician will immediately turn his attention to a mouth-watering encounter with world number one Trump in the quarter-finals. Murphy trails Trump 10-7 in the head-to-head, but he can take confidence from having won their last two meetings at the 2020 Masters and the 2020 Welsh Open.

China’s Yan will be able to reflect on a season which saw him make his major breakthrough at the Betfred Masters, where he defeated four-time World Champion John Higgins 10-8 in an epic final to claim a maiden Triple Crown title.

Murphy came into this evening’s concluding session 10-6 ahead and it didn’t take long for him to move further in front.

Breaks of 65 and 59 helped him move one from victory at 12-6. Yan showed his class by firing in a run of 71 to stay in contention. However, Murphy took the 20th frame to wrap up the win.

I’m really excited about it (playing Judd Trump) to be honest. If you are going to win tournaments like this, they all have to get knocked out at some stage. It may as well be in the next two days,” said nine-time ranking event winner Murphy.

“Judd looks like somebody who is building throughout the event. That is what the greats always did in the 90s and early 2000s. For me, I hope that I’m able to withstand the barrage of attack that is likely to come.

I’ve come here with a renewed gratitude for the position I’m in as a sportsman and for each and every one of the fans who have come here this week. I’m grateful they have all turned up and it really has added something to my game.

As a nine-year-old boy, I came here and lived the dream as a massive snooker fan. That is what got me hooked on the game. I came to this very building as a child and my love affair with snooker started. So to come here last year and play to nobody was very challenging. Although the Crucible isn’t full yet, it is better to play to somebody than to play to nobody.

Mark Selby 13-7 Mark Allen

Selby Completes Record Quarter-Final Line-Up

Mark Selby’s 13-7 win over Mark Allen at the Betfred World Championship means that there will be six former Crucible kings in the quarter-finals for the first time.

Selby pulled away from 8-6 to win five of the last six frames against Allen and book a place in the last eight in Sheffield for the ninth time. Next he will face Mark Williams, both three-time champions, while former winners Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson are also in a tremendous quarter-final draw:

Stuart Bingham v Anthony McGill
Mark Williams v Mark Selby
Neil Robertson v Kyren Wilson
Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy

Picking up where he left off in a 10-1 thumping of Kurt Maflin in round one, world number four Selby once again looked in full control against 13th seed Allen. He made three centuries and nine more breaks over 50 while outmanoeuvring his opponent on the tactical front. Having won two ranking titles this season as well as reaching at least the semi-finals of four others, Selby has self-belief in abundance as he looks to add to the titles he won in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The Leicester cueman won the first frame of the concluding session to go 10-6 ahead. Allen trailed 55-22 in frame 17 when he knocked in a long red and cleared with 50 to keep his hopes alive. the Northern Irishman had a similar chance in the next from 59-5 behind, but missed the brown to a baulk corner which handed Selby the chance to go 11-7 up.

That ended Allen’s resistance as Selby made a 132 to move to the verge of victory then dominated frame 20 to finish the contest.

I started off playing as well as I did in the first round,” said 37-year-old Selby. “My scoring was good. I knew if I wasn’t on top of my game I would have been going home. If you are making breaks over 50 every frame you won’t lose many.

It’s an incredible line-up, probably the strongest for many years. It will be tough to win it, so if I managed to do that it would have to be up there with my best achievements. I’m looking forward to playing Mark. I get on well with him, he’s a great lad and a fantastic player.  Hopefully it will be a good game for the fans.

Allen said: “I thought I was in with a chance at 8-6. The last frame yesterday was important because 9-6 was hard to come back from. Mark’s safety throughout the whole match was some of the best I have ever seen. He is granite.

Eventually there have been very few close matches in the second round. Other than the Ronnie v McGill match, only Kyren Wilson v Barry Hawkins was close.

The quarter-finals should be hard fought … hopefully!

The class of 92 … Two interviews

No match was played to a finish yesterday at the Crucible… Nothing to report on day 9 then. I’ll take the ooportunity to share these two  interviews, both some days old.

Ronnie about the “Class of 92”

World Snooker Championship 2021: ‘They’ve inspired me to keep playing’ – Ronnie O’Sullivan exclusive

John Higgins and Mark Williams meet for the fifth time at the World Championship in the last 16, an astonishing 22 years after they first collided at the Crucible in the 1999 semi-finals. The duo turned professional alongside world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as part of the sport’s fabled Class of ’92. O’Sullivan explains why their ongoing success has inspired him to scrap any plans for retirement.

Snooker’s enduring Class of ‘92 graduated with honours at the Crucible Theatre over two decades ago, but the timeless triumvirate continue to display a true passion for life-long learning.

For Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams, three masters in green baize geometry, every day is a school day.

“If they (Higgins and Williams) see me doing well, they know I’m nothing special,” said O’Sullivan. “We’re all just human beings. They’re both fantastic snooker players, but none of us have got some superpower going on.

We’ve grew up together, we respect each other’s games, we know each other capabilities. I just think we feed off each other and get inspired by each other.

With 13 world titles between them over the past 29 years, and two over the past three years in Sheffield, the holy trinity of cue sports, an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman, continue to thrive and survive at the elite echelons of the sport in quite inimitable style in their 40s. Still enjoying the golden view from the ridge when lesser cueists are over the hill.

They may share the same years as the 45th Crucible tournament they are chasing, but are hardly flagging with all three safely ensconced inside the world’s top 12, safer than a Higgins shot to nothing.

World number two O’Sullivan’s standing in the rankings is only bettered by Judd Trump, who is eyeing a staggering sixth triumph in the season of social distancing, but others covet the game’s crowning glory.

Williams and Higgins will collide at the Crucible over the best-of-25 frames on Friday (LIVE on Eurosport at 2:30pm) and Saturday in the last 16 for the fifth time since they turned professional in 1992.

All three had lifted their first world titles between 1998 and 2001, but their duels form the rich fabric of green baize folklore as much as the Bayeux Tapestry tells you of Norman conquest minus Mark Davis from Hastings.

Williams enjoyed victories over Higgins in the 1999 (17-10) and 2000 (17-15) semi-finals and the 2018 (18-16) final respectively with Higgins completing a memorable 17-14 win in the 2011 semi-finals on his passage to a fourth world title. Fittingly, they are level on 11 wins each in career ranking duels.

O’Sullivan made off with his first world title courtesy of an 18-14 victory over Higgins in the 2001 final, but has numerous memories of facing both men on the grandest stage, the most recent of which saw him complete a 13-10 success against Williams in the quarter-finals on his sojourn to a sixth world title last August.

My biggest two rivals have been Higgins and Williams,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “We’re very different. Me and Williams have got more of a shot-making style.

We make the game up as we go along while Higgins is more in the style of Steve Davis. Very robotic, tough to play against and can tie you up in knots.

It’s weird because John plays well against me, I play well against Williams, but he plays well against John.

It is almost like our styles contrast. If I could use Mark Williams’ style against John Higgins, I’d probably get a lot more success against him.

If Mark Williams could use John Higgins’ style against me it would be the same… it’s really funny how the dynamics work out, but all three of us have kept each other going in many ways. Whenever one has been down, they probably get inspired by the other one.

O’Sullivan revealed witnessing Williams end a 15-year wait to lift his third world title in 2018 with his epic win over Higgins, who had restored parity at 15-15 from 14-7 behind, inspired him to an 18-8 win over Kyren Wilson in last year’s final.

I know there have been times where I’ve sat there and thought: ‘They’re doing alright against the odds’,” confessed O’Sullivan.

When Williams won the world title in 2018, I sat back and thought: ‘He can do it so surely I can do it’. I think he’s a few months older than me so I think we all give each a bit of belief. I’m sure John and Mark feel the same way.”

Williams celebrated his 46th birthday by claiming the 23rd ranking event of his career at the inaugural WST Pro Series event last month before reaching the final of the Championship League a week later to leave himself mentally attuned for the Crucible.

A 10-4 win over qualifier Sam Craigie in the first round saw him secure another joust with Higgins, who won six straight frames from 7-4 behind in a 10-7 win over Tian Pengfei.

Williams has been fantastic to watch in the past few tournaments. I thought: ‘you are dusting these young guys up’,” commented O’Sullivan.

You are trashing them. The way Williams is playing at the moment, he’s a match for anyone because he’s enjoying it and a snooker player enjoying his snooker is a dangerous opponent.

He’s got great temperament, his potting ability is amazing and his break-building has improved a lot over the past two or three years. I’d say he is a much better all-round player than when he first came on the scene.

We all develop as pros. You start a bit rough round the edges and you develop. Your style improves because you have to adapt and reinvent yourself.

Higgins has done that recently by changing something. You are always doing that and you hope those changes can make you a better player.

That is what Mark has done. He can play any game. If you want to play safe: ‘yeah, if you want to score points, yeah, I’m cool with it..’

You know when you to pick and choose your battles and just play in a philosophical way. I’m not sure John could do what Mark is doing because they are different styles of players.

Mark is playing with a tremendous amount of freedom, but I’m not sure that would work for John because he’s a different type of player. But if John gets in the groove and is enjoying his snooker, you don’t want to play him.

All being well, all three will celebrate 30 years at the summit next year with O’Sullivan conveying the message that diehards should enjoy them while they can.

Apart from Trump, O’Sullivan feels the field has not been sharp enough to bury the Class of ’92, who share the same moniker as Manchester United’s glorious era of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, with almost 2,500 centuries assembled on the baize .
He is still shocked Higgins lost 10-8 to Yan Bingtao in the Masters final in January. O’Sullivan ran in two centuries and a 97 in a 6-3 defeat to Higgins in the last eight with the Players champion totting up three centuries of his own.
It’s amazing to still be competing,” said O’Sullivan. “I just think we played in an era in the 1980s when snooker was so popular.
You had no mobile phones back then so you had to focus and concentrate. You were surrounded by really fantastic players.
I just don’t think you will see that level of player coming through again.

You might see a good crop of players, and in-depth they’re quite good today, but I doubt you will see a John Higgins or Mark Williams type of player again.

Alright, we’ve got Judd Trump, but he’s the only one, but other than that you look down and there is nobody showing that type of snooker ability or snooker brain.

There’s just no one. Yeah, there are good players, but if Higgins or Williams play 80 percent of their game, there is still only Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and possibly Mark Selby who can beat them.

Anybody else won’t get near them. I know Bingtao beat Higgins in the Masters final, but if Higgins had played consistently steady throughout that final I have no doubt he’d have won that 10-6 or 10-5 because he is just a superior player.

It was perhaps Mark Twain, definitely not Mark ‘The Royal’ King, who was misquoted as suggesting excellence in billiards being the sign of a misspent youth. For the enduring Class of ’92, and those watching under face masks at the Crucible, it has been time well misspent.

Desmond Kane

Snooker’s enduring Class of ’92

Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) John Higgins (Sco) Mark Williams (Wal)
Born: 5 December 1975 Born: 18 May 1975 Born: 21 March 1975
World titles (6): 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020 World titles (4): 1998, 2007, 2009, 2011 World titles (3): 2000, 2003, 2018
UK (7): 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2014, 2017, 2018 UK (3): 1998, 2000, 2010 UK (2): 1999, 2002
Masters (7): 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2017 Masters (2): 1999, 2006 Masters (2): 1998, 2004

Willo about the “Class of 92”

Mark Williams looks back on 30-year John Higgins rivalry ahead of World Snooker Championship clash

World Snooker Championship - Day Sixteen
John Higgins and Mark Williams meet at the World Championship once again this year (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams has looked back on his epic rivalry with John Higgins which dates back over 30 years ahead of their second round clash at the World Snooker Championship which starts on Friday.

Two members of the legendary Class of ’92, Williams and Higgins have been playing professionally for 29 years, but have been battling it out for even longer than that, going right back to their junior days.

They have gone on to win seven World Championship titles since then, with Higgins claiming four and Williams notching up his third in the epic 2018 final against his old foe from Scotland.

Some have labelled that final the greatest in Crucible history after Williams came away with an 18-16 victory after a fantastic tussle of the highest quality.

The Welsh Potting Machine described that final as the best match he’s ever been involved in, but he remembers the scraps with Higgins on the baize from 30 years prior.

‘I was playing in the juniors with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Chris Scanlon, Jonathan Saunders, all them people,’ explained Williams.

He [Higgins] wasn’t about then, he came a bit later, I’d sort of known him properly from the [1991] Mita World Masters, he beat me in the final of the juniors 6-1. He got £5,000 and I had £3,000.

I played him a week later in the British Under-16 final and I beat him 4-0, I had £300 and he had £150 so I was a week late really.

Since then I’ve been playing him almost all the time really, since qualifiers in Blackpool all the way through the juniors, qualifiers and the main tour. 30-odd years on we’re still playing which is unbelievable in any sport to keep that rivalry going so long.’

The levels of respect between the three superstars of the Class of 92 are immense, although Williams, Higgins and O’Sullivan are not close pals off the table.

The Welshman pays his old rivals the highest compliment, though, describing them as the top two players ever to play the game.

Not really,’ said Williams of a relationship with Higgins off the table. ‘I’ve got the utmost respect for him.

‘For me he’s the second best player in the world. Ronnie’s the best I’ve ever seen, he’s the second best I’ve ever seen.

‘I see him only at tournaments really, but as a rival we’ve been going for 30-odd years. Every time we play it’s a special occasion. We’re not getting any younger, we don’t know how many times we’re going to keep meeting but it’s fantastic.

‘Playing again on Friday over three sessions, if you can’t get up for that you shouldn’t be playing the game.’

Mark Williams
Mark Williams won the WST Pro Series last month (Picture: WST)

The longevity of the rivalry between the Class of ’92 makes any meeting between the three of them a special occasion and Williams says it is only Higgins and O’Sullivan he can really still class as genuine rivals in the sport.

Them two have got to be my rivals,’ said the 46-year-old. ‘People like [Judd] Trump, [Neil] Robertson, [Shaun] Murphy are too young to be my rivals, the only rivals I’ve got that are still going are Ronnie and John Higgins.

The other ones are too young. I try and beat them but I can’t really class them as rivals. It’s us three for a long, long time, and we’re still going.

Williams is not just in this last 16 clash for the nostalgia value, he is in fine form and a genuine threat for the title come 3 May, as is Higgins.

The three-time world champ is playing at quite a pace, despite his advancing years, and after his 10-4 win over Sam Craigie in round one he became officially the quickest player on tour this season, playing at just 18.06 seconds-per-shot.

China Snooker Open
Higgins and Williams have battled all over the world over the last three decades (Picture: Getty Images)

He’s enjoying himself and can’t wait to take his free and easy style into yet another meeting with the Wizard of Wishaw.

I’m playing the most care-free snooker since I won the Grand Slam 20 years ago,’ said Williams. ‘If I see it I’m going for it. I’m leaving them plum in if I miss it but I don’t care. The worst thing is you lose.

I’m just looking forward to it, it’s going to be excellent, love every minute of it. Hopefully get to 13 before him. If I do, great, if I don’t I’ll wish him all the best and off I go on my merry way to find a golf course somewhere.

I’m as confident as I can be, I suppose. The last match we played here was the best match I’ve ever been involved in standard-wise over 30-odd frames.

The atmosphere was electric, something I may never get that experience again, it was unbelievable, but it’s a different day, different year, we lock horns again.

2021 Crucible – Day 8

Three last 16 rounds matches were played to a conclusion yesterday.

Those are the reports by WST.

Neil Robertson 13-9 Jack Lisowski

Robertson Into Quarter-Finals

Neil Robertson described the strength of the remaining field at the Betfred World Championship as “scary” but bolstered his status as one of the favourites for the title as he beat Jack Lisowski 13-9 to book a place in the last eight.

By his own high standards, Robertson has a disappointing record at the Crucible since he won the title in 2010; he hasn’t reached the semi-finals since 2014. With a refreshed attitude towards the marathon of the mind, and a determination to remain focussed in every session and play his own brand of snooker, this could be his best chance for more than a decade.

Robertson has now reached the quarter-finals at the Crucible nine times

Robertson arrived in Sheffield with the UK Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship already under his belt this season and looks on top of his game, having made seven centuries and 13 more breaks over 50 in the tournament so far. He will face Kyren Wilson or Barry Hawkins in the quarter-finals on Tuesday and Wednesday,  and a potential semi-final blockbuster with Judd Trump could be looming on the horizon.

“My next match will be tough and I wouldn’t expect anything else here,” said the Thunder From Down Under. “Long gone are the days when a random player could reach the quarter-finals. With 14 of the 16 seeds getting through, the second round draw was scary. I will just prepare myself well and play my game.”

Leading 9-7 overnight, Robertson extended his advantage this morning with breaks of 126 and 87 to go 11-7 ahead. Frame 19 came down to the last red and Robertson accidentally went in-off attempting safety, handing his opponent the chance to clear the table and close the gap.

World number three Robertson enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune when he trailed 40-8 in frame 20 as he fluked a red while playing safe, which set him up for a break of 70 to make it 12-8 at the interval.

Lisowski pulled one back with a 71, but Robertson made a break of 90 in frame 22 to secure his sixth win over Lisowski in as many meetings.

“When you are playing Jack, you need to be ready at the start line because he can get away from you quickly,” added Robertson. “He is so talented and exciting. I matched him in terms of scoring, I was fluent among the balls. It was a terrific match and I hope everyone at home enjoyed it.

“The Tour Championship was the perfect build up for me because it’s long matches against the same players I could face here. Everyone loves to see a long match like Ronnie O’Sullivan and Anthony McGill last night which went 12-12, there is nothing more exciting.

“It’s great to have a crowd back here and to hear the genuine applause instead of the clapping machine! Today it was a different level to the atmosphere we had yesterday and hopefully that will keep building round by round.”

Kyren Wilson 13-10 Barry Hawkins 

Wilson Sees Off The Hawk

Last year’s losing finalist Kyren Wilson battled past 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins 13-10 in a high quality second round encounter at the Betfred World Championship.

Both players are accustomed to success at the Crucible and they now boast 12 quarter-final appearances at the event between them. Hawkins had already appeared in the last eight on six occasions, while Wilson progresses to face the in form Neil Robertson in what will be his sixth consecutive World Championship quarter-final appearance.

They summoned a scintillating standard of play throughout this second round tie. Across the 23 frames that were played, there were 22 breaks over 50, including four century contributions.

It was Wilson who held a 9-7 lead at the start of play this afternoon. However, Hawkins had the momentum after rallying to close the gap to just two frames from 9-4 down.

Breaks of 107 and 53 in the opening two frames this afternoon saw the Hawk complete the fightback and level the tie at 9-9. However, Wilson responded to take the following two frames and head into the mid-session 11-9 in front.

Hawkins pulled back within a frame, before Wilson ruthlessly closed out the win with breaks of 90 and 102 to round off his 13-10 victory.

Wilson said: “I was really pleased with the way I handled it. I never got on top of myself at any moment. I give myself a kick up the backside every now and then, but I kept in check and made sure I stayed positive.

“Anything below my best in the quarter-finals against Neil Robertson and I am going home. That only gives me one thing to think about in my mind. I have to play good snooker. Sometimes it is quite nice to have that main focus. Neil has been tipped to win the tournament and is a heavy favourite. I feel like that is a win win situation there.

“I’ve been scoring very heavily this season. Neil has always scored very heavily. I hope it is that case again in the quarter-finals and the fans enjoy watching some great snooker.

Mark Williams 13-7 John Higgins

Williams Beats Higgins With Vintage Display

Mark Williams put on a supreme performance to down familiar foe John Higgins 13-7 in their second round meeting at the Betfred World Championship.

The clash was a repeat of the 2018 world final, when three-time Crucible king Williams defeated four-time World Champion Higgins 18-16 in an epic contest.

Welshman Williams, who has described his current brand of snooker as “carefree”, has officially become the fastest player in the world during this event, moving to the top of the average shot times. Williams is now taking just 18.1 seconds per shot for the season.

He will face either Mark Selby or Mark Allen in the quarter-finals. If he were to win, then 46-year-old Williams would be the oldest Crucible semi-finalist since Ray Reardon achieved the feat in 1985, aged 52.

Defeat for Scotland’s Higgins extends his wait for a fifth world title. The Glaswegian last won at the Theatre of Dreams in 2011. However, he does end the season having notched up the 31st ranking title of his illustrious career, after victory at the Players Championship last month.

Williams came into this evening holding a 10-6 advantage following a morning session, which saw Higgins take the final three frames to keep his hopes alive.

Williams started fastest tonight, crafting a break of 76 to extend his advantage. Despite Higgins pulling back to 11-7, it was Williams who fired in runs of 85 and 77 to burst over the line and clinch a place in the quarter-finals.

Williams said: “I think I played really good solid stuff the whole way through. I can’t play much more solidly than that. My safety was good and some of my long balls were good. Some of the ones I went for were ridiculous. I loved every minute and I was enjoying it.

“If I get on a roll, I can win a few frames in half an hour. It can put a bit of pressure on their safety more than anything. If their safety isn’t any good, I’m going for it regardless of where the balls are.

“I probably played as well tonight as I did back in 2018. I’m just being honest though. Back in 2018, I thought I had a great chance of winning this and told people that before we even started. I don’t feel like that this year. If I felt like that I would tell you, whether or not you believe me, I don’t know.

Mark Williams has been impressive so far. His defensive break-off is spreading … the whole “class of 92” has been using it, Mark Allen as well yesterday.

It seems that WPBSA will take no action. They decided to send that email after they were approached by a small group of players from what I read. The feedback apparently showed that the majority didn’t see an issue with it. I still feel that even considering to ban a perfectly legal shot just because it displeases some is a very dodgy move.

Judd Trump was one of those who criticised Williams for using it. He argued that nobody wants to waste five to ten minutes “sorting it out”. Only that it’s nonsense as it’s usually back to normal after three or four shots, with the black free as a bonus. Not even the slowest pair of players will spend as long five minutes on that.  The truth is probably that not being left a long red off his opponents break-off peeves him… 😉

2021 Crucible – Day 7 – Anthony Mc Gill puts an end to Ronnie’s defence

Ronnie’s title defence came to an end at the hands of Anthony McGill, as he was beaten by 13-12 in a thrilling and high quality match. 


Ronnie was totally outplayed by Anthony yesterday morning in the second session of the match. Ronnie looked very out-of-sorts, whilst Athony played nearly no-miss snooker. The defending champion kept himself in the match, only just, by winning two frames in the second mini-session. The session ended on a 10-6 score in favour of Anthony.

This is the report by WST:

McGill Leads The Rocket

Anthony McGill placed himself firmly in the driving seat against defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, after establishing a 10-6 lead in their second round encounter at the Betfred World Championship.

The Scot had trailed six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan 4-1 during the opening session. However, he fought back to end yesterday’s play at 4-4. In the process, he spurned a golden opportunity for a 147, breaking down on 97 with the balls at his mercy. However, he quickly overcame the disappointment to establish a stranglehold on the tie.

McGill, who lost an epic semi-final against Kyren Wilson 17-16 last year, took the first four frames this morning to make it seven on the bounce in total. Breaks of 71, 126 and 89 helped him to move into a commanding 8-4 lead at the mid-session.

When play resumed O’Sullivan stopped the rot with a break of 92. However, runs of 105 and 56 moved McGill just three frames from a famous win. O’Sullivan ended the session with a contribution of 69 to remain in touch heading into the concluding session.

Needing to win seven of the last nine frames of the match, Ronnie came back fighting with all he had in the evening session. He won five consecutive frames to get ahead for the first time since frame 7.

It was Anthony who prevailed eventually in the deciding frame. Ronnie was first in the balls, but got a kick on a red  at 37, leaving him on the wrong side of the blue. He still potted the blue but left himself a far too straight mid-pot and needing to screw back for a baulk colour. He missed it … and Anthony superbly held himself together to win with a great 85.

This is what Steve Davis said on twitter:

Amazing! If Ron doesn’t get the kick on the red then he wins it but then never seen him take so long deciding on a positional shot on the blue before playing a bad one. Anthony brilliant clearance!

And here is the report by WST:

McGill Stuns Champ O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hopes of winning a seventh Betfred World Championship title were dashed at the second round stage as Anthony McGill made a pair of fabulous breaks in the last two frames to win a Crucible classic 13-12.

O’Sullivan looked to have the momentum when he came from 10-5 down to lead 11-10 and then 12-11, but it was McGill who finished like a champion with a 136 total clearance in the penultimate frame and then a delightful 85 clearance, from 42-0 down, in the decider. The 30-year-old Scot described it as the best win of his career.

Crucible2021L16ROSMcGill-7O’Sullivan missed the chance to reach the quarter-finals at the Crucible for the 20th time, which would have put him one ahead of Stephen Hendry

Having won a sixth crown eight months ago in Sheffield, 45-year-old O’Sullivan had hoped to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, but that ambition will have to wait for another year. He finishes the season without a trophy for the first time in his career.

McGill, who year-by-year is showing his capacity to thrive on the biggest stage, is the first man through to the quarter-finals, where he will face Jamie Jones or Stuart Bingham. He reached the semis last year before a devastating 17-16 defeat against Kyren Wilson, but the Glaswegian has now won three deciding frame thrillers within his last six Crucible matches.

Needing a strong start to the concluding session, O’Sullivan fired breaks of 71 and 97 to close to within two frames at 10-8. McGill had chances in frame 19 but twice missed a red to a top corner, and O’Sullivan punished him with 73. Frame 20 was a scrappy affair but again it went O’Sullivan’s way as he squared the match at 10-10.

McGill led 22-0 in frame 21 when he missed a tricky black to a baulk corner. O’Sullivan made 49 to take control of the frame and eventually sealed it on the colours. At that stage, McGill had lost six frames in a row, but he ended that sequence with an excellent break of 87 for 11-11.

In frame 23, McGill trailed 41-19 when he played a weak safety, and O’Sullivan added 31 to his tally which was enough to put him 12-11 ahead. Word number two O’Sullivan missed a long red at the start of frame 24 and his opponent capitalised with a 136, the fifth century of the match.

O’Sullivan had first chance in the decider and made 42 before running slightly out of position then missing a difficult mid-range red to a top corner. He spent the rest of the match in his seat. McGill was flawless as he picked off the balls to record his first win over O’Sullivan in seven meetings.

McGill is through to the last eight in Sheffield for the third time

McGill has won two ranking titles – the 2016 Indian Open and 2017 Shoot Out – but has never been as proud of his own performance. “I played brilliant this morning, the best session I have played, taking into account the magnitude of the match,” said the 16th seed, who is now guaranteed £50,000. “Tonight Ronnie was awesome, his safety was so good. I was making mistakes and couldn’t get any rhythm going. I managed to turn it on in the end. It’s the best win of my career, no doubt about it.

“Ronnie was really up for it, he wants that seventh world title. He will get it – he is too good not to. To beat him in such an important match is a massive confidence boost. A few years ago I thought I was rubbish, but now I believe in myself to at least play well. To play in front of the crowd is just so good. But you need to win tournaments in order to be on the TV tables more often.

“I was calm in the last frame, I had it in my mind that it wasn’t the last frame and we were going to play all night. I wanted to play all night, it was just so good! It only hit me when I potted the last red that we were in a decider. Ronnie said to me at the end that I had played well and deserved it. The semi-final from last year didn’t cross my mind at all – that’s gone.

I just want to go out and play well and see what happens, if I lose it’s not the end of the world.”

O’Sullivan said: “I want to wish Anthony good luck, no one could begrudge him winning the tournament. I am pleased I made a game of it and stayed true to the task. I had a good mindset having been working with (psychiatrist) Steve Peters for the past few days. For the next five or ten years if I want to play and enjoy it then I will need to keep working with him because it’s a tough sport when things are not going your way.

“There’s no reason why I can’t win it again, but I have long gone past playing snooker for a living. I am a bit like Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus in golf, they are still a presence because of what they have achieved.

“If I said goodbye to the Crucible and to playing I would be saying goodbye to a lot of good things that are happening in snooker for me, and I don’t really want to do that. It’s better for me to play because my sponsors get excited when I get my cue out of the case.”

Ronnie was, as always, extremely gracious in defeat, and the above quotes are a very positive message regarding his future in snooker.

There were more quotes in the press

Crucible2021L16ROSMcGill-6Ronnie O’Sullivan makes classy admission after Stephen Hendry World Championship bid dies (Image: GETTY)

Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted that Anthony McGill was the deserving winner and said that the snooker gods “have done the right thing” after he saw his bid to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Crucible wins made to wait at least another 12 months on Friday night.

McGill devastatingly lost 17-16 to Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals of this season-ending tournament last year and is bidding to better that performance after his first ever career victory over 45-year-old O’Sullivan.

Crucible2021L16ROSMcGill-5Ronnie O’Sullivan makes classy admission after Stephen Hendry World Championship bid dies (Image: GETTY)

But there was no soreness from the six-time world champion post-match as he gave Scotland’s McGill credit for an excellent victory in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan, who has lost all of his five ranking finals since winning the World Championship last year, told BBC Sport: “That match he lost in the semi-finals last year, he didn’t lose it because he bottled it, he was just unlucky. He deserved his victory. I think any snooker player watching that last year can’t begrudge Anthony McGill a world title after that. It’s hard to lift yourself up after something like that but I thought he handled himself fantastically well last year. Anybody else I’d probably have really been a bit sore but I think the snooker gods have done the right thing. I’ll lick my wounds and come back again. It’s just one of them things.”

Speaking about his warm exchange of words with McGill after his defeat was confirmed, O’Sullivan added: “You have to [be respectful]. What can you do? It’s over. The reality is I’m out of the tournament and he’s still in.””You’ve got to wish the man the best of luck. It’d be nice to see him go on and have a good run.You could say it’s one that got away but there was six [World Championships] that didn’t get away. I’ve won 20 majors or whatever it is and I’ve got kind of every record in the book apart from the most world titles. If I can keep the mindset I’ve had these last few days… I just want to enjoy my snooker. I haven’t really been enjoying it. I feel like I’ve been playing pretty poor, I find it hard to enjoy it if I don’t play well. I rely on playing well and cueing well to enjoy it. I was able to have a good few days with Steve Peters and I got my head around it a little bit and could accept that it is what it is, you can’t pot everything.
“I was able to to move on and stay in a good place throughout that match. It just wasn’t meant to be.

As a Ronnie fan, I’m disappointed of course that he couldn’t win this one in the end, but I’m also happy about the way he fought back, and the class he showed in defeat.

Now, I would love to see Anthony lift the trophy come Sunday. I’m not the kind who hates whoever beats my favourite player and I prefer to think that he’s been beaten by the best rather by a nobody on a lucky day. The latter certainly doesnot apply to Anthony, who played a great match, and would probably have faced Ronnie in the final last year if Kyren Wilson had not got that crucial fluke. It’s also worth remembering that it was Anthony, at this same stage, who beat Mark Selby, the defending champion, in 2015. The score back then was 13-9. He has the game, the temperament and the credentials to become a World Champion.

As a snooker fan, this was a great, great match and a fantastic advert for the sport we love.

And more positive quotes by Ronnie, gathered by Phil Haigh:

Ronnie O’Sullivan enjoying snooker again despite shock Anthony McGill World Championship defeat

Ronnie O’Sullivan was stunned by Anthony McGill in a Crucible classic (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan may have been beaten 13-12 by Anthony McGill in the second round of the World Snooker Championship on Friday night, but he is happy with how he handled the game mentally and says he is enjoying playing the sport again.

At 10-6 it’s still doable, I had to chip away at it and I thought my mindset was great,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport. ‘I was really happy with that because that’s let me down in the last couple of years. I haven’t really been enjoying my snooker, going through the motions, not playing great and not enjoying it if I wasn’t playing great.

‘Tonight, even though I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, I was able to mentally handle and just concentrate on the game, try and compete and try and win a game of snooker.

“They’re all strong, there’s no one on the circuit who isn’t strong. Sometimes we don’t manage it as well as other times and I’m probably the world’s worst at that, it’s only because I know I love the game that I keep coming back.

‘Anyone who watches snooker will know that if you play golf and you’re not very good at it you go and play 17 rubbish holes and you hit a couple of good ones down the last and you love the game again.

‘That’s just what’s snooker is like, that’s what kept me going because every now and again I feel great. But a lot of the time it’s not and I struggle with that.

I’ve worked hard with Steve Peters over the last couple of days and the best thing that’s come out of it is hopefully I can enjoy my snooker now, I’ve found a way to enjoy it because that’s all that matters to me.

‘Winning and losing, at this stage of my career, yeah it’s disappointing but for me, I’ve got a good life playing snooker.’

I love the fans, I love putting on a good performance for them and that’s why I get so down on myself when I don’t,’ said Ronnie.

It was alright, it’s over for me now but onwards and upwards, I suppose.’

2021 Crucible – Last 16 – Ronnie and Anthony McGill are locked at 4-4 after the first session

Ronnie had the strongest start yesterday against Anthony McGill, and lead 4-1, but was pegged back to 4-4. It was a very high quality session.

This is the report by Phil Haigh:

Ronnie O’Sullivan level with Anthony McGill after engrossing opening session at World Snooker Championship

Crucible2021L32ROSMcGill-1Ronnie O’Sullivan and Anthony McGill played out an excellent opening session on Thursday (Picture: Getty Images)

Anthony McGill battled back from 4-1 behind to finish the opening session 4-4 in his second round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Snooker Championship on Thursday afternoon.

The defending champion was the red hot favourite coming into the contest, and remains heavily fancied to win the best of 25 match, but the Scot has proved he is capable of hanging with the Rocket.

O’Sullivan was showing off his world famous break-building qualities, knocking in two centuries and a half-century, while McGill managed three half-centuries of his own.

The six-time world champion O’Sullivan will be frustrated he is not further ahead after opening up a clear lead and looking great, before missing a couple of chances after the interval.

But for McGill he settled into the match and showed that the favourite will not have it all his own way after an impressive recovery.

‘Massive, I think he’d have been biting anyone’s hand off for 5-3 but 4-4 is a bonus, Anthony has come back strongly,’ six-time world champion Steve Davis said on the BBC.

The first four frames of the contest were of the absolute highest quality and, despite McGill doing little wrong, things looked ominous for the Scot.

The Rocket made a break of 81 in the first frame, with McGill responding with efforts of 52 and 79 to level up at the first opportunity.

Then came some vintage O’Sullivan, with back-to-back centuries of 1-5 and 138 to take a two-frame lead into the interval.

The defending champion claimed the first frame back from the break in play and was looking dangerous, but that’s when the gritty Glaswegian showed his mettle.

Last year’s semi-finalist took the sixth and then made a superb break of 97 to go within one at 4-3 behind.

McGill had a great chance early in the eighth frame but gradually ran out of position and was forced to play safe with a lead of 40-9, in what felt like a very big frame at the end of the session.

There are two more sessions in this match, played on Friday morning and evening, starting at 10am and 7pm as they race to 13 frames.

And this is the reort by WST:

McGill Misses 147 Chance

Anthony McGill came from 4-1 down to square his second round match with Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-4 at the Betfred World Championship.

However, McGill may remember the session for his failure to convert a golden chance to become only the eighth player to make a maximum break at the Crucible.

Crucible2021L32ROSMcGill-3A 147 could have been worth £55,000 for McGill

In frame seven, the Scot was on 97 having taken the first 12 reds with blacks, and had the remaining balls at his mercy, but narrowly over-cut the 13th black to a top corner.

The seven members of the Crucible 147 club are Cliff Thorburn (1983), Jimmy White (1992), Stephen Hendry (1995, 2009 and 2012), Ronnie O’Sullivan (1997, 2003 and 2008), Mark Williams (2005), Ali Carter (2008) and John Higgins (2020).

Earlier, defending champion O’Sullivan established a 4-1 lead with top breaks of 81, 105 and 138. McGill took frame six then his 147 attempt got him within one at 4-3.

In the last of the session, O’Sullivan trailed 40-9 then had two chances to counter, but missed a red and a then a black to top corner pockets. McGill secured the frame to leave them level ahead of the second session on Friday from 10am.

Ronnie was impressive at the start of the match and lead 4-1. He looked set to steal the sixth frame as well, but went in-off screwing back from the last red. It cost him the frame and that visibly upset him. In the next, Anthony embarqued on a 147, only to unexpectedly miss the 13th black. In the last frame, Ronnie made two mistakes and they proved costly. He seemed to have lost a bit of his focus and intensity, which can happen when a player has been sat in their chair for some time. He looked a bit cold and/or tired as well. Both played very well though.


Ronnie had gone for a run in the morning. I don’t expect him to stop doing that and he might pay the price. To his own admission, he doesn’t have the stamina he had a few years ago. On the other hand, running has helped him immensely to stay positive mentally, which is important as well. Ahead of the match he had been talking to Rachel from Eurosport, about the feelings of anxiety and insecurity that the match situation can trigger.


They will resume this morning at 10 am UK time, then they will play to a finish this evening. Whatever happens in the second session, they can’t finish the match this morning.