The last round of the World Championship qualifiers starts today. Eight matches will be played over two sessions. the format is best-of-19.
Captain Set For Judgement Day
Ali Carter came through a fiercely contested Betfred World Championship qualifying clash with China’s Pang Junxu 6-4, to earn a Judgement Day place.
Carter, a two-time World Championship finalist, missed out on Crucible qualification last year losing to Louis Heathcote in the penultimate round. That was the first time Carter hasn’t appeared at the Theatre of Dreams since 2002.
Carter controlled the opening stages, firing in breaks of 69, 64, 71 and 64 on his way to establishing a 5-2 advantage.
However, from there 21-year-old Pang showcased his potential by shooting back into contention. After claiming the eighth frame, a stunning break of 106 pulled him within one at 5-4.
Carter wasn’t to be denied and runs of 25 and 45 in the tenth frame took him over the line and secured a Judgement Day meeting with Alexander Ursenbacher, who defeated Martin O’Donnell 6-5.
“I didn’t sleep last night, because I want it so badly. Almost too much. Even after being a pro for 20 odd years, I think I want it more now than I ever did. Maybe it is because I am trying hard on my preparation back home. This first match is horrible,” said 41-year-old Carter.
“His safety was unbelievable today. He just looked like he was willing to stand there all day to try and win. All kinds of things were going through my head. I should have won 6-2, but I twitched a red. There is so much pressure for us out there with the ranking points. I have to get my head round it and make sure I get through.”
Englishman Sam Craigie put on a superb performance to whitewash Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei 6-0 and clinch a Judgement Day place for the first time in his career.
Craigie now faces Zhao Xintong in the final qualifying round. Zhao defeated Poland’s Kacper Filipiak 6-3 this afternoon. That result relegated Filipiak from the circuit.
Steven Hallworth rallied from 5-4 down to beat Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown 6-5 and move one win from a Crucible debut.
Hallworth came into this year’s event having never won a single match in the World Championship. The 25-year-old scored a 6-2 win over Dean Young in round one and a 6-3 defeat of David Grace in round two. He’ll play Gary Wilson on Judgement Day.
World number 18 Stuart Bingham eased to a 6-1 defeat of Chen Zifan. The 2015 World Champion now faces Luca Brecel in the final round.
Someone who is not even mentioned in this report is the 18 years old Bai Langning who beat Ben Woollaston by 6-5, scoring a great 96 in the deciding frame. Bai was 4-1 down in this match. I find this pretty baffling as Bai is probably one of the major stories in this year’s competition. He went back to China towards the end of the previous season and came back to the UK only recently. He had not played a main tour match all season and here he is in the last round of the World Qualifiers. He needs to reach the Crucible to stay on tour. Bai will face Martin Gould tomorrow.
At the start of the qualifiers, about one in six of the players involved were Chinese, as we reach the last round ten of them remain, nearly one in three. Yet WST largely ignored them in their reports throughout.
Kaçper Filipiak was relegated and someone on twitter said that he was retiring from snooker. I can’t say I’m surprised. Kaçper got a tour card at the age of 15 and he wasn’t ready. He was practicing at Paul Mount’s SWSA and at the time Janie Watkins had told me that he was “a lamb for the slaughter”. It was a deeply unhappy year for the young lad and I believe that it left him with scars. I’m wishing him the best for the future, whatever he chooses to do from here.