2021 World Championship Qualifiers – Day 4

Yesterday was a day full of drama and fightbacks

We had a first withdrawal because of a positive covid test: Noppon Saengkham.

Noppon Saengkham has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been withdrawn from Betfred World Championship qualifying.

Saengkham, who returned the positive test off-site, was due to play either Lyu Haotian or Gao Yang in round three. The winner of that tie will now receive a bye to the final qualifying round.

All on site tests conducted on players and staff so far have returned negative results.

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

Here is WST report on the action:

Fitness Kick Powers Jones Fightback

Former Crucible quarter-finalist Jamie Jones said he could have “played all day” after summoning a late charge to come from 4-2 down to beat David Lilley 6-4 at Betfred World Championship qualifying.

Jones has enjoyed a strong season, having regained his professional status through Q School in 2020. The Welshman dropped off the tour at the end of the 2019 season whilst suspended. However, his return to the circuit has seen him produce some good snooker, including a run to the semi-finals of the 2020 European Masters.

Away from the table over the last year, Jones has been hitting the roads and regularly running. He showed his stamina for the fight today, turning on the style in the second half of the match.

Having trailed 4-2, back to back century runs of 117 and 100 helped him to turn the game on its head and establish a 5-4 lead. Jones then got himself over the line by claiming a tightly contested tenth frame.

Defeat for Lilley sees him drop off the circuit. Jones now faces former Shoot Out champion Michael Holt in round three.

“I could have played all day out there. As much pressure as there was and as tiring as it is trying to concentrate for that amount of time, I could have gone on for hours,” said 33-year-old Jones.

“I’ve been running up here in Sheffield. I’m either practising or stuck in the hotel, so I’ve got out running. I’m just enjoying my lifestyle at the moment. My life is different to how it was when I was on the tour before.

“That was probably one of my most pleasing wins of the season. At 4-2 down he was so solid, potting balls and good safety. It sums up my attitude since coming back on tour. I’m enjoying the battle out there.”

Former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson sealed a massive 6-5 win over Zhao Jianbo to boost his hopes of tour survival.

Robertson would have been set to drop off the circuit had he lost this evening. He trailed 3-0, before producing gutsy snooker to turn the tie around.

Despite Zhao composing three centuries throughout the match, a break of 57 from Robertson in the decider was enough to eventually see him through. He faces Lu Ning up next, knowing that he is in a great position to stay on the circuit.

Robertson said: “I was absolutely devastated throughout the game. It was really tough and I felt sick during the whole match. To come through that and hold myself together in the end, I am so pleased. I never thought I would be in this position. It is my own fault.

“I’ve lost too many matches and first rounds this season. I got in a slump and a losing run, it has been very hard to get out of it. I’m in a good position now and I’m still in the tournament. That is all that matters.”

China’s Lyu Haotian became the first player to earn a Judgement Day spot with a 6-5 defeat of compatriot Gao Yang.

Lyu gets a bye through round three due to his scheduled opponent Noppon Saengkham returning a positive test for Covid-19.

Rod Lawler defeated Yuan Sijun 6-5 on the final black to keep his chances of tour survival alive. Defeat for Yuan sees him knocked off the circuit.

Jamie Clarke summoned an epic comeback from 5-0 down to defeat Jamie O’Neill 6-5.

Last year’s Crucible qualifying saw Clarke dramatically clinch a place at the Theatre of Dreams to retain his professional status. This evening’s herculean fightback saw the Welshman produce yet more drama. Clarke top scored with a break of 98 and will face Joe Perry next.

Jak Jones battled back from 4-1 down to beat 17-year-old prospect Jamie Wilson 6-4. Jones fired in breaks of 130, 63 and 70 on his way to overhauling Wilson. Next up he will face last year’s Crucible quarter-finalist Kurt Maflin.

We have seen a lot of good things from many young players so far.

All young Chinese players involved in round 1 won their first match, as did Julien Leclercd from Belgium, Kaçper Filipiak from Poland, Lukas Kleckers and Simon Lichtenberg both from Germany and Florian Nuessle from Austria. Brian Ochoiski from France, Ben Mertens From Belgium and Robbie McGuigan from Northern Ireland pushed their professional opponents to a deciding frame. Brian was 4-0 down to Rory McLeod.

Xu Si, Lyu Haotian and Chang Bingyu entered the frey in round 2 and won their first match as well. Chang Bingyu and Xu Si are now well placed in the “one year redeem list”, being numbers 1 and 2.

Yuan Sijun yesterday became the first young Chinese player to fall at first hurdle and be relegated.. He lost the match on the last black in the deciding frame. It’s a pity really. He has lost his way since the covid crisis disrupted our lives.

Despite the defeat, Zhao Jianbo was impressive yesterday, especially at the start of the match. He had three centuries… he had only made two before during the season.

Gao Yang, only 16, showed quality as well despite a narrow defeat. He pushed Lyu Haotian to a decider. Lyu’s win and Noppon Seangkham withdrawal mean that Lyu’s tour card is now safe as he climbs to number 52 in the provisional rankings, with an over 20000 points cushion separating him from the current number 65.

Jamie Wilson had not won a match this season, his first as a pro, until the WST Pro Series. He won two in that tournament, and has reached the second round in every tournament he has played in since. He pushed Jak Jones hard yesterday. The WST Pro Series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its round-robin format is definitely providing valuable experience to the youngest players.

There is a very important match for Luo Honghao today. Winning would give him a decent chance to stay on the tour, a defeat would mean relegation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “2021 World Championship Qualifiers – Day 4

  1. For me the biggest story was Yuan Sijun’s defeat. He played extremely well in patches, including a decent 147 attempt. But then he missed many easy chances to win 6-3 or 6-4. However at 49-0 down in the decider he produced an incredible break, full of spectaculor shots… then missed the final pink off the spot. Yuan is probably the most talented player ever to be relegated from the tour, with more variety in his cue-action than any other player. It’s as if he lost his competitive edge, being unable to play for several months whilst in China. He just misses crucial balls. Many of the Chinese players are desperate to go back home as soon as possible to be with family, but Yuan is going to have to stay on longer for Q School.

    Actually, Yuan Sijun and Luo Honghao grew up together – both born in 2000 in Nanchang, Jiangxi province. Luo should beat Peter Lines, which might just about save him on the 1-year list, possibly because Yuan’s exit allowed another player to creep into the top-64, vacating a 1-year list place.

    It looked for a while like the 16-year old Gao Yang might be the youngest ever player to reach ‘Judgement Day’, but inexperience cost him – another 6-5 loss to a Chinese player.

    Elsewhere, there were some fine wins and impressive comebacks. But I do think the best-of-11 changes the dynamic of the matches considerably from a normal World Championship.

    • Yes the best-of-11 does change the dynamic of the matches, but I’m not sure who this change favours. On one hand, the shorter match will put the players under immediate pressure. On the other hand there is no several hours or even overnight inter-session to ponder about what might happen, and in particular what might go wrong. Also older players have probably been exposed more to longer formats – the UK used to be two session from the start – whilst the youngest ones play best-of-sevens for the best part of the season.
      On another topic Luo Honghao has lost his match to Peter Lines, which is unfortunately exactly what I expected. He’s been a bag of nerves since that Crucible disaster. Oli Lines on twitter was accusing him of blatant cheating because he was restless in his chair. I’m more inclined to believe that this was just sheer nervousness and anxiety. That’s two great talents lost in Yuan and Luo. Luo had shown so much fighting power in qualifying for the 2019 World Championship. What happened to him? It’s hard to understand.

      • Firstly, I don’t think it’s because of the 10-0 loss to Shaun Murphy – that’s too easy a narrative. Luo was on medication following a food allergy, so wouldn’t have been too shocked by what happened. Basically, he’s developed a technical flaw which means he’s steering the shot. Previously, he was very reliant on an effective technique, and it’s gone, and he knows it. That’s made him extremely nervous, coupled with ranking pressure. Even so, I expected him to beat Lines, but anything can happen in such a crucial match.

        We may lose the hugely talented players Yuan, Luo, Cahill, Si, Page. Others, such as Lei, Chen and Filipiak have less ability, but could make it if given more time. We’re relying on Q School to keep some of them in the game. At the moment, it’s important to stay on the tour, as there isn’t enough amateur snooker happening to allow players to keep developing.

      • I know that under the circumstances, Luo shouldn’t feel so bad about the whitewash but sometimes our reactions/emotions aren’t rational and we can’t help it. Why in your opinion has he lost his technique? Any clue?
        Maybe for the relegated Chinese lads having a year at home could prove beneficial mentally and psychologically. Who knws?
        As for Page, he’s been over-hyped and a reality check may be a good thing. He’s not the only one of course. Luca Brecel is another example, and to an extend now, Ben Mertens. Confidence is necessary but over-confidence is a dangerous state of mind.

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