2021 Summer CLS – Day 11

The highest seeds progressed in both group yesterday: Ryan Day had it easy, Stuart Bingham had to battle to the last frame. Here is WST report:

Bingham And Day Top Groups

Stuart Bingham and Ryan Day rounded up week two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker action at the Morningside Arena in Leicester as group winners.

Bingham’s passage to the next stage started in the first match of the afternoon session where he shared the points with an inspired Michael White after a 2-2 draw.

White meanwhile was going about his business swiftly with a 3-1 victory over Elliot Slessor, including his second century of the day, to have four points from two matches.

The pressure was soon on Bingham to perform in his second match of the day against Gao Yang and that’s exactly what he did with a 3-0 victory, which included a clearance of 134. That topped the group’s previous high break of 112 set by White.

A win was paramount for White in his last encounter of the day to apply the pressure on Bingham and he delivered one after going into an initial 2-0 lead over Gao. Eventually sealing things at 3-1 after a scrappy final frame where it looked like it could’ve got away from the 2017 Paul Hunter Classic winner.

Bingham went into his match with Slessor knowing any form of victory would do with the high break already in his pocket.  He won the opening frame, before being pulled back to 1-1. An effortless clearance of 116 in the third frame by Bingham set things up finely poised for the last where the Essex cueman did what was required after a moment where it seemed Slessor may take a point.

Bingham said: “A hard day for me today, my nan passed away at the beginning of the month and her funeral was today. It’s been a tough day, seeing all the family at the wake after, it was tough to get my head around it. Obviously in the end I got the job done. This is for my nan.”

“It probably relaxed me a bit more, I sort of thought, what’s the worst that can happen I can get beat. Obviously, I wanted to win it for my nan. So, it probably relaxed me a bit more and I got the job done…Thankfully I held myself together and I got the job done.”

Day’s progression to the next stage was far more straightforward after back-to-back wins over Barry Pinches and compatriot Jackson Page to be top on six points and three clear ahead of the evening session.

The Welshman knew a point would be enough in his final match to seal the top spot and Day did just that against Hossein Vafaei to finish the day, three points clear of Page. 

Day felt if he performed like he did today, he could go far:A bit surprising really. I haven’t had too much time to get practice in, the weather’s been too good to be stuck indoors playing snooker. I thought I played really two good matches, I felt really sharp straightaway. I’m really pleased.”

“From now, I will probably be spending more time on the practice table. I don’t know whether if that’s going to be a good or bad thing. Sometimes a break is as good as anything. I think the break I’ve taken this summer is as long as I can remember. Probably the longest time I’ve had away from playing in probably my whole career. Maybe there’s something in it.”

BetVictor Championship League Snooker returns on Monday with Joe Perry and Jimmy White in Group 4 with Jimmy Robertson and Shaun Maddocks on Table 1. Table 2 sees Stephen Maguire headline with Sunny Akani, Ashley Hugil, and John Astley.

Michael White did play well yesterday and it all came down to the frame difference between him and Stuart Bingham. This season, Michael will probably play in all events, and, if he sustains a good standard, he could well regain his tour card via the one year list and avoid the Q-School.

Gao Yang showed very good things as well. He’s only 16.

I was really in two minds watching the last match of the day between Stuart Bingham and Elliot Slessor. Whilst watching, I had no idea about Stuart’s beravement and I wanted to see Michael White top the group. Michael belongs to the main tour and progressing to stage 2 would have helped his cause. On the other hand, I didn’t want to see Elliot Slessor take the third place, leaving Gao Yang with nothing to show for his efforts. Elliot’s attitude was very poor yesterday, particularly during the first session. Ok, the table conditions were bad, very bad; they have been from the start, especially on table 1, but they are the same for all players. I have seen other players getting frustrated this week and the previous week, but they continued to try their best. During the afternoon session Elliot was a picture of angry sulking frustration. During the inter-session he complained on Facebook, saying that the conditions were terrible, that it had destroyed his confidence right from the first shots and that he wanted out of there. To be fair to him, he did try his best in the evening, and he took a frame from Stuart, but he deserved to be last.

2021 European Masters News

WST has published some informations about the 2021 European Masters

BetVictor European Masters Set For Fürth

Selby 2020 European MastersMark Selby beat Martin Gould 9-8 in last season’s final.

This season’s BetVictor European Masters will take place at the Stadthalle in Fürth from 22nd to 27th February 2022.

The popular German venue has welcomed thousands of snooker fans over the years and hosted the Paul Hunter Classic from 2007 to 2019, when Barry Hawkins won the final edition of the tournament.

The European Masters will form part of the eight-event BetVictor Snooker Series, from which the player earning the most prize money will snap up a huge £150,000 bonus.

Last year saw World Champion Mark Selby lift the trophy aloft after beating Martin Gould 9-8 in a thrilling final. More of the same is expected in 2022, when the finest players on the planet head to Fürth.

All matches in Fürth up to and including the quarter-finals will be played over the best of nine frames, with best of 11 frame semi-finals and a best of 17 frame final.

There are some good news in there.

First the the Stadhalle in Fürth will be used again. It’s an unconventional venue but one that allows viewers to be quite cloe to the tables and allows to follow the action on several tables.

Next it’s the old “classic” best of 9 format, a reasonable match “length”.

2021 Summer CLS – Day 10

The defending champion, Kyren Wilson, was in action yesterday and won his group. Kyren however wan’t happy with the way he played, and rightly so. To make it worse, the table – table 1 – was rolling off. The problem has been there nearly from the start of the competition and other players have complained, as mentionned in commentary yesterday. I had heard from a player who didn’t complain after playing in one of the hottest day of week 1 that the conditions were awful.

Anyway … here is WST report:

Wilson And Dott Progress

Defending champion Kyren Wilson and Graeme Dott moved through to the next stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Wilson is the current holder of both the BetVictor Championship League Snooker ranking title and invitational and he wasn’t keen on letting go of that just yet.

The Kettering man looked comfortable in his opener against Dylan Emery, defeating him 3-1 in his only action of the afternoon. The heat was soon applied though with Sam Craigie stepping past both Ben Hancorn and Emery 3-0 to sit at the top going into the evening action.

Wilson skirted a scare in his second match of the day against Hancorn after the 2020 English Amateur Champion took the opening frame and left  Wilson requiring two snookers in the second frame. Wilson got the snookers he needed and stole the frame and he claimed the next two to run out a 3-1 winner.

The group came down to the final encounter between Craigie and Wilson. Craigie knew a draw would see him through, whilst Wilson knew it was win or bust. The experience of Wilson shone through in the end though, as he convincingly took a 3-0 win to top the group.

Wilson: “It was a bit of a struggle all day to be honest, the first tournament back. It’s been a long break since the World Championships. Just trying to blow away the cobwebs. Delighted to get through that one.”

“I don’t know why; I just quite enjoy the atmosphere of these tournaments. Matchroom does a wonderful job and feed us nicely. It’s just one of those, it’s a laid-back atmosphere, and enjoy the snooker really. We’re lucky to have these tournaments on.”

Dott’s passage to the second stage was a lot clearer than Wilson after the Scot won both of his afternoon matches 3-1 against Si Jiahui and Iulian Boiko. It meant he was already three points clear ahead of the evening session .

Dott moved into a 2-0 lead in his final match against Robbie Williams which secured top status in the group. Williams claimed the following two frames meaning they shared the points with a 2-2 draw. The point being enough for Williams to take second in the group and £2,000.

Tomorrow sees Stuart Bingham enter as the top seed in Group 21 alongside Elliot Slessor, Yang Gao, and Michael White whilst current Shoot-Out champion Ryan Day is the main act in Group 22 with Hossein Vafaei, Jackson Page, and Barry Pinches.

I’m happy for Dotty to progress. He’s been under-rated for the best part of his career, he’s been unfairly branded slow and boring by people who only ever watched him battle it out against Peter Ebdon in the final session of the 2006 World Final. Peter does that to his opponents and they were both exhausted. Even when he was the reigning World Champion he was often put on an outside table, away from the cameras, and not given the recognition he deserved.


2021 Summer CLS – Day 9

Two veterans progressed to stage 2 of the 2021 summer CLS yesterday: Craig Steadman and Gerard Greene. Here is WST report:

Steadman And Greene Into Stage Two

Craig Steadman and Gerard Greene moved into the next stage of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester after both groups were decided on the final frames of the day.

Steadman recently gained his tour card back through Q School and looked to be match sharp in coming through a group headlined by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. An early 3-0 rout against Martin O’Donnell set things up nicely before two draws against Un-Nooh and Zhang Jiankang left him with five points.

It was a nervous wait for Steadman as Un-Nooh took on O’Donnell in the last of the action on table 1 where things were level after two frames. Un-Nooh produced a break of 42 in the third leaving only one needed for victory. That frame wasn’t forthcoming though as O’Donnell produced a fantastic clearance of 130, meaning it was Steadman who topped the group.

Table two saw equally complicated permutations in Group 18 contested by Robert Milkins, Zhao Jianbo, Greene, and Haydon Pinhey with it going down to the last frame.

Milkins exited in the afternoon session after back-to-back defeats against Pinhey and Greene, whilst an opening draw between Zhao and Greene left things wide open heading into the evening action.

Zhao picked up his first win against Pinhey with no reply to move to four points and level with Greene, whilst a costly draw against Milkins after leading 2-0 left things in the balance at five points.

Greene knew a win against Pinhey would secure his passage to the next stage, a draw would see Zhao take up top spot.

The Northern Irishman started on the best possible footing with an initial two-frame lead before the fightback came from Pinhey who would finish third whatever the result.

Greene produced the goods in the last frame in the end to top the table: “It was nerve-wracking. A couple of shots and my brain froze on me. I just needed the green and the brown. They were both simple and I didn’t know how to play the green it was shocking.”

“And then I potted the green. Then once again on the brown, I’m going to just drop it, no I am not doing that just play it properly and I’ve overhit it and missed the brown. Sometimes I just miss balls that nobody else would miss. I am very experienced at missing balls! It’s not one for lack of concentration, just sometimes my brain disappears.”

“I think I did alright, I was 2-1 down in the first game and I potted a great black to go two all. I played alright but a couple of shots there that shouldn’t be on TV really.”

On his drive home that’s exactly 147 miles: “It would’ve felt like torture, I’ve thrown a million of those games away with people needing snookers. It’s just stupidity really. I will enjoy it tonight.”

Day 10 of BetVictor Championship League Snooker gets underway tomorrow from midday with reigning champion Kyren Wilson entering the fold in Group 16 with Dylan Emery, Sam Craigie, and Ben Hancorn.

I love and hate watching Theppy: he’s beautiful to watch … until he misses something seemingly straightforward or takes on, and misses, something outlandish. He has all the talent in the world, and is a lovely guy, but he would probably benefit from a bit of mental coaching. Never mind … I still love him.

Of the 18 groups played so far, 9 have been won by players aged 40 or over, and two more by players over 36; Ronnie, Ken Doherty, Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter are the only big names amongst them. Only 6 groups have been won by players aged 30 or younger; those winners are Noppon Saengkham, Cao Yupeng, Bai Langning, Chang Bingyu Alex Ursenbacher and Oli Lines. Only the latter is British. So what does that say about the state of the game, and its state in the UK/Ireland in particular? What does that say about the system? What does that say about the young players?

You know my opinion about the current system: it is far too brutal, it offers no path for development, it doesn’t reward consistency at all, it’s too top heavy, it’s too UK centric. We need to go back to a tiered system, or have a proper secondary tour. In both cases all rounds shound be funded, sponsored and broadcasted. We need to break the “UK bias” and scrap qualifiers entirely. The calendar needs to be restructured so that travel costs are minimised. Every venue should have a proper practice area with enough tables to cover all players (reasonable) needs.

As for the young players, and the young British in particular, what can I say? The whole current UK centric system favours them: they don’t need to expat, they don’t need to live away from their families, they don’t need to travel as much as the overseas players. Yet, none of them seems able to grow into a top player. Why? It can’t be because there is no talent in a whole generation, that’s a statistical nonsense. So why? I’m not trying to belittle anyone, I would love things to be different and I’m interested in getting your views.

You know mine: brutal as it might be, I believe that there is truth in Ronnie’s assessment and that he is right to express it because it’s the only thing that will fire the young ones up if they have the talent, the work ethic, the desire and the determination to prove him wrong.  He would love that. All individual professional sports are brutal, there is never a “soft and easy” path to success.

Stephen Hendry often explained how his manager never allowed him to rest on his laurels, never allowed him to believe that “he had done it”, it was always about winning the next comp, reaching the next goal, lifting the next trophy. Complacency was never a thing in their world. In many ways, Ronnie’s father was/is the same.

The system needs to change, it really does, but for many young players, the mindset needs to change too.



2021 British Open – Draw and Format

WST has announced the draw and format for the 2021 British Open:

Selby And Murphy To Meet At British Open

Selby and Murphy will meet in a repeat of this year’s Crucible final.

World Champion Mark Selby has been handed a mouth-watering clash with Shaun Murphy in the first round of next month’s British Open at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

The random draw has been made for this prestigious event, which is returning to the World Snooker Tour calendar for the first time in 17 years. The tournament will run from August 16th to 22nd and is live on ITV4, as well as other broadcasters around the world.

Click here for the first round draw

Click here for the format

Selby’s enticing encounter with Murphy is a repeat of this year’s Crucible final, which Selby won 18-15 to claim a fourth world title. A large crowd is expected, on the evening of Tuesday 17th August, to see Leicester’s home favourite Selby take to the baize for the first time since his World Championship win. 

John Higgins was the last winner of the British Open all the way back in 2004. He has been pitted against Swiss number one Alexander Ursenbacher in an intriguing opening round tie.

World number one Judd Trump will get his campaign underway by facing Mitchell Mann. The pair had contrasting fortunes last season, with Trump racking up five ranking title wins and Mann losing his professional status. However, Mann recovered immediately by coming through Q School to return to the circuit and he will relish this David vs Goliath encounter.

Scotland’s seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry will make his much anticipated first appearance of the season when he takes on Chris Wakelin, while 12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans faces former Masters champion Mark Allen.

Selected Fixtures: 

Mark Selby vs Shaun Murphy – Tuesday 17th August 7pm

John Higgins vs Alexander Ursenbacher – Monday 16th August 1pm

Judd Trump vs Mitchell Mann – Monday 16th August 7pm

Chris Wakelin vs Stephen Hendry – Tuesday 17th August 7pm (second match)

Mark Allen vs Reanne Evans – Monday 16th August 7pm (second match)

Spectators will be welcomed through the doors for the first time this season and with tickets available for as little as £5, the British Open represents a tremendous opportunity to see the best players on the planet. 

All matches up to the last 16 are best of five frames, the quarter and semi-finals are best of seven frames, and the final is best of 11 frames. There will be a random draw for each round of the event.

Prize Money:

Winner: £100,000
Runner-up: £45,000
Semi-finals: £20,000
Quarter-finals: £12,000
Last 16: £7,000
Last 32: £5,000
Last 64: £3,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £470,000

Jamie O’Neill has withdrwan and has been replaced by Dylan Emery

So where to start?

The draw is a pre-recorded affair. When I watched it on youtube it had subtitles, to help the fans with impaired hearing. The idea is excellent but the result was hilarious at times: Igor Figuereido became Eagle Figurine, Thechaiya Un-Nooh became Thepchaiya Undo, Xu Si was Juicy, and Zhang Anda turned into Jang Under … to cite only a few. I can only imagine that those were the result “automated” transciption generated by some kind of robot/program.

Ronnie has been replaced on the official poster by Shaun Murphy … who will play Mark Selby in a “repeat” of the last World final. Hum… what were the chances? I have no doubts that WST will try to make the best of it … but the best of a best of 5 isn’t excatly comparable to a best of 35 (Only my opinion 😎). Whatever … one of them will leave the tournament after the first round. Will they leave the poster too?

Also, what were the chances for Mark Allen to draw his ex, Reanne Evans? I’m sure that the two are pleased … NOT. But the press will be delighted: Hector Nunns is already on the ball. Will Mark Allen request for her to be removed again as she is a “distraction”?  I doubt it. Instead they will probably both give it 200%. This is the ultimate grudge match.



2021 Summer CLS – Day 8

Coa Yupeng and Noppon Saengkham were the winners yesterday. Here is WST report:

Saengkham and Cao Through

Noppon Saengkham and Cao Yupeng progressed to the second stage of the BetVictor Championship League after both went unbeaten on day eight, as top seeds John Higgins and Gary Wilson went out.

Saengkham set his stall out early by dispatching both Igor Figueiredo and Soheil Vahedi 3-1 with the highlight being a break of 93 in the third frame against Vahedi.

Top seed of the day Higgins looked comfortable in his opening two matches beating Vahedi and Figueiredo without dropping a frame, but it was against Saengkham where he came unstuck.

With a winner takes all scenario in the last game, it was Higgins who drew first blood and looked on to make it through to the second stage, but the tide turned from there on with Saengkham crunching in two centuries and a gritty clearance.

Saengkham tested positive for COVID-19 before the World Championship at the end of last season. He was delighted to start this season strongly: “My last match in an event was in March, I practised very hard, fifteen hours a day. I felt very bad, just sleeping in my bed and seeing everybody playing in the World Championship. I was so upset because I worked very hard every day. I will try my very best this season. I’m very hungry.

“The last season I didn’t play well, and I stayed here eleven months and I couldn’t go home. Just for a few months, I could go home for a couple of months. I practiced very hard, and I tried to enjoy it. I am so happy I don’t know why.”

“In my last match, I didn’t think about the win. I just wanted to pot every ball. I played very good today and I am very happy.”

Elsewhere, matters were wrapped up quicker on Table 2 where top seed Gary Wilson crashed out of Group 26 before the evening session had even begun. He suffered a 3-0 defeat to eventual group winner Cao Yupeng, after having to settle for a point against James Cahill.

Cao never looked fazed on his return to the professional ranks with back-to-back 3-0 victories meaning he’d wrapped up the group before his final innings against Cahill. Nevertheless Cao ended his day with a 3-1 victory.

The 2017 Scottish Open finalist won nine frames from ten, with six of them including breaks over 50, to move forwards into stage two.

Tomorrow sees 2019 shoot-out champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh headline Group 29 alongside Zhang Jiankang, Martin O’Donnell, and Craig Steadman.

Noppon played three incredible frames against John Higgins to wrap up the day. He looked immune to pressure and was cueing very well. The blue he took towards the end of frame 3 in that last match was quite something. John Higgins must still be wondering what hit him and how he didn’t win the group. I’m very pleased for Noppon who is a lovely person and caught covid-19 at the worst possible time (*), just ahead of the World Championship.

I’m also pleased for Cao who seems 100% determined to put the past firmly behind and make the most of his return to the main tour.

(*) Not that there is ever a good time to catch covid-19 of course.

2021 Summer CLS – Day 7

Oliver Lines and Ken Doherty progressed to stage 2 yesterday. Here is WST report:

Doherty And Lines Reach Stage Two

Ken Doherty and Oliver Lines both progressed unbeaten from their respective groups to the next stage of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Day Eight at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Doherty, entering his 32nd year as a professional snooker player, moved through to stage two in style by topping Group 14 with a game to spare after seeing off 19-year-old Ryan Davies and Rory McLeod 3-0 and 3-1 respectively. Things didn’t seem to be going Doherty’s way early on against McLeod after losing the opener on the black.

The Irishman bounced back though and showed why he’s one of the longest-serving pros in the game with a sublime steal and clearance of 44 in the second frame over McLeod and a high break of 81 in the final frame.

A 2-2 draw between Rory McLeod and Martin Gould ensured Doherty’s passage to the next stage early into the evening session.

The Darling of Dublin made the final day of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker in the last ranking event last autumn and he was optimistic as ever about the upcoming campaign: “I’m pretty pleased. The first tournament of the new season It’s nice to get off to a good start it’s nice to qualify top of the group and into the next stage. I had some great memories of playing in this last year. Got very close to the final just one frame away. I do like the format. The short format is great. Not so taxing on the old concentration. I’m delighted to get through.”

Doherty finished the day against Martin Gould where he missed out on a maximum after breaking down at 89: “It’s just a little bit disappointing in the last frame on the maximum, I had a chance and I don’t like maximums anyway! They’re overrated as far as I’m concerned. Win the frame first.”

It was a two-way battle that came down to the last game on Table 2 where Group 13 unfolded. Oliver Lines was looking to join his father Peter in the next stage whilst Peter Devlin was aiming to start his second year as a professional in the best possible way.

An opening draw between the pair didn’t help matters with Lines proceeding to win his following two matches without reply against Joshua Thomond and Luke Pinches. A high break of 93 against Pinches proved to be pivotal in deciding the group as it came to the last game.

Meanwhile, Devlin went on to beat Thomond 3-0 at the conclusion of the afternoon session with his best break of the day coming in the second frame (76).

Whilst Lines paced around the venue briefly stopping for a snoop at the scores, Devlin needed to beat Pinches 3-0 and bypass the high break set by Lines to move to stage two otherwise he would finish second. In the end, the London cueist did complete a 3-0 rout but his efforts in the final frame collapsed at 33 meaning Lines progressed.

Lines was relieved to see his efforts be enough: “I’m really pleased. It’s a weird position to be in you’re not usually waiting for someone to make a high break to knock you out. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before and I don’t want to have again!

“I was speaking to my dad after the first game, and I saw Peter was playing quite well and he won his second game 3-0. I said I was going to have to win 3-0, 3-0 here and hopefully make a few breaks.”

On the motivation of seeing his dad Peter move to the next stage: “He never ever takes a day off. You see people like myself taking days off all the time. He never ever has one day off. He deserves everything he got at Q School and he deserved to start the season how he did. I’m really pleased for him.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season: “I just want to start enjoying myself again. Because I know once I start enjoying myself again the wins will come. The second and third matches today, I just went out there and thought I am just going to play and see what happens.”

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues tomorrow with John Higgins on Table 1 in Group 9 alongside Noppon Saengkham, Igor Figueiredo, and Soheil Vahedi.

I can’t really comment on the action. I only watches the match between Oli Lines and Peter Devlin in the early afternoon. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood … it felt as a long drawn painful affair.

I have put one quote above in bold and part of it is underlined. It’s an admission by Oli that he is nowhere as dedicated, and work nowhere as hard as his father does. That’s consistent with what I saw during the years I spent on tour and why I remain convinced that the main issue when it comes to younger players not coming through is that, compared to the ones who are now in their early 40th, most of them don’t work hard enough, and are not dedicated enough. They are not helped by the current structure and brutal nature of the tour either of course, and they are not as well prepared for the pro level because the amateur game has shrinked. It’s not all their fault, but Oli’s reflection about how his father approaches the sport in comparison of his own attitude is revealing.