Ronnie at the races & Willo’s views

Last week-end Ronnie went to support the Venturi at the races in London.

RonnieROKITERace-7

He, and Nicolas Hamilton, were there as a ROKIT embassadors. Ronnie even had the honor/pleasure to take Toto Wolf’s seat in the safety car for the hot lap.

By all accounts, he totally enjoyed the experience.

He shared some images on his social media

And a short video of the hot lap

During the same week-end Mark Williams reacted to WST announcement that Ronnie has withdrawn from the 2021 British Open with this:

WilloreactionRosBritishOpen Withdrawal

It says it all about how the top players who started in the 90th, and are still at the top, feel about the current trends in snooker. It’s increasingly about shortening formats and being lucky. Making the sport more random will suit the bookies and excite the gamblers but not the true snooker fans. It will not help the sport in the long term, quite the opposite.

Even the young players with a brain see it: the excellent Davild Caulfield has been talking to Peter Devlin. Please do read the full interwiew, it’s very interesting.

This is only a very short excerpt with Peter’s quotes relevant to the above:

“I’ve seen the rankings and learned a lot about how it works this year in the rankings – consistency is not rewarded,” says the world number 114.

“The only reward is for deep runs in tournaments, and not all tournaments that you have deep runs in give you any reward. My goal is just to be lucky.”

“I know I’m good enough to have deep runs, but it just has to be the right tournament. Stuart Carrington got to the semi-final of Gibraltar, beating five top players on the way, and he won £6,000 for that.

“Then another player drew Anthony Hamilton in the UK Championship – Anthony had COVID – so the other guy got a walkover and got £6,500. What does that say?

 

2021 Summer CLS – Day 6

Yesterday we got one British veteran, Mark Davis, andone  young Chinese prospect, Chang Bingyu, through to the second stage of  the 2021 Summer CLS.

Here is WST report:

Davis And Chang Top Groups

Mark Davis and Chang Bingyu won their respective groups to progress to Winners’ Week of BetVictor Championship League Snooker.

Both won their last matches 3-0 to take top spot in their groups and will now return to the Morningside Arena in Leicester for Stage Two in August.

Davis went into his final match of Group 12, against Anthony McGill, knowing he would need to win 3-0; a 3-1 success would only be enough if one of his frames was won with a break of 112 or better. That was because Yuan Sijun had already beaten McGill and Billy Castle, crafting a run of 111 in the process. Davis also had a win over Castle to his name, and he had drawn 2-2 with Yuan.

However, it didn’t come down to that, as Davis took advantage of an out-of-sorts McGill to wrap up a 3-0 success. It meant Yuan finished second with Castle third and McGill finished bottom without registering a point.

“It is the perfect way to start the season,” said Davis. “I have to be honest, Yuan Sijun played the better stuff in our group. I did well to get 2-2 out of my first match and cued better after that, but I made some silly mistakes which I just tend to do now at my age. You dig in, try your best and hopefully that is enough.

“We all know how good Anthony is so it probably helped me that he had nothing to play for, because he just wasn’t with it. I feel fortunate but it doesn’t always work out that the best player gets through.

“I felt ok in the final match. At 2-0 I had a chance early on and started to feel it because it was a good chance and I messed it up. I knew it it went 2-1 it was a slim chance, having to win the frame and make 112, but once I am 2-0 up I have two options; win the next frame or the one after with a big break. Luckily for me it wouldn’t go in for Anthony and I managed to fall over the line in the end.”

On table two, Chang Bingyu beat Dean Young in the final match of the day to leapfrog Chinese compatriot Pang Junxu to top spot in the Group 31 table. Chang ended the day unbeaten after beating Young and Luca Brecel and drawing with Pang, who finished second. Brecel took third position, while Young ended bottom of the table.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Monday with Martin Gould and Ken Doherty among those in action. Live scoring along with league standings and the match schedule is available at www.ChampionshipLeagueSnooker.co.uk

Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China) and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/

Follow BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and scores from Stadium MK.

GROUP 12 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Mark Davis 3 2 1 0 6 7 £3,000
Yuan Sijun 3 2 1 0 5 7 £2,000
Billy Castle 3 1 0 2 -3 3 £1,000
Anthony McGill 3 0 0 3 -8 0 £0

 

GROUP 31 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Chang Bingyu 3 2 1 0 5 7 £3,000
Pang Junxu 3 1 2 0 3 5 £2,000
Luca Brecel 3 1 0 2 -3 3 £1,000
Dean Young 3 0 1 2 -5 1 £0

That’s a very honest assessment by “Dark Mavis”,  who is always fair to his opponents, as indeed Yuan had been the better player on the day. Both of them deserved to progress. Both of them were better that many winners we have seen earlier this week and ultimately, as Mark pointed out, it might be the fact that this match was a “dead” one from McGill’s point of you that decided the group outcome. It’s a real shame.

In the other group both Chang and Pang played well, and the match where they faced each other was enjoyable and quite clever stuff. Both are thinkers which is not very common for players that young. Most young UK players are essentially “potters”, not these boys. Luca Brecel, who recently won a tournament in Belgium, was disappointing … as he so often is. Dean Young was nowhere near the level required to be a pro. This is not an attack on the young lad, it’s just an observation and not a happy one. It just shows once again how much the gap has widened between the pro and amateur games, especially in the UK.

And here is another observation: the Scots have all been very poor so far. Maybe they suffer from the heat even more than everyone else?

2021 Summer CLS – Day 5

This is WST report on day 5 at the 2021 Summer CLS:

Ford Progresses To Stage Two

Tom Ford won a nervy final group match against Simon Lichtenberg to top Group 3 of BetVictor Championship League Snooker, while Bai Langning advanced from Group 10 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Ford was far from pleased with his performance, but found a way to get through the group despite dropping points against Simon Blackwell and Reanne Evans, who was returning to the tour but finished bottom of the group despite drawing with Ford and Lichtenberg.

Germany’s Lichtenberg had beaten Blackwell after his draw with Evans, meaning a draw with Ford would be enough to advance, while the Leicester man had to win to top the group.

The first two frames were shared before Lichtenberg missed the penultimate red in the third and Ford cleared up to keep himself alive. Perhaps some of his best snooker of a difficult day came in the very last frame; a clearance of 34 including a fine long pot helped him to a first win of the day.

“I have no words, I don’t know how I have got through to be honest,” said Ford. “I have played awful all day, I have really struggled. I had the odd frame where I got in and made a good break but to be honest it’s been dreadful and I don’t deserve to get through; Simon has been a slightly better player in the group.

“I don’t know how I have got through but I have, so I have to look at that as a positive. I haven’t been practicing that much, so there’s your answer. I can’t say I am pleased to get through because the performance, at times, was embarrassing today. It is one of those things but I am through and I have to look forward to the next group.”

On Table 2, Bai Langning was undefeated in topping Group 10 and becoming the first amateur player to top a group in this year’s tournament. He had beaten Ben Fortey 3-0 in the afternoon session and the same result against David Grace at the start of the evening session meant that he was safely through to Stage Two. The Chinese youngster then salvaged a draw with a re-spotted black in his final match against Farakh Ajaib to move to seven points and maintain his unbeaten record.

Wins over Fortey and Ajaib meant Grace took £2,000 for second, and Ajaib’s draw with Bai saw him take £1,000 and third in the group having also drawn with Fortey.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Friday with Anthony McGill, Mark Davis and former Championship League winner Luca Brecel. among those in action.

Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China) and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/

Follow BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and scores from Stadium MK.

GROUP 3 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Tom Ford 3 1 2 0 2 5 £3,000
Simon Lichtenberg 3 1 1 1 1 4 £2,000
Simon Blackwell 3 1 1 1 -1 4 £1,000
Reanne Evans 3 0 2 1 -2 2 £0

 

GROUP 10 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Bai Langning 3 2 1 0 6 7 £3,000
David Grace 3 2 0 1 2 6 £2,000
Farakh Ajaib 3 0 2 1 -3 2 £1,000
Ben Fortey 3 0 1 2 -5 1 £0

Not much to add to what Tom Ford said really. Simon Lichtenberg should have won group 3, but all credits to Tom for not allowing frustration get the better of him in the end and eventually finding something in the very last frame of an otherwise painful day. Simon will be disappointed, as will be Reanne Evans. Having managed to draw against the two players seeded above her, I hoped/expected that Reanne would do the same or better against Simon Blackwell, the lowest seed in the group, but she didn’t and eventually finished last with nothing to show for her efforts.

Bai Langning, only 19, had arrived at the 2021 World Championship, having not played a match on the main tour all season and still made it to Judgement Day. He beat Allan Taylor, Alan McManus and Ben Woollaston en route. Yesterday, he confirmed his quality as he was by far the best play in action. I loved what I saw from him out there.

2021 British Open News

Yesterday WST published this:

Strong Field For British Open In Leicester

Star names including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Stephen Hendry and home favourite Mark Selby will be in the line-up for next month’s British Open at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

The world ranking event will run from August 16th to 22nd and fans will be welcomed through the doors to see the greatest players on the planet.

Players will include:

Mark Selby – Current World Champion and one of Leicester’s sporting greats

Judd Trump – Snooker’s world number one and the outstanding player of recent seasons

Ronnie O’Sullivan – Six time World Champion and crowd favourite

John Higgins – All-time legend who won the British Open when it was last staged in 2004

Shaun Murphy – Flamboyant cueman who reached the World Championship final in May

Stephen Hendry – King of the Crucible – this is the first chance for fans to watch his comeback live

Reanne Evans – All-time greatest female player, now competing on the pro tour

Plus Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams, Jack Lisowski, Leicester favourites Tom Ford, Ben Woollaston, Joe O’Connor and Louis Heathcote…and many more. In all there will be 128 players battling for the trophy and a top prize of £100,000.

The event will have a completely random draw for all rounds, and the first round draw and match schedule will be released on Wednesday July 28th.

Fans will have the chance to see Stephen Hendry play live for the first time since his comeback

The British Open previously ran from 1985 to 2004 and now returns to the WST calendar after a 17-year absence. It will receive extensive live coverage in the UK from ITV, as well as a range of broadcasters worldwide.

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.

Snooker has led the sporting world in the post-lockdown return of live audiences, and WST will continue to work closely with the UK Government and all of our venues and partners on Covid-19 regulation.

But then, in the evening Ronnie posted this on his Instagram

NoROSIn2021BritishOpen

with no further comment.

So what happened? Did Ronnie initially intend to play in the event but changed his mind and why?  Or was there some kind of misunderstanding between him and WST?

Anyway WST has now confirmed that he has withdrawn and is replaced by James Cahill

Ronnie O’Sullivan has withdrawn from the British Open, which takes place from August 16-22 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

O’Sullivan decided to pull out before the draw was made for the world ranking event. He is replaced in the field by James Cahill.

The draw and format will be announced next week.

 

Also, I’m pretty surprised to see Stephen Hendry commiting to this: it’s an ultra short format, a random draw in every round, loads of matches every day, meaning loads of players around the venue and likely limited access to practice tables …  all that surely isn’t exactly Stephen’s cup of tea? And, thinking about it,  it’s probably not Ronnie’s cup of tea either going by some of his past comments.

Also there is no mention of Neil Robertson, but there we do have an explanation: indeed, earlier this week David Hendon, in commentary, mentionned that Neil was getting married in the coming weeks….

Congratulations and loads of happiness Neil and Mille!

2021 Summer CLS – Day 4

This is WST report on day 4 at the 2021 summer CLS in Leicester:

Hawk Soars To Reach Stage Two

Barry Hawkins and Stuart Carrington won through the fourth day of BetVictor Championship League Snooker to book their places in Stage Two at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Both players ended the day with seven points to top their respective groups, and both did it by drawing their final match of the day; Hawkins against Ben Woollaston and Carrington against Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown.

Hawkins had beaten Kuldesh Johal and Zak Surety, both 3-0, to take pole position in Group 28 ahead of his match against Woollaston. Leicester’s Woollaston had also beaten Johal 3-0, but a draw against Surety meant he would have to beat Hawkins to advance.

Woollaston took the first frame, but the Hawk hit back with a break of 93 and despite a contribution of 44 from the Leicester man, it was Hawkins who took the third frame to ensure his progression.

“It is the first tournament of the season, everyone is probably a bit rusty but I need to step it up now,” said Hawkins. “I did all the hard work but butchered the green in the third frame against Ben but luckily for me I nicked the frame and the job was done.

“I don’t have real goals for the season, but like everyone I’m looking for a win. It was warm in the arena so conditions were tough, a little bit clammy.”

Carrington also advanced by taking the third frame of his final group match to ensure at least a draw against Brown. Carrington had earlier defeated Duane Jones 3-0 and Michael Judge 3-1. Brown had beaten Judge 3-0 but dropped points in a 2-2 draw with Jones, giving Carrington the advantage in what was the decisive match of the group.

Like Hawkins on the adjacent table, Carrington fell a frame down before taking the next two to advance, Brown’s breaks of 45 and 79 in the fourth were important for him though; they meant he would finish second and pocket £2,000 for his day’s work.

“I was pretty solid and started off with a good 3-0 to settle any nerves,” said Carrington, who won £3,000 for topping the group. “The heat has been a bit of a problem in the club this week so I didn’t have as many hours as I wanted to this week. I want to go deep in as many tournaments as possible and find some consistency this year.”

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Thursday with Tom Ford and Reanne Evans among those in action. Live scoring along with league standings and the match schedule is available at www.ChampionshipLeagueSnooker.co.uk

Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China) and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/

Follow BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and scores from Stadium MK.

GROUP 28 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Barry Hawkins 3 2 1 0 6 7 £3,000
Ben Woollaston 3 1 2 0 3 5 £2,000
Zak Surety 3 0 2 1 -3 2 £1,000
Kudelsh Johal 3 0 1 2 -6 1 £0

GROUP 2 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Stuart Carrington 3 2 1 0 6 7 £3,000
Jordan Brown 3 1 2 0 3 5 £2,000
Duane Jones 3 0 2 1 -3 2 £1,000
Michael Judge 3 0 1 2 -6 1 £0

In both groups, the two top players finished undefeated, and the decisive match between them ended up in a draw. There were only two centuries all day, one by each of the groups winners; Stuart Carrington currently holds the highest break of the event with the 137 he scored against Michael Judge.

The most extraordinary match of the day though was probably the last one, between Duane Jones and Michael Judge. It wasn’t a “dead match” in that they were playing for the third place and £1,000; Duane Jones needed only a draw, Michael Judge needed the win.

This is what happened:

CLSJuly2021-Stage1-JudgeJonesScores

It was, by far, one of the highest scoring matches in the tournament so far. Maybe because in the late hours of the day the arena was a bit cooler, who knows?

Duane Jones lost frame three from 74-0 up, with 67 on the table. That does not happen often! Michael Judge got the two snookers he needed, playing some very clever stuff, and managed to win by a single point. This meant that the last frame was indeed decisive: whoever won it would get the third spot and the £1,000. Michael Judge made the best start: he was on a break of 65 and only needed the pink for victory. It was match ball, he missed it. Duane Jones stepped in and cleared the table.

There was also some feedback in the press about an incident involving Ronnie during his match against Saqib Nasir on Tuesday:

O’Sullivan Dumbfounded By Ref Call At Championship League Snooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan could not believe that referee Rob Spencer called a push ball on him during his Championship League Snooker match against Saqib Nasir on Tuesday.

The six-time world champion left himself tight on the blue in a close and error-filled opening frame, and was forced to use the rest.

O’Sullivan potted the ball, but Spencer called a foul, resulting in the following exchange:

Ronnie O’Sullivan: What?

Rob Spencer: It’s a push, Ronnie.

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Are you having a laugh?

Rob Spencer: No, it was a push.

World number 22 ranked Tom Ford was on commentary, and felt it was not a foul by O’Sullivan.

I am not sure that was a push, as if it was a push, the white would have gone straight through, but he played it at an angle,” said Ford.

That wasn’t a push shot. If he’d pushed that, the white would have gone straight towards the corner pocket.”

Nasir played a safety shot on the blue. Before he took his next shot, O’Sullivan wanted a few more words with the referee. He appeared to request that Spencer take a look at the decision after the match.

“I am the most honest snooker player and I never try to cheat,” said O’Sullivan.

Spencer replied, “I can only say what I see.”

O’Sullivan went on to win the frame, and subsequently the match 3-0. It was his second win of the group stage. He had beaten Ian Burns earlier in the day. The 45-year-old drew 2-2 with Mark Joyce in his final match as he topped the group with seven points.

The first stage Championship League Snooker runs until August 6th. The second stage will be played August 9th – 12th.

You can watch the controversial moment at the 14:30 mark below.

The blue highligh is my doing.

Tom is an experienced professional player, he would know if it was a push shot, and it didn’t sound like one either. The incident did nothing to improve Ronnie’s mood … and TBH he looked unhappy enough already with the hot conditions in the arena. BTW, there were no Ronnie quotes in yesterday WST report … a bit surprising but maybe it was just as well actually.

 

 

2021 Summer CLS – Day 3 – Rocket Launch

This is WST report on what happened yesterday in Leicester:

Summer 2021 CLS Stage 1 - Ronnie in actionRonnie O’Sullivan is through to Stage Two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker after topping his group at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

Fergal O’Brien also advanced to Winners’ Week of the season-opening ranking event. The Irishman needed to beat Mark Lloyd 3-0 in the final match of his group to finish level with Michael Holt, and he did just that to qualify thanks to having the group’s high break of 100.

O’Sullivan needed just a point from his decisive final match of Group 32 against Mark Joyce, who would require a win to deny the Rocket top spot. O’Sullivan had earlier beaten Ian Burns 3-1 and Saqib Nasir 3-0, while Joyce also had a win over Nasir, but had drawn with Burns.

Joyce took the opening frame with a 95, but O’Sullivan levelled with a clearance of 51. Joyce was first to score in the third frame, but the pressure eventually told and O’Sullivan won the frame on the pink to progress to Stage Two. Joyce did take the final frame to earn a draw and second spot in the group, worth £2,000. Burns took £1,000 for finishing third.

The first three matches of Group 6 all ended 2-2; Andrew Higginson tying with O’Brien, before Holt shared the spoils with Lloyd and then O’Brien. Higginson was first to register a win when he beat Lloyd 3-0, but a reversal of the same scoreline against Holt meant that the group was now between O’Brien and Holt.

Holt would advance unless O’Brien defeated Lloyd 3-0 in the final match of the group; that would leave both players with five points, a +3 frame difference and a 2-2 draw in the head-to-head. However, O’Brien had already scored a century in the group, meaning he would advance with the highest break.

The Irishman took the first frame. The second was a tactical battle in which O’Brien got the better of his opponent to lead 2-0.

An opportunity arose for O’Brien to make a group-winning break in the third, but he caught the jaw with a red on 20. Lloyd couldn’t take advantage and O’Brien stepped up with a break of 46 to seal his place in Stage Two.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said O’Brien. “Drawing the first two games you’re relying on other results but I knew I had to win 3-0 in the last match. I was grateful for the chance, but having to win 3-0 was a lot of pressure.

“You put in a long day and to fall a frame short would be disappointing. Last season wasn’t so great so I need as many wins as I can get. I felt happy enough how I was playing coming here and I started off well with a century in the first match. It adds to it that the tournament has ranking points and a place in the Champion of Champions. I’ve done my job today, I’m in the hat for the next round, and we’ll go from there.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Wednesday with Barry Hawkins, Ben Woollaston and Jordan Brown among those in action. Live scoring along with league standings and the match schedule is available at http://www.ChampionshipLeagueSnooker.co.uk

Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China) and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/

Follow BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagramfor all the latest news and scores from Stadium MK.

GROUP 32 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Ronnie O’Sullivan 3 2 1 0 5 7 £3,000
Mark Joyce 3 1 2 0 2 5 £2,000
Ian Burns 3 1 1 1 1 4 £1,000
Saqib Nasir 3 0 0 3 -8 1 £0

 

GROUP 6 FINAL

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Fergal O’Brien 3 1 2 0 3 5 £3,000
Michael Holt 3 1 2 0 3 5 £2,000
Andrew Higginson 3 1 1 1 0 4 £1,000
Mark Lloyd 3 0 1 2 -6 1 £0

Ronnie didn’t play anywhere near his best but did enough to win his group. Both him and Mark Joyce were undefeated yesterday,

There were lots of mistakes all day, from all players as the conditions in the arena were taxing: it was extremely hot and it was obvious that a lot of players were feeling physically uncomfortable despite the relaxed dress code. Twelve matches were played yesterday, featuring forty-three frames in total,  and there was only ONE century scored all day: the 100 by Fergal O’Brien in the first frame of the day, a sure sign of an unusually poor standard.

Anyway here is how the day unfolded for Ronnie

CLSJuly2021-Stage1-ROSvBurnsScores

CLSJuly2021-Stage1-ROSvNasirScores

CLSJuly2021-Stage1-ROSvJoyceScores

BTW, the “Rocket” in the featured image is one of the 40 rockets installed in and around Leicester as part of the biggest ever Leicested public  “Art Event” @RocketRoundLeic. The event will run until the 26th of September. The one in the picture stands just outside the venue. 

2021 Summer CLS Phase 1 – Day 2

This is WST report about yesterday’s action at the Morningside Arena:

Carter and Ursenbacher Advance

Alexander Ursenbacher won all three of his group matches while Ali Carter was undefeated, taking 7 points from a possible 9, as both players advanced to Stage Two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker at Morningside Arena, Leicester.

With soaring temperatures across the country, the dress code was relaxed to allow players the option to either ditch their ties, or wear polo shirts. But neither Carter nor Ursenbacher were made to sweat at the table; both players had won their groups with a game to spare thanks to early wins combined with favourable results elsewhere.

Carter faced former Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou in the first match of the day. After winning the opener, the Captain called a foul on himself in the second, which resulted in a frame-winning break of 88 for the Cypriot. However, Carter took the next two to win the match.

That meant a win for Carter against Sydney Wilson would see him top the group, and he made no mistake as he registered a 3-0 success before later drawing 2-2 with Dominic Dale, who finished third with three draws.

“Winning the first two matches meant that last game didn’t mean anything for me,” said Carter. “When I beat Syd I knew I had won the group, the job was done and that’s the main thing.

“I’ve been practising a bit, I’ve got some goals this season and I will try and apply myself properly this year. I’m 42 next week and haven’t got too many more years left, but I still think I can compete at the top level and I know I can if I do all the right things.

“I want to get back into the top 16 and win another tournament, that’s my goal and I have a plan in place to achieve that and I’m looking forward to the journey.”

Ursenbacher didn’t drop a frame in winning Group 23, registering 3-0 wins over Aaron Hill, Leo Fernandez and finally Scott Donaldson at a stage where the 25-year-old Swiss potter had already guaranteed himself top spot.

“I didn’t expect it,” he admitted. “I felt really good and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Last season I struggled with the table at Championship League but they were lovely today. It was very hot, I struggle with the heat most tournaments anyway, but being able to wear a polo shirt made it easier.

“I’m not trying to set myself too many goals or expect too much but I will keep focused, have the right people around me and prepare well for the tournaments. I haven’t played much over the summer because it is important to relax sometimes and not think about snooker too much because it is a brutal sport, especially mentally.”

Fernandez finished second in the group and takes home £2,000 after a 3-0 win in the final group match against Aaron Hill, who finished third and collected £1,000.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Tuesday when Ronnie O’Sullivan enters the tournament in Group 32.

Coverage of Table 1 begins at 12 noon (UK time) and is live on FreeSports (UK), DAZN, Zhibo.tv (China) and Viaplay, with Table 2 live globally at Matchroom.Live. Full broadcast details can be found at https://championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk/watch/

Follow BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and scores from Stadium MK.

GROUP 19 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Ali Carter 3 2 1 0 5 7 £3,000
Michael Georgiou 3 1 1 1 0 4 £2,000
Dominic Dale 3 0 3 0 0 3 £1,000
Sydney Wilson 3 0 1 2 -5 1 £0

GROUP 23 TABLE

Pld W D L +/- PTS Money Won
Alexander Ursenbacher 3 3 0 0 9 9 £3,000
Leo Fernandez 3 2 0 1 2 6 £2,000
Aaron Hill 3 1 0 2 -4 3 £1,000
Scott Donaldson 3 0 0 3 -7 0 £0

Alex Ursenbacher played really well indeed. His match against Aaron Hill was an interesting one in that it involved a lot of good safeties from both. When two young players are at the table, you’d expect the match to be mainly about potting, but it wasn’t in this match.

Scott Donaldson won just two frames yesterday. I wasn’t expecting that and I’m not sure what happened as he was the highest ranked player in that group.

Ali Carter clearly didn’t care too much about the last match outcome. At one point he broke off “à la Quinten Hahn”, getting the pack wide open from behind. Obviously, he didn’t want to spend more time than necessary out there, which is understandable as he had won the group anyway and it was very hot in the arena.